Canadian (Alberta-born) vocalist and songwriter Tammy Weis, now resident in London, will present her celebration of Julie London at the 606 Club on November 30th. She previews it:
LondonJazz News: What made you choose Julie London?
Tammy Weis: As I was researching her life, I ended up finding a lot in common with her: she was a mezzo soprano, like me. We both did our first live performance at three years old. She learned to sing from her mother as did I. And for her it all began listening to Ella Fitzgerald (with me it was Sarah Vaughan).
LJN: Who was she?
TW: She recorded 32 albums in a career that began in Los Angeles. Billboard named her the most popular female vocalist for 1955, 1956, and 1957. She was the subject of a 1957 Life cover article in which she was quoted as saying, “It’s only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate.”
She also had a 35 year acting career, making over 20 films
LJN? Who was she married to?
TW: Bobby Troup, in 1959 (he wrote Get your Kicks on Route 66)
LJN: How did she first hear Cry Me A River?
TW: It had originally been written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in a film set in the 1920’s, Pete Kelly’s Blues but the song was dropped. A friend asked if she would like to sing it. She performed it in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It. It was her biggest chart success and was #9 on US charts and #22 in the UK
LJN: And “Sway” (video above)?
TW: It was originally a Mexican mambo instrumental from 1953, entitled “¿Quién será?”,(Demetrio/ Beltran Ruiz), and issued by Dean MArtin with lyrics by Norman Gimbel[ the follwing year. Julie London’s famous recording was on her album Latin in a Satin Mood from 1964.
LJN: What was her last recording?
TW: My Funny Valentine, on the soundtrack for the Burt Reynolds film Sharky’s Machine in 1981
TW: I am really looking forward to singing in her keys; very intimate and smoky. It is amazing what a difference it can make to a song like Fly me to the Moon. It gives it a whole new sound.
LJN: What other projects do you have on the go?
TW: I am currently working on finishing my album celebrating Canadian songwriters. We have recorded half of the album to date which features a guest performance by Randy Bachman (BTO and The Guess Who ‘Ain’t seen nothing yet’ and ‘American Woman’)
I have also been spending time in Portugal, writing for a Portuguese album
I have been a mentor at the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy and helped them prepare for their performance at the 2014 Jazz Festival at the Southbank Centre