Matt Dennis

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Matt Dennis
Matt Dennis photo.jpg
Background information
Birth nameMatthew Loveland Dennis
Born(1914-02-11)February 11, 1914
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
DiedJune 21, 2002(2002-06-21) (aged 88)
Riverside, California
Genres Popular music
Occupation(s)Singer, composer
InstrumentsPiano
Labels Capitol

Matthew Loveland Dennis (February 11, 1914 – June 21, 2002) was an American singer, pianist, band leader, arranger, and writer of music for popular music songs.

Contents

Biography

Dennis was born in Seattle, Washington, United States. His mother was a violinist and his father a singer, and the family was in vaudeville, so he was early exposed to music. In 1933 he joined Horace Heidt's orchestra as a vocalist and pianist. Later on, he formed his own band, with Dick Haymes as vocalist. He became vocal coach, arranger, and accompanist for Martha Tilton, and worked with a new vocal group, The Stafford Sisters. Jo Stafford, one of the sisters, joined the Tommy Dorsey band in 1940 and persuaded Dorsey to hire Dennis as arranger and composer. Dennis wrote prolifically, with 14 of his songs recorded by the Dorsey band in one year alone, including "Everything Happens to Me", an early hit for Frank Sinatra. [1]

Vaudeville genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 1700s. A vaudeville is a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation. It was originally a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, usually a comedy, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of Vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.

Horace Heidt American musician

Horace Heidt was an American pianist, big band leader, and radio and television personality. His band, Horace Heidt and his Musical Knights, toured vaudeville and performed on radio and television during the 1930s and 1940s.

Dick Haymes actor and singer

Richard Benjamin Haymes, known as Dick Haymes, was an Argentinean-born actor and singer, active in the United States. He was one of the most popular male vocalists of the 1940s and early 1950s. He was the older brother of Bob Haymes who was an actor, television host, and songwriter.

After four years in the United States Air Force in World War II, Dennis returned to music writing and arranging, getting a boost from his old friend Dick Haymes, who hired him to be the music director for his radio program. With lyricist Tom Adair he wrote songs for Haymes' program.

United States Air Force Air and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Lyrics are words that make up a song usually consisting of verses and choruses. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist. The words to an extended musical composition such as an opera are, however, usually known as a "libretto" and their writer, as a "librettist". The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of expression. Rappers can also create lyrics that are meant to be spoken rhythmically rather than sung.

Dennis made six albums, which were out of print for many years; however, his 1953 song "Angel Eyes" (with lyricist Earl Brent) has become a frequently recorded jazz standard; less frequently recorded, but notably by Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins is "Will You Still Be Mine". Pianist Dave Brubeck and his quartet recorded an entire album of Dennis's compositions, released as Angel Eyes in 1965. [2]

Miles Davis American jazz musician

Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music. Davis adopted a variety of musical directions in a five-decade career that kept him at the forefront of many major stylistic developments in jazz.

Sonny Rollins American jazz saxophonist and composer

Walter Theodore "Sonny" Rollins is an American jazz tenor saxophonist who is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians. In a seven-decade career, he has recorded over sixty albums as a leader. A number of his compositions, including "St. Thomas", "Oleo", "Doxy", "Pent-Up House", and "Airegin", have become jazz standards. Rollins has been called "the greatest living improviser" and the "Saxophone Colossus".

Dave Brubeck American jazz pianist and composer

David Warren Brubeck was an American jazz pianist and composer, considered one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz. He wrote a number of jazz standards, including "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke". Brubeck's style ranged from refined to bombastic, reflecting both his mother's attempts at classical training and his own improvisational skills. His music is known for employing unusual time signatures as well as superimposing contrasting rhythms, meters, and tonalities.

In 2012, Jasmine Records re-released four of Dennis' records as "Welcome Matt". The collection included "Plays and Sings Matt Dennis", a 1958 live performance by Dennis' piano trio, of twelve tunes that Dennis had co-authored. [3]

Jasmine Records is a London-based record label that specialises in jazz reissues.

Dennis died in Riverside, California at the age of 88. [4]

Songs with music by Matt Dennis

"Everything Happens to Me" (1940) is a pop standard written by Tom Adair (lyrics) and Matt Dennis (music). It was first recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra featuring Frank Sinatra. Unusually, the song focused on Sinatra's vocal, with no trombone solo by Dorsey. Years later, Sinatra rerecorded the song with the Hollywood String Quartet; this version was featured on his 1957 album Close to You.

"Let's Get Away from It All" is a popular song with music by Matt Dennis and lyrics by Tom Adair, published in 1941.

"The Night We Called It a Day" is a popular song and jazz standard. The music was written by Matt Dennis, the lyrics by Tom Adair. The song was published in 1941.

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References

  1. "Matt Dennis, 88, Big Band-Era Songwriter". The New York Times . July 24, 2002.
  2. Angel Eyes at AllMusic
  3. Welcome Matt – Four Complete Albums Including His Popular Hits
  4. McLellan, Dennis (June 29, 2002). "Matt Dennis, 88; Singer, Pianist Wrote 'Angel Eyes,' Other Hits". Los Angeles Times .