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Canadian Heritage

Gene DiNovi


EUGENE (GENE) DiNOVI (pianist, vocalist, composer) was born May 26, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. After his first visit to Toronto as an accompanist to Carmen McRae in 1971, DiNovi made his home there the following year, reaching legendary status on the Canadian jazz scene over the decades since.

Although DiNovi has been recording since 1945 as a sideman and/or accompanist to jazz giants including Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, and Buddy DeFranco, he is likely best known as Lena Horne’s accompanist, playing with her for seven years from 1955 to 1963 and occasionally after that.

In Toronto, DiNovi has divided his still-thriving career between extended solo piano engagements at several of the city's more exclusive rooms and studio work as an arranger and composer of incidental music, jingles, and film scores. Over the years, he has starred in CBC Radio and Television Network and TVOntario series and specials. In 1984 he began touring Canada with clarinetist James Campbell, playing mixed programs of jazz and classical music, and currently most often works in a trio setting with bassist Dave Young and guitarist Andrew Scott.

DiNovi's own songs (to lyrics by Spence Maxwell, Bob Comstock, Johnny Mercer, and others) include 'Brand New Day' and 'I Can Hear the Music' and have been recorded by Maurice Chevalier, Doris Day, Percy Faith, Peggy Lee, and Nancy Wilson. DiNovi also composed The Scandanavian Suite No. 1 (Sweden) a Divertimento in Blue (for Benny Goodman), Hommage à Satie, and several other classical pieces.

Now past his 80th birthday (2008), DiNovi is one of the few musicians of his generation who is still actively playing and releasing new albums.


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