Allred's Classic Jazz Band Bios
David Pruyn -
New Orleans native David Pruyn is a multi-talented musician who, in addition to playing drums, adds a Mel Torme-like singing voice and occasionally another trumpet to the Classic Jazz Band’s repertoire.
David first played drums in public at age 11 while his family was traveling with a small Shrine circus. His father was the music director and trumpet player, and his mother was playing organ. The day before they were scheduled to open a show in Wisconsin, the Chicago drummer who had been hired for the gig had to cancel and neither he nor David’s dad could find a sub. Dave had been watching, and had even taken a few lessons from, several pick-up drummers who had played with his folks during previous shows. With the clock ticking and no regular drummer in sight, his father looked at David and asked if he thought he could do the job. Brimming with an 11-year-old’s confidence, Dave said he was sure that he could, so the next morning he and his dad went to a local music store and picked out a brand new set of Ludwig drums. Three hours later, David made his professional debut on them.
At age 13, while still traveling with his family on the circus circuit, David took up the trombone. After a few months of lessons, he began playing in some of his father’s circus bands. Not long after his 19th birthday, David’s interest shifted to trumpet, and he soon found himself following the path of one of his idols, the great Harry James, who also had a trumpet-playing bandleader for a father.
Although he had admired good singers for many years, David says he didn’t seriously consider developing his voice until the mid-1990s after a good friend, the late Rick Fay, and others encouraged him to do so. Having the good fortune to be tutored by Broadway vocal-coaching legend Fred Silver, David began to receive favorable notice from jazz fans and musicians alike, who were struck by the similarity of his sound and phrasing to that of his vocal hero, Mel Torme.
During a career that now spans close to 40 years, David has worked for several different circuses, as well as in musical theater (including Broadway), studios, TV, film, big bands and clubs, and on cruises and concert tours. His widely varied background also includes arranging, orchestrating and conducting, and touring with the show "Satchmo," a Broadway musical based on the life of Louis Armstrong.
Musicians he has worked and trained on the job with include Dick Hyman, Chick Corea, Mike Renzi, Vincent Falcone, Bob Florence, Ray Brown, Jaco Pastorius, Pete Christlieb, Eddie Barefield, Al Cohn, John LaPorta, Bob Mintzer, Nick Brignola, Bill Prince, Bobby Shew, Doc Severinsen, Snooky Young, Walt Johnson, Carl Saunders, Byron Stripling, Buddy Morrow, Dave Steinmeyer, Rich Matteson, Dave Wolpe, Bill Allred, and the Terry Myers Big Band, as well as singers Mel Torme, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Walt Andrus, Al Jarreau, Rosemary Clooney, Edie Gorme, Manhattan Transfer and an old hometown buddy, Harry Connick, Jr.
As a conductor, David has worked for Peter Allen, Ben Vereen and Broadway star Donna MacKechnie. He also was music director for regional productions of “42nd Street,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Evita” and an 18-month-long engagement of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “A Chorus Line.”
In recent years, David has performed frequently with his wife, Michele, a talented singer who works professionally as Michele James. One of their current endeavors is a critically acclaimed multimedia act in remembrance of Mel Torme and Rosemary Clooney.
David and Michele have a young son, Jamie, who is well endowed with musical talent according to his father, but currently wants to become an archaeologist and is more interested in sharks and dinosaurs than music.