Sonny Burke

Last updated
Sonny Burke
Born
Joseph Francis Burke

March 22, 1914
DiedMay 31, 1980
OccupationAmerican composer, musical arranger, Big Band leader, and producer


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

Scranton is the sixth-largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat and largest city of Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley and hosts a federal court building for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 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 8 districts: North Scranton, Southside, Westside, the Hill Section, Central City, Minooka, East Mountain, and Green Ridge, though these areas do not have legal status.

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.

Duke Ambassadors

The Duke Ambassadors was a student-run jazz big band, active at Duke University from 1934-1964. Student-run big bands continued in 1969 as the Duke Stage Band and from 1971-1974 as the Duke Jazz Ensemble. From 1974 to the present, professional musician-educators have led the Duke Jazz Ensemble.

Contents

Background

During the 1930s and 1940s, Burke was a big band arranger in New York City, 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]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Sam Donahue

Samuel Koontz 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.

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 Warner Bros. Records / Reprise Records and was responsible for many of Frank Sinatra's albums, and was producer of Sinatra's iconic recording of "My Way" and Petula Clark’s classic “This Is My Song” written by Charles Chaplin for his movie A Countess From Hong Kong. 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 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.

Petula Clark British actress and singer

Petula Clark, CBE is a British singer, actress and composer whose career spans eight decades.

Death and interment

Burke died at the age of 66 from cancer on May 31, 1980 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.

Santa Monica, California City in California, United States

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south. The Census Bureau population for Santa Monica in 2010 was 89,736.

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) 1975 studio 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) 1976 studio 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