A Dry, Dry, Ongoing Open-ended Autobiographical Article To Help Readers

Arlene Corwin (born Arlene Faith Nover) is an American jazz singer and pianist, poet, teacher and practitioner of Yoga. Born November 8, 1934 in the Williamsburg Maternity Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. She has two children. Jonathan Eric Corwin (born July 24. 1956 and) Jennifer Nover Council (born February 2, 1964).
Mother Margy Lillian (born Brown). Father Albert S. Nover. Both were hairdressers, owning a beauty salon together. Everyone was musical on both sides of the family. Mother sang, could play some piano. Father was a gifted sculptor and wood carver.

Early Life
Started studying piano age 8. Studied voice at the famous 1650 Broadway with ‘coach’ Matty Levine. Did a little recording at aged 10 in Nola studios. (The record has since disappeared) At 12 she started studying harp with Myer Rosen (Julliard and NBC Orchestra) and the occasional piano lesson with an NBC pianist who taught her how to read chord changes, seeing at once that she was not interested in learning classical piano.
As a child she had already sung at weddings, bar mitzvahs and for the USO, raising bonds for the war effort. At 13, having a boyfriend who played the saxophone and who listened to Symphony Sid, jazz disc jockey whose late night show originated from Birdland, she awakened to jazz, listening to the late night show “under my blanket”. “A turning point”, she says. (Well before “Lullaby of Birdland” was put to words Arlene had written a lyric of her own – a lyric she still sings today) At 14, she was playing for a dancing school once a week. Then she got an accidental job (“slipping in on a banana peel when the singer got sick”) in a Brooklyn nightclub singing with a group. “Mom and dad chaperoned, of course”.
She began to sing regularly when again, out of the blue, an agent rang offering a job for a hundred dollars a week to play at the Mayflower Hotel in Manhattan. It was a restaurant owned by Bob Olin, a former light heavyweight world champion. “I was so naïve I played the whole evening without ever taking a break. Who knew about breaks? Why they kept me I’ve no idea.” But they did and the steady salary of $100.00 a week (which she gave directly to her mother, any other choice never occurring to her) and the experience of having to make a varied program led to her singing to the piano, and eventually to playing to the singing. At this time she was still in high school as attending the prestigious High School of Music & Art as a harpist.

She graduated from Music & Art getting a scholarship to Hofstra College as a music major.
Then in 1952, while still at Hofstra College (now university), she was playing on the weekends in a Hempstead, Long Island nightclub-restaurant when Slim Gaillard, who’d come to see Jack Teagarden (also working there) began to take notice of her. He started showing up regularly. There he met Arlene’s mother Margy, and the two eventually opened a jazz nightclub, the first to cater to blacks and whites. It was called The Turf and it, like Birdland had its own radio show, for which Arlene wrote the theme song “The Slim Gaillard Show”. Now she was standing as well as sitting, getting a chance to sit in and sing as often as she chose. The die was cast. It was jazz, cool jazz.
Early Influences
In 1954, on the day she ought to have been attending her college graduation, she married Bob Corwin, a 21-year-old jazz pianist with the Don Elliot Quartet. Because Bob toured, Arlene began her new stage of education: listening to Don’s group while they played on the same bill as the jazz greats of the 50’s. There was Helen Merrill at George Wein’s Storyville in Boston, Terry Gibbs and Illinois Jacquet in Detroit, Bill Evans, Cy Coleman, Bernard Peiffer, Tal Farlowe,Johnny Smith John Mehagan and Billy Taylor (who had also performed at the Turf) at the sophisticated Composer in Manhattan. “ It was also a chance to see and listen to other singers of the day. New York was marvelous in those days. I saw Peggy Lee at Basin Street, Blossom Dearie at Trudy’s in the Village, Oscar Peterson, Marian McPartland at the Hickory House. It was THE university for me. I was introduced to and befriended Tony Fruscella, the tragic, unsung genius of the trumpet, ‘who I took on my gigs, but to whom I was actually the apprentice’ – and through Tony to Morgana King and Beverly Getz, the talented [and equally tragic] wife of Stan Getz. I feel blessed to have experienced jazz at that time. The guys would gossip about who played ‘behind’ or ‘ahead’ of the beat, bass lines, good ‘changes’, bad ‘changes’. No Music & Art or Hofstra did that. I learned almost the whole of what is now called The American Songbook. And I, I was sounding like Sarah Vaughn with a little voice.”

zzzHanging Around Manhattan; Not This, Not That…
Living in New York, and looking for a niche she spent time, as other musicians did, at the Musicians Union Local 802 or Charlie’s Tavern where jobs could show up. In this way, there were weeks and weekends away with big bands: Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra under the leadership of Warren Covington, Claude Thornhill and Larry Sonn.
“When you hang around New York all kinds of opportunities show up”. And so, she got a leading role in a B film called “Jukebox Racket’, wrote the score for another B film called, at the time “She Should Have Stayed In Bed”, later to be called ‘1,000 Shapes Of A Female: see IDMB (the company, called Exploit Films was owned by Errol Flynn “tall, big in every way, veins on his face, but exuding old world charm” He was quite, quite overwhelming.”
Then there was a bit part in John Cassavetes “Shadows”, followed by the lead in what has become a cult ‘beat’ musical called “The Nervous Set” by Fran and Jay Landesman where she introduced the now-standards “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most and “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men”, both subsequently recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Roberta Flack and numberless amounts of major artists. She studied acting with Joshua Shelley. “It was a time to find out who and what I was. “I was definitely not an actress. I was too introverted and none of those clothes fit” she says.

More Influences and more Not This, Not That…
In 1959 she met Johnny Burke (Burke & Van Heusen) who took her under his wing, taking her to Hollywood to demonstrate his show “Donnybrook” for Rosalind Russell and husband, producer Frederick Brisson “It was a glitzy time. I stayed at Bob Hope’s house in Palm Springs, met Frank Sinatra and his then fiancee Juliet Prowse, Jerry Lewis, Marlene Deitrich, had my own suite in Las Vegas , traveled first class, but was so introverted I always kept to myself, never saying much, definitely not participating in any of these scenes. Those clothes didn’t fit either.”
All the while she returned to the intimacy of New York supper clubs. They were the bottom line, singing and playing.
It was during the supper club period, she met Al Weissman who became her manager. She was signed to the Joe Glazer Agency and began to tour with her own trio. “Wherever I went they’d say, “You know, there’s just been a girl here who sounds like you. Her name was Barbra something. I suppose we had Brooklyn Jewishness in common – and reaching for high notes. ” (She too was signed with Glazer.)
Although published by Frank Publishing (owned by composer Frank Loesser), years later she asked for the songs back because “nothing happened.” “It was a period of promise, a period I was not equipped to fulfill”.

In 1962 it was back to Hollywood with Al Weissman and high hopes. “I had some jobs, but never in my genre.” Back to New York. A little jaunt of songwriting with singer Dick Haymes. A short marriage of four months to Richard Robin Palmer.

In 1966, by way of Paris, Greece (where she and husband Jim Council were close friends and neighbors with Leonard Cohen and Marianne) and Lebanon, “where I actually made an appearance on Lebanese television singing jazz, going on to be voted the best singer in the Midlands 1972, appearing at Ronnie Scott’s three times. She did 3 television shows; Opportunity Knocks, a late night BBC jazz show called “The Cool Of The Evening”, radio for BBC overseas, was invited over to Amsterdam to do Dutch radio, sang at universities around England, (“one night opposite Pink Floyd, “who were just starting out, I suppose”), the American air bases.
She acquired a weekly radio spot on nutrition and yoga on BBC’s Oxford Radio, and appeared several times at The Stables in Wavendon (run by John Dankworth – now Sir John Dankworth – and Cleo Laine -now Dame Cleo Laine – while at the same time giving weekly yoga lessons to a group there, (which included Dame Cleo – “a wonderful yogin”). The Wavendon All-Music Plan, later known simple as WAP “was the most stimulating and original enterprise I’ve ever encountered, pairing all kinds of musical genre. I even played on the same bill as Vladimir Ashkenazy.”

It was sometime in the 1970’s while working one night in a country pub when suddenly “I knew who I was and what I really sounded like. No effort, no imitation conscious or unconscious. No inner evaluation. Just me. It was a quiet, wonderful moment of revelation and permanent change. One (I) settled into one’s own voice.”

1970’s to 1982 and a lot of Yoga
Starting in 1969 and all during the 70’s fate gave a push to the yoga side of things and Arlene was teaching yoga classes in doctor’s offices for hyper-tense, cardiac and overweight men. teaching regularly at conferences for IBM. She gave demonstrations, lectured all over for the Women’s Institute, posed and wrote for Health and Fitness Magazine (summer issue 1982) a book called The New Manual Of Yoga by Karen Ross (1973) wrote articles on nutrition, made a cassette called This Is Meditation. It was a full double life with Yoga taking half the time and singing the other half.

1980s to now.
In 1983 she once again ran into Slim Gaillard – this time in London. He asked her to appear on a television show he was producing that was to star himself, Kai Winding, Johnny Griffin, Wayne Shorter and Arlene Corwin.  It was the last appearance she ever made in England.

In 1984, finding Sweden fertile ground for singer/pianists, and meeting and falling in love with Kent Anderson, she moved to Sweden where she lives by a lake, deep in the forest. until today, performing, contributing daily to her site Arlene Corwin

A productive year. Arlene did three concerts. Her first ever cd (Imogen Records) came out in April. Her 1st and 2nd book of poetry came out: Circling Round Time and To The Child Mystic. ‘Mystic’ is a self-help, sometimes didactic little book of the for the spiritually and poetically inclined, written over a period of 50 years. Thirty more collections to come.

April 2014 Concert Molnlycke Kulturhuset, Sweden. (see Youtube) Two songs captured on video (see Youtube Arlene Corwin Green Dolphin Street, Oklahoma Toad). Performances, concerts everywhere.  Standing ovations – at times.

At this writing it is 2018 and 17 books later, the 18th in being edited.

Books published so far:

1.Circling Round Time 2010 (Xlibris)

2.To The Child Mystic 2010 (Authorhouse)

3.The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative 2011 (Xlibris)

4.Circling  Round Woman 2011 (Xlibris)

5. Circling Round Vanities 2011 (Xlibris

6. Our Times, Our Culture 2012 (Xlibris)

7. Vaguely About Music 2012 (Xlibris)

8. Circling Round Eros+2 2012 (Xlibris)

9.Birth, Death & In Between 2013 (Xlibris)

Arlene 2010

10. Love Relationships 2013 (XLibris)

11. Circling Round Yoga, Science, Wars & Cats 2013 (Xlibris)

12. Circling Round Nature 2014 (Xlibris)

13. God Book 2014 (Xlibris)

14. A Sense Of The Ridiculous 2015;

15. Circling Round Everything (2015-2016) 2017 (Xlibris)

16. Birth, Death & In Between II 2017 (Cyberwit)

17. Pure Nakedness 2018 (Cyberwit)



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marilyn
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 12:59:51

    Although I know you my lifetime, I was intrigued to “know you”.



  2. arlenecorwin
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 20:47:55

    “Circling Round Time”, published by Xlibiris, came out in September.



  3. Jane Tait
    May 05, 2018 @ 13:17:11

    My goodness Arlene, this time I found you! You were so good to me in the mid-1970s in Oxford at a time of loneliness and finding myself. You and Jim were amazing mentors. What a wonderful and varied career and life you’ve been leading. I married Ian, you and Jim came to my wedding. That was almost 42 years ago and we’re still together with a son, now 35 and daughter 31. I’ve looked for you at various times but this time google helped. I really hope you are well and still enjoying life



    • arlenecorwin
      May 06, 2018 @ 10:11:25

      Dear, dear Jane,
      How exciting to hear from you! (I really must update that bio) But that you found it/me was a marvel and I couldn’t be more flattered to read that you were actually looking for me. Send me a photo!! Imagine! A 35 year old son and 31 year old daughter. As we say in Swedish ‘otrolig’ (unbelievable. Write to me at and we can continue catching up. Please. Do that.



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