© - Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
There was a time when the following story as retold by Ron Grevatt was commonplace.
“One night about four years ago in Columbus, Ohio, a willowy young singer took a busman's holiday from her job as vocalist with Rusty Bryant's band to join friends for an evening at the 502 Club - a local jazz emporium where a rather remarkable, up-and-coming alto saxophone player and his swinging combo were appearing.
The girl was Nancy Wilson, and the young man with the horn was Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. Their chance meeting that night will always be well-remembered by both of them.
did some tunes with the band that
night," Cannonball reflects, "unrehearsed, off-the-top-of-the-head
stuff. Even then, this young kid had so much to offer - tone, style, confidence
-1 felt she just had to go a long way." Nancy
Adderley's prophecy of stardom for
has certainly been fulfilled since that first casual
get-together just a few short years ago. For today Nancy Wilson is in every way
a big-leaguer, a fast-rising young singing star who is just beginning to
realize her full potential as an in-person performer as well as a top recording
artist for Capitol Records. Nancy
"Cannonball has helped me so many times,"
remembers. "When I first came to Nancy , the first person I called when I got off
the bus was Cannon." New York
, New York pounded an office typewriter by day and
sang by night, the latter in a Nancy Bronx
jazz spot known as the Blue Morocco. It was here (at Cannonball's urging) that
John Levy, former bassist with the famed George Shearing Quintet and now the
manager of Shearing, Adderley, and many other stars of jazz, first heard Miss
Wilson. One listening was the clincher, and from that evening on Levy took the
new singer in tow.
This was the start of many exciting developments for the girl from
, not the least of which was the enthused
reaction to her singing by Capitol Records' executive producer, Columbus Dave Cavanaugh. Frankly, Cavanaugh simply
flipped and signed her right away.
Her albums to date have won her a throng of new friends. Critics, their tastes often jaded by an endless parade of new jazz singers, have been unanimous in their praise of
's remarkable phrasing, tone, control and
The decades following the close of World War II were chock-a-bloc with major and minor record labels all looking for talent and the next, big hit record.
It was a fun time with neighborhood cocktail lounges, clubs and even bowling alley, Moose Hall and American Legion bars everywhere featuring “live music” in the form of duos, trios and quartets, many of which fronted a vocalist for a few tunes each set.
The story that Ron relates of Nancy Wilson’s “coming-of-age,” while certainly exceptional in terms of
’s talent and subsequent national
recognition, was also fairly routine for many other singers and entertainers
who developed local, dedicated followings. Nancy
The first time I heard
perform with Cannonball, I was driving
north along the Nancy Pacific Coast Highway with the late afternoon sun beginning to
set in the west.
A friend had recently installed an FM radio in his car [a big deal at the time] and we were heading up the California coast from Santa Monica to
for a gig. Malibu
and Cannonball Adderley’s quintet filled
our world with the sound of Never Will I
Marry - two minutes and sixteen
seconds of pure enchantment. Nancy
It was over almost as soon as it started.
We looked at the radio in the car dashboard and then at one another with startled expressions on our faces and my buddy said: “Who was that?” I said: “I dunno, but I sure want to hear that again.”
Never Will I Marry forms the audio track to the video tribute to
. Perhaps, if you’re like me, you’ll want
to hear it again, too. If so, go ahead and treat yourself as it is only of …
pure bliss! Nancy