Born: August 16, 1939 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
I had a huge voice when I was just eight years old, says Mary Stallings about her beginnings as a singer. It was a voice too big to ignore - spanning almost four octaves. Few could. By the time she was 11, she had made her first solo recording and while still in high school she joined Louis Jordan's Tympani Five. She came of age in the big band era, and was invited to tour as vocalist with most of the major names of the time. It was the best musical education I could have had, explains Mary, I was fired from lessons for playing everything from memory. Instead, her education came a bit more unconventionally, including stints with the Grover Mitchell - Earl Father Hines band, three years touring the U.S. and Europe with Count Basie, and sharing the bill with Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. I met all the heroes of the music and then got a chance to work with them, she says.
Although Mary took time off from touring and recording during the '70's, she never stopped singing. So when she re-emerged back onto the jazz scene reinvigorated, with a sound that gave homage to her past but held a freshness and vigor, she immediately caught the attention of the music press, who called her stunning and a jazz vocal sensation. During this period, she released several critically acclaimed CDs, one which made many of the year-end best-of lists, another that went to the top 10 on the Gavin Jazz Chart. Today, Mary Stallings combines the grace and grandeur of experience with an undiluted passion for performing in her Live At The Village Vanguard release. With its blend of old and new, smoky standards and take-your-breath-away ballads, the CD, in many ways, reflects this current milestone in Mary's career. This is the right time for me to be singing these songs, she says. I pick songs that feel delicious to me, songs that I relate to at the time, songs that I love. That's what you'll find here.
“Stallings’ voice is supple and timeless... encompassing the whole history of music. --San Francisco Chronicle
“Stallings sounds like Carmen McRae with some Dinah Washington sass thrown in. Stallings doesn't flit around or complicate her singing with oblique swirls and curlicues like many younger jazz singers. She stays closer to the blues, laying down the ballad ‘Sunday Kind of Love’ with fine, feminine ardor.” --Philadelphia Inquirer
“The vocalist, who got her start with the bands of Cal Tjader, Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie, wraps her slightly gospel-inflected pipes around a set of jazz standards and obscurities with true elegance. Live At The Village Vanguard is a soulful body of tunes...” --Portland Oregonian
“All Music Guide Pick: Best of Artist. Greatly influenced by Carmen McRae, San Francisco native Mary Stallings is a passionate, robust singers who isn't nearly as well known as she should be.” --All Music Guide
2001 - Live at the Village Vanguard (Max Jazz)
1996 - Yesterday, Today and Forever (Concord Jazz)
1995 - Spectrum (Concord)
1995 - Fine & Well (Clarity)
1994 - I Waited for You (Concord Jazz)
1990 - Fine and Mellow (Clarity)
1961 - Cal Tjader Plays, Mary Stallings Sings (Fantasy)
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