Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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D'AMBROSIO, Meredith

(b 20 March 1941, Boston MA) Singer with a husky voice, low-key straightforward delivery and repertoire of over 2,000 tunes; also a pianist, composer and painter. Painting was her first love; each one of her albums on Sunnyside has a Meredith cover. Both her parents were entertainers; her mother, Sherry Linden, was also a singer-pianist (d 1968). At age six Merdith was given a piano and began singing; she has never had voice lessons. She appeared with Maynard Ferguson at the Crystal Club (MA) '58; met John Coltrane '63, who invited her to join his quartet for a Japanese tour, but she had a 17-month-old daughter to look after, so she declined. She performed almost exclusively as a solo act until '78, remaining in the Boston area until '82, then moved to Oregon, then back to the East Coast '87.

While performing in a club in Cape Cod she met pianist Eddie Higgins (b 21 February 1932, Cambridge MA; d 31 August 2009), who joined her in a duet; they married '88 and susequently recorded together. Her albums, all reissued on Sunnyside, began with Lost In His Arms '78 on Spring, described as pure delight, including 'Alone Together', 'Blame It On My Youth', 'Never-Never Land'; she wrote words to Freddie Hubbard's 'Up Jumped Spring'. Solo Another Time '81 on Shiah had songs by Wilder, the Gershwins, Mercer, Mandel, Carmichael, etc; Little Jazz Bird '82 on Palo Alto featured Phil Woods. It's Your Dance '85 was her first album made for Sunnyside, with Kevin Eubanks and Harold Danko, and d'Ambrosio's lyrics to Coltrane's 'Giant Steps'. The Cove '87 included Lee Konitz, Fred Hersh, Keith Copeland and Mike Formanek, followed by South To A Warmer Place '89. Love Is Not A Game '90 included Higgins, Rufus Reid and Copeland. Sleep Warm '91 is a solo album of 21 lullabies, a dedication album for her granddaughter. Shadowland '92 is a concept album: she writes her own variation (lyric and melody) for each standard; i.e. 'Fools Rush In' is linked with her 'This Rushin' Fool'; 'Alone Together' with 'Solitary Two'. Shadowland included Jay Leonhart and Johnny Frigo; Beware Of Spring! '94 has George Mraz, Jeff Hirshfield and Eddie Higgins. Silent Passion '96 was very intimate, with just guitarist Gene Bertoncini.