Born in Newark, New Jersey, on May 29, 1909, into a musical family, Dick Stabile was a fine alto saxophonist who had been around for quite a while by the time the Swing Era officially began. He had learned to play the saxophone as a teenager, and his first serious job had been with Ben Bernie's orchestra, but by the mid-1930s, he was already fronting his own band and making records for the Panachord and Decca labels, his band featuring vocalist Gracie Barrie, who would soon become his first wife. In his book The Big Bands, critic George T. Simon describes Stabile as "a handsome, smiling, gentle sort of Lothario" and praises "his amazing technique" (479), although he criticizes his ability to play real jazz, which actually sounds like too severe a judgment in the face of the excellent recordings that the Stabile band made between the 1930s and the 1950s.
here), as well as accompanying both Martin and Lewis on radio and television even after they broke up their act together (you can see Stabile playing "The Man I Love" on television with Martin and Lewis here). The 1950s were successful years for Stabile, as he was involved with popular Martin hit recordings such as "That's Amore" and "Memories Are Made of This," but throughout the 1960s and '70s he concentrated on leading orchestras at various hotels in California, his last notable job being as leader of the band at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, where he passed away on September 18, 1980, following a heart attack.
"Just You, Just Me" or "Tenderly" if you are looking for two examples) and some of the tracks even find Stabile experimenting with Latin rhythms ("Hong Kong Cha Cha") and melodies out of the classical tradition ("Ballet Bleu"). This is the perfect—and, at the time of this writing, alas, the only—place to get a proper introduction to the very exciting and often surprising sound of Dick Stabile, and it is well worth giving it a try.
|Dick Stabile on stage with his wife, Gracie Barrie (Photo: William Gottlieb)|