Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas from me via Kurt Reichenbach

"He sees you when you're sleeping..."
 
 
Happy Holidays!
This year I am sending a few of "gifts" to my list. I hope you like them.
 
First-Above you see one of my old Christmas cards. For 12 years in the 70s & 80s I designed a yearly Christmas card. I thought it would be fun to recycle this one.
 
Second-A few years ago I recorded Christmas Lullaby, a  "lost" Peggy Lee / Cy Coleman song. It was recorded originally by Cary Grant! There have been two subsequent recordings--one by Michael Feinstein on a private label/limited edition CD long out of print, and one by Petula Clark on a hard to find Christmas album. And then there's mine! Hope you like it. Click here.
 
Third-In 1978 I wrote and recorded a fantasy Christmas story and sent it out as a Christmas card. Over the years it has been sent out a couple more times but I figure it might be time to share it on a broader scale. Fair warning, it's about 45 minutes long.  I have been told by a number of folks that listening to the story has become a family Christmas Eve tradition. I am thrilled and humbled. To hear the story click here.
 
My best wishes to all for a safe and happy holiday season!
 
Kurt

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Jonathan Channel

To "turn on the radio" and hear Ray Charles and Betty Carter singing "Side by Side" followed by Eva Cassidy, and Tony DeSare is akin to dying and going to heaven. Maybe Western Civilization hasn't quite finished with its decline and fall after all. I refer to Jonathan Schwartz's 24/7 streaming Great American Songbook channel. He plays singers of whom even I have never heard. Even spins my 2005 Bill Black CD production almost every day. Also dips his toe a bit into the waters of hard jazz, i.e. Coltrane, Miles et al. http://www.wnyc.org/ on occasion. Now if he would only play the audio channel of his wife Zohra Lampert's  '70s Cranapple commercial. Or send me a video copy. Or respond to my emails from time-to-time. But I digress. Would somebody please give this guy a George Foster Peabody award?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joan Fontaine (R.I.P.) and Olivia de Havilland

No disrespect intended, BUT I always assumed that neither sister was going to give the other the satisfaction of dying first. Maybe, I thought, both might live forever. Today, Joan finally, so to speak, lost. A few decades ago they were seated on that riser for the 50th Anniversary Oscarcast and perched as far away from one another as was physically possible. At least they didn't have to work together 24/7 like soulistes Sam and Dave who also were total non-communicado.

Alas, Audrey Totter, Eleanor Parker, Fontaine, and Peter O'Toole all within a few days of one another.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Frank!

The big event in our high school one year was the result of a classmate sending Frank Sinatra a birthday card---probably addressed to Capitol Records, or. . .?---informing him that it was her birthday, too. Lo and behold, a short while later, she received a phone call from the man himself. All very, very avuncular, asking about her school activities, college plans, etc. Wished her a long, happy life and signed off. Don't know how he obtained her phone number, but as we all know by now, he definitely had his ways and means. This was in Charleston, WV circa 1958. Might have even made the local paper. Sort of changed her life. She's probably still talking about it even as I write this.

And natal felicitations to Bob ("Blue Christmas") Dorough, too. Wonder if he's just about ready to return to perform in Japan?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

But what does Rex reallllly think?

 
Steve Tyrell grunts and shouts at the Carlyle. (Photo by Stephen Sorokoff)
 
Steve Tyrell grunts and shouts at the Carlyle. (Photo by Stephen Sorokoff)
 
Con Artist: Steve Tyrrell's Rat Pack Smarm is a Natural Emetic
Music Lovers be Warned
 
by Rex Reed
 
New York Observer
December 11, 2013

Well, consider the market. Who needs singing when grunting and shouting will do just as well for an undiscerning crowd, bused in from expensive rest homes, who don’t know the difference. Mr. Tyrell, a jolly, clueless performer who resembles Forrest Tucker on F Troop, is a proud member of the finger-snapping ring-a-ding-ding school of ossified Rat Packers who think the Great American Songbook ended with “Come Fly With Me.” The old tunes are the only ones he’s comfortable with, which is fine with me, if only he could sing them. Jerome Kern did not write like George Gershwin, but Mr. Tyrell’s intonation is so drab and his phrasing so emotionless that you can’t tell the difference between the chunky tempo of “The Way You Look Tonight” and the thudding, ill-advised screaming on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” An evening of all that groaning and yelling is like a root canal before the Novocain sets in.

Native Texan Tyrell’s current six-week engagement is called “Wordsmiths: Lyricists of the Great American Song,” which must be a printing error since what he knows about interpreting the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein, Yip Harburg, Dorothy Fields, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and Cole Porter, among others, could pass unnoticed through the eye of a needle. Musically, I’ve heard better phrasing from goatherds calling their flocks by moonlight. I shudder to think what tough, sophisticated Cole Porter would say if he came off sounding like Carole King. Mr. Tyrell is so square that he refuses to sing the word “cocaine.” The result is the first time I’ve ever heard “I Get a Kick Out of You” with a jolt of Valium. Tethered to the Rat Pack prototype, he never bothers to break out of the old mold long enough to get under the skin of the song itself. Of course, with due respect, he knows his limitations. God forbid what might happen if Mr. Tyrell ever tackles anything by Stephen Sondheim.
 
Worse still, the patter between cookie-cutter arrangements, about his grandchildren and football teams, his early employment in the days of Tin Pan Alley and his hero worship of Yogi Berra, sounds like it was written by Lum and Abner. The stories are so old they’re growing hair on their palms, and sometimes they’re not even accurate. The one about how Yogi Berra answered the question “Where do you want to be buried?” with “Surprise me!” is a Bob Hope line that Rosemary Clooney used to tell in her own nightclub act. Mr. Tyrell tells it again, and his fans roar like they’re hearing it for the first time, unaware that he’s about as hip as a petrified hamster. He phrases with his fingers. Old ladies who should be home baking oatmeal cookies actually whistle their approval like Sinatra groupies did under mob rule in Vegas. What’s the lure to being joined at the hip replacement with the Rat Pack? Mr. Tyrell emulates the old Vegas icons without shedding any light on how or why they got that way. Today, all of those vaunted reputations and massive egos seem as dated and irrelevant as linoleum. He has personal charm and admirable energy, but even with heavyweight musicians like bassist David Finck, drummer Kevin Winard, Bob Mann on guitar and trumpeter Bijon Watson, he couldn’t swing with a gun pointed at his head.

He’ll be in residence through Dec. 31, but what a depressing way to start the New Year. I hate to sound merciless, but music lovers should be warned. A night with this guy is like a week in Newark without a telephone.


 

Friday, November 22, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HOAGY



Baltimore Oriole Here to help celebrate Hoagy's birthday (November 22, 1899 - December 27, 1981) is his son Randy from his one and only album, Carmichael Sings Carmichael

Rockin' Chair And here is the man himself with his very last recording (1981).

Monday, November 18, 2013

We Breathed the Same Air


Some people I’ve known, pressed flesh with, bumped into and knocked down, ridden in the elevator with, or. . . ?

Nico, Dusty Springfield, John F. Kennedy, Lotte Lenya, Sir Ian McKellen, Sammy Davis. Ricardo Montalban, Bette Midler, Priscilla Presley, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali, Frank Zappa, Brian Wilson, Chris Connor, Miles Davis, Michel Legrand, Cloris Leachman, Cybil Shepperd, Gore Vidal, Djuna Barnes, Tim Hardin, Janis Joplin, Barbara Parkins, John Philip Law, Charles Manson, Nanette Fabray, Charles Mingus, Danny Proper, Allen Ginsburg, Timothy Leary, Michael Feinstein, Elizabeth Montgomery, Anita O'Day, Santa Claus, Billy Wilder, Mieko Hirota, Grady Sutton, Charles Lane, Myrna Loy, Neal Cassady, Lily Tomlin, Chet Baker, Wavy Gravy, Helen Merrill, Jo Stafford, William Burroughs, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Carter, Oscar Brown, Jr., Elmer Bernstein, The Nicholas Brothers, Joan Collins, Diahann Carroll, Carl Van Vechten, Fred Katz, Fuzzy Knight, Ruta Lee, Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, Ruth Brown, William Claxton, Tony Bennett, Anthony Quinn, Betty Carter, Blossom Dearie, Matt Dennis, Mary Ann McCall, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Piper Laurie, Stan Freberg, Jackie Paris, Charles Laughton, Jacques Demy, Margaret Whiting, John Hammond, Betty Garrett, John Kerr, Peter Bogdanovich, Eve Arden, Sarah Vaughan, Paul Weston, Carol Channing, Cecil Taylor, Page Cavanaugh, Jean Bach, Little Richard, Donald O’Connor, Donyale Luna, Maurice Sendak, Yma Sumac, Maxine Sullivan, Dorothy Lamour, Jackie Cooper, Michael Moore, William Steig, Algier Hiss, James Baldwin, William Saroyan, Diana Sands, Peter Marshall, Fran Allison, Marsha Hunt, Lash Larue, Gene Raeburn, Soupy Sales, Big Jon Arthur, Rex Reed, Polly Bergen, Johnnie Ray, Link Wray, Connie Frances, Christine Jorgenson, James Taylor, Little Jimmy Scott, Sam Fuller, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert DeNiro, Herbert Huncke, Tuesday Weld, Barbara Harris, Julia Sweeney, Barbara Stanwyck, Leslie Nielson, Jackie DeShannon, Richard Berry, Margaret Leighton, Joe Franklin. . .
A smattering appear in my memoir Early Plastic.

Wish I had HBO






 vis a vis Moms Mabley (tonight on HBO), the prefatory quote of my history of African-American show biz:

"You don't get started in show business. . . you just start." --- Moms

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NICK DELANO (DE LANO) ON YOUTUBE


Anyone with any info on this excellent---but obscure + --- forties singer? (see my recent youtube upload).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm soooooo proudddddd.


Somewhat strangely, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is just now getting around to inducting opera great Eleanor Steber. (Maybe if she'd played a banjo?) Among others inducted this year are Peter Marshall (every bit as adept at singing as game show hosting. . .and then some), the legendary Swan Silvertone Singers (formed in a coal mine), traditional country duo the Goins Brothers,  and Ada "Bricktop" Smith! And if you don't know who she is, then you just don't know your 20th Century French cultural history. There's also a couple of latter-day "uptown country" singers whose names elude me for the nonce. And, perhaps. . .forever.

The 2013 Spirit Award will be presented to Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. He's that vg Sinatra-inspired (but not copycat) singer who won on America's Got Talent a few years ago.

It all happens in my hometown of Charleston on Nov. 16th. Wish I could be there.

Maybe an award some day for all the great record stores in Charleston that kept the music flowing when there was still actual music?, i.e. Galperin's, Londeree's, Haynes' (where I bought my Kiz Harp and Beverly Kennedy LPs in high school), Race Record Shop, etc.

UPDATE: You can catch this 11/16 event on West Virginia PBS streaming site . Impressive presentation right down to mention of my childhood mentor, Hugh McPherson.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

New Melodye


Contains some of the nuttiest and most original arrangments to come along in quite a while, i.e. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" backed my Indian tabla and sarode, and a Spike Jones-ish "take" on ""Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." The more---if you will---conventional tracks are just flat-out lovely. The top SoCal players backing Ms. DeWine include: Luther Hughes, Jack Sheldon, Ralph Penland, John B. Williams, Barry Zweig, Sam Most, Llew Matthews and Jeff Jarvis. Available at CDBaby . Full disclosure: I know Melodye and lover her dearly.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Star That Got Away


The Good Girl: Lucille Bremer and the Golden Age of MGM
By David Ehrenstein and Bill Reed

As movie entrances go, the one created for Lucille Bremer at the top of Meet Me in St. Louis couldn’t be smoother. Judy Garland’s Esther Smith is explaining to Marjorie Main’s Katie the housekeeper “the brutal fact” about her sister Rose: she “isn’t getting any younger.”

“Well here comes the poor old maid now,” quips Main’s Katie with offhand sarcasm and we cut to a most attractive young woman with long red hair beneath her picture hat. Swanning up the walkway of the Smith family house, while ever-so-coquettishly trying to steal a glance at the just-moved-in “Boy Next Door, “ Lucille Bremer is the very image of feminine charm. As we quickly learn, said boy isn’t destined for her but her younger sister, leading into one of the songs that made Garland’s fame. But Bremer is scarcely short-shrifted. She gets fourth billing in this beautifully made half-ensemble-piece half-star vehicle. She and Garland make a marvelous “sister act” in a confection light on plot but generous on atmosphere, designed to cheer the spirits of wartime moviegoers in 1944 with sunny images of a better “simpler” life back in 1903. And for the soldiers at the front, always first to be shown the latest Hollywood releases -- this was literally“ what they were fighting for.“ The thing is that Meet Me in St. Louis proved so effective as to transcend its original context, going on to entertain several generations afterwards with no end in sight. And Bremer, with her perfect “cameo” features, “Gibson Girl” look, and light-spirited manner is very much a part of what makes it all work so well.

Clearly Lucille Bremer was a “find.” Even before Meet Me in St. Louis debuted plans were underway to launch her in three major follow-ups: Ziegfeld Follies, Till the Clouds Roll By and most important of all, Yolanda and the Thief. Why the rush, and on such a scale? Well, as Tinseltown scuttlebutt would have it Lucille Bremer was the producer Arthur Freed’s mistress -- or as the ever-colorful Ann Miller put it “Arthur Freed‘s pussy.” If that was indeed the case (and there’s much controversy regarding that point even to this day) Bremer would scarcely be the first movie mogul girlfriend to get the big star treatment. Think of Marion Davies and ultra-powerful newspaper magnate turned movie producer William Randolph Hearst or Darryl Zanuck head of 20th Century-Fox and the bevy of sumptuous ladies (some of quite limited acting ability) he tried to make household words. But as anyone who has seen her work knows Marion Davies, would have been a star had she never met Hearst. And while only the most dedicated of “Trivial Pursuit” players recalls Bella Darvi, Irina Demick or Genevieve Gilles, Juliette Greco remains a name to conjure with. For she had a career as a singer and “Left Bank” intellectual muse long before Zanuck met her that held her in good stead long after their affair had ended. Make no mistake about Bremer, she was always closer to the Juliette Greco than Genevieve Gilles end of the talent scale. The difference is Freed didn’t run a studio. He was simply the most celebrated producer within one -- MGM. While Louis B. Mayer was the big boss, Freed was given considerable free rein to run his “unit” (as the Freed group was called), for the musicals he produced were not only moneymakers but set the pace for the “no expense spared” look and style of MGM as a whole. Consequently any actress chosen for “Freed unit” stardom was a very special entity. And within that matrix there was nothing ever quite like the dizzying height of Bremer’s rise and the brutal rapidity of her fall.

Lucille Bremer caught Arthur Freed’s eye when he saw her performing at New York’s “Versailles” nightclub in 1943 -- the year just before St. Louis was made . It was to that venue that the classically-trained performer repaired after the out-of-town failure of the Broadway-bound, Dancing in the Streets. Prior to this she had appeared in several big New York hits including Panama Hattie and Lady in the Dark. She had also been a Rockette, at which time she was voted by her colleagues of the chorus line as "the one among them most likely to gain fame in pictures." And indeed she was, and Freed had to work fast, for when he met Bremer she had already made a screen test for Goldwyn and been offered a contract. 

PT ONE OF EXTENDED BREMER PROFILE; TO BE CONTINUED

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Happy Birthday, Demas!

REPOSTED FROM 2005

Today would have been the [make that 110th] birthday of my dear friend, jazz trumpeter Demas Dean. When I first met him in the mid-1980s, Demas lived in L.A.'s mid-Wilshire area in a pleasant, neat, well-kept one-room apartment. The walls of his abode were an arresting photographic who's who of black entertainment; with many of the photos having been personally inscribed to him from: Maxine Sullivan, Billie Holiday, Valaida Snow and Elisabeth Welch, et al.

Of all his professional accomplishments, the one he liked most to talk about were the recording sessions he did with Bessie Smith; the first on February 9, 1928 with a second one almost two weeks later on February 21, for a total of six sides: "Thinking Blues," Pickpocket Blues," "I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama," "Standin' in the Rain Blues," "It Won't Be You," and "I'm a Cheater." Here is a little of what he told me about the experience:

" I had never heard Bessie Smith. I had only heard of her up until the time I recorded with her. I was so surprised when I finally heard her in the studio. She was so far above all the other blues singers I'd heard up until then---and that includes Lucille Hegamin whose band I was in one time and who probably was just as well known as Bessie in those days.

"You just couldn't stop listening to Bessie and looking at her when she sang. She was a large, attractive, brown-skinned woman, with very good legs. Later on I heard stories about how difficult she was, but I found her very relaxed, very sedate. As long as you were no problem to her, she was no problem to you."

The quote is taken from a never-completed film documentary I was working on about Demas in 1988. Looking back to the Spring of that year, there's little doubt that Demas knew, as his weight begin to plummet vertiginously, that he was dying and not just sick. Then one day I received an emergency call from his nurse asking me to drive him from his home to the hospital. The Demas I saw then was clearly quite ill but still chipper. After a few hours at the facility, I brought him home, and that was the last I ever saw him.

I later learned that that night, instead of his near-pabulum diet, Demas had ordered a fried chicken meal from a takeout restaurant. The next evening, unquestionably still in his right mind, he upped the ante even more by demanding and devouring the best barbecue dinner that money could have delivered to one's home. Demas then went to bed and died a few hours later on May 30, 1990. When people get very very old they sometimes become strangely unafraid of death. I would suppose that such fearlessness must have always been the case with the highly evolved Demas, but---as evidenced by his final dietary daring----it was truer of him than ever in his last days. Death by barbecue.

Not a day goes by. . ..

_____________

Here's part of that video I shot of Demas in 1988 not long before he died.



CLICK IMAGE TWICE FOR FULL PICTURE

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Frank D'Rone R.I.P.



The wonderful singer/guitarist Frank D'Rone has just died. Here's a career overview/obit by Howard Reich that appeared in the Chicago Tribune a few hours ago. D'Rone came along, perhaps, just a tad too late, circa 1960, to "make  it" on the national scene. The winds of generational music change were already beginning to dust up. But, even extra-demographically, most folks in the Chicago area remain familiar with D'Rone and he could still pull 'em in there. In fact, he performed at a private affair here in L.A. five or six years ago and packed the place (Catalina's).

D'Rone was fairly close to being the first  "name" performer I ever saw perform "live" after I moved to NYC while still mere protoplasm in Buster Brown shoes. He was appearing at the ultra-hip club, The Living Room, in the Murray Hill area.  I was not legally old enough to get into clubs, but somehow I pulled it off. (Fake moustache?) I went with my friend Bill Black. Ironically, Black, somewhat of a singer's singer and a generation older than I, was not familiar with him. But Bill was knocked out by what he heard. (And a little child shall lead them.)  Just D'Rone accompanying himself on guitar. His most recent album, Double Exposure, was fairly much as good as any of the D'Rone classics from the late '50s-early '60s. My condolences to his family and (many) friends.

Here's a great mid-period D'Rone track.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Heads Up!

Here's a few upcoming L.A. Jazz Institute programs (at the LAX Marriott) that should be of interest to devotees of vocal jazz in the SoCal area w/ Sue Raney, Kurt Reichenbach, & Pinky Winters.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

T424U


Frank Fay's classic "Tea for Two" parody.

Thought for the day

Call me old-fashioned, BUT. . .When history is writ large, it will turn out that not even global warming will have had such a deliterious effect on humankind as cell phones, blackberries, iphones, and their ilk. Not only do they destroy human thought and interaction, kill language and communication, cause massive freeway pileups, induce cancer and kill bees, but god knows what else. Just ask Louis ("Pootie Tang") C.K. I've got a cheapocheapo one in my pocket turned off that I use maybe a couple of times a month in place of disappeared payphones (Bring 'em back.) And. . .that's it! When I hear a customer in Trader Joe's ring up someone just to ask, "Should I get one or two?," I go into a blind rage. GET TWO, you braindead schmuck AND throw away the phone!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Birthday of Nat Shapiro


I was reminded that it was my dear (alas, late) friend Nat Shapiro's birthday today, when only yesterday a.m. I came across a couple of photos of him for which I've been exacavating the place for the last few months. The pic of him at his desk was taken by me in 1980 at his W. 57th Street office (the nerve center of a great show biz, ummm, empire); the closeup was snapped by trumpet great Joe Wilder and even has his stamp on the back! Thanks, Joe.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

George Gershwin Lives!

Today (the 26th) IS his 115th birthday. I celebrated a bit early this year with A Gershwin Valentine. So did Michael Feinstein with his 'SWonderful tribute: The Gershwins and Me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Hundredth, Herb!




Today---September 24---is the 100th birthday of still-active jazz singer Herb Jeffries (born Jeffrey). Here is part of an interview I conducted with him in 1991:

"On April 29) 1933, the switch was thrown in Chicago opening the two-year World's Fair-like Century of Progress Exhibition whose attractions included, according to one report, 'a partial reconstruction of a walled city in China, a golden-roofed lama from Jehol, a picturesque nunnery of UxMal representing the Zenith of Mayan culture and a teahouse from Japan.' Singer Herb Jeffries remembers:

'I went from Detroit to Chicago to check out the World's Fair there. Back in Detroit I'd been singing in dime-a-dance joints and that was pretty much it for me. Chicago was like the beginning of the world for me. I've been to a few fairs---Seattle, New York---but nothing ever like that. There was a wide outer drive for cars, four and five lanes wide. Everyone was working. It was alive like I've never ever seen a city ... not even Paris, where I lived for ten years, as alive as Chicago during the 1933 World's Fair. Before too long I got a job singing with the Earl Hines band, and I remember the Dillinger slaying on Indiana Avenue in 1934, engineered by the Feds. We all got word of it ten minutes after it happened; it was all over the place --- on the telephones, the radio. We were all living at the nearby Trenier Hotel where a lot of black entertainers stayed, and I jumped on the running board of a car and went around there to where it happened to take a look. The blood was still splattered all over the movie theater, all over the sidewalk because, boy, they just mowed that guy Dillinger down. I can still see in my mind the tear sheets of the picture that was playing there---Manhattan Melodrama--- and the glass over them shot all out. They had obviously planned this whole thing very meticulously because otherwise they would have killed the woman in the box-office. I'll never forget that as long as I live.'"

Bill Reed. Hot from Harlem: Twelve African American Entertainers, 1890-1960. Kindle Edition.

And additional natal felicitations to another fine singer, Rebecca Kilgore!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What more does a jazz singer need than. . .


. . .an amiable "sound," taste, great intonation, and a strong sense of swing!?!?!

Rushed obit

Album cover by Robert Pompa

In addition to my Tim Hardin post of a few years ago, last night I re-recalled a funny and morbid (at the same time) show biz anecdote that involved him. I included it in my memoir Early Plastic. To wit:

"During the period of the Woodstock mansions and international tours, Tim more-or-less disappeared from the lives of those who had known him on [the Lower East Side's] 9th Street. Some accused him of high-hatting them. But when he ended up on Pompa's doorstep in 1979 like a beached whale, his old friend took him in. One afternoon Pompa and Tim went to a mid-afternoon Hollywood Boulevard showing of the Paul Simon movie One-Trick Pony, containing a scene in which two characters are shown arguing over whether Tim Hardin was still alive or not. It gave Tim the best laugh he'd had in years. Eerily, he did die not long afterward, officially of  'natural causes,' but there's little doubt he was offed by heroin addicts in the Hollywood neighborhood where he lived, over a rather large stash known to be in his possession. The cops disn't even bother to investigate; here was just one more dead junkie they didn't have to deal with any more."

Friday, September 20, 2013

He would have been 89 today



In honor of the occasion, a track from his unreleased big band album. (Double click on pic to fully reveal DVD.)



Thursday, September 19, 2013


Friday, September 13, 2013

Don Nelson R.I.P.



The most under-recorded of all first-rate jazz singers, Don Nelson, died at his home on Tuesday in Studio City, CA.  Nelson---who penned the immortal Ricky Nelson catch phrase---"I don't mess around, boy" was a regular on brother Ozzie's writing staff. On the off-chance that you're still not making all the right connections, or have the severe and irreversible misfortune of being under-fifty, we're talking about the most successful live action TV series of all-time, Ozzie and Harriet. Don recorded his lone LP for Mode Records in 1957.

Nelson sings track number three my on A Fine Romance program devoted to "One Shot Wonders."

He DID lay down a handful of songs for a Dixie-tinged mainstream album about twenty years after his Mode release, but. . .who's counting Mrs. Shapiro?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Kurt Reichenbach & His Upcoming Tribute to Sammy Cahn


"LIVE" FROM THE PARISIAN ROOM


 
 
* PS my engineer spun the wrong track instead of the instrumental "Midnight Sun." I'll have to send him back to DeVry.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Bill Reed's Wil Haygood"

I tend to let old war injuries heal fast, treating them like nothing so much as mere flesh wounds. That is certainly the case for the dagger---of sorts--- through my back inflicted, a while ago, by Washington Post writer Wil Haygood, author of the news story on which the current hit film Lee Daniel's The Butler is based. His face and name are everywhere on the net and in the news at the moment, so it's a bit hard for me to forget said Haygood betrayal right now. It's backkkkk!

To wit: At least a dozen-or-so years ago, Haygood (a first-rate writer btw) contacted me out of the blue to see if I could lend him some assistance on a Sammy Davis, Jr. bio on which he was working. I had included a chapter on Davis in my book Hot from Harlem and Haygood sussed out that I might be a good person to know. I WAS. Eventually Wil came out from the east and we not only bonded in seeming friendship, but there was  no end to the assistance I leant him on the book. Not just naming names, supplying phone numbers, lending rare recordings & videos, etc. but also acting as a chauffeur schlepping him back and forth across the the entirety of SoCal for interviews, LAX, etc. Did he ever even buy me lunch?

All during the time this was going on, periodically Wil would say (or write) to me, "You simply won't believe the acknowledgement I'm going to give you when the book comes out." SANTA BARANZA, WAS HE EVER RIGHT! I didn't believe it. For when the book was finally published, my name was nowhere to be found in the dedications/thanks/acknowlegements. Serena Williams' was. (Serena Williams!?!? On the subject of Sammy Davis, Jr.?). (Maybe he was punishing me for introducing him to Buddy Bregman?) True. . .I was mentioned in the bibliography.

I'm not sure I ever hear heard from Wil after that. Except for one more time. About eight years ago, he phoned me up sobbing, saying that he needed a telephonic shoulder to cry on. Any shoulder. And could he use mine? Something about a love gone wrong.  So he mewled and cried for a few minutes, then abruptly, somewhat chiripily said THANKS (bit of a Cloris Leachman "take"), rang off, and that's the last I ever heard from OR thought of him. Till now. Do you suppose he might thank me Oscar night? That would be nice!

I didn't even receive a comp copy of the book. Did I hear someone
say. . ."Bitter"?

(What. . .and give up show biz?)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Tri-lingual CD from Mira

This brand new jazz vocal bossa CD is quite the lingual feat: Portuguese songs translated into English, some into Hebrew, and an English song-or-so into Portuguese and. . .well, you have to hear to hear it to believe it. A remarkable work. Available here. And a track from it opens the third edition of my streaming net radio show, A Fine Romance.

 

Monday, August 19, 2013

NEW FROM SSJ JAPAN


ROSEMARY CLOONEY
A Woman In Love +2/
Barbara Lea
BETTY MADIGAN

LUCY ANN POLK

CONNEE BOSWELL

MORE INFO

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Fine Romance show #3

Hear here! Featured artists include: Mira, Bill Darnel, John Harkins, Melodye Condos, Chet Roble, Daniel Boaventura, Bruce Hamada, Natalie Rae, Freddie Paris, Joe Valino and Tony Sotos


Monday, August 12, 2013

JANE HARVEY R.I.P.

 


Singer Harvey died this morning at 8 a.m. at her West Hollywood home after a somewhat protracted battle with cancer.

In all likelihood, she was holder of the "record" for the longest sustained career in the history of the phonographic medium. She began recording in 1944, with Benny Goodman, and only recently, 69 years later, completed a new CD of Ellington material, soon to be released. In between there were a half-dozen or so albums, and more singles than you can shake a stylus at ('member them?). Harvey also maintained a "live" performing career during much of that period.

Even before linking up with Goodman as his vocalist, she had been a "pro"---under the tutelge of her stage mother---working first as a child entertainer a la Baby Rose Marie ("Baby Phylis), then as a "chaser" singer in burlesque, whose job it was to try and restore order in between the more sexy and hectic portions of the show with the baggy pants comics and the "girls." But she was so attractive that the rowdies in the audience, for the most part, were so tolerant of her turn, even with her clothes on, that they resisted the regulation sundry vegies and fruits often hurled to hasten the return of dames en deshabille. After that, she appeared with several other outfits, including that one of well-known bandleader of his day, Ray Herbeck. Also, before Goodman, she had a sustaining radio show on the Mutual Broadcasting System.  The affiliation with Benny came about as a result of the intersession of uniquivocally the greatest talent spotter of all time (Billie Holiday, Basie and Bob Dylan for starters) jazz critic/record producer John Hammond.

"When I was singing at Cafe Society, John brought Benny Goodman in to hear me," Jane recalled not long ago to a jazz journalist in Japan. Afterward, without any warning, Goodman said, 'I would like to have you sing with my band. Are you available for rehearsal tomorrow?' 'Of course,' she said. "I wasn't with the band for a long period of time. One day there was some commotion over whether or not I would sing 'She's [He's] Funny That Way.' Another time, when I had throat problems, the band used some other singer instead of me. Nevertheless, despite whatever happened, in my heart, the fact that I was with Benny Goodman is something of which I am very proud." Harvey recalled that Goodman never demanded anything technically of her singing: All he ever instructed me to do was keep up with the tempo. I personally like to sing a bit more freely."

It's too bad that Jane never got around to writing her memoirs. Her early career highlights also include being the the first face ever broadcast on NBC-TV by virtue of being chosen in 1947 as their “Tele-Queen” for the very first week of network broadcasting. As such, she led a parade down Hollywood Boulevard, wearing---she still remembered---“a gold lamé dress. Later there was a party in my honor at the home of [pioneering radio manufacturer] Atwater Kent.”

A few years after she was chosen NBC's "Tele-Queen," she made vid history again when she was chosen, in 1950, to be the "girl" vocalist on the first late-night network TV show Broadway Open House, forerunner to The Tonight Show. She got along just fine with her sensational co-star Dagmar, by the way, the same for which could not be said of all of her four husbands along the way.

Her initial two marriages, first to the son of Hollywood press agent and discoverer of Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Hyde, and then to jazz super-producer Bob Thiele can only be called, as charitably as possible, problematic, and placed an on-and-off damper on Harvey's professional activities throughout the 1950s and most of the sixties. The best thing that came out of those alliances was the birth of her only child Bob Thiele, Jr. with whom she maintained a close relationship.

In Harvey's case, third time wasn't a charm, but the fourth was when, in 2002, she wed L.A. lawyer Bill King and things marital finally fell into place.

Four years ago I accompanied Jane and Bill to Tokyo where Jane was booked for exactly one engagement, which also might constitute a record of one sort or another? Longest distance travelled for one nightclub set.

Over the years, I jotted down notes regarding various aspects and of Jane Harvey's life and times. They included:

* Blue Angel nightclub engagement - NYC 1946

* 1947 Banned from Twentieth Century-Fox lot after verbal battle with studio music chief Alfred Newman

* 1947 Signed to RCA Victor

* 1947 Billboard magazine reported a "change of attitude" on Harvey's part. She had become "easier to work with," it said.

* In an instance of press agentry run wild, in 1948 Billboard Magazine reported a "bad case of burn" caused by too much exposure to sunlamp (!)

* Signs w/ MGM Records 1948

* Bless You All on Broadway 1950

* 1951 screen test Paramount

* 1953 Bell Records

* 1953 Columnist Earl Wilson headline: "Singer Jane Harvey Back from Alabama with One of Those 24-hour Divorces"

* Much 1950s press coverage of her tumultuous marriage to jazz super producer Bob Thiele

* Appearance at Gregory’s - NYC in 1972 with pianist Ellis Larkins

* 1973 Surabaya - NYC w/ William Roy

* L.A. Times news 2008 item: "singer [Harvey], who cast her first presidential vote for Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, works the phones for Obama"

But to Jane's way of thinking---and a number of influential critics---the high point of it all came in 1988 when she recorded, for Atlantic Records, a Sondheim songbook with pianist Mike Renzi, bassist Jay Leonhart, and drummer Grady Tate.

But the road to hell---as recently as 1988---was paved with good (including artistic) intentions, as witnessed by what happened to the recordings of the sessions. For when the album was released shortly thereafter, at the very last minute, to Harvey’s extreme displeasure, an overdub of arrangements by Ray Ellis was added by Atlantic to all tracks, which were originally trio performances. Not that there’s anything wrong with the wonderful Ray Ellis. But in this instance, the addition of his large ensemble charts essentially defeated the jazz intentions of the album.

However, Harvey was eventually able to convince Atlantic’s Ahmet Ertegun, just before his death in 2006, to let her have back the rights to the album, and it was released in Japan on SSJ Records. Now, with this 2009 release (in this case, “reissue“ is not really the right word), those overdubs were gone! In addition, medleys were arbitrarily sliced and diced by a house producer, leaving the floor littered with a remaining 43 minutes; the current version is 59 minutes. It should be noted that the brilliantly engineered release (overseen by SSJ's Yasuo Sangu) was somehow effected from cassette dubs rather than master tapes, which are lost. The '09 "Send in the Clowns" bonus track was recorded by Jane acapella in her son's studio, with the Robbie Kondor keyboard backing added later!

In between husbands 3 and 4, she helped support herself by operating as an antique dealer, and also she tried to pitch a book project, How to Marry a Married Man. (Best book title ever?) Here's hoping one might eventually shuffle aside enough sheet music, clippings, memos, etc. and excavate some writings of Jane Harvey, which she revealed to me, included some attempts at autobiography.

In the liner notes for her 2011 CD The Undiscovered Jane Harvey, jazz journalist Will Friedwald writes that in his interview with her for the album, "[Harvey] is forever reprimanding herself for bad career choices. 'I was an idiot,' she must have said those four words about a dozen times in the hour or so that we talked. 'I always made the wrong decision.'" 

But a listen to the 96 tracks included in her 2011 five CD restrospective release on Little Jazz Bird Records leads one to respond, "Not always, Jane, not always."

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

MARILYN KING R.I.P.

It's doubtful that anyone ever publically referred to singer Marilyn King without appending the phrase "of the King Sisters." Which is all quite well and good. After all, it's the great vocal group THE King Sisters we're talking about here. But in addition to that musically historic connection, the fact is that Marilyn, who died this a.m. after a protracted illness, was a top-notch artist---as the saying goes---in her right. A great solo singer, terrific center stage entertainer, beautiful (make that BEAUTIFUL), sweet, funny, kind and . . .she will be missed. She was the youngest of the sisters and did not professionally join up with her siblings on a permanent basis until 1957 (the group began in the mid-1930s) and is heard on what are perhaps the most well-remembered of all the many, many tracks the King Sisters recorded, i.e. their four Capitol albums, circa 1957-1960. Those latter-day sides are fairly much as hip and enduring as---I'll go out on a limb here---anything by even the Hi-Lo's and Four Freshmen. There! I said it. . .and I'm glad I did.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Fine Romance: Program Two



Program two featuring: Carole Creveling, Don Heller, Don Nelson, Bill Black, Kevin Gavin, Burr Middleton, Flo Bennett, Reed Sherman. . .and more.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Fine Romance - a new radio show



Here is my one-hour pilot episode for a projected new program about "choice" singers you might never have heard before. ("Flo. . .who?")

Let me know your reaction.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Saturday, July 06, 2013

This is not a test


I came across this track of "I Should Care" in my pc files w/o the name of the singer attached. Can you click link and, perhaps, identify for me? Driving me slightly krazzzzzzy.
 
And NO. . .it is none of the first "Sinatra School" singers: Vic Damone, Julius LaRosa, Johnny Desmond, Bob Manning, Andy Russell, Ronnie Deauville, Dick Haymes, David Allyn, Buddy Greco, and Frankie Randall who might leap to mind. At least, I don't think so.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bob Dorough in Tokyo!

Thanks to Ruriko and Keizo

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bob Dorough AND Andy Bey



Wonder if anyone is. . .  hip/rich/dextrous/fast/intelligent/culturally aware/music lover enough to catch both gigs at Blue Notes in Tokyo and New York this weekend" Dorough's in Tokyo (see below) and in NYC the equally fabulous ANDY BEY! Sunday night at 8 pm doing a solo set. I've seen Bey solo and with a trio and it's a toss-up! Here's the copy from the Blue Note advert:

"After a twenty two year absence from recording Andy Bey returned with four albums that have become a permanent part of the musical landscape. The 2005 Grammy Nominated American Song is a delicious celebration of one of America’s great gifts to the music world: The American Songbook. On his new release Ain’t Necessarily So Bey brings the energy of live performance to compositions by the gods of American Songwriting. Insiders have always known about Andy Bey. Given his limited output of studio recordings, live performances were the source of Bey’s reputation as singer. Aretha Franklin reminisces about the nights when Andy and The Bey Sisters worked the Village in New York: “Soon as I finished my gig I’d run over to hear them. Andy never got the recognition he deserved . . . jazz originals . . . brilliant and precious.” Like the playground legend who never made it to the NBA, Andy Bey was almost consigned to the fading murmurs of those who caught him in Paris in ‘59, or Birdland in the mid ‘60s. There are few left who remember when Lena, Nina and Carmen crowded into Harlem’s Shalimar to hear Bey light it up. That tantalizing footage of Andy Bey and his sisters delighting a crowd of Parisian partygoers in the Chet Baker documentary Let’s Get Lost, gives us a clue of the years of brilliance that were never committed to vinyl. One can only imagine what we’ve missed. But, we have been blessed with four records that have changed how we think of Jazz vocals. Decades intervened between those after hours below the radar sessions and the 1996 recordings presented on Ain’t Necessarily So. But the vivid performances haven’t dimmed. Like so many before him, British vocalist Jamie Cullum described what it’s like to fall under Bey’s spell: “Andy Bey was at Ronnie Scott’s and I saw him six nights in a row. I got into a huge amount of debt going to see Andy Bey. What I love about him is that he creates an atmosphere. As soon as he opens his mouth, you’re transported to another place.”

A recording of standards has become the default option for artists in search of an audience or a late career boost. A new cadre of singers has been anointed keepers of the Songbook flame. But as The New Yorker observed, the proof is in the listening: “The “jazz vocal section of your record store is probably dominated by young white singers , but Andy Bey an African-American veteran has made this year’s record to beat.” Andy Bey’s live performance, on Ain’t Necessarily So makes the point that the best performers raise the standards by drawing more from a song than the obvious. At 67 Andy Bey is one of the last major performers with a personal connection to the era. But he refuses to be bound by precedent. He invests these eight songs with an accumulation of musical sensibilities that make them sound as if they were born yesterday. The songs may be standards, but the interpretations are by no means routine. As People magazine confirmed “American song has met an American Master."

The release of an Andy Bey recording is a cause for celebration. During the last five decades Bey’s deeply engaging four octave baritone voice has taken on the character of a musical instrument. Was that a bowed bass or a ship’s horn through the fog? An Alto flute or cascading water? Since the critical acclaim surrounding the release of Ballads, Blues and Bey in 1996, much attention has been paid to the fact that Andy Bey did not record as a leader for over two decades. His absence was, as Newsday put it, “like having Ella Fitzgerald take a vow of silence.” But the truth is that Mr. Bey did not aspire to be a star, he strove to be an artist. And he has actively engaged in cultivating and manifesting his gift during his entire lifetime. Bey approaches the discipline like the great musician he is. But, his performances are more than musical exercises. Frank Wess says “What’s special about Andy Bey is that he knows how to tell the story.” Al Pryor in Jazziz wrote that Bey "reminds us of how emotionally powerful the great American song can be.” Bey’s four albums since his reemergence have become legend.

Andy Bey has been hailed as a cultural phenomenon, and has been applauded by the tastemakers of contemporary music. From Pharrell Williams to Mos Def, and Jamie Cullum, Andy Bey has become an icon for the next generation, many of whom attend his performances not only for the pure pleasure, but also for enlightenment at the feet of a master.

Andy Bey will have a new, Solo CD, to be released on HighNote Records June, 2013. "The World According To Andy Bey," will surely be a treasure the world will embrace.
"

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Talk of Tokyo

This event, described by one Japanese jazz journalist as a "miracle," represents this American jazz great's very first performance in Japan. Don't want to get too Guinness-y about this, but perhaps it represents some kind of record of sorts for singer-pianist-songwriter Bob Dorough, i.e. the oldest (you do the math) U.S. musical artist to've ever made a performance debut in Japan---a nation of true cultural custodians. That country's press is overwhelmed with stories about this wonderful occasion. Has there even been a single article about this recent "miracle" in the west?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Keeper of the Flame

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Just received my copy of Paul Marinaro's first CD. Chicago's Audrey Morris turned me on to him a few years ago. I wondered what was taking him so long to release this. Now I know. Great songs, singing, concept, musicans, the works! Even the packaging is magnificent.

Happy birthday to yoo-ooo-oooby-dooo!

 
Link to Dave Lambert & Co's "Audition at RCA"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's About Time



Now available on download sites: CDBaby, Amazon and ITunes, Sue Raney singing two legendary Baseball songs by (let's just say THE GREAT and let it go at that) Dave Frishberg: "Dodger Blue" and "Van Lingle Mungo." Arranged and conducted by Alan Broadbent.

Links: Amazon DB , VLM ; Itunes DB , VLM ; CDBaby DB , VLM

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Another "choice" voice - Johnny Janis





















From  Jazz Cafe on WHRU-FM, here is Bob Collins' interview (2/16/11) with singer-guitarist Johnny Janis.

Jazz Cafe pt.1

Jazz Cafe pt. 2

Johnny Janis on youtube:

. . .and on the net: discography

He has a new boxed set. You can write him here for more info: johnnyjanissr@gmail.com

Slippery When Wet

In addition to being a world class Bullock's salesperson, swimmer, and movie star, Esther Williams also possessed a quite wicked sense of humor. For example, the opening sentence ---not since "Call Me Ishmael"---of her best-selling autiobio was, "Jeff [Chandler], you're far too big for polka dots." That was her response upon seeing, for the first time, her lover Jeff Chandler in cross-dressing attire. Who knew?! Certainly not Esther.

But my favorite Williams tale was recounted in the autiobio of radio/TV personality Henry ("I've Got a Secret") Morgan. In the 1940s, Morgan was stationed in Hollywood as an announcer for the Armed Forces Radio Network. It was then that he befriended Williams. . .already a star.

One afternoon, they were pleasure driving up Pacific Coast Highway and decided to stop in a roadside diner for a snack. The owner of the establishment immediately recognized the star and kept repeating over and again, "No one will ever believe me when I tell them that Esther Williams stopped in. . .No one will ever believe me. . . " And so on and so forth.

Williams and Morgan finished eating and headed for the car at which point, she excused herself to Morgan, turned on her heels and went back in to the place. She was gone for only a beat and quickly returned to the car.

"Why did you go back in?," asked Morgan.

"I flashed him," said Williams, who paused an instant then added, ""I wanted to make sure that no one would ever believe him."

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Seventeen "Choice" Singers You've Probably Never Heard Before. . . #1



Before Frank Sinatra scored his early Capitol Records hit in 1955 with “Learnin’ The Blues,” a Philadelphia singer, Joe Valino (1929-1996), recorded the song in late '54 on a small local label, Gold Star. At the time, Sinatra was experiencing a degree of difficulty selling singles ("All the Way," etc notwithstanding), and when he heard Valino's recording, within three days he commissioned an arrangement by Nelson Riddle, recorded it, and the rest is essential FS history. And quicker than you can say Sam Giancana, the recording leapt to the top of the Billboard chart, thus finally solidifying Sinatra's sure-fire success with the label.

According to urban legend, Sinatra's people then delegated a bunch of the boys to travel to Philly and make an offer to Valino that he, ummm, couldn't refuse in order to lay off any further promotion of "Learnin' the Blues." It now "belonged" to Sinatra. All of which doesn't really compute. There is simply no way that this somewhat poorly-engineered "side" by a regionally-known singer on a small obscure label could compete with the power of Sinatra.

Another version of the "Learnin'" saga, one that sounds a bit more plausible, is that in early 1955, Valino himself took his single---not much more than a demo really--- to music publishers in New York with hopes of kick-starting his pop vocal career. One of the executives he met with loved the song but thought Valino sounded too much like Frank Sinatra. (Debateable). After Valino departed (and faster than you could say Carlo Gambino), the sheet music of the song was winging westward. That sounds far more plausible than the dead-horse's-head-in-crooner's-bed version. (The writer of the song was a Philadelphia housewife, Dolores Silvers, who never published another song.)

Several years before the "Learnin' the Blues" episode, Valino had already established himself as a highly regarded regional singer. The level of his musicianship can be ascertained by the level of musians he recorded and performed with, most especially the (soon-to-be going places) jazz tenor sax player, Richie Kamuca. They made several fine singles together, including "All the Things You Are" b/w "The Song is You" for the small Philadelphia label, Crosley. A few years later Kamuca would write the notes for Sinner or Saint, the lone Valino album released in the singer's lifetime: "Joe Valino is more than a singer. Joe is a musician's singer.” The sax man then proceeded to reel off several industry giants who had lavished praise on Valino, including Sarah Vaughan, Merv Griffin and Tony Bennett. He closed with the prediction that his friend was “definitely on his way to make his place and leave his indelible mark in the music world.”

Alas, Kamuca's predicition of big things for Valino never really happened. Joe did go on to record, perhaps, as many as a score of single releases, but only one, 1957's “Garden of Eden,” made a visible dent on the national records sales charts.

In 1997, the year after Joe's death, his family cobbled together a CD entitled Timeless. Some of the tracks are ones that appeared originally on Sinner or Saint, but---in some instances---with nice brass and strings overdubs. Interestingly, the version of "Learnin' the Blues" that appears there (source unknown) is taken at a faster tempo than the Gold Star version. It is also a much more solid and professionally-sounding "take" on the song. So much better, in fact, that had it been released at the the same time as Sinatra's---small label or no---it might have actually given the latter a run for his money! Who knows?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's about time!

 
 
Now available on download sites: CDBaby, Amazon and ITunes, Sue Raney singing two legendary Baseball songs by (let's just say THE GREAT and let it go at that) Dave Frishberg: "Dodger Blue" and "Van Lingle Mungo."

Links: Amazon DB , VLM ; Itunes DB , VLM ; CDBaby DB , VLM

Friday, May 17, 2013



Monday, May 06, 2013

Japan to the rescue

Nothing in the entire cultural/theatrical history of the West is even remotely equivalent to the Japanese theatrical troupe Takarazuka. Founded ninety-nine years ago in the small Japanese city bearing the troupe's name, the (eventually) five companies of the outfit specialize in mammoth-scaled, elaborately costumed productions---with all roles played by females---of mostly Broadway musicals such as Guys and Dolls and Kiss Me Kate, revues, and musicalizations of fiction of the West, i.e. East of Eden andWuthering Heights, etc.

Every production features a cast of as many as eighty performers (singers, dancers, actors) plus a large orchestra. One could describe the operation as the Ziegfeld Follies x three and not really come close. Even today, one's first visit to a Takarazuka production operates as a kind of rite of passage for Japanese youth. The following link to
Wikipedia only begins to scratch the surface of all there is to know and learn about the subject of Takarazuka. And this youtube clip can give you only a sense of the magnitude of their productions.

Takarazuka also produces shows based not only on pre-existant musicals or fiction, but on biographical material. For example, this coming June 2013's Forever Gershwin, has to do with---of all things---the ten-year-long extra-marital affair between George Gershwin and Broadway songwriter-classical composer Kay Swift (“Fine and Dandy”, “Can't We Be Friends”),who was married to banker James Warburg. After Gershwin's death in 1937, his brother Ira Gershwin collaborated with Swift to complete and arrange some of his unpublished works. And she continued to hold the George Gershwin flame aloft until her death at age 95 in 1993.

This forthcoming outing will take place from 6/7 - 6/17 at Takarazuka's Bow Hall in Takarazuka City where the theatrical organization was founded in 1914. Obviously, the production will feature a healthy number of George and Ira songs. Here is a
link to one of the few web sites (published in Japan) that has ANY English language information about this singularly recherche and profoundly American subject matter of George Gershwin and Company as interpreted by Takarazuka. (And just look at that cast of characters! Mr. & Mrs. Jascha Heifetz, "Tin Pan Alley Salesperson," Walter Winchell, Al Jolson, Fred and Adele Astaire, Paul Whiteman, Irving Berlin, Gertrude Lawrence, et al!)

Is it any wonder that musician Van Dyke ("Polymath") Parks refers to the Japanese as "Cultural custodians to the West"? No question about it. If Japan doesn't do it. . .no one else (most especially the U.S.) will. Just wayyyyyy too hip for OUR "house."