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Overview and Commentary:
Sonny Burke (This section is currently in preparation)
Joseph Francis "Sonny" Burke was a well respected musician, composer, conductor, songwriter and producer. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Burke studied violin and piano from age five, was an All-State fullback in high school, and went on to study music at Duke University.
"After freelancing as an arranger for the bands of Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Joe Venuti and Xavier Cugat, Burke moved to New York in 1938. During 1939 and 1940 he toured with a big, swinging orchestra of his own. In the 1940s he wrote for Charlie Spivak, Jimmy Dorsey and Gene Krupa and conducted on recordings by Billy Eckstine, Dinah Shore and Mel Tormé.
"Moving to Hollywood, he began to work steadily as a composer, arranger, producer and/or musical director for Warner Bros., Reprise, Decca and MCA Records, and on various motion picture and television assignments. In 1950, he had a hit record of his own, "Mambo Jambo."
As a songwriter, Burke composed two songs that have become standards, "Midnight Sun" with Lionel Hampton, which later got its lyric from Johnny Mercer, and "Black Coffee" with Paul Francis Webster.
In 1980, Burke died of cancer, an illness that befell him while he was enjoying one of the greatest successes of his career — producing the bestselling Frank Sinatra album, Trilogy. Burke conceived the idea for the three-record set and devoted well over a year to supervising its production. Burke had been associated with Sinatra in the creation of more than a dozen albums over 20 years, most notably A Man and His Music, September of My Years and the singer's collaborations with the Duke Ellington and Count Basie orchestras.
(This above material is adapted mostly from the article that appears on the Amazon Sonny Burke Store, which was provided by community contributors.)
As AllMusic.com notes: "Unlike keyboardist Reginald 'Sonny' Burke, who played modern jazz with Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie and John Handy, this [Sonny] Burke was an accomplished big band arranger. He studied violin and piano as a child, then played in various bands while studying at Duke in the late '30s. After moving to New York in 1938, Burke assumed leadership of Sam Donahue's band and made several recordings. He wrote arrangements for the bands of Charlie Spivak and Jimmy Dorsey in the '40s, then from the late '40s into the '70s he directed recording sessions for Decca, Reprise, Warner Bros. and his own company, Daybreak. His orchestra accompanied such musicians as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and he remained active as an arranger."
Ed.'s note: Neither is Sonny Burke to be confused with Joe Burke, although they both have "Joe" as their given names, were born in Pennsylvania and were musicians who composed music for successful popular songs. The songwriter known as Joe Burke was born thirty years before Sonny Burke and wrote the music for "Tip Toe through the Tulips," "Moon over Miami" and many other songs not in any way connected to Sonny Burke who is the subject of this page.
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Master List of Great American Songbook Songwriters
Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.
Names of songwriters with two or more song credits in the catalog (with rare exceptions) are linked to their own Cafe Songbook pages, e.g. Fields, Dorothy.
Names of songwriters with only one song credit in the catalog are linked to the Cafe Songbook page for that song, on which may be found information about the songwriter or a link to an information source for him or her.
Please note: Cafe Songbook pages for songwriters are currently in various stages of development.