Thursday, December 15, 2005

Three "records" of sorts

It suddenly dawned on me the other day, while listening to his wonderful new CD with Spain's Big Band Terrassa, that jazz singer David Allyn may have established a Guinness Book of World Record(s) of sorts as a solo U.S. recording artist.

Next to Allyn, who began recording on his own in 1946, and since 1940 as a featured vocalist (with Jack Teagarden) on disc, most everyone else who springs to mind is an absolute piker, Crosby, Como, Bennett, Sinatra et al. Inasmuch as Allyn was still recording as recently as this year, that makes a grand total of 65 years. And 59 years as the main "artist of record" on the label, as opposed to "with." To hear a rare 1946 Allyn recording on the fine, fine superfine Atomic label, cliquez ici. (link for a limited time only)

Ellington vocalist Herb Jeffries began recording a few years before Allyn, in '34 (with Earl Hines) , but did not head into the studio under his own name until 1945.

Hate to get all hair-splitting and Jesuitical about all of this, but Jeffries' last---to the best of my knowledge--- album, The Duke and I, was recorded in 2002. Giving him a 58-year span. . .assuming that nothing was released after that album. But Allyn is still in the studio working on new material even as of the writing of this. Don't know what Jeffries is up to in the studio these days?

Oh, what the hell, they are both such great guys and fine singers, let's let them split the Guinness trophy. Besides, I doubt that this longevity achievment is one of which Allyn and/or Jeffries are necessarily proud anyway. LOL. Still, it is interesting to contemplate.

My heart has always gone out to stereotyped ballad singers like David Allyn, Vic Damone and Johnny Hartman who have had to labor under the false notion, "Yeah, but can they swing?" It feels like Allyn, with his great new CD with the Terrassa band, has set out to redress that mistaken notion, when it comes to him, once and for all time. Takes a lot to keep up with that wonderful outfit, and Allyn does it! Nearly every track is a flagwaver.

Allyn also published his memoirs this year. . .available at

AND. . .today is the birthday of Greta Woodson, who may be the country's OLDEST recording artist. Long retired from performing and now living in Tulsa, Woodson (now known Greta Heslet) began recording in 1928 with the great Jean Goldkette band and also around the same time as a soloist for Victor. She worked with Goldkette both as a "girl Singer" and as part of the trio Winken, Blinken and Nod. Way to go, Greta!

Of all the non-jazz recording artists in the world, by far my favorite is the long-running Japanese pop star, Tatsuro Yamashita, whose seasonal favorite, Christmas Eve, has also just established a "record" in that country. First released in 1983, it took a few years for it to catch on, but after it did in '86 as the result of a TV commercial, it has managed to hit the Oricon (think Billboard mag for Japan) Top 100 chart every year around this time for the last two decades. Though Christmas Eve was originally recorded in Japanese by Yamashita, there is another track by him with lyrics written by my friend Alan O'Day. Here is just a taste of it.

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