Jane Harvey, Jazz Vocalist and Performer, Dies at 88

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16 Aug 2013

Jane Harvey, who recorded with the Benny Goodman orchestra in the 1940’s and later sang with Desi Arnaz, died at her home in Los Angeles Aug. 15. The cause was cancer. She was 88.



Born Phyllis Taff in Jersey City, NJ, on Jan. 6, 1925, she auditioned for nightclub owner Barney Josephson shortly after finishing high school, and was offered a gig at his celebrated Greenwich Village nightclub, Café Society. Before she took the stage, Josephson changed her name to Jane Harvey.

Soon Benny Goodman came to hear her and subsequently hired her to record "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me" with his band, in December 1944 for Columbia Records. She stayed with the band for six months, cutting tracks for the best-selling "Close as Pages in a Book," "Up in Central Park," "Only Another Boy and Girl" and "He’s Funny That Way."

She joined the Desi Arnaz orchestra in 1946, recording several titles with him for RCA Victor, including "Mi Vida" and "A Rainy Night in Rio" and also appearing with him for a successful engagement at Ciro’s. When the band left to go on the road, she chose to remain at the club.

Ms. Harvey entertained the troops in Europe on a 1948 USO tour with Bob Hope and Irving Berlin. Upon returning to the States, she made her Broadway debut in the 1950 Harold Rome musical Bless You All with Pearl Bailey.

She married record producer Bob Thiele and retired temporarily to raise their son. In 1958, she sang two tracks with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Ms. Harvey recorded several albums through the years, including "Leave It to Jane," "I’ve Been There," the Fats Waller tribute "You Fats, Me Jane," "Jane Harvey" and "The Other Side of Sondheim."

She resumed her cabaret career in 2011 with appearances at Feinstein’s in New York and the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, and reissued five CDs of her previous recordings including an unreleased session that she had done with guitarist Les Paul.

Harvey remarried and is survived by her husband William King, her son Bob Thiele Jr., daughter-in-law Amy Kanter Thiele, and a grandson, Owen Thiele.