Albert Norman Benedict "Norm" Amadio (April 14, 1928 in Timmins, Ontario) is a Canadian jazz pianist, piano teacher, music coach, composer, arranger, session player, band leader and accompanist. For a span of fifty years he worked for the CBC as an orchestra leader and musical director for many TV series. In 1956, he became the first and only Canadian to play at the original Birdland in NYC and while playing opposite Duke Ellington.
In 1943, he performed at a Victory Bond concert with Gracie Fields, and was asked to travel on a Canadian tour; his parents denied him permission because of his age. At age 15, Norman really loved Art Tatum and was inspired by him. Norm soon after found inspiration from Be-boppers like Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Horace Silver. Norman eventually left Timmins for Toronto when he was 17 to study music with Boris Berlin at the Royal Conservatory for six months. He played jazz after hours, influenced by the Be-bop pianists. Subsequently Amadio was influential in starting the be-bop jazz music scene in Toronto, attracting many jazz notables from Canada and the US to sit in and work with him. He became one of the most sought after players in Toronto.
Norman Amadio was a prominent figure in the late 1940s and early 1950s at the House of Hambourg in Toronto and subsequently became one of the city's leading accompanists. After working in the early 1950s in the lounge groups of Jim Younger, Chicho Valle, and Jimmy Amaro, he led the house band at the Old Town Tavern for fifteen years. Word traveled to the United States about Norman's playing and American superstars in jazz began to flock to Toronto to work with him. Some of the American jazz stars who came to work with Norman Amadio's Trio in Canada included: Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz, Bill Harris,Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Chet Baker, Anita O'Day, Bud Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Miles Davis, Carmen McRae, Joe Williams, Carol Sloane, Dinah Washington, Red Mitchell, Phip Phillips, Maxine Sullivan, Irene Krall and Lee Konitz.
"Amadio was an aggressive bebop player along the lines of Bud Powell when he first arrived on the Toronto scene in the '40s. A precocious teen musical whiz from Timmins, he soon enough learned to keep his cool when others were losing theirs in the city's turbulent club scene.
Reliability got him work. Unrivaled musicality gave him stature and clout. Jazz stars arriving in town -- Carmen McRae, Miles Davis, Joe Williams or Jimmy Rushing -- wanted him. Or even needed him, as the veteran American singer Maxine Sullivan once told Peter Goddard (freelance journalist)".
Norman's musical career went on to include a great deal of studio work and close to a hundred recordings for various Canadian artists such as Moe Koffman, Ray Back with the Ed Sullivan Orchestra, The Tommy Ambrose Orchestra, Don (D.T.) Thompson and most recently with Guido Basso, Marc Jordan, and many more.
Amadio worked on CBC Television for five seasons and became a well-known figure from coast-to-coast as Musical Director for the weekly Music Hop show from 1963 until 1967. Amadio later conducted for numerous other variety specials on the CBC network. He played in the house band on CBC-TV's Wayne & Shuster Show for twenty years, and with the Bert Niosi Orchestra on Cross Canada Hit Parade between 1953 and 1957. For a span of fifty years he worked for the CBC as an orchestra leader and musical director for many TV series including The Tommy Ambrose Show 1956/57, Take 30 in 1961, Swing Gently, and Down Home Country, and TV specials with Jane Eastwood, Kenny Rogers, Robert Goulet, Mel Tormé, Al Hirt, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle to name only a few. Norman Amadio also performed a two-hour special live-broadcast in the CBC Special: 100 Years of Canada with the 40-piece Norman Amadio Orchestra.
Later with the Norman Amadio Orchestra, he backed Broadway and Las Vegas Stars at the Royal York Hotel's Imperial Room between 1987 to 1990 including Bobby Darrin, The Drifters, The Coasters, The Inkspots, Phyllis Diller and Eddie Fisher. At the O'keefe Centre Norman worked with names like Judy Garland, Paul Anka, Engelbert Humperdinck, Red Skelton, The Supremes and Bob Hope. He also worked with people like Milton Berle, Jackie Mason, Phil Foster, the Smothers Brothers and Steve Lawrence at other venues.
The list of Canadian musicians and vocalists Norman Amadio has worked with is too long to mention, but some musicians include Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, Haygood Hardy, Jerry Fuller, Don Vickery, Bob Schilling, Bob Price, Alex Lazaroff, Moe Koffman, Rosemary Galloway, Neil Swainson, George Koller, Reg Schwager, Steve Wallace, Bill Mulhal, and Phil Dwyer. Since 2010, Norm has been the piano player and center focus of the Singer's Jazz Series organized and hosted by Toronto jazz vocalist, Julie McGregor. The Singer's Jazz Series started out at the the now defunct Trane Studio owned by jazz supporter, Frank Francis. The Singer's Jazz Series created such a buzz from the beginning that they had to turn away jazz goers lined up at the door because of sold out shows. Norm and The Singer's Jazz Series continue to perform along side either bassist, Duncan Hopkins or Neil Swainson playing popular hot spots and filling houses like Hugh's Room and Pauper's Pub featuring up and coming jazz singers. 'Today's young crop of jazz singers, in Toronto and internationally, stands up well compared to "all those singers who came before." says Amadio.' In the Star, by Peter Goddard, freelance writer.
Norman Amadio's latest CD, Norman Amadio and Friends includes vocalists Marc Jordan and Jackie Richardson, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, Guido Basso on flugelhorn and with Reg Schwager (acoustic guitar, electric guitar). The result - anchored by bassist Rosemary Galloway and drummer Terry Clarke - "one of the top albums of the year" (Toronto Star) and continues to be played frequently on Jazzfm 91.1 penned by producer Andrew A. Melzer.