Norman Amadio

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Norman Amadio
Norman Amadio.jpg
Norman Amadio
Background information
Birth name Albert Norman Benedict Amadio
Born (1928-04-14) April 14, 1928 (age 87)
Timmins, Ontario, Canada
Origin Canada
Occupation(s) Jazz Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Musician, Band Leader, Recording Artist
Instruments Piano

Albert Norman Benedict "Norm" Amadio (born April 14, 1928 in Timmins, Ontario) is a Canadian jazz pianist, piano teacher, music coach, composer, arranger, session player, band leader and accompanist. For a span of fifty years he worked for the CBC as an orchestra leader and musical director for many TV series. In 1956, he became the first and only Canadian to play at the original Birdland in New York City and while playing opposite Duke Ellington.

In 1943, he performed at a Victory Bond concert with Gracie Fields, and was asked to travel on a Canadian tour; his parents denied him permission because of his age. At the age of 15, he really loved Art Tatum and was inspired by him. Norm soon after found inspiration from Be-boppers such as Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Horace Silver. Norman eventually left Timmins for Toronto when he was 17 to study music with Boris Berlin at the Royal Conservatory for six months. He played jazz after hours, influenced by the be-bop pianists.[1] Subsequently Amadio was influential in starting the be-bop jazz music scene in Toronto,[1] attracting many jazz notables from Canada and the US to sit in and work with him. He became one of the most sought-after players in Toronto.

Amadio was a prominent figure in the late 1940s and early 1950s at the House of Hambourg in Toronto and subsequently became one of the city's leading accompanists. After working in the early 1950s in the lounge groups of Jim Younger, Chicho Valle, and Jimmy Amaro,[1] he led the house band at the Old Town Tavern for 15 years. Word traveled to the United States about Amadio's playing and American superstars in jazz began to flock to Toronto to work with him. Among the American jazz stars who came to work with Norman Amadio's Trio in Canada were Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz, Bill Harris,[1] Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Chet Baker, Anita O'Day, Bud Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Miles Davis, Carmen McRae, Joe Williams, Carol Sloane, Dinah Washington, Red Mitchell, Phip Phillips, Maxine Sullivan, Irene Krall and Lee Konitz.[2]

According to journalist Peter Goddard: "Amadio was an aggressive bebop player along the lines of Bud Powell when he first arrived on the Toronto scene in the 1940s. A precocious teen musical whiz from Timmins, he soon enough learned to keep his cool when others were losing theirs in the city’s turbulent club scene.

Reliability got him work. Unrivaled musicality gave him stature and clout. Jazz stars arriving in town — Carmen McRae, Miles Davis, Joe Williams or Jimmy Rushing — wanted him. Or even needed him."[3]

Norman's musical career went on to include a great deal of studio work and close to a hundred recordings for various Canadian artists such as Moe Koffman, Ray Back with the Ed Sullivan Orchestra, The Tommy Ambrose Orchestra, Don (D.T.) Thompson and most recently with Guido Basso, Marc Jordan, and many more.

Amadio worked on CBC Television for five seasons and became a well-known figure from coast-to-coast as Musical Director for the weekly Music Hop show[1] from 1963 until 1967. Amadio later conducted for numerous other variety specials on the CBC network. He played in the house band on CBC-TV’s Wayne & Shuster Show for 20 years, and with the Bert Niosi Orchestra on Cross Canada Hit Parade between 1953 and 1957.[2] For a span of fifty years he worked for the CBC as an orchestra leader and musical director for many TV series, including The Tommy Ambrose Show 1956/57, Take 30 in 1961, Swing Gently, and Down Home Country, and TV specials with Jane Eastwood, Kenny Rogers, Robert Goulet, Mel Tormé, Al Hirt, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle to name only a few. Amadio also performed a two-hour special live-broadcast in the CBC Special 100 Years of Canada with the 40-piece Norman Amadio Orchestra.

Later with his orchestra, he backed Broadway and Las Vegas Stars at the Royal York Hotel's Imperial Room between 1987 to 1990 including Bobby Darin, The Drifters, The Coasters, The Inkspots, Phyllis Diller and Eddie Fisher. At the O'Keefe Centre Amadio worked with names including Judy Garland, Paul Anka, Engelbert Humperdinck, Red Skelton, The Supremes and Bob Hope. He also worked with the likes of Milton Berle, Jackie Mason, Phil Foster, the Smothers Brothers and Steve Lawrence at other venues.[2]

The Canadian musicians and vocalists Amadio has worked with are too numerous to list, but include Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, Haygood Hardy, Jerry Fuller, Don Vickery, Bob Schilling, Bob Price, Alex Lazaroff, Moe Koffman, Rosemary Galloway, Neil Swainson, George Koller, Reg Schwager, Steve Wallace, Bill Mulhal, and Phil Dwyer. From Dec 2010 to Dec 2014, Amadio was the piano player and center focus of the Singer's Jazz Series organized and hosted by Toronto vocalist and artist Julie McGregor. The Singer's Jazz Series started out at the now defunct Trane Studio owned by jazz supporter Frank Francis. The Singer's Jazz Series created such a buzz from the beginning that they had to turn away jazz goers lined up at the door because of sold-out shows. Norm performed alongside either bassist Duncan Hopkins or Neil Swainson playing popular hot spots and filling houses like Hugh's Room and Pauper's Pub. They featured up and coming jazz singers: Laura Marks, Sophia Perlman, Maureen Murry, Ben D'Chuna, Laura Fernandez, Neil Kristain-Parent to name a few. "Today’s young crop of jazz singers, in Toronto and internationally, stands up well compared to 'all those singers who came before.' says Amadio."[3] Amadio, at age 86 retired playing his last gig at Pauper's Pub as part of The 2014 TD Downtown Jazz Festival accompanying vocalist, Julie McGregor with Darryl Orr on sax.

Norman Amadio's latest CD, Norman Amadio and Friends includes vocalists Marc Jordan and Jackie Richardson, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, Guido Basso on flugelhorn and with Reg Schwager (acoustic guitar, electric guitar). The result – anchored by bassist Rosemary Galloway and drummer Terry Clarke – "one of the top albums of the year" (Toronto Star) and continues to be played frequently on Jazzfm 91.1[4] penned by producer Andrew A. Melzer.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Amadio, Norm". The Canadian Encyclopaedia. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". Canadian Jazz Archive. 
  3. ^ a b Peter Goddard (15 September 2012). "Norm Amadio, Toronto jazz’s constant companion". The Toronto Star. 
  4. ^ Infantry, Ashante (December 29, 2009). "Norm Amadio and Friends". Toronto Star. 

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