Carlo Jackie Paris (September 20, 1924 – June 17, 2004) was an American jazz singer and guitarist. He is best known for his recordings of "Skylark" and "'Round Midnight" from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.
Paris was born and raised in Nutley, New Jersey to an Italian-American family, where he attended Nutley High School. His uncle Chick had been a guitarist with Paul Whiteman's orchestra. Paris was a popular child entertainer in vaudeville who shared the stage with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and the Mills Brothers. He tap danced from his youth and into his years in the US Army.
After serving in the army during World War II, he was inspired by his friend Nat King Cole to assemble a trio featuring himself on guitar and vocals. The Jackie Paris Trio was a hit at the Onyx Club on New York's 52nd Street.
Recording and performing
He recorded from the 1940s into the 2000s. His albums include Songs by Jackie Paris (EmArcy), Jackie Paris Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin (Time), and The Song Is Paris (Impulse!). The first song that he recorded was "Skylark", on one of two sessions made by his trio for MGM Records in 1947. He recorded Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight", which was produced by the critic Leonard Feather and featured a young Dick Hyman on piano.
In 1949, he toured with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and was invited to join Duke Ellington's Orchestra, but he was too exhausted to take it. Paris was part of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra that played at the famed Cavalcade of Jazz in Los Angeles at Wrigley Field which was produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. on July 10, 1949. They did a second concert at Lane Field in San Diego on September 3, 1949. He was the only vocalist to tour as a regular member of the Charlie Parker Quintet. Unfortunately, no recordings exist of the Parker-Paris combination, but there is a photograph of the two working together. He worked often with Charles Mingus, who called Paris his favorite singer and recorded with him often, including 1952's "Paris in Blue" and "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" on the album Changes Two in 1974.
Paris performed or recorded with Bobby Scott, Charlie Shavers, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Donald Byrd, Eddie Costa, Gigi Gryce, Hank Jones, Joe Wilder, Johnny Mandel, Lee Konitz, Max Roach, Neal Hefti, Oscar Pettiford, Ralph Burns, Terry Gibbs, Tony Scott, and Wynton Kelly.
He won many jazz polls and awards, including those of Down Beat, Playboy, Swing Journal, and Metronome. In 1953, he was named Best New Male Vocalist of the Year in the first Down Beat Critics Poll. The winning female vocalist was Ella Fitzgerald, who repeatedly named Paris as one of her favorites.
In 2001, Paris played to a standing room crowd – and to a standing ovation – at New York's Birdland jazz club in Times Square. He was virtually the only performer to have appeared at every incarnation of the famed night spot, from the legendary Birdland of the 1950s to the present.
Awards and honors
- New Star Male Vocalist, Down Beat Critics Poll, 1953
- Best Male Vocalist, Playboy Musicians & Critics Poll, 1957–1961
- Gold Disc Award, Lucky to Be Me, Swing Journal, 1989
- Songs by Jackie Paris (Wing, 1956)
- Skylark (Brunswick, 1957)
- The Jackie Paris Sound (EastWest, 1958)
- The Song Is Paris (Impulse!, 1962)
- Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin (Time, 1962)
- Live at the Maisonette with Anne Marie Moss (Differant Drummer, 1975)
- Jackie Paris (Audiophile, 1981)
- Nobody Else but Me (Audiophile, 1988)
- Lucky to Be Me (EmArcy, 1989)
- Love Songs (EmArcy, 1990)
- The Intimate Jackie Paris (Hudson, 2001)
- New York Times obituary.
- Burnap, Campbell. "Obituary: Jackie Paris", The Independent, June 25, 2004, backed up by the Internet Archive as of April 21, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2019. "Jackie Paris was born in Nutley, New Jersey, to an Italian family rather more interested in professional boxing than music. He graduated from the local high school two years ahead of the pianist Al Haig, but had already taken his first showbiz steps, as a juvenile song-and-dance act in vaudeville."
- "Lionel Hampton at Wrigley Field on Sunday July 10th" Article Los Angeles Sentinel July 23, 1949.
- Friedwald, Will (January 17, 1995). "Paris When He Sizzles". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.