2016 Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Jazz Inductions
Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame induction of jazz greats, Greg Abate, Carol Sloane, and Frankie Carle at Chan’s Fine Oriental Dinning on April 21, 2016. The celebration included a performance by Greg Abate and Carol Sloane backed by an all-star trio consisting of pianist Tim Ray and 2015 Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame inductees Marty Richards on drums and Marty Ballou on bass.
The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame is a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and preserving the legacy of Rhode Island musicians, educators and industry professional who have made significant contributions to the national and Rhode Island music scene. The Hall will carry out its mission through the annual election of inductees, creation of a museum of artist- and music-related exhibits honoring inductees and commemorating the state’s musical legacy, and an online music archive of information about, and audio recordings by, those involved in Rhode Island’s past and present music scene. In addition, the Hall is committed to continuing that legacy by supporting programs and services aimed at promoting and strengthening Rhode Island’s current and future music scene and ensuring that music continues to play an important role in the lives of all Rhode Islanders.
Greg Abate began his musical education studying clarinet and alto sax in the Woonsocket Public Schools system and then enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. His primary influences were the modern jazz stylist Paul Desmond and be-bop innovator Charlie Parker. Upon graduating, he played lead alto with the legendary Ray Charles for two years in the mid-1970s then returned to Rhode Island to launch his own career. He formed the fusion band Channel One and released his first album, Without Boundaries, in 1981. After spending two years with the Artie Shaw Orchestra in the mid-1980s, he embarked on a solo career showcasing his unique, hard post-bop style which has brought him worldwide acclaim. He was dubbed “The Prince of Be-Bop” by jazz impressario John Chan and has released nearly two dozen albums as a leader. His 2002 album Evolution and his 2014 release Motif both placed high on jazz charts around the globe and Mike Joyce of The Washington Post wrote that “Greg Abate is considered by jazz writers and aficionados to be one of the most exciting saxophone players out there today.” He has collaborated and/or recorded with dozens of the all-time greats including Phil Woods, Richie Cole, Jerome Richardson, Kenny Barron and Claudio Roditi. He is an adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at Rhode Island College and conducts workshops and master classes throughout the United States and Europe. He continues to tour internationally and is currently recording for Whaling City Sound. His latest release is Kindred Spirits, a collaboration with Phil Woods recorded live at Chan’s in Greg’s hometown of Woonsocket.
Greg Abate’s last album, Greg Abate & Phil Woods: Kindred Spirits: Live at Chan’s with the Tim Ray Trio, was a Double Live CD recorded at Chan’s Fine Oriental Dinning. Here are some photos from their set at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, with Greg Abate on alto saxophone and soprano saxophone, the late Phil Woods on alto saxophone, Tim Ray on piano, John Lockwood on bass and Mark Walker on drums. Read that album review on All About Jazz.
FRANKIE CARLE (1903-2001)
Frankie Carle, born Francis Carlone in Providence, Rhode Island in 1903, is one of the most successful artists in Rhode Island music history. As a composer, he wrote “Sunrise Serenade,” Glenn Miller’s million-selling hit in 1939; as a musician, he was the featured pianist for Horace Heidt’s popular band in the early 1940s; and as the conductor of his own big band, he became a star. From 1944 ’til the end of the decade, he totaled 23 chart records including two #1 hits in 1946, both of which featured his daughter, billed as Marjorie Hughes, as the vocalist. When the big band era ended, “The Wizard of the Keyboard” turned out a slew of popular instrumental albums. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recording in 1960 and was inducted into the Big Band & Jazz Hall of Fame in 1989.
Jazz vocalist Carol Sloane grew up in Smithfield and began her professional career in 1951 singing with Rhode Island society band leader Ed Drew. She first gained national attention in the late 1950s when she joined the orchestra of Larry Elgart with whom with she recorded for RCA Victor. In 1961, Jon Hendricks of the legendary vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, who had become a fan of Carol’s after hearing her at a jazz festival, helped her secure her first booking at The Village Vanguard opening for Oscar Peterson. He next convinved the producers of the Newport Jazz Festival to include her in their “New Stars” program that summer, a showcase for emerging talent. She garnered rave reviews for her performance and was heard by a representative of Columbia records. Columbia signed her and she recorded an album a few months later. Released in 1962, Out Of The Blue was unanimously praised by the press and launched her on a solo career which has continued for nearly six decades. She has recorded more than two dozen critically acclaimed, internationally released albums as a leader in the company of dozens of jazz legends and giants including Clark Terry, Tommy Flanagan, Bob Brookmeyer, Art Farmer, Jim Hall, Sir Roland Hanna, Ben Webster and Phil Woods, just to name a few, and continues to perform. In a 2007 review of her album “Dearest Duke,” Matt Schudel of The Washington Post wrote, ”If Carol Sloane isn’t America’s greatest living jazz singer, then no one deserves the title.”