King Pleasure (March 24, 1922 - March 21, 1981) was a jazz vocalist and an early master of vocalese, where a singer sings words to a famous instrumental solo.
Born as Clarence Beeks in Oakdale, Tennessee, he moved to New York City in the mid-1940s and became a fan of bebop music. King Pleasure first achieved popularity by singing the Eddie Jefferson vocalese classic "Moody's Mood for Love," based on a James Moody saxophone solo to "I'm in the Mood for Love" in 1949. Pleasure's recording in 1952 is considered a jazz classic. The female vocalist is Blossom Dearie. He and Betty Carter also recorded a famous vocalese version of "Red Top," a jazz classic penned by Kansas Citian Ben Kynard and recorded by Gene Ammons and others. Other notable recordings include a presciently elegiac version of "Parker's Mood", the year before Charlie Parker died in 1955, and Pleasure's take on Ammons's "Hittin' the Jug", retitled as "Swan Blues".
Pleasure has been cited as a significant influence by Van Morrison, especially on his album Astral Weeks. Genya Ravan, drawing big inspiration for her singing from King Pleasure, recorded "Moody's Mood For Love" with James Moody on her 1972 CBS album Genya Ravan.
10" shellac (78rpm) and 7" vinyl (45rpm) releases
- 1952: "Moody's Mood For Love" b/w "Exclamation Blues" (Prestige PR 924) - Merrill Stepter (trumpet); Lem Davis (alto sax); Ray Abrams (tenor sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax); Teacho Wiltshire (piano); Leonard Gaskin (bass); Teddy Lee (drums); King Pleasure (vocals); Blossom Dearie (vocals) - NYC, February 19
- 1952: "Red Top" b/w "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid" (Prestige PR 821) - Ed Lewis (trumpet); Charlie Ferguson (tenor sax); Ed Swanston (piano); Peck Morrison (bass); Herbie Lovelle (drums); King Pleasure (vocals); Betty Carter (vocals) - NYC, December 12
- 1953: "Parker's Mood" b/w "What Can I Say Dear (After I Say I'm Sorry)" (Prestige PR 880) - John Lewis (piano); Percy Heath (bass); Kenny Clarke (drums); King Pleasure (vocals) - NYC, December 24
- 1954: "Don't Get Scared" b/w "Funk Junction" (Prestige PR 913) - J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding (trombone); Lucky Thompson (tenor sax); Danny Bank (baritone sax); Jimmy Jones (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Joe Harris (drums); King Pleasure (vocals); Jon Hendricks, Eddie Jefferson, The Three Riffs (chorus); Quincy Jones (arranger, director) - Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, December 7
- 1955: "Diaper Pin" b/w "Evening Blues" (Jubilee 5226) - (unknown personnel)
- 1956: "D.B. Blues" b/w "Blues I Like To Hear" (Aladdin 3343) - (unknown personnel)
- 1956: "At Your Beck And Call" b/w "I'm In The Mood For Love" (Aladdin 3352) - (unknown personnel)
- 1958: "Red Top" b/w "Don't Get Scared" (Prestige 45-124) --- reissues of Prestige 821A and 913A.
- 1960: "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid" b/w "Parker's Mood" (Prestige 45-182) --- reissues of Prestige 821B and 880A.
- 1960: "Golden Days" b/w "All Of Me" (HiFi Jazz 5004; from 'Golden Days' album)
- 1962: "Mean To Me" b/w "This Is Always" (United Artists 527; from 'Mr. Jazz' album)
- 1963: "Don't Get Scared" b/w "I'm In The Mood For Love" (United Artists 636; from 'Mr. Jazz' album)
- 1971: "I'm In The Mood For Love" b/w "Red Top" (Prestige 45-744) --- reissues of Prestige 924A and 821A.
- 1972: "That Old Black Magic" b/w "I'm In The Mood For Love" (United Artists 50940; from 'Moody's Mood For Love' album)
- 1957: King Pleasure Sings, Prestige Records #PREP-1338, (the four tracks are..."Sometimes I'm Happy", This Is Always", "Red Top", and "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid").
- 1955: King Pleasure Sings, Prestige Records #LP-208, (eight tracks recorded 1952-54).
- 1957: King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings, Prestige Records #PRLP-7128 --- reissue: 1986, Original Jazz Classics #OJC-217. (with four Annie Ross tracks added; these are from 'Annie Ross Sings', Prestige #PREP-1301). NOTE: the CD reissue has all twelve King Pleasure recordings plus the four Annie Ross tracks.
- 1968: Original Moody's Mood, Prestige Records #PR-7586. (this is a collection/compilation with all twelve recordings made for the Prestige label).
- 1972: The Source, Prestige Records #PR-24017. (2LP set/reissue of 'Golden Days' and 'Original Moody's Mood' albums).
- 1972: Moody's Mood For Love, United Artists #UAS-5634; --- CD reissue: 1992, Blue Note #84463. (reissue of 'Mr. Jazz' album). NOTE: the CD also includes the two Jubilee and the four Aladdin tracks, plus three previously unreleased recordings as a bonus.