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My Funny Valentine
by Art Simmons Quartet
Art Simmons (1926 to 2018) was an American 'jazz' pianist and bandleader. Arthur Eugene Simmons was born in Glen White, West Virginia, USA, on February 5th 1926. He discovered religion at a young age, and began playing the piano at the age of four, studying with Bessie Smoot of Beckley, West Virigina. He graduated from Stratton High School at the age of sixteen and continued his music studies in the classical genre at Bluefield State College and then West Virginia University. In early 1944, he was drafted into the US Army and, while serving, conducted and played in the 17th Special Services Band. He was an active member of the Paris Chapter of the American Legion and was also on the USO Council while abroad. During the conflict, Simmons travelled throughout Europe and Africa on goodwill tours to entertain the troops, but remained in Germany after the War had ended to extend his music education. Following a move to Paris in 1949, he studied at the Conservatory there as well as at the Ecole Normale de Musique, and also played alongside 'jazz' greats Charlie Parker and Kenny Clarke at the Paris Jazz Festival. He also played variously around that time as part of ensembles led by artists such as Aaron Bridgers, Don Byas, Robert Mavounzy and Nelson Williams. He then formed his own group, holding a residency at Le Ringside Club for a time in 1951, before going on to play with Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones from the early 1950s. Simmons also toured London as an accompanist to female solo singers, who included the American-born singer and revue artist Bertice Reading among many others. As the resident pianist at the Mars Club, he worked with Michel Gaudry, Pierre Cullaz and Elek Bacsik, and accompanied other touring singers such as Carmen McRae and Billie Holiday (the latter in the year 1958). In the early 1960s, he also played in a duo with Art Taylor, and later did arranging work for 'Barclay Records'. In 1971 he went abroad to play in Spain, following which he returned to the United States and promptly retired. Art Simmons died at his home in Beckley on April 23rd 2018, at the age of 92. http://obituaries.register-herald.com/obituary/mr-arthur-simmons-1926-2018-1056986376
Posting three a day at the moment due to backlog. Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Simmons
Posted: 6th June 2018
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† REST IN PEACE †
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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