Tiny Irvin, "You Don't Know What Love Is"
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For more information about Tiny Irvin, Carl Arter or the recording session, contact Michael Frank, Earwig Music Company, ph.773-960-7064 mfrank@earwigmusic.com

Tiny Irvin with the Carl Arter Trio, original liner notes for You Don't Know What Love Is - Earwig LPS-4903

"She's the Ella Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh," said a society lady hearing Tiny Irvin perform at Eileen's Zebra Room, the warm and intimate nightclub in Pittsburgh's Homewood section that is home base for Tiny Irvin and the Carl Arter Trio.

Born in 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tiny Irvin attended Braddock High School, and began singing professionally with the Donald Woods Band, which included Ahmad Jamal on piano. She met Carl Arter around 1944 while she was working with Donald Woods, and Carl played some occasional jobs behind her in the 1950s. Her most frequent engagements during the early 1950s were with Walt Harper around Pittsburgh.

Tiny met Dizzie Gillespie during one of his gigs in Pittsburgh, and toured with him intermittently throughout the 1950s, ultimately giving up the life on the road to marry and raise a family in Pittsburgh.

Her professional relationship with Carl Arter really began in 1964, when they played more frequently together, even appearing on Pittsburgh radio and television. Carl Arter credits his close friend Roy Kohler, then an executive with Gulf Oil and a jazz fan, and Mrs. Balter, then Program Director of WQED Radio/TV station with suggesting the combination of Carl and Tiny Irvin.
Since the mid 1960s Tiny has worked regularly with Carl Arter, who has been her bandleader, arranger, and mentor.
With pianist Carl Arter, Tiny has been the star attraction at Eileen's Zebra Room in Pittsburgh for five years on weekends.

Arter is the perfect foil and partner for her singing. While she waxes hot and emotional at the microphone, Carl's beautiful chording and magnificent melody lines -- his virtuoso playing -- quietly and coolly supports and encourages her. The fluid, dynamic performances so consistently produced by the interplay between Tiny and Carl are a powerful testament to their thirty year friendship and musician association.

Like Ella, Tiny performs with stout dignity -- full throated, clear, and sweet. Tiny has a special feeling for torch songs, sentimental blues, and scat. Tiny's scat vocalese always brings down the house. Listening to her here on Moanin' and Satin Doll, one quickly understands where the comparison of Tiny to Ella Fitzgerald came from, yet Tiny adds her own distinctive, humorous touch.
Singing in her Japanese as she calls it, with surprising agility she twists and caresses the microphone, squeezing emotion with every trill and riff.

Tiny's voice evokes images of such vocal greats as Billy Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Better Carter, yet Tiny singles out Billy Eckstine as the foremost influence on her style. She loves to experiment with the hitting and missing of sounds cascading from her husky baritone bottom notes up off the top of the charts with her three-plus octave range.

Tiny Irvin's ballads, lilting, soft and lyrical, are equally expressive. You Don't Know What Love Is was chosen as the title because it captures Tiny's blue persona and her celebration of all t he tribulations of love. Her eclectic style, characterized by Bernie Holland in Pittsburgh Magazine as ranging from "ferocious power with fortissimo...to subtle catlike eroticism..." takes the listener on a journey from intense sadness and loneliness to the warm glow of recalling a perfect love.

Tiny's interpretations of Skylark, You've Changed, and My One And Only Love leave no doubt that she speaks from firsthand experience.

Carl Arter, the bandleader and driving force behind Tiny Irvin, and an original artist-composer in his own right, has been a mainstay of the Pittsburgh jazz community for over three and a half decades.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1918, Carl got his musical foundation from classical pianist D. Nelson, then went on to piano and trumpet in high school, and later saxophone and clarinet. During the early 1940s, Arter played sax in Pennsylvania and West Virginia clubs with drummer Art Blakey and Musa Kaleem on trumpet, and in the late 1940s, he played reeds in a combo featuring Ahmar Jamal on piano, James Royal on Bass, and Johnny Wilson on drums.

1951 marked a turning point, as Carl began the serious study of piano, while also teaching saxophone and playing with Ray Brown around Pittsburgh. Among his students was a high school musician named Stanley Turrentine, who to this day is a very close friend and musical associate of his. Tommy Turrentine also jammed with Carl during the early 1950s, and Sonny Stitt worked with him during the mid-1950s at legendary Pittsburgh jazz spots the Hurricane Bar and Crawford's Grill.

Tiny Irvin and Carl met during the 1940s, but only began playing fequently together in 1964. Tiny joined Carl Arter's group in 1968, and they have performed together steadily since then.

Since their entrenchment at the Zebra Room, Carl Arter and Tiny Irvin have gained wider acclaim, as they have performed to enthusiastic crowds at the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, and the Pittsburgh Kook Jazz Festival, as well as on public radio and cable television.

Over the years, Carl Arter and Tiny Irvin have declined numerous offers to record and to tour, preferring the local jazz scene to the hard life on the road. Earwig Music Company is honored to present for their first time on record, the dynamic, original Tiny Irvin with the Carl Arter Trio!
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  • Members:
  • Sounds Like:
    Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Alla Fitzgerald
  • Influences:
    Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
    01/19/17
  • Profile Last Updated:
    02/26/19 05:11:27

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