Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Oshogatsu

I think Chris Connor's version of "Happy New Year" pretty much says it all.

One Shot Wonders, pt. 14 and the last

see intro below

Another of John Hammond’s sixties discoveries was Gene Stridel. Curiously, the producer’s liner notes for the singer’s 1964 Columbia LP do not cite Stridel’s past as a rhythm and blues vocalist. Instead, mention is only made of his long history as a cocktail lounge singer. But in fact, The Striders, the group Gene once sang with, had an extensive history both in the recording studio and in live performances. The Striders, with Stridel, had recorded as early as 1948 for Capitol, and had also backed singer Savannah Churchill on a number or recordings, including her rhythm and blues classic, “Walking by the River.” One thing seems certain, either that Hammond was not aware of this somewhat less than acceptable---from a jazz purist point-of view--- background. Or else, Stridel withheld the information. Whichever was the case, there is no question that Stridel was equally adept as a r ‘n’ b shouter AND jazz-oriented singer as evidenced by this track from his lone lp, release, “This is Gene Stridel.”

PLAY The Sweetest Sounds

Gene Stridel died in 1973, reportedly in a boating accident. And the truth WAS that public and record industry interest in the kind of music that was made by the likes of John Hammond discoveries Nikki Price and Gene Stridel was also “dead” by the time their recordings hit the market in the early sixties. I have long felt that Japanese listeners have done more than their fair share to keep this classic music alive. People of this country are the TRUE CULTURAL CUSTODIANS TO THE BEST OF THE WEST and that is why it has been such a great honor for me to appear before you this afternoon. Thank you!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

One shot Wonders, pt. 13

see intro below

In addition to his early thirties work with instrumentalists such as Count Basie and Lester Young, legendary record producer John Hammond also oversaw the nascent careers of such singers as Billie Holiday and Mildred Bailey. As late as the early 60s he was still working with vocalists. In addition to Aretha Franklin, another of his discoveries during this period, was Nikki Price. Privately in his 1977 memoirs he more-or-less disowned his participation in the 1961 album “Nikki: Introducing the Beautiful Nikki Price,” deeming it “pretentious.” However, I feel that she DID follow up on the promise the Hammond first heard when Price walked in cold off the street and successfully requested an audition with the great producer then and there on the spot. Little is known about Price’s activities beyond her debut/swan song except that for a brief time after its release, she was married to the wonderful west coast pianist Dave Mackay. I recently asked Dave if he knew whatever happened to Price. He had not heard from her for many years. He told me that two of the musicians on Price’s recording were Phil Woods and songwriter/pianist/singer Dave Frishberg, and this album marked Frishberg’s first time being recorded AND that this also marked the premiere recording of his classic song, “Peel Me a Grape.”

PLAY TRACK Peel Me a Grape

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One Shot Wonders, pt 12

See below for intro

In 1960 actress Cora Lee Day was at a party in New York City when someone asked her to do her imitation of Billie Holiday. She did and by chance Roulette Records owner Morris Levy was there, liked what he heard---he believed this to be her natural singing voice---and signed her to a record contract. Cora had no choice, then, but to keep singing in this false style. Roulette spent a great deal of money on a night club act and an LP for her. The recording, entitled “My Crying Hour”, contained some of the best jazz players around, such as Jimmy Jones, Harry Edison, Freddie Green and Illinois Jacquet, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Hartman were the only other vocalists to release studio recordings with Jacquet’s backing. The album was not a success. And though her live act was premiered at the prestigious Mister Kelley’s club in Chicago, it too was a failure. Cora Lee Day never sang in public again. She did, however, become a highly respected actress, eventually starring in the 1991 award-winning film, “Daughters of the Dust.” She died in 2000 at the age of 78.
PLAY I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Tradition Around These Parts

It's time once again to crank up the old vcr for MY favorite Yule flick, "Christmas Holiday," in which Deanna Durbin essays the role of a singer in a whorehouse and introduces Frank Loesser's "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year,"---I'LL SAY!---while Gene Kelly gets shot down in a hail of gunfire at the climax. "Meet Me in St. Louis" it ain't. Though with that title you'd think it WOULD be.

This opened during the 1944 Christmas season, and while I don't have the actuarials at my fingertips, it's a safe bet that this sub rosa film noir was responsible for at least a few Yule suicides amongst unforewarned filmgoers. ("Momma went to the Bijou and never came back.") Directed by the great Robert Siodmak, who helmed this one between making "Phantom Lady" and "Cobra Woman". . .the same year!


One Shot Wonders, pt. 11

see below for intro

In 1993 on U.S. TV there was a documentary about couples who had been together or married for a very long time. One pair was singer-pianist Inez Jones and her husband, Paul Jones, a sax player. They lived in Oakland, California in touching genteel poverty. They sat in their rundown kitchen, he played a wobbly but credible sax, and she sang and played. Alternately they reminisced about their life together and the Kansas City jazz scene where they both began their professional careers. I had never heard of her, but at the peak of her popularity in the 1950s she played the posh Fairmont Hotel in SF. She also cut a record for the Riverside label that was reviewed very favorably in Downbeat and which I subsequently purchased. Here are two cuts from it:

PLAY TRACK Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me, Where or When

Both Joneses are now deceased but the large plot of land where their house once stood in Oakland , California is now the "Paul and Inez Jones Neighborhood Garden," a gorgeous place of flowers, food, butterflies and birds for residents in the area to enjoy.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

One Shot Wonders, pt 10

See intro below

A couple of years ago I found a mint LP in local thrift (junk) shop by a new-to-me singer, Kevin Gavin. It had arrangements by guitarist Mundell Lowe, an impressive Arlen, Mercer, Kern, etc. repertoire and was on the Charlie Parker record label. The corny cover alone was worth the price---fifty cents---in an of itself. Arriving back home and giving Hey! This is Kevin Gavin a listen I was happy to learn that Gavin was quite good. Leading to the inevitable question, Whatever Happened to Kevin Gavin? Let’s take a listen to two track from his one LP, and then I’ll tell you what I found out about him.

PLAY TRACK Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me, Blame It On My Youth

A bit of sleuthing on the net and I learned that, unlike many One Shot Wonders, Kevin Gavin had not fallen off the edge of the earth. Instead, he wrote this very famous in the U.S: jingle for McDonald’s.

TRACK 11 (McDonald’s jingle, “You deserve a break today)

One of the most widely heard U.S. commercials EVER. I do not know exactly where Kevin Gavin is at this very minute, but wherever he is living he is surely living well.

This just in: Kevin Gavin was a member of singer-bandleader Vaughn Monroe's vocal group. From 1950s souvenir booklet . . .
The fourth member of Vaughn's new group is 25-year-old Kevin Gavin from Los Angeles, where he sang with the famous Robert Mitchell Boys Choir, appearing in many movies. Kevin received a music scholarship at Loyola University in LA, and majored in English. Following college he became a member of the "Salute To Gershwin Show," which played leading West Coast theaters and hotels, and in 1950 joined the "Ken Murray Show," with which he came to New York. After two years with Murray, Kevin went into free lance work and appeared on the Kate Smith and Jackie Gleason shows, among others. Keenly interested in short-story writing and song writing, Kevin has taken several summer writing courses at Columbia University.

Friday, December 22, 2006

One Shot Wonders, pt 9

See intro below

Lynn Taylor was not only a One Shot Wonder in 1957, but also in 1963---as a member of the folk group the Rooftop Singers, a One HIT Wonder with the Top Ten doughnut, “Walk Right In.” It landed at #1 the week of 1/26/63.

Strictly speaking, Taylor---aside from her recordings with the Rooftop Singers--- made one-and-third LPs, for she appears as a guest jazz vocalist on a recording by US TV comedian Ernie Kovacs. But it’s difficult for me NOT to include a track from her album of Arthur Schwartz songs, “I See Your Face Before Me” this afternoon because of its notoriety as arguably, in its original form, just about the most widely desired recording (right up there along Pinky Winters’ 1955 Vantage 10 inch LP) on the Japanese vocal jazz collectors’ market.

In 1957 Barbara Lea said: "Lynn is the best of the modern jazz singers. She sounds like the best of Peggy Lee -- that is, she sings the way I wish Peggy would sing more often."

Taylor’s Arthur Schwartz LP came about as a result of the songwriter’s son, Jonathan Schwartz. He was friends with Taylor and it was he who introduced her to his father's music and caused the album to be recorded. Taylor was born in 1937 and died 1979, and was with the Rooftop Singers from 1962 to 1967. update: the correct birth and death dates for Taylor are most likely 1928- 1982.

PLAY TRACK (It’s All Yours, Haunted Heart)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One Shot Wonders, pt. 8

See intro below
There are two singers from my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. The very wonderful Jennie Smith, who I won’t be able to play here this afternoon---thankfully she recorded four albums and lots of singles. AND Janet Brace, who arrived in New York in 1948 and initially sang with the bands of Vincent Lopez and Johnny Long, with whom she recorded and appeared on the radio with in 1949. Her one album, in 1956 for ABC-Paramount came and went pretty much without notice. But a few years earlier she made a small mark in the Great American Songbook when she was the first singer to record “Teach Me Tonight.” It was not successful for her and it was not until a couple of years later that it became a hit for anyone else. Had Brace's recording of the song been popular, most likely we would not be playing a track from her Special Delivery LP as part of “One Shot Wonders” today. Even though she is from my hometown, she is one of the few singers who I have not been able to discover Whatever Happened To…

PLAY TRACK Time After Time, You Forgot Your Gloves

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Shot Wonders, part 7

Part 7 of my "One Shot Wonders" talk before Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society, see intro below

Here’s another singer who, like Lynne and Black, started out with big bands. Betty Blake sang with Buddy Morrow from 1955 to 1957. But after leaving Morrow she seemed to drop below radar until 1961 when her Bethlehem LP ("Tender Mood") was released. The album contained a large number of Alec Wilder songs. And one side of a 45 Blake made for the Golden Crest label, “The Lady Sings the Blues,” was also written by Wilder. Blake also appeared as a guest artist on a Golden Crest LP. But after her Bethlehem effort, nothing is known of any other professional activity until her death of cancer at age 63 on September 19, 2001. Something of a mystery, for the Blake’s lone album is a good one and received some nice reviews. The musicians include Teddy Charles, Zoot Sims, Kenny Burrell and Mal Waldron.

(Let There Be Love, Love is Just Around the Corner)

Monday, December 18, 2006

One Shot Wonders, part 6

photo: Ryo Mogi
Gathering at Cafe Albert, Tokyo after my 12/10/06 "One Shot Wonders" talk at the Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society. That's Pinky Winters middle top, me to her right, Jay san to my right, surronded bt some TVJAS members. The "Albert" serves as a sort of clubhouse for the association

(see below for intro and pts. 1-5)

At one time, Althea Gibson was world-famous. But NOT for singing. A trailblazing athlete who become the first African American to win championships at Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Doubles and the United States Open in the late 1950s. She won 56 singles and doubles titles during her amateur career in the 1950s before gaining international and national acclaim for her athletic prowess on the professional level in tennis. Gibson won 11 major titles in the late 1950s. In 1958 she joined the ranks of the Lost ladies of Dot, like Marlene Cord, when she recorded her lone album, Althea Gibson sings. She died in 2003.

PLAY TRACK (September Song)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

This just in!

Daily Mainichi - December 14, 2006 Tokyo Evening Edition

The legendary jazz vocalist Pinky Winters, who is 70 plus, on her first visit to Japan performed at JZ Brat on the llth of this month. No frills, no pretension, very pure. She sings as if she is telling the audience some good old tales orstories. The technique excels so much that it often makes the listeners tearful.

--- Kawa (translated by JK)

One Shots Wonders, pt. 5

part 5 of my One Shot Wonders speech before the Tokyo Vocal jazz Appreciation Society, see intro

Frances Lynne began in show business in the late 1940s, but did not record a full album of her own until more than fifty years later. Frances Lynne (long retired) was with Bill Black in the Krupa band in 1950. Also with Dave Brubeck as a singer, pre-Columbia. When I was doing research on Black, I found a contact for her on the net. I emailed and was talking on the phone with her within a half hour. Interesting lady. She told me that she and hubby, John, a rather well-known Woody Herman alumnus, had made this recording a few years back I was unable to find a single reference to it on the net, but Lynne sent me a copy. Tasty repertoire. Plus great players the likes of John Handy, Mike Renzi, Johnny Coles and Herb Steward!

(Blue Prelude)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tokyo Update

Jazz singer Pinky Winters performed an absolutely flawless seventy-minute set last night at the TUC Club in Tokyo backed by her "boys" Kiyoshi Morita and Masahiko Taniguchi, before an adoring and packed house, several of whom had even carted along their precious (upwards of a thousand dollars each) copies of Pinky's eponymously titled 1954 10 inch Vantage LP for her signature. Believe it or not, an autograph on a artists' handiwork in Japan actually devalues the worth of said relic. But no one really seemed to care. She also sold dozens of her new CD "Speak Low." Quite an evening!

The entire eleven days here in Tokyo have been amazing, but if I had to chose one event, it would have to be last night. The recorded results of her all-Sinatra program will be released most likely mid-year on SSJ Records.

Her new "Speak Low" CD is everywhere in Tokyo. You can't miss it wherever you go, including HMV Stores, Disk Union, and the still-vital Japanese Tower Records. But the nicest surprise came when Pinky undertook some shopping yesterday afternoon after our visit to the Tokyo Tower, and she went in the largest non-chain record store in the city only to hear her "Speak Low" CD being played on the store's sound system. If you know Pinky at all, it should come as no surprise that she promptly anoounced to a nearby clerk "That's Me!" (on the p.a. system).

I wouldn't go so far as to say that PINKYMANIA has swept Tokyo, but pretty darn close.

One more appearance by Pinky this afternoon at a private party, and then---sigh!!!!---we head home to California tomorrow afternoon.

One Shot Wonders, pt. 4

Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society speech pt 4, see below for intro


Another album in the can for 50 years or nearly so, until it was rescued in Japan last year by SSJ Records. (reading from the liner notes) "Bill Black was born in 1927 to a musical family in Granite City, Illinois. He started singing professionally at an early age and, after several years in St. Louis, headed for New York. Gene Krupa hired Black as his band's vocalist in 1948. Black, who was with Krupa for 18 months, was the last fully-employed 'boy' singer with the band before it folded in 1950.

George T. Simon predicted that Black would become the next big singer, in the lineage of Crosby, Sinatra, Haymes and Como. In the 1949 "Down Beat" magazine readers' poll of Band Singers, he came in fourth, just behind Johnny Hartman and one notch ahead of Buddy Greco.

But Black's career did not progress after he left Krupa. I met Black when the he was working as a desk clerk at the YMCA in New York City in the early 1960's. We became friends and Black gave me the original acetate disc of Down in the Depths, recorded in the mid-fifties. Black cut more than two dozen air checks with Gene Krupa’s band, but this is his only official album. He died in 1989.

(Down in the Depths, So It’s Spring)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Shot Wonders pt. 3

see intro below

The Mode record label was founded in 1957, within the period of a few months recorded and released a total of 29 albums by the instrumentalist likes of Richie Kamuca, Frank Rosolino, and Warne Marsh. And for our purposes here this afternoon: singers Joy Bryan, Don Nelson, the wonderful---make that GREAT--- Lucy Ann Polk, and Johnny Holiday. But the owner of the label had overextended himself financially, and just as quickly as Mode Records had opened for business, it had to close up shop. For Chicago singer Laurie Allyn, the failure of Mode had especially dire consequences, but with an ultimately happy ending which I’ll get to after we hear Laurie sing.

(All I Need is You)

The twelve tracks on Laurie Allyn’s LP, arranged by Marty Paich and featuring the likes of Al Viola, Red Mitchell and Pete Candoli, were recorded in Hollywood on October 2nd, 4th and 5th, 1957. But no sooner had the record’s producer---also the owner of Mode Records---finished recording the sessions than he had the sad duty of telling Allyn that he would not be able to release her recording because Mode was folding. Allyn went back home to Texas to tend her sick mother never to perform again. And this wonderful recording sat on the shelves until the current owner of the Mode catalogue decided to give it a first time issue. . .nearly fifty years after it was recorded. A perfect example of the U.S. Kotowaza (in English) “Better late than never” (then in Japanese).

(Surrey With the Fringe on Top)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tokyo Photos

More nice photos here (then go to recent news page) of Pinky Winters' concert last Saturday at the Frank Sinatra Society of Japan. Courtesy of Doctor Takeshi Mikami

One Shot Wonders pt. 2

see below for intro


After we listen to Flo Handy’s recording with guitarists Carl Kress and George Barnes, who accompany her throughout as a duo on her ‘64 LP “Smoky and Intimate,” I will tell you a bit more about her background including her relationship to a another singer who was as famous as the late Flo Handy was obscure.

(No Moon at All, Fine and Dandy)

Does anyone in the audience know who Flo Handy’s sister was?

Ella Mae Morse of “Cow Cow Boogie” fame. And Flo was married to two very famous jazz musicians, first, arranger / songwriter George Handy and then, sax legend Al Cohn, who died in 1988. Flo passed on not long afterward in 1996.

The liner notes for this ultra-obscure LP were written by songwriter Gene Lees, who said "My God! She's marvelous!" Jazz critic and head of the Rutgers Jazz Institute Dan Morgenstern heard her perform just once “live” in an obscure jazz club in New York City, “some 35 years ago,” he wrote in 2000. If anything, she was even better than on ‘Smoky and Intimate‘.
To the best of my knowledge, this wonderful LP with songs by, among others, the Gershwins, Alec Wilder, and Rodgers and Hart has never been reissued anywhere. . .not even in Japan!

Monday, December 11, 2006

One Shot Wonders pt. 1

see below
One of eight children who grew up in Springboro, Pa., a small town where her father worked as a farmer and tool and dye maker, Cord, born Mary Fabiano, began taking piano lessons at 12. For many years she toured the country as a jazz singer, singing and playing piano. She recorded her Dot album in Chicago when she was 19 in 1957. She is accompanied by several famous Chicago players, namely Dick Marx on piano and John Frigo on bass)

But while on the road, Cord met her husband, Nick, who owned a jazz club in Wisconsin. Cord took time off from her singing career to help him open a restaurant in Milwaukee. She ended up waiting tables, keeping the books and tending bar for 18 years, trading her singing career for love and family. She never went back on the road again. Today, she is a waitress at the Colannade Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida where she has worked for the last twenty years. While waiting on actor Jack Nicholson recently, she sang “I Could Write a Book” for him. Maybe he gave her an extra-large tip? But that is just about the extent of her singing these days.
PLAY "I Could Write a Book," "Mad About the Boy"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unaccustomed as I am. . .

I've never given a public speech in my life, so it goes without saying that when I finally did so, yesterday at the Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society, I presented it in a language with which I have only the most superficial of comprehension and fluency. . .Japanese. I later learned that each time I MEANT to say "hakkutsu" (i.e., "Producer John Hammond discovered. . .etc."), instead I said "hakkotsu" which means "rotting skeleton."). I got laughs several times. Hope it was in the right places.

Here is an English translation of the beginning of my talk and the program for the day. For the remainder of my time in Tokyo, herein I will post portions of my program

Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society - Sunday December 10, 2006
“One Shot Wonders” presented by Bill Reed

The one thing that every one of these artists that I will be playing for you this afternoon have in common is that they recorded only one album bearing their name, and mostly between 1955 and 1960. This was the time when rock music was coming along and beginning to commercially blow every other kind of recorded music out of the water. Another thing that all these singers have in common is that they were uncommonly talented. But it was all to no avail. Most continued to perform---many on the Holiday Inn and Playboy Club circuits---or teach music, but some gave up music altogether. They were simply born too late. I have done my best to track down the whereabouts or the outcome of these singers, but in a couple of instances they seem to have just fallen off the edge of the earth. The first singer I’ll play this afternoon is Marlene Cord. She is a prime example of what a friend of mine in the U.S. calls the Lost Ladies of Dot Records. That powerful little independent label seemed to specialize in One Shot Wonders of the female variety. They include: Althea Gibson, Easy Williams, Dori Howard, Carol Jarvis (45 rpm only), Sue Evans and the singer Ill open up with today, Marlene Cord

MARLENE CORD (VO) p fl ds b (Dot DLP-3081)
1. [I Could Write a Book] (Richard Rodgers - Lorenz Hart)
2. [Mad About the Boy] (Noel Coward) '
rec. 1957 in Chicago

FLO HANDY (VO) guitars: Carl Kress, George Barnes
“Smoky and Intimate” (Carney LPM 201)
1. [No Moon at All] (Redd Evans - David Mann)
2. [Fine and Dandy] (Kay Swift - Paul James)
rec. 1957 in NYC

LAURIE ALLYN (VO) quintet, 12 piece big band, 10 member string section on some tracks. Red Mitchell b, Mel Lewis ds, Pete Candoli tpt, Al Viola gt, others; arr: by Marty Paich
“Paradise” (V.S.O.P. # 111)
1. [All I Need is You] (Peter DeRose - Benny Davis - Mitchell Parrish)
2. Surrey With the Fringe On Top] (Richard Rodgers - Oscar Hammerstein)
rec. 1957 in Hollywood

BILL BLACK (VO) g b unk
“Down in the Depths” (Cellar Door/SSJ YKCJ-304)
1. [Down in the Depths (on the 90th Floor)] (Cole Porter)
2. [So It’s Spring] (Wayne Arnold - Tommy Wolf)
rec. mid-1950s, ?

FRANCES LYNNE (VO) French horn, 2 x tpt 2 x various reeds, (i.e. as, ts, six strings) p b ds Prod arr cond by Mike Abene; John Handy ts; Herb Steward as ts; Johnny Coles tp, others
“Remember” (Lark Records, no. #)
1. [Blue Prelude] (Gordon Jenkins, Joe Bishop)
rec. 1999 in San Francisco

ALTHEA GIBSON (VO) Doles Dickens Quartet
“Sings” (Dot 3105)
1. [September Song] (Kurt Weill , Maxwell Anderson)
rec. 1958 in possibly NYC

BETTY BLAKE (VO) septet arr: by Teddy Charles: ts tpt vb gt p bs ds
“Sings in a Tender Mood” (Bethlehem BCP 6058)
1. [Let There Be Love] (Ian Grant, Lionel Rand)
2. Love is Just Around the Corner] (Leo Robin, Lewis Gensler)
rec. 1961 in NYC

JANET BRACE (VO) quintet arr: by Don Elliott (tpt mello vb) and gt p bs dm
“Special Delivery” (ABC 117)
1. [Time After Time] (Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn)
2. [You Forgot Your Gloves] (Ned Lehak, Edward Eliscu)
rec. 1956 in NYC

LYNNE TAYLOR (VO) orch. arr: by Buddy Weed: feat Billy Butterfield tpt, Barry Galbraith g,Arnold Fishkind bs, Stanley Webb flt, Bob Alexander tb
“I See Your Face Before Me” (Grand Award G.A. 33-367)
1. It’s All Yours (Arthur Schwartz, Dorothy Fields)
2. Haunted Heart (Arthur Schwartz, Howard Dietz)
rec. 1957 in NYC

KEVIN GAVIN (VO) big band arr and cond: by Mundell Lowe: feat Clark Terry, Doc Severnson; Urbie Green tb; George Duvivier ds; Eddie Costa p; Mundell Lowe g; many others
“Hey! This is Kevin Gavin” (Charlie Parker Records PLP-8100)
1. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me (Duke Ellington, Bob Russell)
2. Blame It On My Youth (Oscar Levant, Edward Heyman)
rec. 1962 in NYC

INEZ JONES (VO) Carl Perkins p, Oscar Moore g, Curtis Counce bs, Bill Douglass ds
“Have You Met Inez Jones?” (Omega Reel: OMT 7018 /Riverside RLP 12-819)
1. Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me (Rube Bloom, Ted Koehler)
2. Where or When (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
rec. 1957 in Hollywood

CORA LEE DAY (VO) big band arr: by Jerry Valentine; small group arr: by Jimmy Jones p; Barry Galbraith or Freddie Green g; ; Harry Edison tp; Illinois Jacquet ts; Osie Johnson ds
“My Crying Hour” (Roulette R52048)
1. I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life (Cy Coleman , Joseph McCarthy)
rec. 1958 in NYC

NIKKI PRICE (VO) big band cond: by Fred Carlin or Joe Say feat Phil Woods ts, Dave Frishberg p
“Nikki” (Epic LN-24005)
1. Peel Me a Grape (Dave Frishberg)
rec. 1961 in NYC

GENE STRIDEL (VO) big band cond: by Marty Manning
“This is Gene Stridel” (Columbia CL 2115)
1. The Sweetest Sounds (Richard Rodgers)
rec. 1964 in NYC

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pinky Winters in Tokyo

The Frank Sinatra Society of Japan began planning nearly a year ago to bring singer Pinky Winters to Japan for the celebration of their main man's 91st birthday and the 25th anniversary of the group itself. And this afternoon against the background of Tokyo Bay at the elegant Crystal Yacht Club, it finally came to pass. She held a large contingent of the SSJ in the palm of her hand for an hour-and-a-quarter afternoon performance of songs associated with FS. It was an amazing turn thanks in no small part to the contribution of two very fine young Tokyo musicians, Kiyoshi Morita (piano) and Masahiko Taniguchi (bass), with whom Pinky only had the luxury of a couple of hours of rehearsal. The cliche regarding Tokyo musicians that they are as adept as any pleyers in the world---if not more so---at turning around on a dime appears to be true if Morita and Taniguchi are any example. It was as if Pinky and her "boys" had worked together for years. The threesome have two more gigs together before Pinky heads back home to the U.S mid-month. Hard to imagine, but they will probably even get better and better. Even managed to make Pinky's encore of "New York New York" swing!

If I had my way I would probably stay in this wonderful city forever. I have never witnessed a hipper or more receptive audience than the one Pinky performed for this afternoon. After the show was over she spent nearly an equal amount of time as she did performing signing many copies of her three SSJ/Cellar Door recording which the crowd had lined up to buy.

Pinky's first but surely not last visit to Japan.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Biru Riido newzu

Flyer for my 12/10/06 presentation before the Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society

Pinkii Uintaazu newzu

In addition to three private and two public gigs, at the TUC Club and JZ (Jazz) Brat, another event has just been added to Pinky Winters' upcoming Japan tour, entitled "Sing Along Karaoke with Pinky Winters." From 7 to 10 pm at Tokyo's "Again" karaoke club on December 12, not so coincidentally Frank Sinatra's birthday. In fact, all of Pinky's performances will be chock-a-block with Sinatra material in honor of that natal occasion. She departs LAX tomorrow---with me in tow---December 5th for arrival on the 6th in Japan, the same day her new CD "Speak Low" is released there.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Do I hear $5001?

On ebay, right now, up for auction is Frank Sinatra's reputed first-ever recording, "Our Love." Never commercially released but on a one-off acetate recording. I've got it on a boot entitled "Sinatra: A Musical Montage." Hope Nancy Sinatra doesn't bust me like she did that poor ribbon clerk at Footlight Records in New York a coupla years ago.

Is it obvious from the evidence of "Our Love" that we're listening to the birth of one of the great artists of the century? Not really. But he sure does sound different from every other boy band singer around at the time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Overheard at Haddasah

Yesterday at a Haddasah thrift shop, right around the corner from yet another thrift emporium here in West L.A., I bought four LPs for a buck each: Jazz You Can Understand, featuring drummer Jack Sperling; Lost. . .and Alone, by singer Don Francks, 10 Sides of Ethel Ennis, and a fourth album by a male singer of the Sinatra School who, for purposes of this blog, will remain nameless. But for purposes of illustration, let's call him "Mario Punchinello."

The very hep little old lady who rang me up scrutinized my albums as she totaled away, and remarked upon each:

Haddasah Lady: "Don Francks, don't know him. Ethel Ennis, don't hear of her much anymore. Mmmm Jack Sperling, fine drummer. [Which is the correct answer]. Mario Punchinello, I wonder whatever happened to him?"

Me: "He left the country due to pressure from the mob. Fled to Australia where he became a bigger deal than he ever was in America. [Which is true.] A classic case of lemonade from lemons. Dead now."

Haddasah Lady: "Oh."

She had to ask. Then I went outside and noted a plaque on the front of the building that read:

"On this site, in October of 1927, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy filmed scenes from their comedy classic, Leave 'Em Laughing."

Some days it does pay to get out of the house! A perfect five minutes!