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Stanley William Tracey was born in Denmark Hill, South London, England, on December 30th 1926. The Second World War meant that Tracey had a disrupted formal education, and he became a professional musician at the age of sixteen, as a member of an ENSA touring group, playing the accordion, his first instrument. He joined Ralph Reader's Gang Shows at the age of nineteen, while still in the RAF, and formed a brief acquaintance with the comedian Tony Hancock.
Later, in the early 1950s, he worked in groups on the transatlantic cruise liners Queen Mary and Cardonia, and toured the UK in 1951 with Cab Calloway. He also collaborated with drummer Tony Crombie, clarinettist Vic Ash, the saxophonist/arranger Kenny Graham, and trumpeter Dizzy Reece.
In February 1957, he toured the United States with Ronnie Scott's group, and became the pianist with Ted Heath's Orchestra in the September for two years, from 1958 to 1959, including a US tour with singer Carmen McRae. From March 1960 until about 1967, Tracey was the house pianist at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London, and had the opportunity to accompany many of the leading musicians from the US who visited the club.
He was most influenced by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Tracey's best known recording is a 1965 suite, inspired by Dylan Thomas' radio drama "Under Milk Wood". In the mid-seventies, he formed his own record label, Steam, and through it re-issued "Under Milk Wood". The label ceased trading in the early 1990s, but, in 1992, Tracey benefited from Blue Note's brief interest in UK jazz musicians.
This led to the album "Portraits Plus", and the commercial issue of the BBC's recording of the concert commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Tracey's first professional gig, as well as the "Under Milk Wood" debut on CD. He was awarded first the OBE, and then, in 2008, the CBE. Stan Tracey died of cancer in London on December 6th 2013. He is survived by his son, Clark Tracey (his daughter died in 2012). http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/dec/06/stan-tracey-dies