Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Lellis, Tom, singer, pianist, lyricist; b. 8 April 1946. He began singing professionally at the age of 15 in Cleveland, Ohio. On the road at age 20, by 21 he had become house singer at the Three Rivers Inn, Syracuse, N.Y., working with a big band on bills with Ray Charles, Gregory Hines, Buddy Greco and the Four Freshmen, and small house bands in clubs across the U.S. including Las Vegas' Frontier Hotel. At the age of 24 Tom began intensive piano studies.
He studied and performed with Bill Dobbins and theorist, Phil Rizzo. Three years later he was opening for Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Jimmy Smith and other jazz greats. In 1973 he moved to New York. He performs in a variety of venues in and around New York City, the U.S. and Europe. He has set lyrics to works by McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Wayne Shorter and been engaged as lyricist by Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck and others. His first album became a fixture in London's jazz discos in the early 1980s. He was voted to DownBeat's International Critics Poll in 1994 (Jazz Singer) and performed in 1995 and 1998 at the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention.
Tom performed and recorded his works with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra in 1999. He is teacher, clinician and frequent performer at the International Association of Jazz Educators. Tom's work has been included in the Latin Real Book featuring his performance on the accompanying CD.
And In This Corner (1979; w. Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette, Jeremy Steig); Double Entendre (1991; w. Gomez, DeJohnette); Taken To Heart (1992)
106 Sherman Street
Brooklyn, New York 11218
(718) 768-9809 or (800) 536-5288