Sunday, November 27, 2005

I went to the great arranger-composer Johnny Mandel's 80th birthday party last night. It was shared with his longtime friend and also new octagenarian, M.D.-bassist hyphenate Dr. Ralph Gold.

An amazing affair whose attendees included several other swingin' docs, and a multiple PHD cat---name escapes me now-- who wielded a rather nice alto sax! Also cardiologist, Stephen Berens, who plays first rate jazz piano. So good, in fact, that a private for-friends-only recording that he cut recently has now ended up in rotation on Sirius satellite radio.

Attending also were the three, not-so-arguably, finest living jazz arrangers: Bill Holman, Bob Florence, and, of course, Johnny Mandel. And some of the best singers, including Morgan Ames, Michael Mishaw, Shelby Flint, Melissa MacKay, Bill Henderson, and Pinky Winters. Henderson sang "Sleepin' Bee" and Winters, accompanied by Bob Florence, gave us two songs, Mandel and Frishberg's "You Are There," and "I Thought About You." The others were heard in the context of the vocal group, Inner Voices. You can catch their annual Christmas concert this year on the 18th of December at L.A.s Jazz Bakery.

Among the other guests were: Van Alexander, Quincy Jones, Ruth Olay, Bill Marx, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, John Pisano, Pete Christlieb, Gary Foster, Tim Weston, and many dozens more. That list should convey the sense that the evening consisted of not only wonderful conversation, but great non-stop music, as well.

Had a nice long talk with Bill Henderson. I have two manufactured but unauthorized recordings of him with which he was completely unfamiliar. They are very very good, especially for bootleg CDs. I will send him copies. ("It's not the first time I was ripped off," he laughed. "And probably won't be the last.") Meanwhile, he surely would love to get those great Discovery recordings of his re-released. He was amazed that I actually know who owns the rights to them. He has never been able to find out.

If there had been---heaven forbid---a bomb dropped on the Beverly Hills manse where the celebration was held, you'd have effectively wiped out what's left of a (mercifully) still vital L.A. actual music scene.

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