In 1986, he, his better half and their year-old son, Harry, transferred to Portland, fleeing the highway traffic and what he when referred to as the “deadly environment” of Los Angeles. He survived on in Portland, basically contentedly, for the rest of his life, producing a 2nd son, Max; separating for a 2nd time; and, in 2000, weding Ms. Magnusson. In addition to her, he is endured by his children.
In Portland, he worked together frequently with the vocalist Rebecca Kilgore. As frequently as not, though, Mr. Frishberg savored playing solo piano in congested hotel bars. When ill health surpassed him late in life, he never ever stopped composing, simply as he had mordantly anticipated in 1981 in “My Swan Song”:
Once I popped them out like wafflesThe great ones and the awfulsA new one every day. NowI find Im unimaginative, my wigs no longer wiredIve absolutely nothing left to state. … But Ill state it anyhow.
Alex Traub contributed reporting.
David Lee Frishberg was born on March 23, 1933, in St. Paul, Minn., the youngest of 3 boys of Harry and Sarah (Cohen) Frishberg. His father, who owned a clothing shop, was an émigré from Poland; his mom was a native-born Minnesotan.
He started sketching athletes from news pictures when he was 7 and wished to end up being a sports illustrator, however he likewise listened closely to music maturing and could sing the whole rating of “The Mikado” and other Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. His sibling Mort, a self-taught blues piano player, quickly steered him towards jazz and blues records, and to the keyboard, where the teenage Mr. Frishberg duplicated by ear the boogie-woogie styles of Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis before discovering the modernist pianism of bebop.
” Jazz musicians were hip,” Mr. Frishberg composed in his memoir, “My Dear Departed Past” (2017 ); “they were funny, they were delicate, they were clannish, and they appeared to have the very best sweethearts.”
After finishing from St. Paul Central High School, Mr. Frishberg briefly attended Stanford University before returning house to register at the University of Minnesota. He was already a semiregular on the regional jazz scene, his sight reading abilities were too poor for a formal music degree. Instead he flirted with learning psychology prior to gravitating to journalism and protecting his degree in 1955.
He served two years in the Air Force as a recruiter, to satisfy his R.O.T.C. responsibilities, and after that, in 1957, was hired by the New York radio station WNEW to compose marketing scripts and other material for its disc jockeys and commentators. He rapidly abandoned WNEW to compose catalog copy for RCA Victor Records, then lastly marched as a working solo pianist with a late-night slot at the Duplex cabaret in Greenwich Village.
Mr. Frishberg became an in-demand sideman at jazz areas like Birdland and the Village Vanguard for jazz luminaries consisting of the saxophonists Ben Webster, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims and the drummer Gene Krupa. He also accompanied an array of fantastic singers, consisting of Carmen McRae, Anita ODay and, for one dizzying night while backing Ms. ODay at the Half Note, a shy Judy Garland, who tremulously beinged in and sang “Over the Rainbow,” then asked Mr. Frishberg to become her musical director. He demurred.
The demos that he cut to teach singers his songs started to tickle the insular jazz recording industrys ear. Mr. Frishberg went into the studio himself to tape an album, consisting of his own compositions.
Mr. Frishberg decamped to Los Angeles in 1971, ostensibly to compose product for “The Funny Side,” a brand-new NBC range program starring Gene Kelly. The show lasted just 9 episodes, however work as a studio artist kept Mr. Frishberg afloat. He likewise began to perform his songs routinely in regional clubs.
In 1975, Mr. Dorough welcomed him to add to “Schoolhouse Rock!,” for which Mr. Dorough was the musical director and among the writers. Mr. Frishbergs very first contribution, in the programs 3rd season, was “Im Just a Bill,” an explanatory swinger about the legislative procedure sung by the jazz trumpeter and singer Jack Sheldon. It brought him unexpected acclaim and long-lasting residuals for what he later ruefully acknowledged to be his “most widely known song.”
Dave Frishberg, allure songwriter whose sardonic wit as a lyricist and melodic cleverness as a composer put him in the top echelon of his craft, passed away on Wednesday in Portland, Ore.
He was 88. His partner, April Magnusson, verified the death.
Mr. Frishberg, who also played piano and sang, was an anomaly, if not an anachronism, in American music: an accomplished, unregenerate jazz pianist who managed to outrun the eras of rock, soul, disco, punk and hip-hop by composing hyper-literate tunes that returned Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, by way of Stephen Sondheim.
His songwriting wit was for grown-ups, yet he reached his best audience with sharpshooting ditties for kids as a regular musical contributor to ABC-TVs long-running Saturday morning animated show “Schoolhouse Rock!”
Merely knowing Dave Frishberg and his songs conveyed an in-the-know elegance. He poked fun at this self-congratulatory hipness in his lyrics for “Im Hip,” a classic of clueless with-it-ness that he wrote to a tune by his fellow jazz songwriter Bob Dorough:
See, Im hip. Im no square.Im alert, Im awake, Im aware.I am always on the scene.Making the rounds, digging the sounds.I checked out People publication. Cuz Im hip.
Mr. Frishbergs initial lyric for “Im Hip,” written in 1966, was “I check out Playboy publication,” but he later on changed it.
In the early 1960s, Mr. Frishberg began composing songs– “all kinds of songs,” as he remembered in “My Dear Departed Past.” When the singer Fran Jeffries asked if he might compose her a little bit of unique material, something she might “slip around while singing,” he responded with “Peel Me a Grape”:
Peel me a grapeCrush me some iceSkin me a peach, save the fuzz for my pillowStart me a smokeTalk to me niceYou got ta red wine meAnd dine me.
Composed in 1962, “Peel Me a Grape” ended up being Mr. Frishbergs first released tune– though the publishing business that obtained it, Frank Music, owned by the illustrious Frank Loesser, did little with it. “As far as I understood, the song was a pretty confidential product,” Mr. Frishberg later composed, “up until Blossom Dearies variation.” Still, it released Mr. Frishberg as a songwriter.
,” the hurting Frishberg of “Sweet Kentucky Ham” and the ingeniously significant Frishberg of “Van Lingle Mungo,” a touching wisp of a ballad built exclusively from the strung-together names of long-ago major league baseball gamers.
” The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 1″ amassed a 1982 Grammy Award nomination for best male jazz vocal performance. The next year, “The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume No. 2” did the very same. In assistance of that album, Mr. Frishberg appeared on “The Tonight Show.” Two more Frishberg albums were nominated for Grammys, “Live at Vine Street” in 1985 and “Cant Take You Nowhere” in 1987.
Mr. Frishbergs marital relationship in 1959 to Stella Giammasi ended in divorce. He later wed Cynthia Wagman.
Mr. Frishberg ended up being an in-demand sideman at jazz areas like Birdland and the Village Vanguard for jazz stars consisting of the saxophonists Ben Webster, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims and the drummer Gene Krupa. Composed in 1962, “Peel Me a Grape” ended up being Mr. Frishbergs first released tune– though the publishing business that got it, Frank Music, owned by the illustrious Frank Loesser, did little with it. Mr. Frishberg decamped to Los Angeles in 1971, ostensibly to write material for “The Funny Side,” a new NBC variety show starring Gene Kelly. Mr. Frishbergs first contribution, in the shows third season, was “Im Just a Bill,” an explanatory swinger about the legislative procedure sung by the jazz trumpeter and vocalist Jack Sheldon.
Exceptional saloon singers came to be identified with the Frishberg tunes they sang. One of those singers was Blossom Dearie, whose performance of his “Peel Me a Grape” was, in Mr. Frishbergs view, conclusive.
Still, no one quite sang a Dave Frishberg tune like Dave Frishberg, with his thin, reedy voice and compellingly constricted singing variety. Mr. Frishbergs performance of his acerbic paean to “My Attorney Bernie” was unsurpassed, particularly his laconic crooning of the songs refrain:
Bernie tells me what to doBernie lays it on the lineBernie states we take legal action against, we sueBernie says we sign, we sign.
Mr. Frishbergs songwriting present extended well beyond the satirical jab.,” the hurting Frishberg of “Sweet Kentucky Ham” and the ingeniously significant Frishberg of “Van Lingle Mungo,” a touching wisp of a ballad constructed solely from the strung-together names of long-ago significant league baseball gamers.