Sonny Burke

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Sonny Burke (born Joseph Francis Burke; March 22, 1914 in Scranton, Pennsylvania – May 31, 1980) was an American musical arranger, composer, big band leader and producer. In 1937, he graduated from Duke University, where he had formed and led the jazz big band known as the Duke Ambassadors.

Scranton, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States of America

Scranton is the sixth-largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat of Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley and hosts a federal court building. With a population of 77,291, it is the largest city in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of about 570,000. The city is conventionally divided into 6 districts: North Scranton, Southside, Westside, East Scranton, Central City, and Green Ridge, though these areas do not have legal status.

Big band music ensemble associated with jazz and Swing Era music

A big band is a type of musical ensemble that usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. Big bands originated during the early 1910s and dominated jazz in the early 1940s when swing was most popular. The term "big band" is also used to describe a genre of music. One problem with this usage is that it overlooks the variety of music played by these bands.

Duke University private university in Durham, North Carolina, United States

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor his deceased father, Washington Duke.

Contents

During the 1930s and 1940s he was a big band arranger in New York, worked with Sam Donahue's band, and during the 1940s and 1950s worked as an arranger for the Charlie Spivak and Jimmy Dorsey bands, among others. In 1955 he wrote, along with Peggy Lee, the songs to Disney's Lady and the Tramp . He also wrote songs with John Elliot for Disney's Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom , which won the 1953 Oscar for Best Short Animated Feature. [1]

Sam Donahue American musician

Sam Donahue was an American swing music jazz tenor saxophonist, trumpeter and musical arranger. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he is known for his work with Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Billy May, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, among many others.

Charlie Spivak bandleader

Charlie Spivak was an American trumpeter and bandleader, best known for his big band in the 1940s.

Jimmy Dorsey American jazz musician

James Dorsey was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and big band leader. He was known as "JD". He recorded and composed the jazz and pop standards "I'm Glad There Is You " and "It's The Dreamer In Me". His other major recordings were "Tailspin", "John Silver", "So Many Times", "Amapola", "Brazil ", "Pennies from Heaven" with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Frances Langford, "Grand Central Getaway", and "So Rare".

He wrote the music for number of popular songs that continue to be regarded as standards. These include, "Black Coffee", with lyric by Paul Francis Webster, and "Midnight Sun", co-written with jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. The song's famous lyrics were added later by Johnny Mercer. Burke was an active arranger, conductor and A&R man at major Hollywood record labels, especially Decca Records where he worked with Charles "Bud" Dant. He also wrote and arranged the theme for the early 1960s television show Hennesey , a jazzy update of the Sailor's Hornpipe .

"Black Coffee" is a song with music by Sonny Burke and words by Paul Francis Webster. The song was published in 1948.

Paul Francis Webster was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and was nominated sixteen times for the award.

"Midnight Sun" (1954) was originally an instrumental composed by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke in 1947 and is now considered a jazz standard. Subsequently, Johnny Mercer wrote the words to the song. One famous recording of the song with the Mercer lyrics is by Ella Fitzgerald on her 1957 album Like Someone in Love. Fitzgerald recorded the song again for her 1964 album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook. She recorded it for a third time in 1975 with jazz pianist Oscar Peterson on the Pablo release Ella and Oscar.

Later Burke became musical director of Reprise Records and was responsible for many of Frank Sinatra's albums, and was producer of Sinatra's iconic recording of "My Way". He was also bandleader for recordings of leading singers such as Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, The Mills Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé.

Reprise Records American record label

Reprise Records is an American record label founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operates through Warner Bros. Records, one of its flagship labels.

Frank Sinatra American singer, actor, and producer

Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor, and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to Italian Americans, Sinatra began his musical career in the swing era with bandleaders Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. Sinatra found success as a solo artist after he signed with Columbia Records in 1943, becoming the idol of the "bobby soxers". He released his debut album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, in 1946. Sinatra's professional career had stalled by the early 1950s, and he turned to Las Vegas, where he became one of its best known residency performers as part of the Rat Pack. His career was reborn in 1953 with the success of From Here to Eternity, with his performance subsequently winning an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. Sinatra released several critically lauded albums, including In the Wee Small Hours (1955), Songs for Swingin' Lovers! (1956), Come Fly with Me (1958), Only the Lonely (1958) and Nice 'n' Easy (1960).

Dinah Shore American singer and actress

Dinah Shore was an American singer, actress, and television personality, and the top-charting female vocalist of the 1940s. She rose to prominence as a recording artist during the Big Band era, but achieved even greater success a decade later, in television, mainly as hostess of a series of variety programs for Chevrolet.

He died of cancer on May 31, 1980, aged 66, in Santa Monica, California. He was survived by his wife Dorothy Gillis Burke and his four children, Gaylord, Peter and twins Jerry and Tom Burke. He had one sister, Rhoda Burke Andrews. His interment was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.

Holy Cross Cemetery is a Roman Catholic cemetery at 5835 West Slauson Avenue in Culver City, California, operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Discography

As leader

As sideman

With Brass Fever

<i>Brass Fever</i> (album) album by Brass Fever

Brass Fever is the debut album by American jazz/R&B group Brass Fever, recorded in 1975 and released on the Impulse! label.

<i>Time Is Running Out</i> (album) album by Brass Fever

Time is Running Out is the second and final album by American jazz/R&B group Brass Fever recorded in 1976 and released on the Impulse! label.

With Dizzy Gillespie

With John Handy

With Blue Mitchell

As arranger

With Ben Sidran

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References

  1. Cotter, Bill, The Wonderful World of Disney Television: A Complete History, p. 549, Hyperion, 1997. ISBN   0-7868-6359-5