Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dennis, Anyone?

Matt Dennis album cover
Matt Dennis album cover
Matt Dennis album cover

If Matt Dennis’ sole achievement was as co-writer of “Angel Eyes” or “The Night We Called It a Day,” he’d have earned his place in music history. But Dennis composed more than a dozen of the finest standards of the mid-20th century, including “Will You Still Be Mine?,” “Violets for Your Furs,” “Everything Happens to Me” and “Let’s Get Away from It All.” (Notice a pattern? All were recorded, and most made famous, by Sinatra – and for good reason, which I’ll get to in a minute). And Dennis was more than just a masterful composer. He was also a skilled pianist and an appealing singer, with a voice that suggested a cocktail-hour combination of Mel Tormé and Fred Astaire. He was at home, almost literally, in the small clubs that dotted L.A.’s La Cinenega Boulevard during the 1950s, exhibiting the ingratiating sort of bonhomie that makes you want to plant yourself down on a red leather banquette and indulge in too many Manhattans.

Other than in reference to his songs, few people speak about Matt Dennis anymore, which is a shame. He’s worth remembering and, on the few recordings that exist, savoring.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published