|Birth name||James George Hunter|
August 19, 1918|
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Died||May 28, 1996
Los Angeles County, California, U.S.
Jimmy Rowles (born James George Hunter) (August 19, 1918 – May 28, 1996) was an American jazz pianist, vocalist, and composer. As a bandleader and accompanist, he explored various styles including swing and cool jazz.
Born in Spokane, Washington, Rowles studied at Gonzaga College (now University) in Spokane, Washington. After moving to Los Angeles, he joined Lester Young's group in 1942. Rowles also worked with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey, and Tony Bennett, and as a studio musician.
In the 1950s and 1960s, he frequently played behind Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, and in the 1980s he succeeded Paul Smith as Ella Fitzgerald's accompanist. Rowles had first performed with Fitzgerald at the Mocambo nightclub in Hollywood, Los Angeles, in late 1956. He had appeared on several recording sessions with her in the 1960s, before joining her for nearly three years in 1981. Rowles appeared on Fitzgerald's final collaboration with Nelson Riddle, The Best Is Yet to Come in 1982. Fitzgerald recorded Rowles and Johnny Mercer's song "Baby, Don't You Quit Now" on her final album, All That Jazz, released in 1989.
In 1973, Rowles settled in New York City, where he performed and/or recorded with Zoot Sims and Stan Getz, among others. By 1983, he worked with Diana Krall in Los Angeles, shortly after she moved from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He developed her playing abilities and encouraged her to add singing to her repertoire.
He composed several jazz pieces, the best known being "The Peacocks," which Rowles sings in his gravelly voice on the 1975 album of the same name. The piece is performed on the alto flute by Gary Foster on Foster's album, Make Your Own Fun. Rowles also performed on this album. The song is also featured on Foster's Perfect Circularity, and a version with lyrics by Norma Winstone is performed by Winstone, accompanied by Rowles, on her 1993 album Well Kept Secret, under the title 'A Timeless Place'. Guitarist John McLaughlin also recorded a version of "The Peacocks" on his 1995 album The Promise.
In 1994, he accompanied jazz singer Jeri Brown on the only album containing only his own compositions, A Timeless Place.
Recorded interviews appeared in the PBS Documentary by Ken Burns, Jazz in 2001. The interviews were unique in their first-hand accounts of the relationships and experiences Rowles had with many musicians; specifically, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman and Lester Young.
Rowles died from cardiovascular disease in Burbank, Los Angeles County, California, at the age of 78. Jimmy Rowles' daughter, Stacy Rowles (September 11, 1955 — October 30, 2009) played the flugelhorn.
- Rare, But Well Done with Art Mardigan, Red Mitchell, 1954
- Let's Get Acquainted with Jazz (For People Who Hate Jazz) with Barney Kessel, Harold Land, Mel Lewis, Red Mitchell, Pete Candoli, Larry Bunker, 1958
- Weather in a Jazz Vane, 1958
- Upper Classmen with Larry Bunker, Pete Candoli, Barney Kessel, Harold Land, Mel Lewis, Red Mitchell, 1959
- Fiorello Uptown, Mary Sunshine Downtown, Soloalbum, 1960
- Kinda Groovy, Soloalbum, 1963
- Mancini '67, RCA Victor, 1967
- Our Delight with Max Bennett, Chuck Berghofer, Larry Bunker, Nick Martinis, 1968
- Some Other Spring with Donald Bailey, Monty Budwig, 1972
- Sarah Vaughan with the Jimmy Rowles Quintet (with Sarah Vaughan, 1974)
- The Special Magic of Jimmy Rowles, 1974
- Jazz Is a Fleeting Moment, Soloalbum, 1974
- Grand Paws with Billy Hart, Buster Williams, 1976
- Music's the Only Thing That's on My Mind with George Mraz, 1976
- Heavy Love, Soloalbum, 1977
- Scarab, Musica Records, 1978
- Nature Boy, Musica, 1978
- We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together with George Mraz, Leroy Williams, 1978
- Isfahan, Soloalbum, 1978
- Shade and Light with George Duvivier, Oliver Jackson, 1978
- Jimmy Rowles Trio on Tour [live] with George Duvivier, Walter Perkins, 1978
- Tasty! with Ray Brown, 1979
- Paws That Refresh with Billy Hart, Buster Williams, 1980
- Plays Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Soloalbum, 1981
- Bill Evans: A Tribute, 1982, Palo Alto Records
- I'm Glad There Is You: Jimmy Rowles, Vol. 2 with Colin Bailey, Red Mitchell, Stacy Rowles, 1985
- With the Red Mitchell Trio with Colin Bailey, Red Mitchell, Stacy Rowles, 1985
- Sometimes I'm Happy, Sometimes I'm Blue with Donald Bailey, Ray Brown, Sweets Edison, Stacy Rowles, 1988
- Trio with Red Mitchell, Donald Bailey, 1988
- Plus 2, Plus 3, Plus 4 with Bill Berry, Larry Koonse, Ralph Penland, Eric Van Essen, 1988
- Lilac Time with Eric Von Essen, Kokopelli Records, 1994
- Subtle Legend, Vol. 1 with Monty Budwig, Donald Bailey, Storyville, 1998 (posthumous release)
- Subtle Legend, Vol. 2 with Monty Budwig, Donald Bailey, Storyville, 1999 (posthumous release)
With Stan Getz
- The Peacocks (Columbia, 1975)
With Herbie Mann
- Great Ideas of Western Mann (Riverside, 1957)
With Ben Webster
- Ben Webster at the Renaissance (Contemporary, 1960)
With Buster Williams
- Heartbeat (Muse, 1978)