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Graff, Jerry (17 November 1920-14 February 2008)

Arranger, conductor, and vocalist who graduated from Brooklyn College and served in World War II alongside Hal David, Allen Ludden, and Carl Reiner.  While in the army, Jerry was a member of the Mad Hatters, a quartet of GIs who performed in a musical revue to entertain the troops entitled Shape Ahoy!.

After the war, he joined The Beachcombers, who performed with Johnny Long and his orchestra, and went on to become a member of the Pied Pipers, who backed Frank Sinatra.  He went on to arrange for and perform on Nat King Cole’s TV show, as well as doing work as a session musician.

In 1964, he provided backing vocals on Shirley Scott’s Great Scott!! LP.  Other artists with whom he recorded include Neil Sedaka and Nina Simone:  You can hear him on Neil Sedaka’s Oh Carol:  The Complete Recordings 1956-1966, Nina Simone’s Silk & Soul, and Nina Simone Sings the Blues.

In 1972, he was a member of The Moonlight Serenaders, who sang with that year’s edition of The Glenn Miller Orchestra.  A year later, he helped out the Barry Sisters by offering vocal support on Our Way (Tahka-Tahka).  In 1974, he was plucked for an unusual assignment:  Choral Director of the randy off-Broadway musical, Let My People Come.  Five years later, he reunited with Frank Sinatra for his boxed set, Trilogy.

The inception of the CD era affords us many opportunities to hear Jerry’s work, whether it be his backing vocals on Soul on Fire:  The Best of LaVern Baker, Randy Graff’s Doing Something Right:  Randy Graff Sings Cy Coleman, Flying Funk, Noel Noel (as a member of The Anne Phillips Singers) or his musical directorship on Peter, Paul & Mary’s Carry It On.

Jerry passed away on 14th February 2008, of complications from cancer, aged 87.

Frank Sinatra recordings
That’s What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O’Kun)
Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)

Theme from “New York, New York” (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)

He was one of the vocalists here on “Skyliner” on Don Costa’s Echoing Voices and Trombones..