King Pleasure

King Pleasure - Vocalese singer - (1922 - 1982)

Vocalese is a term given to a small niche style of jazz and blues music. It is created by giving a vocal chorus to the instrumental improvisation played by a jazz or blues master. The vocal chorus is in tempo and syntax, and fits greatly with the ideas of the originator of the solo. It is a very difficult and exacting task and very few can master this art. The first was probably Eddie Jefferson, but the most famous of its practitioners was a guy known by the flowery and imaginative name of King Pleasure.

The King came to be at the legendary amateur night at the Apollo Theater in New York City one night in late 1951. Up to that time he was known as Clarence Beeks, but that night on stage he presented his own unique take on the standard tune “I'm In The Mood For Love”. Using lyrics originally written by Jefferson to the solo on the tune by James Moody, Beeks did his number and was declared the winner of the talent fest. King Pleasure was born that night in Harlem.

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