Sunday, April 5, 2020 | 2pm
First Unitarian Church (536 Linton St, Cincinnati, OH 45219)
What’s It All About: A Burt Bacharach Retrospective, featuring Hal Melia
Academy and Grammy Award-winning musician and composer Burt Bacharach is one of the most influential American pop composers of the 20th century. His melodies helped create the nation’s soundtrack from the ‘60s through the ‘90s and have been recorded by hundreds of artists worldwide, including jazz greats like Stan Getz and Herbie Hancock. Hear the Phil DeGreg Trio and multi-reed specialist Hal Melia paint these American classics in all-new colors. And you never know… they might just show you the way to San Jose.
Jazz@First Series Sponsor: Al Harris
Artist Profile: Hal Melia, multi-reed specialist
The energy and personality Hal Melia brings to both his teaching and his performing are contagious. Those who have experienced his workshops, classes and performances never forget the tireless effort and positive aura he exudes in any setting. He is the epitome of the multi-instrumentalist – he plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute, piccolo, clarinets (Bb, Eb Soprano and Bass) and EWI (electronic wind instrument). A consummate professional, Hal is noteworthy as a vocalist and scat singer, and has composed and arranged a body of work for a variety of settings.
Hal spent 1986 through 1991 in Los Angeles recording and arranging with top jazz and R&B groups (Tower of Power Horns, Buddy Rich Band, Billy Vera and the HAL MELIA Beaters), and appearing in several major motion pictures (Bugsy, Dick Tracy, The Marrying Man, Mobsters, Parent Trap III and others). He attained his Masters Degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Hal now resides in Dayton, Ohio, serving as Assistant Professor of Music (Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute and
Jazz Studies) and Director of Jazz Studies at Central State University in Wilberforce, OH. In addition, Hal
serves as Musical Director for the Miami Valley Summer Jazz Camp, teaches privately, and performs quite
often both regionally and nationally.
Artist profile: Phil DeGreg, piano
Phil DeGreg began playing the piano in his childhood and now performs as a jazz pianist internationally. His earliest jazz influences were Bud Powell and Bill Evans, but he is accomplished and comfortable in a wide range of jazz styles, ranging from mainstream to bebop to Brazilian jazz. A graduate of Yale and the University of North Texas, he toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra in the 1980’s, and has 10 CD’s to his credit as a leader. For 13 years he accompanied many national and international jazz artists in the house trio in Cincinnati’s famous Blue Wisp Jazz Club. He has been on staff with the renowned Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops since 1983, and has performed and taught in Europe and South America.
Phil DeGreg is the retired Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts study grants. In 2008 he was awarded a 4 month Fulbright Fellowship as a lecturer in Brazil.
His text “Jazz Keyboard Harmony” is a practical text for teaching jazz harmony for all musicians, and is used all over the world in universities and for private study.
Learn more about Phil DeGreg on his website http://phildegreg.com.
About Burt Bacharach
With a hit-single track record spanning four decades, Burt Bacharach became one of the most important composers of popular music in the 20th century, almost equal to such classic tunesmiths as George Gershwin or Irving Berlin. His sophisticated yet breezy productions borrowed from cool jazz, soul, Brazilian bossa nova and traditional pop to virtually define and undoubtedly transcend the staid forms of Brill Building adult pop during the 1960s.
Born May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, he studied cello, drums and piano as a child, and was later transplanted to New York City by his father, a syndicated columnist. The time spent in New York gave him a chance to sneak into clubs to watch his bebop heroes Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker; he also played in several jazz bands during the 1940s. Bacharach studied music theory and composition at the Mannes School in New York, at Berkshire Music Center, at the New School for Social Research (with Darius Milhaud), at Montreal's McGill University and at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. A period in the Army interrupted his concentration of music study, but even while serving in Germany, Bacharach arranged and played piano for a dance band. He also played in nightclubs and backed Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart. Bacharach was discharged in 1952, and he married Stewart on December 22nd of the following year.
On returning to the U.S., he began writing songs for Lawrence, Patti Page, the Ames Brothers and others, but his first hit came from Marty Robbins in late 1957 when Robbins took "The Story of My Life" to the American Top 20 and the number one spot in England. The single was also notable for its co-composer, Hal David, who became Bacharach's songwriting partner and collaborated on most of his big hits. The Bacharach/David team followed up in January 1958 with Perry Como's "Magic Moments," another U.K. chart-topper and a Top Five entry in America. Bacharach's marriage dissolved in 1958, and he left for Europe to tour with Marlene Dietrich. He returned in 1961, and wrote several songs for the Drifters with Bob Hilliard (including "Mexican Divorce" and "Please Stay") before reuniting with Hal David. At an arranging session, he found the singer who became the ultimate vehicle for his songs: Dionne Warwick who was working as a member of the Drifters' backup vocal group, the Gospelaires.
By late 1962, Bacharach and David began focusing most of their composing energy on Warwick, who was the recipient of 15 Top 40 singles from 1962 to 1968 (including the Top Tens "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Walk on By," "Message to Michael," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Valley of the Dolls" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"). The duo also remained dominant in England, where Frankie Vaughan, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, the Walker Brothers and Herb Alpert all hit number one with Bacharach/David compositions. As if their schedule wasn't busy enough throughout the '60s, the songwriters contributed film scores for What's New Pussycat?, Alfie and Casino Royale. The film featuring their most celebrated score, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Theme Song for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" (plus two non-musical Academy Awards). Bacharach and David began working on the musical Promises, Promises in the late '60s; it won a Tony and a Grammy Award (for cast album) during a popular three-year Broadway run. Bacharach hit the charts himself in 1969, with the show's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" reaching the Top 100. Surprisingly, this was not his only foray into recording; Bacharach had reached number four in the U.K. charts in May 1965 with "Trains and Boats and Planes," and he released several popular solo albums during the late '60s.
The beginning of the '70s looked bright for Burt Bacharach, as the Carpenters took "(They Long to Be) Close to You" to number one in the U.S. in July 1970. The forecast was premature, though, as three of his closest partners -- Hal David, Dionne Warwick and his second wife Angie Dickinson -- left him. He gathered several accolades for an eponymous 1971 album featuring renditions of his previous hit compositions, but later albums were disappointing and Bacharach's next hit was over a decade in coming. Finally in 1981, he collaborated with Christopher Cross, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allenon the Oscar-winning "Arthur's Theme." Bacharach married Bayer Sager just one year later, and together they wrote Roberta Flack's Top 20 hit "Making Love," as well as "Heartlight" which Neil Diamond took to number five.
Once Bacharach resumed composing he began to hit, and 1986 was one of his finest years, with two American number ones: "That's What Friends Are For" (by an all-star group including Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder) and a duet by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonaldtitled "On My Own." He divorced Sager in 1991, but worked with Dionne Warwick again two years later on "Sunny Weather Love," from her Friends Can Be Lovers album. Also in 1993, Bacharach contributed songs to James Ingram, Earth, Wind & Fire and Tevin Campbell. Around the same time, many alternative bands began name-checking the hitmaker as an influence, and Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher joined him on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall as well as including a picture of him on the cover of Oasis' Definitely Maybe. BBC-TV focused on Bacharach in a January 1996 documentary, and a three-disc retrospective of his compositions was released by Rhino in 1998. That same year he collaborated with Elvis Costello on the acclaimed Painted From Memory, and was celebrated at an all-star concert at Radio City Music Hall which later formed the basis for the LP One Amazing Night. The 2005 album At This Time found Bacharach writing lyrics for the first time. Tonio K helped with the lyrics, Elvis Costello, Dr. Dre, Chris Botti and Rufus Wainwright also contributed to the album.