Monday, April 06, 2015

Keyboardobit: Ralph Sharon

Ralph Sharon, pianist, has died.

Born in Britain, Sharon spent time working with British band leaders including the legendary Ted Heath. He told the US National Jazz Archive:

My first professional job was with the Ted Heath orchestra and I always say: I worked my way down from there!
It would be America, though, which made his name. Sharon's mother was a US citizen; he travelled in the opposite direction because, of course, music:
My main thing in going to the States was a musical reason; I was so wrapped up in it that I just wanted to be at the source of it all. [...]

I went out there on spec, as you might say; I just took off, and landed there with a bag. And luckily Tony Scott, a very great clarinet player, who also played alto with Duke Ellington for a while, took me in. I just moved in with him until I managed to get a union card, so that I could start working. I’d had a couple of albums out over here, and I had those with me; so I was able to go to an agency.

A call from Tony Bennett led to a four decade partnership between the two:
“When I look back and review my recordings,” Bennett told the Hartford Courant in 2005, “I see that the best singing I do is when there’s a great jazz artist around, like Stan Getz or Bill Evans, or when Ralph Sharon was playing piano for me.”
It would be a successful partnership - everything from Grammys to an MTV Unplugged album. Which also won a Grammy.

And there was this:

After retiring as Bennett's musical director in 2002, Sharon settled in Colorado. He continued to gig up until the turn of the year.

Ralph Sharon was 91; he died March 31st in Boulder.