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New Jazz Vocalist Steve Tyrell Plays Cerritos Center

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Steve Tyrell, one of the best new voices in vocal jazz, will perform at 8 p.m. March 7 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are $25 to $50 for the concert featuring Tyrell and a 40-piece orchestra. Reservations and information: (800) 300-4345 or online at www.cerritoscenter.com.

Tyrell is relatively new to the frontline of contemporary jazz, but he is no stranger to the world of music production. He worked as an executive at Scapter Records, making his behind-the-scene mark as a producer with sure-fire astuteness in picking hits.

Leading artists and composers assert he brings that same talent to singing in the spotlight with vocal mastery of the lyrical magic of mainstream jazz.

Persuaded by the legendary Louis Bellson to record his own voice, Tyrell brought together several of the best and most legendary artists in the world of jazz for his 1999 debut album “A New Standard.”

In the tradition of super-singers Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, he chose classic compositions from the American songbooks, using his signature sound to make Ellington, Noble, Berlin, Gershwin, Kahn, Hammerstein, McHugh, Fields, Kern and Fain fresh and new again.

Tyrell’s success and popularlity as a producer enabled him to enlist the cream of the jazz crop for his debut recording. Harry “Sweets” Edison, who first made his mark alongside Lester Young in Ellington’s early bands, joined Tyrell for one of his last projects before his death in 1999.

The amazing aggregation of legends on “A New Standard” also included trumpeter Clark Terry, drummer Louis Bellson, trombonist Bill Watrous, harmonica man Toots Thielemans, pianist Joe Sample and tenor saxophonists Pias Johnson.

Master musicians Peter Erskine on drums, Bob Magnusson on bass, Jerry Hey on trumpet and Bob Sheppard on sax are also featured.

The album reigned more than 19 months stop Billboard’s jazz chart and still sells out in record stores as a popular return to the classic American songbook.

“A New Standard” evolved from many years of work after Tyrell won overwhelming industry, critical and popular favor for his singing “The Way You Look Tonight” on the soundtrack of Steve Martin’s 1991 remake of “Father of the Bride” and “Give Me The Simple Life” and “Sunny Side of the Street” for the sequel.

The fortuitous meeting of Tyrell and Bellson, while both were jogging in the park, led to Bellson suggesting he do a record.
Tyrell’s 2001 follow-up album “Standard Time” is enjoying the same enthusiasm.

It remains on the charts, including a 60-week ride on the Top 10 jazz charts. In December 2002, he released the holiday CD “This Time of the Year” which debuted at the No. 5 spot, giving Tyrell the holiday treat of two albums simultaneously on the coveted Top 10 charts.

Tyrell grew up in the heart of Houston’s notorious Fifth Ward on the same street as Joe Sample, pioneering pianist and co-founder of the Jazz Crusaders. He was drawn to the sound of the region’s distinctive brand of blues and rhythm and blues.

His passion for music led him to a promotion gig with a Houston record distributor and he additionally expanded his recording experience producing local artists. He then went to New Orleans and Cosmo’s Studio to work with such artists as Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and Aaron Neville.

By the time he was 19, he was in New York City working for Scepter Records and cutting sides with Dionne Warwick, the Shirelles and Maxine Brown. He later hooked up with the great songwriting teams of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Tyrell added composition and producing to his list of talents writing the pop hit “How Do You Talk To An Angel” and co-producing Linda Ronstadt’s Grammy-Winning duets “Don’t Know Much” with Aaron Neville and “Somewhere Out There” with James Ingram.

Bacharach, writing the liner notes for “A New Standard,” said: “When I first heard this album, it made me smile and genuinely feel happy.

It arrives in a climate of machine driven music, rap, boy group ear candy music, go for the jugular vocal histrionics...So listening to this record is like opening a window and getting a breath of fresh air.”

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