Gary Brumburgh

BIOGRAPHY

Following a legit and musical theatre/concert career of nearly three decades, jazz has been an exclusive focus for the last 15 years.

Born in Buffalo and raised in a small suburb of North Tonawanda, New York, Gary’s strong singing voice inherited from his mother, classical singer/pianist/teacher Doris (née Howe) Brumburgh Maretti. He studied piano under his mother’s tutelage at age 7 and was playing Rachmaninoff by 12 before giving it up entirely, preferring voice and acting instead.   Acting was a wonderful escape and Gary made his theatre debut at age 14 playing minor sleuth Archie Carstairs in the murder mystery comedy "Home Sweet Homicide."  Turning from chicken to ham very quickly, he loved the applause and starred in various school plays and also was a prime soloist of his high school’s advanced chorus program.  

The early to mid 1960’s was the era of The Beatles and Motown, major influences both, but Gary also held secret passions for a number of established crooners such as Gordon MacRae, Peggy Lee, and especially Jack Jones and Barbra Streisand.  A singing career seem inevitable but, convinced by his mother that a career in entertainment was not financially sound, he temporarily abandoned his dream, left “the big chill” of Buffalo upon his 1968 high school graduation, and attended the University of South Florida in the Tampa Bay area majoring in elementary education.  Unfulfilled after three years of teaching in the public school system, he returned to college (this time, Florida State University) and received a second Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts. 

While part of the FSU School of Drama, Gary was given a wide range of legit and musical roles from Motel in "Fiddler on the Roof" to the Spider in Bijan Mofid's fantasy "The Butterfly."   During this period of time, he also was asked to be the lead singer with the jazz/rock group The Winko King Band.  The band toured Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina during the summer of 1975 before disbanding.  The following year he performed as a soloist/member of the All-American Showtimers at Callaway Gardens, Georgia.

In 1977, Gary performed leads at Daytona Beach’s Summer Rep ("Godspell," "Babes in Arms," "The Fantasticks") before transporting himself out West to southern California (Costa Mesa) and joining The Yellow Brick Road Company, a children’s theatre group, that toured Orange and Los Angeles County schools in interactive plays designed to spark social and educational values to elementary school children.   

Migrating north to Los Angeles in 1978 to pursue a legit theatre, film and TV career, he studied voice and vocal technique under Maurice Allard and pianist Carlos Noble while finding additional musical leads in the Southern and Middle California areas.  A Los Angeles musical theatre highlight was co-starring as Lt. Joe Cable opposite veteran Broadway baritone John Raitt's Emile DeBecque in Rogers & Hammerstein’s "South Pacific."   

In between he found work in Las Vegas backing up Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé in one of their extravaganza shows at the MGM Grand, and later starred in the musical "Sugar," based on the comedy film classic Some Like It Hot, in which he played the Tony Curtis role of Joe/Josephine at the Union Plaza Hotel. 

Intermittent on-camera credits (billed as Gary Howe Scott) include roles in the films Fade to Black (1980) starring Dennis Christopher, Dark Sanity (1982) with Aldo Ray, and the Linda Blair/Leslie Nielsen spoof of The Exorcist entitled Repossessed (1990).  On TV, he appeared in such popular programs as daytime’s Days of Our Lives, as well as prime-time’s Code Red and a co-star role in an early 1990’s episode of the judge/vigilante series Dark Justice.  National and local commercial credits include Barclay Bank, All-State Insurance and Pizza Hut, along with appearances at a number of private conventions, industrials, benefits, fundraisers and singing events.  

Following a role in the jazz-tinged, Ovation Award-winning Colony Theatre theatre production of "City of Angels," Gary took a long, self-imposed exile from acting and singing.  What returned him to performing in 2003 was an excitingly new musical interest … jazz.  The early hero worship of Gordon MacRae and Jack Jones quickly fell away to the new rhythm-rustling influences of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Horne, Sheila Jordan and especially Mel Tormé, who embodied not only the vocal purity of MacRae but the technical expertise of Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks and the more contemporary jazzers Kurt Elling and Tierney Sutton.  He studied with singer/songwriter/teacher Ellen Johnson along with forming a strong collaboration with pianist/composer Dave Ferris.

Gary eventually returned to the evening spotlight and began performing in such prominent L.A. area niteries as Catalina Bar & Grill, The Gardenia, Bar Fedora, The 10/20 Club, The M Bar, and Upstairs at Vitellos.  His first CD, the self-produced Up Jumped Spring, came out in 2007 and included a nice range of jazz classics from Miles Davis’ “Bebop Lives” to Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.”  Veterans Dave Ferris (piano), Chris Colangelo (bass) and Roy McCurdy (drums) were featured on the CD.

His pursuit of jazz was cut short and severely compromised in 2012 after being diagnosed with neck/tonsil cancer.  After a year’s remission, a second bout of (Stage 4) lymph node cancer on the other side of his neck occurred in late 2014, again with strong radiation and chemo therapies.  In complete remission again and with his throat/singing voice completely restored without permanent damage, he returned to the stage in 2016 guesting with or for other local L.A. singing talent such as Mark Winkler, Lauren Black, Lori Donato and Lorraina Marro, the latter at the Catalina Bar & Grill in tribute to Nancy Wilson.  

Since then he has starred in his own acclaimed jazz showcases, notably The Kid from Euclid (2014) which featured Dave Ferris on piano and guest singer Mary Bogue.  More recently he appeared with singer Kathryn Hopkins in our 2017 two-person show Beatlejazz: The Early Years (1963-1966) which graced both the Vitellos and Bar Fedora stages and featured the versatile talents of Karen Hammack (piano), Gabe Davis (bass), Dori Amarilio (guitar), Jack LeCompte (drums) and Allan Walker (sax).

In the spring of 2018, a decade after releasing first CD Up Jumped Spring and with his voice completely back, he released an even more ambitious sophomore jazz CD entitled Moonlight,.  A eclectic effort of traditional/modern jazz, American songbook and 60’s and 70’s pop reinventions, the CD was produced by Barbara Brighton and features the rare union of jazz icon Terry Trotter and prolific son Jamieson Trotter on piano.  Jamieson, who also arranged the entire CD, is joined by Gabe Davis (bass), Christian Euman and Conor Malloy (drums), Larry Koonse and Pat Kelley (guitar), and Bob Sheppard (tenor sax/flute).  Special guest vocals are provided by Gail Pettis (“Haven’t We Met”) and Paulette McWilliams (“Heavy Cloud No Rain”).  Gary’s style leans toward modern/traditional jazz, American Songbook standards and jazz reinventions of Broadway songs and 60s and 70s pop classics.

As a two time cancer survivor, Gary has given back by creating and co-producing (alongside Jackie Gibson and Cathy Segal-Garcia) the gala fundraisers JAZZ vs. Cancer and JAZZ vs. Cancer Round 2 at the Los Angeles renowned Catalina Bar & Grill.  These two money-earning events for such cancer-fighting organizations as City of Hope and weSPARK Cancer Support Center went on to feature such award-winning guest performers as Tierney Sutton and Manhattan Transfer’s Cheryl Bentyne, while highlighting the esteemed talents of L.A.-based musicians Stephen Oberhoff, Rich Eames, Paul Kreibach, Doug MacDonald, Paulinho Garcia, Rjckey Woodard, Dave Robaire, Harvey Newmark, Bob McChesney, Nolan Shaheed, Dori Amarilio and Ann Patterson, among others.

 

Following retirement from the County of Los Angeles, Gary and his husband, singer/actor Reece Holland, moved to the Nashville area where they and  their two dogs and two cockatiels are now permanently settled.  He has fit snugly now into the Nashville jazz scene and recently resurrected his jazz show Beatlejazz: The Early Years (1963-1966) with singer Andrea Nichole and featuring the talents of Ted Wilson (keys), Jerry Lackey (bass), Duffy Jackson (drums), Matthew Clinkenbeard (guitar), Michael Morton (flute) and Mark Morgan (trumpet).  He is currently working on a "sequel" to this Fab Four showcase -- Beatlejazz: The Later Years (1967-1970) with vocalist Russell Hospedales.         

© 2018 by GARY BRUMBURGH                                                                                                    Web Site by Alan Wexler