In addition to being an excellent pianist, Nat King Cole made his nameas a vocalist specialising in warm ballads and light swing, achieving his first chart success with “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” Cole’s popularity allowed him to become the first African American musician to host a TV programme, the Nat King Cole Show, in 1956.
Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, forging a career as an award-winning singer and film actor. Born in New Jersey in 1915, Frank Sinatra rose to fame singing big band numbers. In the ’40s and ’50s, he had a dazzling array of hit songs and albums and went on to appear in dozens of films, winning an Oscar for From Here to Eternity. He left behind a massive catalogue of work that includes iconic tunes like Fly Me To The Moon and I Get A Kick Out Of You.
Sinatra received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and headlined the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival with Count Basie’s Orchestra. The 1960s also marked his Las Vegas debut, where he continued on for years as a main attraction at Caesars Palace. As a founding member of the “Rat Pack,” alongside Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, Sinatra came to epitomize the hard-drinking, womanizing, gambling swinger—an image constantly reinforced by the popular press and Sinatra’s own albums. His continued mass appeal can best be explained in the man’s own words: “When I sing, I believe. I’m honest.”
James Billington is one of the top professional vocalists in the south-west, dedicating himself to the swing and jazz genre. He has been working in bands, big and small, for nearly twenty years and now fronts the popular swing band, “All Jazzed Up”.
James has the pleasure of working regularly alongside the regions top musicians and loves putting a personal touch on some of his favourite tunes. His vocal influences, apart from the great Cole and Sinatra, include Mel Tormé, and more recently, Gregory Porter and Michael Bublé. Tonight he will be accompanied by Philip Clouts at the piano.