Friday, June 24, 2011
Jack Sheldon R.I.P.
Just posted at jazztimes
Jack Sheldon, Trumpeter and Vocalist, Dead at 79
A prolific musician, singer and funnyman for more than 50 years
By Jeff Tamarkin
Jack Sheldon, called "a classy trumpeter with a brassy wit" by The New York
Times and "one of the top jazz singers of the day" by The Los Angeles Times,
passed away on June 23 at age 79. The cause and place of death were unknown
at press time.
Sheldon came to prominence as a key figure in the West Coast jazz scene of
the 1950s but later gained his greatest recognition as a regular face on
television, particularly The Merv Griffin Show, on which he served as the
host's sidekick, appearing nightly for 18 years. Known as much for his humor
as his virtuosic playing, Sheldon's eclectic career took him from the world
of bebop to Oscar-nominated films to educational television-he lent his
voice to the Schoolhouse Rock programs of the 1970s.
Born November 30, 1931 in Jacksonville, Fla., Sheldon's first recognition
came in the 1950s. Ultimately, his trumpet work was heard enhancing the
music of such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Frank Sinatra,
Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee,
Sammy Davis Jr. and Rosemary Clooney. Sheldon continued to work most often
in Southern California, performing with his groups the Jack Sheldon
Orchestra and the Jack Sheldon California Cool Quartet.
A five-time recipient of the prestigious Playboy International Artist of the
Year award, Sheldon, recorded prolifically, beginning in the mid-'50s and
continuing until the late '00s. His albums as a leader appeared on such
labels as World Pacific, GNP/Crescendo, Capitol and Concord. Sheldon worked
on numerous film soundtracks and TV themes, ranging from Breakfast at
Tiffany's in 1961 to White Men Can't Jump in the '90s. His trumpet solo on
Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile" from the Taylor-Burton film The
Sandpiper is perhaps his best known single contribution. His vocal work was
also featured on many film and TV soundtracks.
He also appeared on hundreds of recording sessions accompanying other
artists. Sheldon appeared in the Oscar-nominated documentary film Let's Get
Lost about fellow trumpeter Chet Baker and in the Francis Ford Coppola film
One from the Heart. His trumpet work is also featured on Tom Waits' 1977
album Foreign Affairs. In 2008, he was subject of a documentary film, Trying
to Get Good: the Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon.