We'd like to Welcome The Romantic Singer, Kenny Colman, of the famed "Dreamscape" CD on Justin Time Records.. a fabulous recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra...Johnny Mandel Conductor,
with rave reviews! As none better said than Grammy Producer David Foster, himself, "the whole world should know his talent."
And on that note once again... we'd like to extend a very warm welcome to our
Special Guest Artist Kenny Colman to the
OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series!
Welcome Kenny, and thank you for giving us and all of the OL Site Visitors, for what will be a 7-part Interview on the
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, for the entire week of August 29, 2010.
Once again, thank you and welcome...
Thanks for thinking of me and I will answer the questions the best I can!
Your "Dreamscape" CD is truly a work of art! Everyone should have this CD in their collection. Downloads are nice, but it doesn't replace what could easily be in all music lovers' hands, the real feel... for all romantics to treasure, and this CD without a doubt, is one to treasure forever...
When I was in the CTS Studios in London with the Philharmonic Orchestra,
Toots Theilmans and Johnny Mandel; gorgeous arrangements, and singing the Bergmans' lyrics. I said to myself, this is overwhelming, what am I doing here? I said to myself, I earned it and I was ready!
I had three months of Mexican sun, singing at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, rested and my chops were never better. This was my moment, and I sang with every bit of life experience
I could take from the dues one endures from the very hard business.
It was a magical time!
As always, we're sure that the new
OL Viewers would like to know where our Special Guest Artist is from. You were raised in Winnipeg and Vancouver, Canada and a serious hockey player, we understand?
Growing up in Winnipeg, I loved for the first fourteen years of my life, it was beautiful.
Our parents came from Europe. We are the children of immigrants. We never knew we were poor because there was always love and music and friends and loving Parents who showered us with an abundance of love.
I was a typical sports crazy young boy as were my buddies growing up
in Winnipeg, Canada.
I loved the cold wind on my face and the snowy streets, and with my hockey stick in my hands I fell in love with hockey and going thru puberty I loved the gals!
My peers and I grew up listening to the sounds of Count Bassie Band,
the Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw,
Stan Kenton and the great crooners of the day like Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan,
Mel Torme, Frankie Laine,
and Ella and Carmen
and Shirley Horn.
That was the music I loved and danced to with my teenage crushes. When I was fourteen I moved to Vancouver. It was there in Vancouver that my zest for hockey continued. Went back to Winnipeg when
I was seventeen and was signed
to a Detroit Red Wings contract
for the best junior prospects in Canada
for their farm teams.
It was a great accomplishment
and I continued to play until I was
around twenty two - twenty three.
Early on...being surrounded by the great
Big Band sounds and influenced by the songs of Porter, Ellington and Mercer...
when growing up, when was the first moment You knew that You would become a
Singer for the rest of your life?
For me, while I loved music, I had no dreams of being a singer. I did not know.
I was playing hockey in western Canada
and I did not know what I was going to do with my life. I was not into school, it was not my forte.
After a game that we lost in the playoffs,
the sports announcer asked me what I was going to do with my life.
Your entrance into the Music Industry as a Professional is quite interesting. You first started off as a Disc Jockey in
I wanted to get a job with Radio. I was twenty two years old, and full of chutzpa [meaning a driven disposition]. I got a job in radio and this is when I fell into the world of music and jazz and great singers. I discovered I could sing along with the singers and I used to sing over their records. I still did not make any commitment to singing; this was my beginning to realize I had talent
to pursue this.
Okay, and then You went on to work as a DJ in beautiful Bermuda as well. Tell us about the music scene there at the time?
Well after that first gig in radio, I went from various cities in Canada and still did not make any commitment to singing, I was working in radio. I then got a radio gig in Bermuda and TV gig too. I was doing my morning thing as a DJ and singing over records, I was the mystery voice,
but nobody cared.
Each and every weekend,
I hung out at the Leopard Club,
where there was a jazz theme. I used to sit in and I was very nervous, and that's where
I had my first drink of scotch on the rocks to get my liquid courage to get up to sing.
I found myself saying I think this is what
I what to do with my life, suffer and the search was on for gigs.
Not long after, You made your travels to the great Big Apple at the look-up invite of
Game Show Mogul Bill Todman and his wife Fran, who you met in Bermuda. Coming to New York, where making the rounds at
Jazz Clubs can be an all night thing...
but actually Kenny,
You started out in NYC as a Casting Creator for "Play Your Hunch," where the show's host was Merv Griffin, who in his own words said of You, "the most tenacious and talented man I know."...
what a great start, Kenny...
During my stay in Bermuda, I met TV Producers Bill Todman and his wife,
of Goodson-Todman Productions. He said, "If you come to New York, look me up."
I took him up on it and I got a job on
NBC television, a game show called
'Play Your Hunch'. Merv Griffin was the host. Merv was very instrumental in my career, knowing that deep inside,
that I really wanted to sing.
It was there in New York, in the late fifties and early sixties, where I hung out in every jazz club that you indicated. I sat in whenever, wherever I could, paying my dues learning my craft. There was no overnight American Idol shows; you had to pay your dues. I love the jazz scene in New York and lived the jazz scene.
How long were You on that gig and what was it like working with
Legend Show Host Merv Griffin?
I spent about a year with Merv on NBC. Regarding Merv, he went from the game show to having his own talk show. It was there,
he showed his belief in my talent, that he gave me many gigs on his TV talk show and also even though I did seven or eight
Merv Griffin shows;
it was a nice moment when Redd Foxx took me on Merv's show and introduced me to Merv's audience. Merv was a good guy and especially Redd was beautiful to me.
Now we go to your musical Professional launch. You began to sit in on jams at places like The Half Note, The Five Spot and The Village Vanguard... and then one night, as fate would have it, none other than 'Sassy' herself, the one and only
Legendary Jazz Singer Sarah Vaughan,
happened to be in the audience and was so impressed by your performance, it was actually she, who got You your first Pro Gig... It doesn't get any better than that, does it?
Yes, this was 1960 at the
Page Three Jazz Club. I sat in with the
Ray Starling Trio and in the foyer
Tiny Tim was singing in the lounge.
I swung a few tunes and I was called over to Sarah's table and was introduced to her husband CB Atkins who managed the talents of Abby Lincoln, Max Roach,
Randy Westin, Roland Hanna
and they signed me to a
They had me working on my material and getting me ready for gigs. Johnny Hartman was also one of their clients and he and
I became good pals.
Johnny Hartman got me my first gig at the Spring Valley Inn, in New Jersey.
That was my kick start pre my first pro gig at the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas.
Where was your first professional Gig as a Singer and how did it feel singing under the marquee of your own name,
headlining your own show?
My first gig was a warm up to Las Vegas at the Thunderbird Hotel on the bill with
Harry James Orchestra for three weeks.
The next three weeks on the bill with
Lionel Hampton and the rat pack romping thru the casino was
Sinatra, Sammy, Dino,
and Joey Bishop.
They were on their way to make
Joe E. Lewis and Vic Damone create havoc and then later everyone went on to the Sahara to listen to Don Rickles
and Louie Prima and I followed them.
Little did I know Frank Sinatra would be such an integral part of my career; as did
I just opened for Don Rickles
this past April 30th and May 1st.
Your Career as a Singer was taking off,
as You were opening then for
Comedian Lenny Bruce in Atlantic City,
and also performing on
Legend Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show,"
at which point, the Agents and Managers were as they say now, 'blowing up your phone', [smile] to work with You?
Being on Johnny Carson Show was great,
and I was with Epic Records. What happened is what happened, with all singers of my era. "The day the music stopped for us" was the Beatles, Rolling Stones the Animals, Dave Clark Five and jazz was a hidden commodity and Rock and Roll arrived.
The kids sang to the simplest lyrics and the simplest back beat and our music was put to the boondocks. Till the advent of the
Harry Connicks, and the Bublés arrived on the scene bringing the jazz crooner
back into the fold not a dinosaur no more.
In general, Careers in Show Business have their high's and low's, their long runs and their short runs. What is that magic Kenny, inside You, that makes You one of the true survivors in this business?
You have to be a good masochist, you have to be able to in spite of the rain splashing on your face and the winds against you and the landlords telling you how great you sing and they also add "don't forget; if you don't pay the rent on Monday, you have to move out on Tuesday!" In reality, I knew that I could be the best I could be. I had the passion and the drive, and as Frank Sinatra called me the warrior, and Freddy Heiniken called me the bull dog.
I just hung in there as I still do, always hanging tough and looking for gigs. This CD "Dreamscape" was good enough to have the accolades of the icon of the century.
Mr. S and the top Record Producer fifteen Grammy award winner David Foster and Johnny Mandel and Steven Sondheim and so many others have shown me great respect. All I need is a million more like you OL,
and I could go on vacation.
"I gave my life for a song."
My advice to other singers;
have a plan B.
Kenny, all throughout this week, we look forward to visiting all of the stages and moments of your great Show Biz Career. ...And for the early stages of your Professional Singing Career,
what was the first show that You performed in, and saw another Star in the Audience that night, who came to see You, and it just blew You away too see them in the Audience?
Without question, it would have to be
Frank Sinatra. He heard me in '68 the first time at Jillies in Palm Springs and he always kept saying to me keep singing and his words were always "marvelous, marvelous!"
Then eight years later,
after I paid some dues in 1976,
I had a gig at Dominic's in Palm Springs.
I walked in, and there was Frank,
Jimmy Van Heusen and Barbara, Jilly,
and Leo Durocher and Pat Henry;
and during my performance Frank started talking to me and he asked me to
join the table. I did. He asked me
what's happening in my life. I said...
looking for gigs, as rock and roll is everywhere and he said,
"Jilly will call you in two weeks"...
and two weeks to the day,
Jilly called and he invited me to
Las Vegas Ceasers Palace...
and from that point on,
Jilly and Frank arranged many, many wonderful gigs for me.
I would say meeting him,
he was all class, all the way...
warm and caring and understanding,
and there will never be another Frank.
Thank you very much Kenny, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this OL Interview 1 of 7 segment?
Ha, do you want another 33 paragraphs? Seriously speaking, I could have never done any of this without the love and care and patience of the many jazz musicians.
I had the honor and privilege from
Joe Parnello, Miles Black, Tony Foster, Mundell Lowe, Tony Scott, Brad Turner,
and my best friend in show business
I ever had,
Harry "Sweets" Edison.
It warms my heart to have your respect for my talent and for the production of "Dreamscape" and your continued interest in my career. I wish you everything I wish for myself, tough biz showbiz. Would I do it all again?... hmmmmm, yup but I would learn the second half of showbiz "the biz part." God bless, thanks.
We look forward tomorrow in Part 2 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, where this Romantic Singer, Kenny Colman...
talks about the making of the famed "Dreamscape" CD & all of the major players in this monumental 18 songs Production, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra & the great Johnny Mandel as the Conductor!
Thank you very much Kenny, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist! We'll see you tomorrow! And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!