Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mystery Singer Contest #4

Count the beans in this jar. . .no, I mean guess this Mystery Singer (mp3 link for a limited time only) and win a free copy of the Bill Black CD, Down in the Depths. Deadline for entries 10 am tomorrow, Ash Wednesday (starring Elizabeth Taylor). First person with correct answer wins. email me with guesses at cllr1@comcast.net . No employees of Landfill Productions or their relatives are eligible. Void where prohibited by law. If clear skin persists, see your dermatologist. Back to you now, Ralph!

Early Plastic?????

Monday, February 27, 2006

Disc o' the Day - Annie Ross

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For years I searched to replace a pre-xerox photostat (ask your 'rents) of Annie Ross (see above) that I copied from either a Metronome or a Down Beat mag circa 1960. I then carried it around with me throughout my Sixties hippie (to put it mildly) perigrinations, but finally lost it somewhere along the way. . .On the Road.

Later, I would semi-regularly leaf thorough old copies of those two jazz publications at used mag stores (again I date myself) on Hollywood Blvd trying to find a replacement. But to no avail.

Then about five years ago--now a somewhat settled down good burgher---I was in a meeting with jazz photographer Ted Williams and going through his presentation book when---boinngggg---there it was. The ellusive Annie Ross photo. I tell you. . .it was downright Twilight Zone-y. TED had taken the photo. Along with skeenteen hundreds of others of Annie, along with Lambert and Hendricks, as well! One of which ended up on the cover of Down Beat, you know. . .the one where she's banging the boys' heads together a la the Three Stooges.

I told Ted the story of my obsession with the Annie portrait , and now a copy of it---signed by him, yet!--- hangs in my entrance hallway. Even nicer, Ted and I have become pals. A very fine man and a great artist. Is there a moral to this story? In the immortal words of Alistair Cooke, "I think not."

And speaking of Annie Ross, when are the vague and elusive "they" ever going to get around to releasing on CD her fine '63 album, "Loguerhythms"?, a rare track from which is just a mouse click away. (mp3 link for a limited time only).

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Birthday bloggin'

Today is Betty Hutton's birthday. Here's what I posted last year on this blog about the occasion:

The late George Eells, a close friend, was entertainment editor of Look Magazine back in the 50s. It's a great source of regret that I didn't carry a tape recorder around with me when we were together. He had great stories. I never ceased encouraging George to write his memoirs, but he kept begging off. I think I was still after him to do this even when he was practically on his deathbed in 1992. One story I recall concerned Betty Hutton, who turns 84 today [in 2005].

In the early 1950s, George had finished editing an advance Look feature on Hutton's appearance at NY's Palace Theater. The day following the opening, the reviews were so strong that a last minute cover shoot was arranged. Hutton was the toast of the town. But when George arrived at the appointed location of the photo session, the day following Betty's smash opening, the star was being taken away in an ambulance. Her publicist explained that his client felt that she'd given such a bad performance opening night that she'd suffered a breakdown and had to be temporarily hospitalized. THIS, after perhaps the best notices of her career. I couldn't help but recall Mort Sahl’s remark that Show Business is the only animal that eats its young. MORE

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to Fred Katz

Today is the 80-somethingth birthday of jazz composer-arranger-cellist Fred Katz. My path crossed that of his exactly once. . .more than forty years ago. I was working at a Marlboro Books---an amazing NYC remainder books chain of the late 50s and early 60s---on West 57th Street, immediately to the east of Carnegie Hall. It was the second job I had in the city, after being fired (for good reason) from my initial one as an apprentice recording engineer at the once noble Empire Sound. But that is a tale best left to another night around the campfire.

Everytime you turned around at Marlboro found you rubbing the stardust out of your eyes. Just for starters, I can recall Harlem Renaissance supporter Carl Van Vechten (I was actually in the presence of the inarguably legendary CVV!), Diahann Carroll (the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on before or since), Vivien Leigh (rail thin), Anthony Quinn (nice!), et al. And I remember a very pre-VOTD Jackie Susann coming in to poll the clerks on what she should call her new book about her poodle. We all, to a man, voted for Every Night Josephine. However, I digress ("Cut to the verb, Bill! Cut to the verb!"). As a neophyte jazzbo, the "celebrity" (of sorts) customer who truly meant the most to me was none of the above.

I didn't recognize him at first. That is, until he handed me a check bearing the name "Fred Katz," address (hot damn!) "Hollywood," California." Well, you could keep your Mrs. Larry Olivier, thank you very much. There standing right in front of me was the cellist with one of the top jazz groups in the world at the time, the Chico Hamilton Quintet. I simply could not contain my excitment.

"Are you THE Fred Katz?," I blurted out, my voice suddenly reverting to all it's cracked pre-pubescent glory. When Katz finished laughing, he haltingly replied, "Welll. . .I guess so."

Could it be that maybe you hadda be there?

Now, flash forward to just the other day when, at my urging, my friend, singer Melodye DeWine who is working with Katz on a project, recounted the incident to him.

Understandably, as it turns out, he didn't recall it. A near half-century of subsequent music making has obviously pushed it to one side in his mind. But, according to Melodye, nonetheless Katz apparently laughed just as hard as he had four decades ago. So maybe you didn't have to be there after all. Maybe all you really need to appreciate the story is to have been saddled for close on to ninety years with such a noble but nonetheless profoundly prosaic moniker as. . .Fred Katz.

Did I just hear someone cry out, "Sonny Tufts!"?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Happy Birthday to Michel Legrand

Not so widely known in the U.S. as he once was, still Michel Legrand (film composer, songwriter, pianist, film director, singer, actor, tennis player, etc.) continues to be one of the most beloved and respected musicians around. Especially in his native land of France where he has long resided in the Pantheon of that nation's artists. At one time, I knew Legrand fairly well, and as certifiable world class geniuses go, he struck me as remarkably (maybe not quite le mot juste) sane. To wit: How did overcome his, at one time, morbid fear of air travel? Why, by becoming a pilot!

Here's a ML rare track with lyrics by the Bergmans, originally written as a theme for an unreleased independent film, The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean. "One Day" (mp3 links for a limited time only) was given its debut performance in 1968 by Barbara Stresand at an anti-war concert concert at Lincoln Center in New York---Leonard Bernstein conducting.

Best of Cat Blog Friday

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Live or Memorex Kitty?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Now That Sid Is Dead. . .


















Rumors circulating the past few days that singer Rufus Wainwright will be recreating Judy Garland's legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert---the gay Triumph of the Will--- AT the venerable old hall herself are not just some mad queen's hallucination. As Marlene might have put it, "It's twew, it's twew." The exact date is June 14th.

And my EX-CLU-SIVE sources have confirmed to me that not only will Rufus be singing every song that Garland intoned that historic April evening, including "The MAN That Got Away," he will also be performing all the in-between patter as well. It is unclear, however, whether he will just be doing the edited raps on the lp, the one that the Gay Welcome Wagon used to hand out when you debarked the Greyhound bus from the hinterlands at NY's Port Authority for the first time. . .along with a copy of Djuna Barnes' Nightwood. OR the greatly expanded spoken content on the 1989 CD---"I looked like an overweight Balenciaga model. . .", etc. Whichever. . .comparisons with Gus Van Sant's cinematic gloss on Hitchcock's Psycho are inevitable. Let's just hope that Rufus Rufus Rufus fares a bit better critically than that high concept stunt.

And just in case Rufus is reading this and would like to use the services of the historic individual who can clearly be heard shouting out "I love you, Judy," twixt tracks 4 & 5, "Do It Again" and "You Go To My Head," I can put him in touch.

Shortly after Wainright's evening, I will be staging a reading of my own of the equally legendary 1999 Spoken Word Grammy-winning Garland Toilet Tapes---"I'm a lady; I'm a lady who is angry"---at a cave in nearby Santa Barbara, CA. Exact date TBA.

Here is another thoughtfully amusing blog post re: Wainright's Folly.

Everything But the Oink Strikes Again

Dear Jerry: Well, if all you city folks hadn't-a gone and torn down all them outhouses you wouldn't-a ('member how hillbillys add that "a" at the end instead of saying or "hadn't have" or "wouldn't have")? be having all these problems. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein on the subject of teeth, plumbing is to be deeply regretted.

We have lived here at Oblivion Towers for ten years now, and just about the only maintenance problems we've had (over and over again) is the washers on the bathtub faucets. I swear I wouldn't even know how to fix that. In this particular instance. . .god bless landlords. The inner butch in me is very impressed at your capacity to handle that multitude of infrastructural tsuris you've been experiencing lately.

Your memory is ALMOST spot on about my improvising TV commls. In the instance of the example you mentioned, I know exactly what you're referring to. Whether I gave him credit or not---that was a Randall High riff---and it was an anti-comml about, I think, new Tide (not Oxydol as you recalled) with the addition of some miracle ingredient, but the housefrau in the faux commercial didn't want "new improved" Tide, but her old washday "friend," original Tide, instead.

Pissed or busy?, you ask. The latter. I think of you often and wonder when exactly you might be planning to head out this way. I will probably be going back east sometime in early summer. Prolly W.Va and NYC. The latter to work on a project.

All that effort I've put in on my recording activites is starting to pay off. Especilly because early this year, I "discovered" a singer. His name is ____ ____ and he is really good. I am in the process of signing him to a Japanese record contract---twixt the lip and the cup---and I am seldom wrong about such matters (my powers of modesty are exceeded only by my chuzpah). I've been looking for someone to work with the past several years, but the singers are either too this, or too that, or missing some essential something.

He sent me an mp3 as a result of this blog, then he just emailed me more and more and more. Nearly all of it unreleased (a few tracks have appeared on demos), all of it primo. If all goes well, the master of the CD will be delivered to Japan by the end of May. Here is the link to the track of his that I put up on my blog earlier this year.

My new Japanese Cellar Door Records CD, Pinky Winters Sings Johnny Mandel. . .with Lou Levy, was released yesterday. No celebration, though, instead I spent the day singing up for Medicare!! ;-). Here's a link to that track.

I might put part of this email on my blog. As my cantankerous, snuff dipping, shitdetectin', not to mention, "beloved" old grandmother, whom you no doubt met on more than one occasion back in the 1950s, used to say. . ."Everything but the oink." Also used to remark, "Don't that just beat the cars." Never could figger out that one.

Again. . .not pissed, just busy. Let's keep in touch.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

EBTO vs. Mothra

Recycled and blogified (Everything But the Oink) emails to friends.

Dear L: My good friend and constant traveling companion of the last 35 years, David Ehrenstein, is a fairly well-known writer, but also still struggling to some extent (though he did turn down an appearance on Bill O'Reilley the other day) . One time we were even reduced to rolling pennies to rent a tux for an appearance by him on the Merv Griffin show. But that is another story.

Cut to: About eight years ago, we were again back to rolling pennies and just then the fax machine went off, offering David a somewhat huge advance for a book that he had pitched only 48 hours earlier, "Open Secret." Just then the downstairs door opened. It was David, and I stood there looking down with a fax in my hand, waving it at him, and shouting, "Tara is saved.!!!!"

We got the money, he then immediately had an aneurysm, and went into intensive care. That was the day I was laid off from my job as a film researcher [cue three fast choruses of "Hearts and Flowers"]. I was eventually hired back.

The advance now somewhat less huge---diminished by agent's fee, etc---was in his account and he was in a semi-coma and there was not so much as a Coke on the place.

I needed money badly, but everytime I would ask him for his Redi-Teller (i.e., I date myself) code, he would mumble something else. I have never figured out whether he was delirious, or else, like George Costanza in that episode of "Seinfeld" where he wouldn't give his password to his fiancee Susan, and then there was a fire in the locked antechamber where the ATM was and someone nearly died---"DOES ANYONE have a password?"---because George still would not give it up. Finally, David told me so many different wrong passwords that the machine refused to even take any more incorrect codes: "Step AWAY from the ATM."

Eventually he came home from the hospital, and wrote his book. The End

As your reward for sitting through this tsuris-strewn saga, here's your EBTO Disc o' the Day---mp3 link for a limited time only---by (in tones of hushed reverence) Irene Kral

tpmb

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Before they formed Soul Bossa Trio, two of its members were part of the Japanese group, Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys. If I were reduced to a vocabulary of four words, that's what they'd be, and I'd say it over and over again: Tokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo BoysTokyo Panorama Mambo Boys

Saturday, February 18, 2006

EBTO: EPISODE V, RETURN OF THE SITHY










More recycled (everthing but the oink) and blogified emails to friends. . .

Dear Kevin: Thanks for the kind words about Bill Black's Down in the Depths. I sent exactly one promo copy out. . .to New York dj Jonathan Schwartz, and he is playing it all the time on XM satellite radio. On the slim offchance that there is some sort of afterlife---one big, long cocktail party that lasts for two weeks?----Bill must finally be gettings his kicks.

I had the Black acetate restored just for my own sentimental reasons, sent a copy to a friend in Japan as a gift, and the next thing I knew, a label in that country was offering to release it. I've even made a little bit of money off of it!

I am in touch with a musician who played piano on yet another unreleased Black session but I'm having no luck tracking it down. Someone will probably pop out of the woodwork someday with a copy of it. I'm also thinking about releasing a CD of Black's 23 tracks w/ Krupa, but the stuff is mostly garbage, even the cuts with Roy Eldridge. Rancid pop material. Maybe I'll call it "For Completists Only!" ;-)
_________________________
Dear Jeff: I did a chapter on Billy Strayhorn--before the big David Hajdu bio came out--in my book Hot from Harlem. What Hajdu went through to write the Strayhorn book was almost as interesting as the book itself. Can't recall all the details, but to track down one interviewee, he made several hundred phone calls, just going down the Pittsburgh phone book, number by number. When I wrote my Strayhorn chapter, I phoned every person with that surname in the U.S. trying to figure out its derivation. I think that all the answerers were African-American (in some instances I had the brassbound temerity to ask), so I finally came to the possible conclusion that it was a black spelling of a slavemaster's name, probably Strathern or.....Strathairn (hope he wins!). Especically inasmuch as Strayhorn does not much exist outside of the U.S. as a name. I checked many European phone books to verify.
________________________
Dear L: When I was in high school my two favorite singers were Beverly Kenney, and Kiz Harp (see James Gavin p. 322). Both died at age 28 in 1960, BK of suicide, KH of natural causes. Gakkkk! What a teen trauma that was! Now, 46 years later, despite their slim ouevres---8 albums in toto---they remain faves. Am I loyal. . .or wot?
________________________
Dear J: As for Anatomy of a Murder, one of the assistant editors on the film is a friend of mine. I guess you know the bad rep Preminger has. My friend has worked with literally everyone in the biz and dislikes just about all he ever worked with BUT Otto. My editor friend is a bit of ("bit of" hell....IS) a curmudgeon himself, so I guess it was a case of like attracting like.
________________________
Will: Don't know if you saw the rest of Dr. Mikami's site, but he has world class collections of just about everything, Tiffany, cacti, catfish, "antique" hi-fi, etc. I have visited him at his home near Tokyo. He appears to be somewhat wealthy; not from medicine, but investing. Not like any other collector I've ever met. Very self-effacing about his stuff. Seemingly quite mellow. All five of his children are also medical doctors. He has a staff working for him, and in their spare time they attend to his web site. I got to know him because my friend Pinky Winters is his favorite singer. That's me (above right) with him just prior to sitting down to listen to Pinky, and Richard Rodney Bennett's Rain Sometimes on the good Doctor's skeenteenzillion yen stereo rig.

The Cowboy As Camp Artifact

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Ex-clu-sive! Scene from the forthcoming motion picture, Brokeback II: Spur of the Moment. In Vertiscope, color by Cinecolor. note: click the pic and it blows up real good

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cat Blog Friday
















A kitty mind is a terrible thing to waste....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I can hardly wait to see it

Rave Variety review of new documentary about great jazz singer Jackie Paris

Rare Jackie Paris track

Earlier blog entry re: Paris docu 'Tis Autumn

Johnny's Big Night

Entrepreneur-bassist Howard Rumsey was at the Johnny Mandel Jazz Bakery concert Monday night in L.A. Others included Jack Tracy, 1950s editor of Down Beat; arranger-songwriter Van Alexander, vocal arranger (the other) Ray Charles; M &A Bergman, songwriter Donald Kahn, singer Ruth Olay, master trombonist Dick Nash, Leonard Maltin, Quincy Jones. A full house! As I'm so fond of oft-saying, "Heaven forfend, but if youda dropped a bomb on the place. . .."

The evening was more-or-less a repeat of the arranger-composer's L.A. Jazz Institute Oct. 2nd presentation. Monday night, when Mandel introduced one number, he said, jokingly, "If you don't know this song, there's something wrong with you." The band then launched into his "The Shadow of Your Smile." The audience laughed, then applauded. And, of course, Mandel WAS right. If you didn't know the song, then there was definitely something "wrong with you." A great night!

I attended with singer Pinky Winters. At one point, she spotted a friend and left our table in the lobby to say hello. A gentleman came up to me and asked:

Gent: Who was that lady you were talking to?
Me: Whyyy! That is the singer. . . Pinky Winters!
Gent: Oh, I thought it was the lady who manages a restaurant in my neighborhood. A dead ringer!
Me: Thanks. I'll tell Pinky you said so.

Winters felt there was something insensitive about giving the star of the show a copy of her new Mandel songbook CD. "It's Johnny's night," she said. I think she is right, even though Mandel asked her, "Where's the new CD, Pinky?" She will get it to him in a more personal manner within the next few days.

She is so proud of the CD. The original '83 concert recording was on big professional reels, and had just sat in her garage for many years until I uncovered them one day when I was helping her do some cleaning up of the space, about a year-and-a-half ago (that's in my job description as her record producer).

"What are these?," I asked her. She told me, and we took them into a professional studio for a listen. To say that we were pleasantly surprised is an understatment. Now the first half of the concert---the Mandel portion--is a CD reality.

Here is the first half of the L.A. Times review of the Mandel concert:

Mandel and Big Band Make One Stellar Night

February 15, 2006
By Don Heckman / Special to The Times

There's not much that composer Johnny Mandel hasn't done in the creative end of the music business. He has written arrangements for such artists as Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Lena Horne. His innovative jazz score for "I Want to Live" opened the way for other jazz composers to enter the film music business. And he has written a small but memorable catalog of songs — "Suicide Is Painless (The Theme From MASH)," "Emily" and "The Shadow of Your Smile" among them. What he hasn't done, however, is lead a big jazz band on anything like a regular basis. All of which made his one-night appearance at the Jazz Bakery on Monday a very special event (and a sold-out event, at that).

Mandel's approach to the performance was not complicated: collect some of the Southland's top musicians, especially those with extensive studio experience; place a book full of Mandel big-band charts in front of them; count off the time; and let them start swinging.He began the set with a hard-grooving original, "Low Life," in which the band's two tenor saxophonists, Pete Christlieb and Doug Webb, romped through a series of improvisational exchanges in high-spirited fashion. "Not Really the Blues," a powerful, hard-driving number originally written for the Woody Herman Herd, followed. Then a change of pace into the ballad "Close Enough for Love," featuring Christlieb's muscular, low register sound, followed by selections from Mandel's "I Want to Live" score. Curiously, Mandel did not offer up arrangements for "Emily" (from the film "The Americanization of Emily") or the "MASH" theme. But trumpeter Carl Saunders' chart for the former was first-rate, and the latter was handled by the rhythm section and individual soloists.One player after another in this veritable all-star aggregation stepped into the spotlight: trumpeters Saunders, Ron King and Bobby Shew, saxophonists Kim Richmond, Sal Lozano and Bob Efford, trombonist Andy Martin and pianist Mike Melvoin among them. . . ..

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Sinatra Society of Japan releases













Reproduced above are the obi strips from the forthcoming (Feb. 22) five new releases of the Sinatra Society of Japan. Its first quintet of issues from last fall included two of my Cellar Door Records productions, Down in the Depths by Bill Black, and Rain Sometimes +1 by Pinky Winters and Richard Rodney Bennett.

The new batch includes another Cellar Door release, The Shadow of Your Smile: Pinky Winters Sings Johnny Mandel. . .with Lou Levy along with four other terrific vocal jazz recordings:

My Lucky Day David Allen / Allyn, arr. & cond. by Bob Florence
Sings & Swings + 1 Frankie Randall, arr. & cond. by Marty Paich
The Randall Way + 1 Frankie Randall, arr. & cond. by Billy May
Love Rosemary Clooney, arr. & cond. by Nelson Riddle

All that's missing in the arranging and conducting department is Bill Holman, or you would arguably have the five finest figures in modern big band arranging. The David Allen / Allyn album is especially welcome in stereo due to the fact that most of the original stereo pressings of this fine album were manufactured very badly, and there might have even been a problem with the original stereo master. But all of that has been solved here.

Both of the Randall CDs contain a bonus track of singles by Frankie that were never on albums, "Rosemary" and "Bewitched." The latter is from the Paich session, which features the great alto player Art Pepper.

The Clooney CD is considered one of her finest albums and features an unusal number of seldom-recorded but highly-regarded songs, including Marc Blitzstein's "I Wish It So" and "You Started Something" by Rinker and Huddleston.

All have extensive new Japanese liner notes included, written by Keizo Takada or Yasuo Sangu. The CDs are packaged in the popular carboard LP facsimile format.

All are available for pre-ordering from amazon.com , and the Pinky Winters-Lou Levy-Johnny Mandel is also obtainable from allmusicservices.com

Earth vs. EBTO

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More recycled (everything but the oink) and blogified emails to friends:

Dear L: To elaborate on my post about Little Jimmy Scott. I have almost never been wrong about anyone when it comes to music, i.e. especially my early championing of Jimmy. That is the most obvious example. Really. . .those Atlantic and Tangerine albums of his are sooo gorgeous.

The Atlantic LJS, The Scource, I bought in (the real) Sam Goody's bargain bin for 99 cents the day before David E. and I moved from New York to California in 1974 (I wish we'd never left). I had never heard of him before and just snapped it up on a whim. I played it while we were packing, and when I got to L.A. I set out immediately trying to find Jimmy.

Eventually, I did catch up with him. Remember, I told you about my quote in David Ritz's biography about Jimmy, Faith in Time---the one recorded without my knowledge (shades of George Bush). It concerned Scott's opening at the Hollywood Roosevelt Cinegrill in 1991. Here it is:

"Writer Bill Reed was there:

'It was an auspicious moment, a glamorous affair. I had discovered The Source a few years earlier. I remember asking Gerald Wilson, one of the arrangers of the Tangerine album, whatever happened to Jimmy. 'He's dead,' Wilson said. So when I learned he was alive and well, I was thrilled. We became fast phone friends. I'd never met an artist so friendly and open. On opening night, all the stars came out. Bonnie Rait was there, and so was Paul Gayten, Jimmy's musical partner from the early fifties. There was widespread media coverage, big crowds and enthusiastic response. Jimmy looked resplendent in his tux. It was a happy occasion but also sad. For all the hoopla, Jimmy was so broke that he didn't have money for food. I had to give him and Earlene fifty bucks to buy dinner. I also helped him set up a stand in the hotel lobby to sell his CDs and tapes."

The only thing wrong about the quote was that it was fifty dollars just to buy food in general, not a specific meal. Jimmy and his then-wife Earlene were definitely not into what would now qualify as a hundred dollar dinner-for-two.

Little Jimmy Scott for completists

My memoir, Early Plastic

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Return of EBTO

More emails to friends recycled (everything but the oink) and blogified:

Dear L: The attached mp3 I just sent you, "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart" (mp3 links for a limited time only), was rec. in 1986 by John Pizzarelli. From his album Sing Sing Sing. But my copy of the song is on a J.P. CD entitled I Like Jersey Best, compiled by writer Will Friedwald, whom I knew when he was in his early twenties and had not yet published a word. I am in communication with him now and he has been quite helpful with several matters. But I don't think he has a clue as to who I am. While I, on the other hand, can even recall dinners of an evening with him in the beautiful Cowhide Room of Roy Rogers Roast Beef overlooking New York's fabulous Times Square. More

Friday, February 10, 2006

Son of Everything But the Oink

More recent emails to friends recycled and blogified.

Watched what little I could tolerate of the Grammys Wednesday night. D.E. said to me, "I'm sure the Circus Maximus was more tasteful"...... I have come THIS CLOSE on several occasions only to get burned at the last minute. I have had two of the biggest literary agents in the business representing me at one point or another. One of the major catastrophes happened because I did NOT have an advance agreement with two lesser partners in a theatrical production that was being represented by the Lucy Kroll Agency. And I would say that, more or less, my failure with the Julian Bach Agency transpired because the person I was writing a book about and I---again---did not have a proper advance agreement/understanding. I once had Temple University Press cancel a book contract because they assumed I was black when it never dawned on me that would be consideration. I kept the $5,000.00 advance and published the book myself. And so, lest there be any misunderstanding, I am from the Planet of the Goyim......(more)

Cat Blog Friday












The Many Moods of Kuro

More moods here

Early Plastique 4 sale

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Captain Billy's Whizbang

This one started flying around the net a few days ago and by the time of its appearance here (below) is so old that it's probably already wearing Depends by now. Still. . . I love this "Jokeback Mountain" goof, AND it's my blog, soooo.....

Brokeback Mountain Weekly Grocery Lists for Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist Summer 1963

WEEK ONE# Beans# Bacon# Coffee# Whiskey

WEEK TWO# Beans# Ham# Coffee# Whiskey

WEEK THREE# Beans al fresca# Thin-sliced Bacon# Hazelnut Coffee# Sky vodka & Tanqueray gin# K-Y gel

WEEK FOUR # Beans en salade# Pancetta# Coffee (espresso grind)# 5-6 bottles best Chardonnay# 2 tubes K-Y gel

WEEK FIVE# Fresh Fava beans# Jasmine rice# Prosciutto, approx. 8 ounces, thinly sliced # Medallions of veal# Porcini mushrooms# 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream# 1 Cub Scout uniform, size 42 long# 5-6 bottles French Bordeaux (Estate Reserve)# 1 extra large bottle Astro-glide

WEEK SIX# Yukon Gold potatoes# Heavy whipping cream# Asparagus (very thin)# Organic Eggs# Spanish Lemons# Gruyere cheese (well aged)# Crushed Walnuts# Arugula# Clarified Butter# Extra Virgin Olive oil # Balsamic vinegar# 3 Cases of Dom Perignon# 6 yards white silk organdy# 6 yards pale ivory taffeta# Large tin Crisco

Early Plastic has gay cowboys

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everything but the oink (old hillbilly saying)

In my ongoing effort to become the next Walter Winchell, elipses and all, AND to avoid the strain of writing, herewith recycled are some selections from recent emails to friends (other than you):

Yesterday, I offered someone what I thought was a rather tidy advance to release an old LP, the master for which is probably sitting around rotting away in some underground salt mine storage locker in Utah. He answered back, "That wouldn't even buy me lunch." Almost immediately a cartouche went off above my head that read: "I guess I really am finally in show business"....... (continued here)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cellar Door Records YKCJ-307
























I just received an advance copy of Pinky Winters Sings Johnny Mandel. . .with Lou Levy, the third issue on my new label, Cellar Door Records, released by the Frank Sinatra Society of Japan. The (Tokyo) "street date" is February 22nd. The liner note tells the story of its making:

"In 1982-'83 the late Joel E. Siegel produced a now-legendary concert series, The Great American Songwriters, at Washington, DC's Corcoran Gallery. Included were such notable performers as Jackie & Roy, Carol Sloane, Shirley Horn, Sheila Jordan, Blossom Dearie, and. . .Pinky Winters, accompanied by Lou Levy.

When Siegel asked Winters and Levy which songwriter they wished to salute, their answer was mutual and immediate. . .Johnny Mandel. And soon the duo was off to DC to perform their 2/27/83 tribute. Afterwards, Siegel gave Winters and Levy a tape of the show to 'Do with as you wish.' Now 23 years later it is receiving its World Premiere release."

In addition, Johnny Mandel has generously contributed, as a bonus track, "Take Me Home," a 1991 demo recording that he produced in his home studio with Winters and Levy."

And there is another contribution from Mandel (reprinted on the back of the album): the addition to the liner note that he sent to Winters after listening to an advance copy of the CD: "You are going to love this CD. It is a concert of Pinky Winters and Lou Levy at their absolute best. My songs tend to vary greatly from one another; many moods, tempos, and emotions. Pinky and Lou do them all superbly. I'm proud to say that many fine singers have recorded my songs, but none of them made me as happy as what you're about to hear on this record."

There are also extensive Japanese notes inside by jazz critic Keizo Takada.

Here is one of the album's 13 tracks: Winters and Levy performing Mandel, and Dave Frishberg's You Are There . (mp3 links are for a limited time only) It's hard to believe that a performance recorded "live" could sound so good. I'm especially proud of this one (more to come this summer)!

The CD will be carried domestically by All Music Services in San Francisco. Contact via email at michael@allmusicservices.com or by phone at (415) 864-8222.
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Early Plastic 4 sale

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Zero Degrees of Separation

Last week a friend gave me a self-produced CD by, as she put it, "just a couple of local [i.e. Hawaiian] boys." She said that singer-bassist Bruce Hamada and his piano-playing partner Jim Howard have been appearing in the lounge of the Halekulani Hotel at Waikiki for some time now. She was a bit defensive about her praise, repeating the "local boys" proviso several times: "Don't expect too much. . .." etc.

But from the first bar of the CD, entitled How Deep is the Ocean, to the end, I was fairly much knocked out. . .especially by Hamada's singing. And it would seem that he is not so unknown after all. At least not in Japan. Yesterday I received in the mail the current issue of a Japanese music magazine with a review by a Japanese jazz critic friend of mine of a new solo album by Hamada, Two for the Road. And when I emailed and asked my friend how he had come to know about Hamada, it seems that the latter is now well enough known in Japan to be opening for Helen Merrill on her upcoming tour of that country. In the Japanese Jazz scheme of things, that's like opening for Callas. Am I on the same wave length as my fellow Japanese jazz vocal lovers, or wot?

Here's a sample (link for a limited time only) from Hamada's 2001 CD with Jim Howard, with Bruce H. also on bass. I love this kind of approach where the singer just sings the song and goes home. Sure are still a lot of good singers out there.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ducal Disc of the Day

Until the smoke clears and blogger.com has a bit more luck keeping its service up and running on a regular basis, I'll leave you with this post: Duke Ellington with the Betty Roche vocal section of the maestro's great '52 recording of "Take the 'A' Train." This passage, too, is from my aforementioned book Hot from Harlem: Profiles in Class African-American Entertainment :

One day in 1940 Billy Strayhorn was riding the 8th Avenue Express (i.e. the" A" train) when he pulled out pen and paper and began working on an instrumental designed to appease the appetite of the ever-hungry Ellington big band machine. Given the circumstances, it was only natural the song eventually be titled "Take the A Train," the lyrics for which, when they were added a few months later by Billy, transformed the number into an attempt at solving a New York City transportation problem (one that continues to some degree to this day). "They were building the Sixth Avenue Subway at the time," Strayhorn later recalled to writer Stanley Dance, "and they added new trains, including the 'D' Train, and it would go to Harlem and 145th Street, and then turned off and went to the Bronx, but the 'A' Train kept on up to 299-and-something street. People got confused. They'd take the 'D' Train, and it would go to Harlem and 145th Street, but then the next stop would be Eighth Avenue under the Polo Grounds, and the one after that would be in the Bronx. So I was writing directions---take the "A" Train to Sugar Hill. The 'D' Train was really messing up everybody. I heard so many times about housewives who ended up in The Bronx and had to turn around and come back. Ironically, "'A' Train," one of the most famous of New York City songs, was first recorded in Los Angeles when the band was appearing in the memorable stage production, Jump for Joy. Unquestionably the most well-known of Strayhorn's songs, it is one seldom properly credited to him; instead being generally attributed to Ellington even though the latter almost always referred to it as "Billy Stray horn’s ‘Take the A Train'''---which, in the early 1950s, replaced "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”as the Ellington theme song.

Click here to hear, as Lawrence Welk once announced it, "Take a Train." TTFN

Friday, February 03, 2006

Black History Month

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The attached profile of Hazel Scott originally appeared in my now out-of-print collection "Hot From Harlem: Profiles in African-American Entertainment" (1998). Then in 2003 just as I was bemoaning the fact that HFH was no longer available, blogist extraordinaire Jan Herman rang me up out of the blue and asked if I would like to have the Scott chapter reprinted as part of MSNBC.com's (Jan was working for them at the time) salute to Black History Month. Indeed I would, I told him. With the internet reprint, in a somewhat shortened version, came a check for 500 samoleons, more than I had made in total on Hot from Harlem during it's long, painful and checkered history. Truth to tell, I would've given the piece to MSNBC for nothing. But the profile only remained on the site for a short while before disappearing into cyberspace landfill. But here it is, back again in honor of Black History Month (Morgan Freeman's sentiments on the subject notwithstanding). And yes, it's hard to believe but sometimes people do get paid for writing on the internet. What a concept! But this time it's for freeeee. Click here to read Hooray for Hazel.

Cat Blog Friday

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Scene from the motion picture "Kitties of the Damned" ( 1964-British) *** D. Carl Van Vechten. Starring Kuro, Beamer, George Eliot, Jumbo. Follow-up to "Village of the Kitties." Account of precocious deadly felines and their quest for power.

They say it's your birthday...

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Rare "live" bootleg recording of today's late, great birthday doyenne singing Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths." (link for a limited time only)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Belated birthday wishes to....

Page Cavanaugh , famous since the forties, is still performing at the peak of his powers and has just recorded a new album, entitled A Return to Elegance. More details as they become available.

Page differs from the ordinary run-of-the-mill show biz animal in that he simply will not "take" business meetings. Never done them, never will. Won't even do a conference call. Just plays and sings music. That's it! What a concept! He still holds down the musical fort several nights a week at L.A.'s trendy Sunset Tower Hotel. There's a nice story about Page's gig there in the 1/13/06 issue of the L.A. Times.

He varies from the norm in other respects as well; he has played both high and low joints for more than a half-century but NEVER had the main requisite of that occupational persuasion. . .the tip jar. He was espied recently turning down a rather large-ish tip (more like bribe) to play "New York New York." And WON"T play "Send in the Clowns." WON"T play Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Going to see him perform is CHURCH. Page was even able to elevatate the motley movie turkey Frankenstein's Daughter for a few all-too-brief minutes. If you don't believe me, take a listen. (link removed)

Recently I said to a musical colleague of Cavanaugh's: "Page is an angel." "Yes," he replied, "a naughty angel." That is to say, he is the sweetest, dearest person imagineable, but with a ribald streak a mile wide. Ask him about Kate Smith sometime!

Without going into detail, if it were not for Page I probably would not have been able to release the Bill Black album. And when singer-guitarist Sam Graham wanted to record Bobby Troup's droll and witty "Triskaidekaphobia" ("I wear glasses for myopia, I open doors for claustrophobia" etc), this (arguably) still-busiest piano man in town meticulously copied out the entire song for him by hand.

A "NaughtyAngel" AND a national treasure. I somehow overlooked his birthday on Jan. 26th. It was his 84th, and his piano playing has never been fleeter or his vocals "whiperier."

Two days earlier, I've been informed, was the birthday of another Dr. Chilledair fave, Connecticut vocalist treasure, Bobbi Rogers! Belated best wishes to both of them.

Early Plastic info

My web site

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brokebacklash

See my longtimesaddlepal David Ehrenstein's op-ed column in Today's L.A. Times on Broke My Back Mounting Him. As a result, just a couple of minutes ago he received a request to appear on the Fox TV show of Bill O'Reilley, to whom David Letterman recently said on the air, "I have a feeling that about 60% of what you say is crap." But my David turned them down.

He put down the phone, turned to me and said, "You know what a whore I am. Well, there's whoring and there's whoring."

My web site

And TODAY"S Birthday Girl

Today is my friend Pinky Winters' birthday. I can't say too many positive things about her. . .a great singer, a world class wit, and a sharp, incisive mind to boot. She is crazy like a fox, and hanging with her is just like being back in high school. She is the fun gal in class whom all loved, without an enemy to her name, and everyone wanted to be with.

I was always a fan but way too shy to go up and intro myself when I saw her perform around L.A. over the years. But one day I finally did when she and Lou Levy did a turn at the Jazz Bakery. . . maybe six or seven years ago. We hit it off like gangbusters from the git go. After we'd chatted for a few minutes, I asked her if she had any idea where I might secure a copy of her and Lou's out-of-print Verve album, Happy Madness. Her response:

"Well, I might just have some copies around the house. But although I've only just met you, I already like you farrrrr tooooo much to give you a copy [beat], but I can sell you one for twenty dollars." (rimshot)

That pretty much cinched the deal. I had to have this woman for a friend. We did bond! And it has been one of the most rewarding, meaningful (and fun!) friendships of my life. Happy birthday, Pinky!

Here's a track of Pinky singing a couple of years ago post-midnight on Doug McIntyre's KABC radio show. 7/19/03 to be exact. It was a beat up old upright that Tom Garvin had to accompany her on, and the sun was just beginning to creep up over the Target store down the block, but Tom's a game guy and she's an equally up-for-anything kinda gal (always has been, always will be), and so here are the felicitous results of their "live" late night radio rendition of Peggy Lee and Cy Coleman's "I'm In Love Again." (link for a limited time only)