Stan Gilmer, vocalist
Born March 2, 1948, Stan Gilmer grew up “down neck” in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey. Life was tough, sho’nuff, but Stan certainly saw and heard enough to fill a jazz and blues singer's repertoire for life. He acquired an early ear for the great crooners and performers of the day like Roy Hamilton, Harry Belafonte and Johnny Mathis. The words were one thing, but Stan’s instincts were drawn to the arrangements that supported the melodies, and gave the music passion... feeling.
In 1975, Stan moved to Northern California’s Bay area and teamed with Harvey Scales as a sometimes chauffeur and developing songwriter at Super Disc Productions. While there, he composed “Atlantic City: That Big-Time Town” with Harvey, and later recorded it with legendary bandleader Frank Foster. Shortly thereafter, Stan signed on as a staff writer with April Blackwood Music, a subsidiary of CBS Records.
Stan returned to New Jersey in 1980 and began working on his college degrees. In the meantime, he hooked up with super-pianist Michael Renzi at Cafe Carlyle in Manhattan while Renzi was sitting in for Bobby Short with Sylvia Syms. Mike invited him out to see Mel Torme, and before the night was over, Stan was rubbing elbows with pianist George Shearing and Ron O’Connell and his orchestra. As their relationship grew, Stan began compiling demos with Renzi. Along the way, Stan performed with some of New York’s most accomplished jazzmen, including a swinging performance at Newark’s Gateway Hotel with Tony Monte, Frank Wess, Jack Jennings and bandleader Tony Corbicello.
While at Essex County Community College (1980-1983) Stan worked with Professor Romolo Ferris’ Jazz Workshop developing his songwriting and music notation skills. Between 1983 and 1986 Stan worked regularly with local big bands, including the John Glock Orchestra, Joe Carson’s big band and the Rod Ruth Orchestra. The crowning achievement of this period was a featured performance with Frank Foster and his Loud Minority, during the Billy Taylor Jazz Mobile at Grant’s Tomb, in Manhattan.
With his formal education concluded, Stan hooked up with the Chink Wing jazz group in Newark, working as the male vocalist alongside Ann Bailey. There was work at the famous Hit Factory, commercial jingles, and still more club gigs keeping Stan busy.
In 1995, Stan packed up his wife of 34 years (and counting), their daughter Penny and son Stan, Jr., and moved to Howard County, Maryland, where they live today. He works regularly with The Whit Williams “Now’s The Time” big band, the Chuck Funn Orchestra and the Jimmy Wells quartet and has headlined recently with the Howard Burns Orchestra at Frederick (MD) Community College.
In 2003, Stan founded the Colonnade Of Music record label. The label’s first effort is “Stan Gilmer Sings Sammy,” with John Mosca leading the Vanguard Orchestra, recorded at Bennett studios in Englewood, NJ. Stan and Mosca “turned out” the 2003 Hartford Jazz Festival, with Jim Argiro conducting, straw boss Dave Glasser and Canadian Warren Chiasson on vibraphone. Look for more from Stan and Warren in the future.
~ Excerpted from Walter Allen’s biographical note
Symphonic Pops, Saturday, February 12, 2011