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Over a period of 40 years, Mike Melvoin has firmly established himself as one of the most versatile and accomplished pianists and composers in Los Angeles. As a studio musician alone, he has been frequently heard on major recordings, and has composed and conducted many television and motion picture soundtracks. He has arranged for Lou Rawls, Bill Henderson, Peggy Lee, Joe Williams, Billy Ekstine, Barry Manilow, Pat Boone, The Four Freshmen, Jon Davidson, The Partridge Family, Tom Waits, Wayne Newton and many others. He was last year's Music Director for the Grammys and this year filled that role for the Emmy Hall of Fame celebration.
Melvoin's work has been spotlighted on such significant recordings as Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable," which garnered a Grammy "Record of the Year" award; The Beach Boys Grammy Hall of Fame recordings "Good Vibrations" and "Pet Sounds," Frank Sinatra's "That's Life," and the first hit by the Jackson Five ("ABC"). Most recently he is heard on Tony Bennett's Grammy nominated new blues album, "Singin With My Friends," playing Hammond B3, which includes duets with Ray Charles, Kay Starr, and Bonnie Raitt.
Mike Melvoin was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on May 10, 1937 but grew up in Milwaukee. He began playing piano at the age of 3 and made his professional debut at 13 with local dance bands. At Dartmouth College in New Hampshire he led The Barbary Coast, a jazz/dance band as well as a jazz quintet called The Sultans which the English publication The Melody Maker cited as the best college jazz band in the U.S. In 1959 he graduated from Dartmouth with a BA in English Literature.
The next three years proved to be extremely formative in his career as he gigged with numerous jazz, dance, and Latin bands all over the New York area as well as on the road. He further honed his piano-playing abilities in Harlem jam sessions. Sensing greater opportunities for himself, in 1962 he moved to Los Angeles where he formed a trio and worked with such important jazz artists as Leroy Vinnegar, Gerald Wilson, Bud Shank, Red Mitchell, Paul Horn, Joe Pass, Frank Rosolino, Oliver Nelson, Milt Jackson, Shelly Manne, Plas Johnson, Herb Ellis, Sweets Edison and Terry Gibbs. His talent as an accompanist became apparent during stints accompanying the late Joe Williams, Gene McDaniels, Bill Henderson , Nancy Wilson, and Diane Schuur. He also arranged and conducted a series of albums for the late great Peggy Lee while serving as her musical director
Notable soundtrack recordings at the keyboard include the films "Rocky," "The French Connection," and "Play Misty For Me." In television, he played on Lalo Schifrin's theme for the television show "Mission:Impossible" which also won a Grammy for "Record of the Year." He also composed and conducted the scores to Streisand's "The Main Event," Michael Caine's "Ashanti," and Matt Dillon's "The Big Town" and soundtracks for the television series "Early Edition", "Lou Grant," "Beretta," "MacGyver," and "Fame."