Dennis Day’s Musical Odyssey – from Doo-Wop to Jazz

Dennis Day’s Musical Odyssey – from Doo-Wop to Jazz

August 26, 2005
For Immediate Release:

Dennis Day, versatile singer/songwriter, presents a gala anniversary reunion concert, “A Musical Odyssey from Doo-Wop to Jazz,” at Saint Peter’s Church on Thursday evening, September 8, 2005, at 7:30pm. Saint Peter’s Church is located at Lexington and 54th in Manhattan.

Special guest artists to appear with Day include the Danny Mixon Trio, saxophonist TK Blue, blues guitarist Frank “Silk” Smith, drummer Larry Franquez, and the Doo-Wop Old-Timers.  According to Day, this show is a celebration of life and music, highlighting the evolution of his 40-year musical career, from singing Doo-Wop and R&B in the ‘60’s to becoming a highly acclaimed jazz vocal stylist.

Jazz classics and compositions from Day’s CD “For Only You” will be showcased in this concert, along with Blues and old R&B favorites.

“This concert offers a smorgasbord of musical tastes and talent, spotlighting my 40 years of performing, from my beginnings with street-corner Doo-Wop in East Chicago and Gary and my roots in the Black religious tradition, which later found expression in jazz as an embodiment of those elements and more,” says Day. “The opportunity to perform with so many world-class jazz musicians is always awesome and inspiring to me. It should be an exciting musical evening. With Danny, I’ve come full circle. It was 20 years ago that we first played together in our debut at the popular Presbyterian Jazz Society Concert Series in Westchester.”

Day’s earliest group, The Valiants, recorded for Steeltown Records, the Gary-based label that debuted The Jackson Five.  Over the course of his career, Day has performed as a featured soloist with Donald Byrd’s Blackbyrds, and his own groups have appeared in popular jazz venues around New York. Day was one of six vocalists selected to appear in the Blue Note Jazz Vocalist Workshop Series and in the club’s tribute to Billy Eckstein. This concert is Day’s third at Saint Peter’s.

The reunion between Day and Frank “Silk” Smith marks their first appearance together in more than 35 years. They began performing as a duo while attending Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and went on to become much sought-after demo artists on Nashville’s famed Music Row. Day later formed The Jades, who recorded “My Loss Your Gain” and performed throughout the South.

Frank “Silk” Smith’s long career has intersected with numerous R&B legends, with stints as musical director for both Bobby Blue Bland’s and Albert King’s bands. He has performed as an accompanist for artists Dionne Warwick, Wilson Pickett, Joe Tex, Levert, and various other R&B, Doo-Wop, and Motown acts. Smith also serves as an R&B historian/clinician for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Musicians’ Collective.

Saxophonist TK Blue, a stalwart of the Randy Weston Group and regular on BET Jazz, collaborates on Day’s most recent CD compilation featuring several of Day’s original compositions. TK Blue works constantly in a wide range of musical settings. His artistic reach has traversed continents. After years of residing in Paris and playing with South African drummer Abdullah Ibrahim, he eventually toured extensively in Europe and Africa. Successful stints with Chico Hamilton and Archie Shepp eventually led to his debut as musical director on Weston’s recording “Spirit of our Ancestors,” alongside greats Dizzy Gillespie and Pharoah Sanders.

The Danny Mixon Trio performs extensively in the U.S. and abroad. A protégé of Frank Foster and a member of Lionel Hampton’s rhythm section, Mixon is best known for his stellar accompaniment of the late great Betty Carter. He later anchored Frank Foster’s highly acclaimed bands The Loud Minority and The Non-Electric Company. Tours with Charles Mingus, Yusef Lateef, Art Blakely, and Big Maybelle, along with numerous recordings, round out Mixon’s resume. The trio includes virtuoso bassist Lyle Atkinson and the highly gifted Tootsie Bean on drums.

Guest drummer Larry Franquez hails from Guam and leads his own group, which tours extensively throughout Europe and Asia.

The evening also includes appearances by the Doo-Wop Old Timers, a group of senior Brooklyn-based vocalists especially assembled by Day for the occasion, including Rock and Roll legend Billy Dawn, 74, making a post-retirement appearance. Dawn is best known for his mega-hit compositions and productions “The Angels Listening In,” “Step by Step,” “To the Aisle,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “A Thousand Miles Away.”  Day says. “This music informed my sense of vocal and jazz performance and allows me to pay homage to an early influence – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend, the great James ‘Pookie’ Hudson of The Spaniels, who is currently battling cancer.”

The suggested donation is $20, a portion of the proceeds from the concert will benefit Saint Peter’s Jazz Ministry, now in operation for more than three decades. The Jazz Ministry provides funeral assistance and a network of social programs to help jazz musicians. Saint Peter’s schedules a wide offering of classical, jazz, and sacred concerts yearly and is among the city’s most active performance venues.

For more information go to or call 212-935-2200.


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