Vancouver jazzman Kenny Colman dead at 85
Legendary singer caught the attention of Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra and more
Vancouver jazz singer Kenny Colman has passed away at the age 85.
Colman made his name in show business in the 1960s after his voice captured the attention of luminaries such as Sarah Vaughn and Frank Sinatra.
He was still performing as recently as May of this year.
"He was just amazing," said documentarian Roger Larry, who was in attendance for one of Colman's final performances.
"He was in late stage Parkinson's, he's 85 years old, and he just wowed a packed house."
Colman got his break while working as a production assistant on the Merv Griffin Show in New York City in the early '60s, Larry said.
"Back then you could sit in and sing at piano bars," Larry said. "One night he's doing this just in his off hours, and Sarah Vaughn hears him [and] falls in love with his voice, like many others would after."
Six months later, Larry said, Colman found himself opening at hotels in Vegas, and soon struck up a friendship with Frank Sinatra.
According to Larry, Sinatra once said that he, Colman and Tony Bennett were "the last of the saloon singers."
A timeless sound
Larry's film Cool Daddy documents Colman's life, particularly his relationship with his son Chase, who decided to quit his job in real estate in his early 40s to become a singer like his father.
Larry says Colman was ambivalent about his son's career change. He was supportive, but had also been telling his son not to follow in his footsteps for most of his life.
"Like many parents, you worry about your kid going into show business — joining the circus, as it were," Larry said.
"In spite of all of Kenny's success, it was still a tough road. He was never a superstar, like a Michael Bublé."
Still, Larry believes Colman's music has a timeless sound that still resonates today.
"I urge people to try to hear some of Kenny's music, especially the stuff from the early '60s," Larry said.
"I think Kenny's going to have another revival now."
With files from CBC Radio One's On the Coast.