In Part 1 of my interview last week with pianist Ronnell Bright, Sarah Vaughan's accompanist, Ronnell [right] talked about serving aboard an aircraft carrier in 1948 with singer Julius La Rosa just before Julie was discovered. Julie [below], a baritone with an enormously stable and confident voice, would go on to become one of television's first charismatic singing stars, scoring a string of popular and traditional Italian hits in the 1950s and 1960s.
Shortly after posting Part 1, I received an email from Doug Ramsey, the esteemed jazz critic, author and Rifftides blogger. Doug wrote to tell me that he had sent Julie a link to JazzWax. Julie responded with the following email:
"Wow! Look at all that hair! Re Ronnie Bright: I remember him very well!; in fact he's probably the earliest indication—to me—that I had an ear and could sing! He taught me Don't Blame Me, which he sang very "jazzily." He took the title, singing, "Do-oh-oh-OHN'T, blay-ay-ay, AYM, me-EE-ee...," and in the release I would sing, "I can't help it if that doggone moon above, makes me need someone like you to love..." Very "straight! Ronnell would go back to "Ca-ah-ah-AHN'T, you-oo-oo-OOH, see-EE-ee... when you do the things to me..." Wow! Such memories!"
JazzWax tracks: Julius La Rosa's voice may unfamiliar to you or you may have written it off as too mainstream. Not so fast.
Download My Funny Valentine at iTunes for 99 cents and see what you think. If you like it, add Rosanne and When You're in Love from the same 1955 album. This is is how popular music was crafted in the mid-1950s. Open, full and pure. For more on Julius La Rosa, visit his website here.