Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Melvoin, Michael

Melvoin, Michael, keyboards, composer; b. Oshkosh, WI, 10 May 1937.

Melvoin is one of the most versatile and accomplished pianists and composers in Los Angeles. As a studio musician alone, he has been frequently heard on major recordings, and has composed and conducted many television and motion picture soundtracks. He has arranged for Lou Rawls, Bill Henderson, Peggy Lee, Joe Williams, Billy Eckstine, Barry Manilow, Pat Boone, The Four Freshmen, Jon Davidson, The Partridge Family, Tom Waits, Wayne Newton and many others. He has been Music Director for the Grammys and for the Emmy Hall of Fame celebration. Melvoin's work has been spotlighted on such significant recordings as Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable," which garnered a Grammy "Record of the Year" award; The Beach Boys Grammy Hall of Fame recordings "Good Vibrations" and "Pet Sounds," Frank Sinatra's "That's Life," and the first hit by the Jackson Five ("ABC"). He is heard playing Hammond B3 on Tony Bennett's Grammy nominated album, Playin' With My Friends, which includes duets with Ray Charles, Kay Starr, and Bonnie Raitt.

Melvoin was born in Oshkosh but grew up in Milwaukee. He began playing piano at the age of 3 and made his professional debut at 13 with local dance bands. At Dartmouth College in New Hampshire he led The Barbary Coast, a jazz/dance band as well as a jazz quintet called The Sultans which the English publication The Melody Maker cited as the best college jazz band in the U.S. In 1959 he graduated from Dartmouth with a BA in English Literature. The next three years proved to be extremely formative in his career as he gigged with numerous jazz, dance, and Latin bands all over the New York area as well as on the road. He further honed his piano-playing abilities in Harlem jam sessions. Sensing greater opportunities for himself, in 1962 he moved to Los Angeles where he formed a trio and worked with such important jazz artists as Leroy Vinnegar, Gerald Wilson, Bud Shank, Red Mitchell, Paul Horn, Joe Pass, Frank Rosolino, Oliver Nelson, Milt Jackson, Shelly Manne, Plas Johnson, Herb Ellis, Sweets Edison and Terry Gibbs. His talent as an accompanist became apparent during stints accompanying the late Joe Williams, Gene McDaniels, Bill Henderson , Nancy Wilson, and Diane Schuur. He also arranged and conducted a series of albums for the late great Peggy Lee while serving as her musical director. Among the hundreds of album projects he has participated in are those of Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Barry Manilow (for whom he also arranged several tracks on his "Tribute to the Big Bands" CD), Bette Midler, Tom Waits, Wayne Newton, Michael Jackson, Glen Campbell, Bing Crosby, Billy Eckstine, John Lennon, John Williams, Andy Williams, Burt Bacharach, Dean Martin, Herb Alpert, Mel Torme, Paul Anka, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ann Margaret, Carol Burnett, Frankie Laine, Patti Page, Liza Minelli, Diana Ross, The Monkees, Ray Charles, The Fifth Dimension, The Partridge Family (Melvoin arranged all the Partridge family records), Manhattan Transfer, Laura Nyro, Stan Getz, Roy Rogers, Betty Carter, Steve Allen, Burl Ives, Les Brown, and the current jazz sensations Kurt Elling and Jane Monheit. He continues to have a successful career as a composer for film and TV that includes features, movies for TV and series. His next film scoring assignment is the feature Looking For Chet Baker which is scheduled to score in June 2003. Notable soundtrack recordings at the keyboard include the films "Rocky," "The French Connection," and "Play Misty For Me." In television, he played on Lalo Schifrin's theme for the television show "Mission: Impossible" which also won a Grammy for "Record of the Year." He also composed and conducted the scores to Streisand's "The Main Event," Michael Caine's "Ashanti," and Matt Dillon's "The Big Town." During his long career, Melvoin has won three NARAS "Most Valuable Player" awards and the prestigious Emeritus Award. Recent projects include arranging and playing the title song of Pat Boone's "controversial" heavy metal album "No More Mr. Nice Guy," two piano albums for Bruton, a duo CD with Charlie Haden, and recording, conducting and performing with singers Nina Simone, Vikki Carr, Bill Henderson, David Basse, and Nancy Marano. Just released is his production of David Cassidy's new CD. Newly recorded projects include a large orchestra piece with Lou Rawls and his trio's backing of singer Richard Crystal, Billy's brother, on his debut recording. He is also the first active musician to have served as the National President of The Recording Academy (which presents the Grammy Awards) in 1984 and 1985. Melvoin continues to serve the Academy on the Board of Directors of MusiCares, the Academy's charitable foundation. He has also been involved in the production of the Grammy show itself, in some cases composing, arranging, and playing as well as assisting in the production of segments such as the salute to Louis Armstrong and the All-Star Jazz tribute during the mid 1980s. He also produced the salute to Duke Ellington for the 1999 Grammys. He composed and conducted original music serving as music director of the 1993 "Grammy's Greatest Moments," a two-hour special that aired on CBS. Further, as a featured member of, and writer for Jack Elliott's Orchestra, he contributed to the underscores for the Grammy Awards shows from 1994 through 2000. Melvoin's career is one of substance and durability. Beyond his celebrated work as a composer, he is now at a point in his life where he is reaching out from the often-confining life in the Los Angeles studios to emerge as the important jazz pianist he has always been. Summing up his many years as a musician, he remarked candidly, "I'm a lucky man to be able to continue to do the work I love."

It's Always You (with Phil Woods); Oh Baby; Strike When Your Iron Is Hot; The Capitol Sessions (with Charlie Haden and Bill Henderson); The Spirit Of Jazz Vocals; Redeye; Mike Melvoin (Yamaha/Disk Lavier); Tribute (The Spirit of Jazz Piano); Joe Williams: Then and Now;  Pat Boone: No More Mister Nice Guy
Recorded with:
Wendy & Lisa, Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Herb Ellis, Barbra Streisand, Ray Brown, Joe Williams, Plas Johnson, Tom Waits, Oliver Nelson, Bette Midler, Milt Jackson, Martin Mull, Leroy Vinnegar, Bill Henderson, Pete Christlieb, Peggy Lee, Gary Mac Farland, Wayne Newton, Gabor Szabo, Beach Boys, Cal Tjader, Michael Jackson, Glen Campbell, Jackson 5, Bing Crosby, Johnny Rivers, O.C. Smith, John Davidson, Lou Rawls, The Association, Billy Eckstine, Alan Price, John Lennon, Harry Nillson, Andy Williams, Jose Feliciano, Vikki Carr, The Partridge Family, David Cassidy, The Ventures, Paul Horn, The Four Freshman, John Williams, Bill Conti, Lalo Schiffrin, Carol Bayer Sager, Trini Lopez, Burt Bacharach, Kenny Rogers, Marvin Hamlisch, Nina Simone, "We Are The World," Natalie Cole, Dean Martin, Neil Diamond, Herb Alpert, Sammy Davis Jr., Lani Hall, Nancy Wilson, Gene Mac Daniels, Cass Elliott, Bernadette Peters, Joe Cocker, Phil Spector, Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley, Anthony Newley, Bobby Rydell, Hoyt Axton, Brook Benton, Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson, Four Freshmen, Johnny Hartman, Al Hirt, Jack Jones,
Sandpipers, Joanie Sommers, Mel Torme, Mason Williams, Helen Reddy, Ed Ames, Paul Anka, Ann Margaret, Bud & Travis, Carol Burnett, Judy Collins, Duane Eddy, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Everly Brothers, Eddie Fisher, First Edition, Terry Gibbs, Grass Roots, John Hartford, Quincy Jones, Burl Ives, Fran Jeffries, Jack Jones, Frankie Laine, Michelle Lee, Tommy Leonetti, Lettermen, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Claudine Longet, Heather Macrae, Barbara Mc Nair, Cher, The Monkees, Matt Monro, Hugo Montenegro, Jane Morgan, Jim Nabors, Teddy Neely Five, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Patti Page, The Platters, Sue Raney, Howard Roberts, Jimmie Rodgers, Andy Russell, Sandpipers, Nancy Sinatra, Tommy Sands, Sandy Nelson, Tom Scott, Bud Shank, Del Shannon, O.C.Smith, Kay Starr, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Tiny Tim, Union Gap, Rudy Vallee, Leroy Van Dyke, Bobby Vee, Margaret Whiting, Jackie De  Shannon, Liza Minelli, Lulu Diana Ross, Esther Phillips, Sam Fletcher, Danny O'keefe, David Gates, Edwin Starr, Harvey Mandel, Tim Weisberg, P.F. Sloan, Fifth Dimension, Steve Eaton, Sammy Johns, Juice Newton, The Mob, Jake Hanna, Manhattan Transfer, Bill La Bounty, Stan Getz, Ahmad Jamal, Mike Post, Thelma Houston, Don Ho, Monkees, Benny Carter, Laura Nyro, Fifth Dimension, First Edition, Adam Miller, Frank Rosolino, On Menza, Buddy Emmons, Sandra Crouch, Roy Ayers, Victor Feldman, Mason Williams, Kurt Elling, Charlie Haden, Pat Boone, Lowell George, Les Brown Tony Bennett, Nancy Marano, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Jane Monheit, Terry Gibbs, Joey De Francesco

Radio Broadcast:
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz (2002)

Television work (movies of the week/pilots/miniseries/series):
The David Cassidy Story  (NBC); Early Edition (CBS); Outpost (Columbia TV); Sharing Richard (CBS); Fame (Multiples) (MGM/United Artists); Macgyver (Multiples) (Paramount); Return Of The Rebels; Aspen (The Innocent & The Damned) (Universal); Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (Multiples) Universal; Lou Grant (Multiples) (MTM); Baretta (Multiples) (Universal); Maclain's Law (MGM); The Last Survivors (NBC); Mongo's Back In Town (CBS); Stand By For Murder (ABC); Murder At The Halfway House (ABC); Mystery At Malibu (ABC); Pete & Tillie (Universal/ABC); Krofft's Supershow (Theme & Multiples) (ABC); Woody Woodbury Show (Multiples) (Syndication); Thicker Than Water (Multiples) (Syndication)

Posse; Excessive Force; Picking Up The Pieces; Blind Fear; They Haven't Seen This; The Big Town; Armed & Dangerous; Desert Bloom; King Of The Mountain; Main Event; Ashanti

Television specials/documentaries:
Grammy 2002 (CBS); CBS The First 50 Years (CBS); Newsworthy; The Horatio Alger Awards (NBC); 1994, 1994 and 1997 Grammy Shows (CBS); Grammy's Greatest Moments (CBS, 1994); Grammy Legends '91: Higher Ground (CBS); The Fake Book; The Search For Houdini; Jazz Tribute: 1986 Grammy Awards (CBS); Jazz segment: 1997 and 1998 Grammy Awards (CBS); The American Yearbook; Over the Line; Your New Day (Vidal Sassoon Show); Peggy Flemming At Sun Valley (NBC); The Woody Woodbury Show (225 episodes)  

Live appearances with other performers:
Paul Horn, Joe Williams, American Jazz Philharmonic, Bill Henderson, Frank Morgan, Bob Kindred, Red Mitchell, Fred Karlin, Leroy Vinnegar, Ruth Brown, Frank Rosolino, Sweets Edison, Terry Gibbs, Pete Christlieb, Gerald Wilson, Teddy Edwards, Vikki Carr, Larance Marable, Ernie Andrews, Don Menza, Phil Upchurch, Lorez Alexandria, Sweets Edison, Count Basie Stan Getz, O.C. Smith, John Heard, Herman Riley, David Basse, Grammy Jazz Jams 2000 (4 All Star Concerts), Grammyfest 2003 Nyc The Cutting Room

National Radio and TV Houlihan's Restaurants '98 and '99 Campaign
Original music for Microsoft Windows 2000 introduction

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