Irving Fields, the Jewish jazz music legend who will celebrate his 97th birthday this weekend, has given himself a birthday present, in the form of a memoir which he had written in collaboration with Huffington Post sports/alcohol/music columnist Tony Sachs and edited/released by music critic Aaron Joy through his indie book publishing/music label Roman Midnight Music.
The book, at nearly 300 pages, covers his life growing up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, performing in local Jewish theaters, being inspired by a trip to Cuba and forming his legendary trio, recording his albums and making hit records, a look behind many of his popular songs, playing with many celebrities including songwriter Albert Gamse, Jackie Mason, Canadian Jewish fusion artist Josh “SoCalled” Dolgin, and finding a second career well past retirement age. Also included are unseen photos, the first published visual discography of his albums, an appendix on his sister Peppy Fields “the Sophie Tucker of Miami” who started a career in New York as a radio host before relocating south and now she gets into print for the first time. 30 year Manhattan lounge pianist Albert Aprigliano, who has often worked with Irving over the decades, contributed a short introduction.
Over the years, Fields has recorded nearly 100 albums featuring trios, quartets, orchestras and solos. His most famous album is ‘Bagels & Bongos,’ recorded in 1959 with his trio, and sold over two million copies. Among his outstanding work, Fields wrote, upon a fan’s request, a YouTube theme song, which he wrote within fifteen minutes.
From the back cover: “He’s the composer of chart-topping songs performed by the likes of Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and Xavier Cugat… one of the original Manhattan “society” cocktail pianists whose career stretches back to the days of Prohibition… whose sister Peppy was known as the Sophie Tucker of Miami Beach due to her long running radio show… the originator of one of the first piano-drum-bass trios, with a later trio lasting nearly 40 years… the man who first fused Jewish and Latin music with the classic 1959 album “Bagels & Bongos”… a headliner at Carnegie Hall, top draw on round-the-world cruises, star of radio and TV, and writer/performer of a hit song on YouTube… and he’s still playing six ights a week as he approaches his 100th birthday… This is the life of a Jewish kid from the Lower East Side who hated practicing piano.” He’s also the inspiration behind the writing of the book ‘And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl’ about Jewish music history and the first release by the ReBoot Stereophonic jazz reissue label.