Sunday, May 30, 2010

Singin' and Swingin' w/ Carole Simpson

1. bell, book and candle
2. Baby
3. And now goodbye
4. When you get to frisco
5. This could be the start of something big
6. A ship sailed
7. Spring in Maine
8. Oh what a night for love
9. Fools
10. What kind of fool
11. you gotta get lucky sometime
12. Bluesville

Singin' and Swingin' has recently been issued in Japan under somewhat dubious circumstances.  I was actually working on an official reissue when this release came along earlier this year and killed the project, which would have meant money for Ms. Simpson. Now, in all likelihood, NO ONE will issue an open and aboveboard copy. I have a rare stereo stereo version of the album (courtesy of A.E.). It's doubtful that even the recent re-release is in stereo. I believe that the isssuers of that version get around legalities by taking extra measures to make certain that the CD is NOT distributed outside of Japan. But it CAN be easily obtained nevertheless. Someone wrote to me recently that they were able to order it from island.

This is just about the best transfer from LP that I've ever made. Save your money. Go with this one as opposed to. . ..

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Learnin'" the hard way

"Learn" about Joe Valino
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Monday, May 24, 2010

More Shirley

1. Somebody loves me
2. All of me
3. Dindi
4. I didn't know what time it was
5. I got it bad and that ain't good
6. I've got the world on a string
7. Bewitched
8. Go away little boy
9. I fall in love too easily
10. Goodbye

Charles Ables, bass; Stephen Williams, drums;
Frank Wess, tenor & flute. rec NY 9/18-19, 1986
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shirley speeds it up a bit

Can't really vouch for the quality of the transfer, but this is one of the rarest of all jazz vocal LPs and so, as the old saying goes. . .like it or lump it. Hunh?



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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Swing Journal R.I.P.

Hard to imagine, but the venerable Japanese jazz publication, Swing Journal, will cease publication after its July issue. The official cause being recent drastically declining ad revenues. As chance would have it---"chance is the fool's name for fate"---I have an article in that issue. But that is now a sad and dubious honor at best.

Even though I can't read Japanese, I always bought SJ for the pictures. Surely it is one of the most opulently-produced music publications in the world. It's been around since 1947, just six years less than I have(you do the math). Highly responsible for re-popularizing jazz in Japan when, post-Occupation, that country's citizens could listen to ALL musics once again after the WW II ban of any non-Japanese music was lifted.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mister First Nighter Checks In

I just saw, for the first time, singer Marilyn Maye perform "live," here in Hollywood. For once, I am (near) speechless. Run don't walk is just about all I can say except for. . . WOW! And, also, that the audience skewed much younger than I'd expected. Talked to her after the show. As nice a person as she is a great performer.

It's like if Judy Garland hadn't been a beta-alcoholic and a major manic depressive and had honed her art for eighty years, and was just a tad hipper, she'd have been Marilyn Maye. Sorta. Kinda.

And Ms. Maye's band, headed by Tedd Firth, t'ain't too shabby either. She's higher energy than anything you've ever seen on American Idol (assuming that you partake of that weekly dose of Kulture Kriminalism), except mit talent. I'll have what she's having.

Going to fall into the arms of Morpheus now.

Bel dormir,

Dr. C.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Everything old is new again

A record of the Senator Joseph McCarthy hearings from the film documentary. Narrated by Eric Sevareid. "Superb political theatre," reviewed the New York Times. "Brings us back to the original bizarre contest," according to Newsweek. "Brilliant!" raved the New Yorker.

Hear here

Clark Burroughs Fund

Clark's beloved Claudia died on April 8th. Yesterday afternoon in L.A., many of his friends gathered together to give him a collective hug. Clark sang, and he was was also serenaded by members of L'Arc, the vocal group he founded a few years back. His voice remains unchanged over the years. As astonishing in its durability as that of famed Russian bass, Mark Reizen.

I would hazard that just about every living L.A. group singer was on hand yesterday for Clark. And quite a few solo artists as well. If the proverbial "they" had dropped a bomb on the place---heaven forfend---the act would have wiped out four-part vocal harmony from the planet.

I'm thinking that someone should start up an effort to get the Hi-Lo's, the inarguably legendary vocal group of which Clark was a part, their very own U.S. postal stamp. Hey! Don't look at me. I said someone.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Julie London questions

I am writing a career overview of Julie London for a jazz publication. Do any of the readers of this blog have any questions they would like me to pose to the various parties I'll be interviewing?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Finally. , , someone with the chutzpah to tell the truth!

"I'm 34-years-old, and I'm Canadian, and I'm one of the most protective of the American Songbook. I find myself reminding a lot of journalists in the U.S. that this is the greatest gift America ever gave the arts. I'm not putting down contemporary artists, but how many songs by these contemporary artists do you think anyone will give a shit about. . .? Do you think in 30, 50 or 90 years, a kid will sit with his grandpa and. . .? [recites] 'My hump, my hump, my lady lumps' [Blackeyed Peas]
. . .Grandpa, don't you just love this shit?' I don't think so. . .."---Michael Buble (expletives and all) on this week's BBC program, Live from Abbey Road

Will Barack Obama kindly give this guy the Presidential Medal of Freedom for services rendered to true American art!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sign In, please. . .

1. Just one of those things
2. This can't be love
3. Come rain or comeshine
4. It happened in Monterey
5. Tenderly
6. Ol' man river
7. I understand
8. Trolley song/the boy next door
9. Save your love
10. This year's kisses
11. Can I forget you
12. And the angels sing

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About The Signatures

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Memorium of the last surviving (?) Cotton Club chorus girl

No doubt some will take exception to this, but I'm of the opinion that Lena Horne was the purest recording artist of all the greats, i.e. Sinatra, Fitzgerald et al. That is, she almost never tumbled to making records, like most others, solely designed to score commercially  (t'ain't no sin, really). At nearly every utterance of this observation, I've had folks throw Horne tracks like her Rocky Raccoon, etc. in my face. But even that one, and the other few, arguably, questionable tracks are miles better---IMHO--- than, say, Frank's Night and Day Twist or Ella's Tracks of My Tears

Horne is the greatest "live" performer I have ever seen (and I've witnessed more than my share of Pantheon types). I caught her in person three times, including the very first preview of "The Lady and Her Music" (!). Tickets for that night were a cinch to acquire; but after opening night, the show was a New York ticket scalper's dream come true.

Another Horne performance I attended was about 25 years or so ago at Lincoln Center. It was a tribute to Billy Strayhorn. She came out on stage and received the longest and most tumultuous standing ovation I've ever witnessed. So over-the-top, I began to truly fear that the audience would simply not stop and Lena would never get the chance to sing a single note. Eventually, order was restored and Lena proceded to out-Aretha even Lady Soul herself!). When she finished performing, that second standing ovation of the night was even more out-sized than the first.

Several years after I attended that first evening of Lady & Her Music in NYC, I caught one of the final performances of it here it L.A. By now Lena was so offhanded in her playing of the material, that it suffused the show with a kind of humor that wasn't so much apparent to me that first night. She was having so much fun with it by now, and her playfulness was just so infectuous that the experience was less like a touring big-time New York stage production, and more like "An Evening at Home with Lena Horne." Just Lena and her BBF. . .the audience!

My late friend, writer-personal manager-record producer, etc. Nat Shapiro, had clearly seen every great artist of the majority of the 20th Century---classical, jazz and otherwise---and he also opined that Horne was the most memorable performer that he, too, had ever witnessed "live." Nat ended up producing several of her finest recordings, knew her fairly well, and even offered to introduce me to her, but I declined. I just didn't think that my heart could withstand the shock.

Another Horne performance, of sorts, that I was privvy to happened one night at about two a.m. Sunday morning when I was walking down lower 7th Avenue in New York thirty years or so ago. I heard, wafting through the misty night air, the sound of music being played on one sort of mechancial device or another. And I as drew closer to the Village Vanguard, I saw it: a boom box situated on top of a station wagon in front of the Vanguard was playing a cassette ('member them?) of Lena's A New Album that my friend Nat had just finished producing and getting off to market. And surrounding the vehicle in total stunned silence, taking in the sounds was an assemblage united as one, on the sidewalk and spilling out into the street, of several dozen listeners. I joined them in their reverance and listened to the rest of the LP. I've since come to think of us as parishoners in attendance at a sort of Church of Lena Horne. . . early, early Sunday a.m. service.

If you haven't read it already, I can't recommend too highly James Gavin's authorized bio of Lena Horne entitled (natch) Stormy Weather. Now in paperback. . .I think. As much a page-turner adventure novel as it is a biography!
All available at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Look what I stumbled upon on youtube today!

A 2006 BBC doc on Julie London. Finally, somewhat disappointing, i.e. the same 3 1/2 points hammered over and over again. . .painfully shy; hated to perform "live"; the irony of "killer looks, but could sing too," jazz disguised as makeout music,  etc. etc. etc. No interviews with any of her eight children or step-children; almost nothing about her approach to recording, etc. etc. etc. Still, it beats by a country mile 99%  of what's on U.S. TV.







Sunday, May 09, 2010

David Allyn Rarities

1. It never entered my mind
2. Wait till you see her
3. It can't be wrong
4. When love comes
5. Forgetful
6. I only have eyes for you
7. Blue echoes
8. Picnic in the wintertime
9. Penthouse serenade
10. You're a bad influence on me
11. Far far away (w/ Kaye Ballard)
12. I worship you
13. Since I kissed my baby goodbye

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Read a 2009 interview with David Allyn here

Friday, May 07, 2010

The original "piece of work"

c.1964, King Records founder and CEO Syd Nathan recorded a 35-minute motivational-slash-instructional speech to be distributed to his sales staff. Nathan was a music biz lizard if ever there was one, and the resultant recording captures him in all his unapologetic scuzziness.

Delivered in a raspy voice that ranges in excitement from apoplectic to edge-of-a-stroke, Nathan's lecture ultimately serves as a master class in how to run a successful record company. Bottom line: geniuses need not apply!

Collectable quotes: "The record business is not a freak business. It is the same as being in the coffin business, or a funeral parlor"; "I'm more Dutch than I am Jewish!"; "Gimme my hat and I'll give it to ya and godspeed." --- Phil M.

Hear here

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Beggar's Holiday

1. InBetween
(Alfred Drake)
2. I've Got Me
(Alfred Drake)
3. Take Love Easy
(Bernice Parks)
4. I Wanna Be Bad
(Avon Long)
5. When I Walk With You
(Alfred Drake & Jet MacDonald)
6. The Scrimmage of Life
(Alfred Drake)
7. Ore From a Gold Mine
(Dorothy Johnson & Alfred Drake)
8. Tooth and Claw
(Alfred Drake)
9. The Wrong Side of the Railroad Tracks
(Marie Bryant & Avon Long)
10. Brown Penny
(Mildred Smith)
11. Lullaby for Junior
(Bernice Parks)
12. InBetween
(Libby Holman)

Demo recording cut prior to 12/26/46 opening

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Vocal Jazz Rarities

1. It's Like Love - Mark Murphy
2. Fly Away Sadness - Mark Murphy
3. No More - Jon Hendricks
4. Rainbow's End - Jon Hendricks
5. The Alphabet - Annie Ross & Andre Hodeir
6. Who's Afraid - Frank D'Rone
7. I Am Your Love - Kitty White
8. The Old Man and the Sea - Kitty White
9. More Than You Know - Jennie Smith
10. Morning Star - Mel Torme
11. That's Your Red Wagon - Jackie Paris
12. Skylark - Jackie Paris
13. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow - Babs Gonzales
14. Dem Bums - Babs Gonzales
15. It's a Wonderful World - Mary Ann McCall
16. Busy as a Bee - Mary Ann McCall
17. Open - Bob Dorough
18. Home on the Range - Helen Merrill / Marian McPartland

From various 45s & 78s, except for 5 (lp), 17 (demo lp) and 18 (radio broadcast)

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