MORE GEORGE HOWARD & PHYLLIS HYMAN Tribute.....
GEORGE HOWARD BIO:
George Howard was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on September 15, 1956. His earlier training could be best attributed to his classical training on the clarinet, and the bassoon. During his teen years, he often listened to jazz-rock, and soul. However, it was his father who first introduced him to the earlier jazz works, of Charlie “The Bird” Parker, and John Coltrane. Later on, he moved to the soprano saxophone, which was quickly replaced by the tenor sax.
By the 70’s, George was performing with the tenor sax, for which he used to hone his skills, by performing with the local groups and gaining recognition through his session playing. This was soon followed by work with the pioneers of the Philly-sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Dexter Wansel. While at Philly, George gained more notoriety through his work, with the groups, Harold Melvin and the Blues Notes, and Blue Magic.
His first major break occurred when he was invited, by his idol Grover Washington, Jr. to join him on tour in 1979. And by the early 80’s he found himself actually recording under his own name. According to George, ”playing with Grover gave me a real hunger.” “As far and learning the ropes and watching Grover, who is a consummate professional, I learned a whole lot of stuff from being in that environment.” “It really fired up my hunger, for having my own thing.”
George eventually landed a deal and recorded his first album entitled, ”Asphalt Garden”, in 1982 on Palo Alto. The album was a moderate hit for George. Two years later, in 1984 he followed with his second album entitled, “Steppin-Out”. However, it wasn’t until 1985 that George actually gained a wider audience with the release of his third album entitled, “Dancing in the Sun”. With this release George found himself in the number one position on the contemporary jazz charts.
Through this experimentation, with his special fusion, of funk, jazz and urban soul, George found an audience who could identify with his music. This appeared to play a major role in his decision to seek a better understanding for the roots of his music when he made several trips to Africa to help define his dynamic style of playing. This smooth mixture of jazz and soul helped to garner a larger audience, while playing the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones.
After the release of “Dancing In The Sun”, he moved to the recording label of MCA. While there he recorded the albums, “A Nice Place To Be”(which included the theme song for the TV Series, “Spenser For Hire”), “Reflections”, “Personal”, and “Love Will Follow”. All four albums were considered to be very successful on the music charts.
By 1991, George had signed with the new recording label GRP, and debuted with his eighth album entitled, “Love and Understanding”. This was followed by his 1992 release entitled, “Do I Cross Your Mind “, and his 1993 tenth album entitled, “When Summer Comes”. In 1994, George released his eleventh album entitled, “A Home Far Away”, and two years later followed it with the 1996 release called, “Attitude Adjustment”.
For the last 14 years (eight years living in L.A. and six in Atlanta), and another ten albums under his belt George brought this collection of great tracks to his many listeners. This album was a combination, of his first five years with GRP, plus additional selections, from his MCA recordings. The 1997 release was simply entitled, “The Very Best of George Howard.”
A year later his next anticipated album was released in January 1998, which was entitled, “Midnight Mood.” It was greeted with excellent reviews. This album would be George Howard’s final release.
George’s career was still going strong, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma and died unexpectedly on March 22, 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia. Within a few months, George’s final recording would be released, as part of Blue Note’s Cover Series. The song was a version of Sly Stone’s, “There’s A Riot Goin’ On.”
PHYLLIS HYMAN BIO:
Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the St. Clair Village, the South Hills section of Pittsburgh. Born to an African American family, she was the eldest of seven children and a third cousin of actor Earle Hyman (best known for his recurring role on TV's The Cosby Show as Cliff's father, Russell Huxtable). After leaving Pittsburgh, her music training started at a music school. On graduation, she performed on a national tour with the group New Direction in 1971. After the group disbanded, she joined All the People and worked with another local group, The Hondo Beat. At this time, she appeared in the film Lenny (1974). She also did a two-year stint leading a band called Phyllis Hyman and the P/H Factor. Hyman was discovered in 1975 by internationally known pop artist and music industry veteran Sid Maurer, and former Epic Records promoter Fred Frank, and signed to their Roadshow Records/Desert Moon imprint.
Hyman moved to [New York City] to work on her reputation. She did background vocals on Jon Lucien's Premonition and worked in clubs. In 1975 when Norman Connors was laying tracks for "You are My Starship" (1976) he could not get permission to use Jean Carne for the album and had heard about Phyllis Hyman, who was working at a club on the upper Westside of Manhattan. One night after a Jon Lucien concert at Carnegie Hall he went to see Phyllis perform and offered her a spot as the female vocalist on his fourth album for Buddah Records. Once the title song got airplay on Jazz radio, "Starship" went gold, catapulting Phyllis' career along with Norman Connors and Michael Henderson to new heights. R&B radio jumped on board and Norman and Phyllis scored on the R&B charts with a remake of The Stylistics' "Betcha by Golly Wow!".
CareerHyman sang with Pharoah Sanders and the Fatback Band while working on her first solo album, Phyllis Hyman, released in 1977 on the Buddah Records label. When Arista Records bought Buddha, she was transferred to that label. Her first album for Arista, Somewhere in My Lifetime, was released in 1978; the title track was produced by then-labelmate Barry Manilow. Her follow-up album, You Know How to Love Me, made the R&B Top 20 and also performed well on the club–dance charts. In the late 1970s, Hyman married her manager Larry Alexander (who is the brother of Jamaican pianist and melodica player Monty Alexander), but both the personal and professional associations ended in divorce. Around this time, Hyman began using cocaine, which led to a lifelong dependency.
Hyman's first solo Top Ten hit came in 1981 with "Can't We Fall In Love Again", a duet with Michael Henderson. The song was recorded while she was performing in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, a tribute to Duke Ellington. She performed in the role for almost two years, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and winning a Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer.
Problems between Hyman and her label, Arista, caused a pause in her recording career. She used the time to appear on movie soundtracks, television commercials and guest vocals, working with Chuck Mangione, The Whispers and The Four Tops. Hyman provided vocals for three tracks on jazz pianist McCoy Tyner's Looking Out (1982). She toured often and did a college lecture tour.
In 1983, Hyman recorded the song "Never Say Never Again" as the title song for the James Bond movie of the same name, written by Stephen Forsyth and Jim Ryan. However, Warner Brothers informed Forsyth that Michel Legrand, who wrote the score for the film, had threatened to sue them, claiming he contractually had the rights to the title song. An alternate title song composed by Legrand was eventually used for the film and performed by singer Lani Hall, formerly of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66.
Free from Arista in 1985, she released the album, Living All Alone on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label the following year, capitalizing on the torch songs, "Old Friend" and the melancholy title track, as well as "You Just Don't Know" and "Screaming at the Moon". In 1987, Phyllis Hyman recorded "Black and Blue" as a duet with Barry Manilow on his 1987 Swing Street Arista album. Manilow was a long time admirer of Phyllis and her work. Shortly afterwards, she appeared in the films School Daze and The Kill Reflex. She would also continue to lend her voice to albums for other artists and musicians like Grover Washington, Jr. and Lonnie Liston Smith, while at the same time doing international tours.
Her next album, again on Philadelphia International, called Prime of My Life, released in 1991, was the biggest of her career. It included her first number one R&B hit as well as her first Billboard Top 100 hit, "Don't Wanna Change the World". The album provided two more top 10 R&B singles in "Living in Confusion" and "When You Get Right Down to It", and the less successful "I Found Love". Just over a year later, she appeared one last time on a Norman Connors album, singing the title song, "Remember Who You Are", which became a minor R&B hit. Prime of My Life has sold 454,000 copies to date. The album and debut single were both RIAA certified Gold in 1992.
Hyman's last album, I Refuse to Be Lonely, was a journey into her personal life. Both the title track and the single "I'm Truly Yours" became minor R&B hits.