Monday, December 31, 2007

What a great way to end the year!

In my never-ending quest to find "new" releases for SSJ Records' (Japan) "One Shot Wonder" vocalist series (the criterion is that the singer can only have made ONE album), the Fall of 2006 found me crawling around in a sub-basement (don't ask) in Glendale, CA. That's where I came upon singer Dick Noel's 1978 album "A Time for Love."
I knew of Noel, but mostly as one of the busiest session singers in the entire history of the profession. Operating out Chicago, rumor has it that his voice has been heard on more than 13,000 commercials and jingles. That might be some kind of a record. But I was unaware that he'd ever made an album, only a handful of mostly undistinguished singles in the 1950s. But there it was! And with as rarefied a collection of selections from the Great American Songbook as one could imagine.
I took the LP home and was astonished by what I heard. This beautifully supple, rich, male baritone backed by the solo piano of Chicago legend Larry Novak, singing his heart out on such as "A Time for Love," "Here's that Rainy Day," "Why Did I Choose You?" and seven more.
It wasn't until I arrived back at my flat that I noted the liner notes for this sub-rosa release on the small Legends label were written by Mel Torme, who could not have been more complimentary even if he had been writing about himself! High praise indeed!
I immediately took the necessary steps for SSJ to license the recording for re-release and to try and track down Noel. I succeeded at both. In the process, it was especially rewarding to make the acquaintance of the singer, who is now happily retired from the jingle mill and living in Southern California. Of all the things that he has since told me about his long, interesting career, stretching back to just after the end of WWII, none was more fascinating to me than the details of the recording of "A Time for Love" itself. He wasn't familiar with some (perhaps even "most") of the songs that pianist Larry Novak set before him at the beginning of the lone session for the album that commenced at midnight (although there are several '78 dates inexplicably listed on the back of the LP for the recording, Noel swears that there was only ONE) and lasted until six a.m. He is a crack sight reader, able to read the proverbial fly specks off a sheet of music. And he followed the lead of Novak's playing and really dug into the emotional core of the songs, as often as not in only one take, even though not entirely familiar with some of the material. Must be the up side, end result of all those years of having to instantaneously excavate the "meaning" of all that advert music copy.
Finally, even though I prefer to believe the more mythically resonant lone session version, the number of them that finally went into the making of "A Time for Love" is immaterial. Today, the results of Noel, Novak and original executive producer Wayne Knight arrived in the mail from Tokyo. My name is also on it as "Release Producer." Of all the record projects I've been involved in the last few years, none has made me happier than this one. In my opinion, Noel and Novak's recording is on a par with Irene Kral and Alan Broadbent's 1975 classic "Where is Love?" And it just doesn't get much better than that! Here's a taste.
"A Time for Love" is already for sale at the trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, and thrifty cyber commerce site: . Right now, it appears to have already sold out, but keep checking back. They're certain to have it back in stock soon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Miss Ross

On the broadcast this evening of the Kennedy Center honors ceremony held earlier this month, the writers of the presentation clearly bent over backwards to avoid mentioning the actual name of the group with which honoree Diana Ross rode to stardom. "These girls," "the group." "these young women" and about a half-dozen other euphemisms, but NEVER "The Supremes." One would have to be deaf and blind not to have noticed. Very embarassing. I wasn't exactly expecting a surprise appearance from Mary Wilson, but puh-leese. And I'm not even exactly certain that the word "Motown" was uttered. (Roots, girlfriend, roots!)

I wonder if these oversights were part of a deal made with Diana Ross in order to get her to accept the Kennedy award: "No direct eye contact, a wind machine and operator to keep my-just-got-f**ked trademark hairdo poifectly poofed and, above all, no mention of those other two beyatches EXCEPT by indirect inference."

I'd like to think so, but these couldn't have been unintentional oversights. sad Sad SAD. A very talented woman who just can't seem to get it right.

And what was the deal with that exceedingly tarsome appearance by Richard J. Potash in the Steve Martin segment?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mae in December

1. Merry Christmas Baby
2. Santa Baby
3. Santa Come Up and See Me
4. Put the Loot in the Boot, Santa
5. It's Christmas Time
6. In the New Year
7. Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me
8. Love From Me to You

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Alert the media!

Kurt Reichenbach is right up there with John Proulx, Lincoln Briney, Bruce Hamada and John Harkins in the best new male jazz singer sweepstakes. And his CD, "The Night Was Blue," is finally available for sale on CD Baby.
When I first picked up on this CD last year, Kurt had exactly one "live" performance under his belt. Since then he has done about a dozen gigs here in the L.A. area. I've attended every one of them, and and in each instance, he has come off like a seasoned pro. I fearlessly predict that 2008 will be HIS year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nick DeCaro sings and plays the Tatsuro Yamashita holiday classic, "Christmas Eve (Silent Night, Lonely Night)"
In the grand tradition of Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Melodye, and Jack Sheldon lend their personal stamp to this holiday favorite, Baby It's Cold Outside. From Melodye's best-selling CD, Noctural Velvet.
(courtesy of Melodye)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The BESTEST Christmas CD Ever?

Far superior to "I Wanna Spend Christmas With Elvis," easily more memorable than "Twimmin' the Cwis'mas Twee," yes, even better 'n "Christmas Done Got Funky"! I refer to the brand new CD, "Carols from the Bells," a musical Yuletide present from "The Hearts of Music Fund," an L.A. non-profit fund established to assist musicians with emergency medical needs.
The recording, just released, was arranged and conducted in the Fall of 2007 by L.A. "First Call" trombonist, Bill Reichenbach. (He of the Fabulous Flying Reichenbachs.) The assemblage is known as Trombones-L.A.
Consisting of the playing of 22 (sometimes all at once!) of Hollywood's finest bonistes applying their talents and instruments of various permutations (tenor, bass, contra bass) to 25 tracks, consisting of a wide range of seasonal repertoire, Christmas music just doesn't get any better than this.
The repertoire ranges from the traditional, in some instances like you've never heard before---as in the case of this "Jingle Bells" --- to what is believed to be the only recording of the Hugo Friedhofer Main Title from the holiday classic, "The Bishop's Wife."
You can order it from---proceeds go to Hearts of Music--- Hearts of Music, 2751 Westshire Drive, Hollywood, CA 90068. $18 P&H included. For quantity prices and shipping, email:
For a good cause, a musical bargain at thrice the price, and great to listen to any time of the year!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The final days, I tell you

Unlike as of yore when the Grammys partook of at least a degree of reflexive obeisance to actual grown-up music, those days are now apparently gone forever.
This year's Grammy nominations have just been announced and all the major categories consist of nothing but kid music(?) junk. Not even the bearable likes of a Steely Dan or James Taylor. And as for the jazz vocal category? Yawnsville!
A dark day for the few still-living and now gone-on founders of this once if not exactly noble institution, at least well-intentioned one.
The argument goes that these awards just reflect that to which the vox populi ("great unwashed" is more like it) is listening. Well if that's the case, then they should just close NARAS down, for it's only making an already bad situation worse.
Jazz pianist John Wood (son of Randy Wood, founder of Dot Records) sums up the problem quite succinctly in this excerpt from the liner notes to his CD "Drum Machines Have No Soul, v2":
"Did you ever see Elvis or the Beatles waiting for someone to tear open an envelope and say, 'And the winner is. . .?' Sorry, folks, it never happened. It never could have happened. Music suceeded on its own merit. It was about individualism and independence of thinking. It was about freedom. Had those artists gone on national television every 12 months and had their arms filled with trophies and then gone to a Pepsi commercial, they would have been neutered on the spot. They would have become a property of the state, the party or the corporation. No longer would they have been forces for social revolution, which they were."
So the story goes, the great Jack Paar once met Phil Donohue and told him how disappointed he was that the latter's talk show had increasingly taken the low road in terms of subject matter. Donohue equivocated that that was the price he had to pay to stay on the air. Jack retorted, "Well, a gentlemaan would have quit." Applicable here, I think. To reiterate, maybe it's time to close down the dump known as NARAS. "Sciences" maybe, but "Arts"?, forget it!
Now I must close, go to the garage and affix to old Bessie my "No More Music Award Shows" bumper sticker from John Wood's Society For the Rehumanization of American Music.
Whatever happened to standards? And I don't mean the Great American Songbook kind.

Track Five - The Worstest. . .

Who IS "Debbie Dabney" (seen here in later years)?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Midnight Endomorph

On a net listserve to which I subscribe (have for years), one of the other members, who generally tend to obtain to fairly decent taste, recently wrote the following somewhat shocking paen to Wayne Newton (he of the permanently frozen forehead):

:>> I have always liked him. He's an excellent performer

Chacun a son gout, I suppose. About 15 years ago I went to see Newton perform "live" in Las Vegas basically to find out if he was as charisma-less in person as he appeared to be on TV. He turned out to be all that and then some. Plus, his "look how versatile I am" schtick wore thin very quickly. Even his tribute to Noel Coward. . .. (Just checking, to see if you're paying attention.)

I was crammed in with a table full of approximately sixteen others. All of whom were good ole proles. Since I can feign egalitarianism with the best of 'em, I chatted them up a bit. I was somewhat surprised to discover that not a single one of them had actually ever even heard or seen Newton before. It was simply that he had so successfully branded himself, that for all of these fine folk, the idea of visiting Vegas without "'a goin' to see the Wayner" was pert nigh (see, I told you I can blend in) unthinkable. Sorta like the canine territorial act of peeing on a tree.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Truer words were never SUNG

Some krazeee kat in Japan just paid 455.00 smackers for this LP. But you can hear the immortal title track for free. I hope to include it on my forthcoming compilation CD, "The Worstest Christmas Ever."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Today is.. .

. . .Dave Lambert day. . .maybe, even, week.
Always - The Dave Lambert Singers
Jolly Jo - Jo Stafford & The Dave Lambert Singers (courtesy of L.T.)
Hawaiian War Chant - The Dave Lambert Singers
Smiles - Jo Stafford & The Dave Lambert Singers

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Frank Fay

The material isn't all that killer, but the insousiance of the delivery by the near-legendary Frank Fay more than compensates. Click ici, aqui, here to hear (patience please, it's a 25-minute track).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Compare and Contrast

Today is the birthday of two great American artists: singer Jo Stafford and singer-pianist Audrey Morris. Long may they wave (and swing).

Friday, November 09, 2007


Dept. of ampification

I woke up in the middle of last night screaming, regretting the use of phrase "in her prime," in reference to jazz singer Lee Wiley on a Yahoo list to which I subscribe. In fact, many serious Wiley devotees consider late-period Wiley to be her greatest era. I also observed that those who listened to Wiley's recordings when they were initially issued, perhaps did not how drop-dead gorgeous she was. But, come to think of it, my buddy Wayne Knight does, indeed, have an extraordinary and gasp-inducing Wiley collection that contains dozens of studio glamour shots of Wiley in her pri. . . ., uh, I mean from the late 30s and early 40s.

Beyond all of this hairsplitting, however, the fact remains that this great singer is known by so relatively few fans of the art form. Wiley is clearly the greatest --- extra-categorically --- unknown American artist. (By comparison, she makes the likes of Edward Dahlberg seem like a household name.) Even amongst seemingly devoted followers of American Popular Song. A few years ago, on the aforementioned list, I wrote:

"Wiley had enough extra-musical mythic resonance to have guaranteed remembrance of her. I picture her as a kind of jazz-singing Dorothy Parker."

And yet, even though the Japanese have produced a prime time network TV special concerning Wiley (sans any moving footage, alas) she still "can't get arrested" in her native land. It's puzzling: Billie Holiday was probably not exactly a household name either in her pri. . . uh, well you know what I mean, but almost everyone---including the majority of the multitude of my culturally illiterate American brethren---at least knows the name.

Maybe because Wiley recorded for such small labels that apparently let her record exactly what she wanted to, which included the invention of the single-composer Songbook concept. For that reason alone, she deserves...oh, never mind. The subject of Lee Wiley's obscurity is a major Baroque worry of mine. Can't figger it out. If you can find a lone Wiley divider card in a single so-called "big box" store in all of this great land of ours, I'll eat it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Birthday to. . .

. . .Her Honor, Chris Connor.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ozzie's bro

I finally bought this highly-praised 1957 vocal recording which has just come out on CD. Well worth the wait. More than lives up to its vaunted rep. His only outing in a modern jazz format (there was also a swing-style recording on which Don Nelson is mostly heard instrumentally).

Here is a portion of the liner notes:

Underlying the calm exterior of the music business there is a ceaseless rumble going on with respect to artistic appeal as opposed to commercial appeal. The essence of this controversy is often found within the artists themselves who seek to gratify a creative urge while appeasing the less stringent demands of the public. Finding a middle road between these two extremes has been the good fortune of very few singers, and becomes the object of Don Nelson’s first major recording.

The Nelson family, into which Don was born in Hackensack, N.J., was one with a musical destiny as the success of brother Ozzie indicates. Through this natural association, Don studied tenor saxophone during his formative years, working with high school dance units, and later with a Navy band in Sampson, N.Y. Following the war, Don enrolled as an English major at the University of Southern California, and though he nurtured his interest in music by playing occasional jobs, his academic training was slanted toward a career in radio and television writing which he pursues in partnership with Jay Sommers. As this new-found outlet began to blossom and take shape, his career in music was necessarily sidelined.

During all of these years, Don has been acutely interested in the evolution of vocal patterns and presentations. As a boy he sang for the amusement of his immediate family and tried his hand at the art during his Navy days. Disk jockey Jack Wagner of KHJ in Los Angeles encouraged the young man to explore his vocal interpretations, feeling that distinctive self-expression can always find its place in the field. Out of the mass of experience and sustained observations, Don began molding the fabric of a vocal recording.

In contrast to established procedures, he first selected the trio backing which he felt would best support the tunes and tempo he had in mind. For the vital piano slot he installed the inimitable Jimmy Rowles whose duality as accompanist and soloist has attracted nation-wide admiration. For the bass parts, Don called on the immense talents of Leroy Vinnegar whose booming drive has been the backbone of so many successful jazz units. His drummer, Stan Levey, is a pioneer in modern percussion and one of the most flexible men in the business.

The choice of tunes was exclusively Don’s prerogative, as was the variety of presentations. In addition to collaborating on the arrangements with Jimmy Rowles, Don injected his instrumental personality on several tracks, playing the seldom heard recorder. This ancient instrument, with its flute-like tones, has been the object of Don’s interest for several years, an outgrowth of his personal affinity for all the members of the reed family. With profound respect for the musicians who accompanied him, Don Nelson offers this interesting program:


Available at the fine Dusty Groove e-commerce site for, wellll, a song. Well worth it and then some.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Beverly Kenney GQ mag November 1992

click on each page to enlarge

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Carole Creveling update

The reviews keep coming in. . . Unquestionably the most astonishing response to any project with which I've ever been associated.

meMeME! (And I don't even sing on it.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Track o' the Day

Bolero California - Kazuhiko Kato
Produced by Kazuhiko Kato, music by Kazuhiko Kato, lyrics by Kazumi Yasui, arranged by Nick DeCaro; recorded and mixed by Al Schmitt

Musicians and instrumentation:
Accordion: Nick DeCaro; Percussion: Alex Acuna, Efrain Toro; Bass Acoustic: Jim Hughart; Bass Electric: John Pena; Piano: Brad Cole; Guitars: Dean Parks; Cavaquinho: Ramon Stagnaro; Bandoneon: CoCo; Vibraphone: Gary Coleman; Concert Master: Sid Page; Trumpets: Chuck Findley, Ron King, Al Aarons, Oscar Brashear; Trombones: Randy Aldcroft, Ernie Carlson; Saxes: Gary Foster, Fred Selden, Terry Harrington, Kim Hutchcroft; chorus: Maxi Anderson, Moralisa Young, Ricky Nelson, Alex Brown, Joe Pizulb, Dorian Holley and Nick DeCaro

Monday, October 15, 2007

Too lazy. . .

. . .to write anything new right now, so here's this from a thousand years ago.

Transcript of Audio Interview by Bill Reed, conducted in 1982 prior to the death of cult film Carnival of Souls director, Herk Harvey.

Q. Could you tell me a little bit about your professional background.

A: Before I went to work for Centron (a large, Lawrence, Kansas-based producer of Industrial films), I was teaching in the theater department at University of Kansas and acted once in a while for Centron, I started out in the navy and was studying chemical engineering. But when I got out I decided that wasn't for me and so I went into theater. I went to University of Kansas and got a BS and an MA, and then I went to the University of Colorado for a doctorate in theater. I made it through summer school and then I decided to go back to Kansas and work for Centron in 1951. I eventually ended up being the director of it. We make industrial and educational films. Complete production facilities. Everything but the lab.

Q. Being so involved with industrial films, what prompted you to make 'Carnival.?

A: I'd wanted to make a commercial theatrical film for quite some time. And when I was on vacation in '61 I saw the Great Salt Lake Pavilion, Saltair. I took a picture of it and took it back to John Clifford who was and still is a writer at Centron, and told him I thought it was a perfect location. I devised the idea, he wrote it (it was in the spring of that year), We did a horror film because we figured it the was easiest way to gain dramatic values with our low budget. Either that or a historical thing.

Q. Was there any film out there at the time that inspired you to make your own film?

A. I don't like the current trend of hacksaw murders and chainsaw murders.. ,the gross things, I believe that horror is best obtained when something is happening that you couldn't possibly have control over, as opposed to brutality where someone is physically attacking somebody else.

Q. How did you get investors interested?

A: We had some backers here in Lawrence and some of the money was mine. The $100,000 it was supposed to cost was publicity. It actually cost 17-5.

Q. Where did you find John Clifford?

A: John Clifford was a gag writer out in Hollywood right after the war, and then he became an English teacher, a journalist and then came to work at Centron.

Q. Was everyone else local?

A: The only person behind or in front of the camera who wasn't from the immediate area or Centron was Candace Hilligoss, Everyone else was local. A friend of mine was going back to New York and I told him to find me an actress. I let him use his own judgment. Anyway, she gets off the plane and (look at her and said to myself, "Oh my God, this will never do," She looked very dowdy, appeared to have very little personality. So I just said "See you in the morning." I spent the whole night thinking how am ( going to get rid of this woman? But the next morning we were ready to shoot, and I saw her and I said, "This can't be." There was a complete transformation and she was just fine.

Q. How did you go about getting it distributed?

A: After we'd finished we took it to ten different organizations on the east and west coasts and were turned down by all of them. None of them thought it was gory enough for the kind of film it was and all turned us down. It was through the lab in California that developed the film that I found Ken Herts of Herts-Lion. They were a new outfit and had just purchased about six films from a group down in Texas. And then they bought a Lon Chaney film that they put on the bill with Carnival of Souls.
But after they got the film they started cutting this and this and that. Even that early on, I realized I'd made a mistake and shouldn't have stayed with them. But I wanted the money back, and so I did. Their original cut was 95 minute which is just a little too long. The 91 minute cut is the best one, but what Herts-Lion did was 80 minutes which loses a lot.

Q. How was your relationship with them?

A: At first though everything else seemed to be working fine. They were communicating with us, talking about future progress, and then the next thing I heard was that Ken Herts had skipped the country. And that was that. . . that was the last I heard of him. We instituted legal action, but never could even find him. All that happened was that eventually we regained legal control of the film.

Q. How long have you been aware of the film's cult status?

A: A few years ago a guy from Cinemafantastique came all the way out here to do an interview with me, but as far as I know it was never printed. I am aware of a following for the film. So is John Clifford, We have articles from all around the concerning the film but not too much from this country. I understand it has a very big following in Scandinavia (Sweden) because of their preoccupation with death. Things have been written about it there that, frankly, I'd never thought of and still am not quite sure I understand.

Q. How about more recent reactions?

A: Last year they showed the film at the Bleecker Street Cinema in New York for a week. I was able to patch together a 35mm print for them. That was literally the only time we ever made any money off the film. It played by itself, but I'm not aware of whether it was reviewed or not. But they wrote back to say it was very successful. We also hear that it's very successful on the college circuit, but those are clandestine prints. We now own complete rights to the film. Some of the reviewers of Night of the Living Dead compared it to Carnival of Souls, said it was similar in content. but beyond the fact that they're both low-budget films done with people from the community I don't really see the similarities. I liked the film a lot.

A: Again, the reason we had trouble getting a distributor was that they said it was an "art" film and didn't have much use for it. I don't call Carnival a horror film but a fantasy film.

Q. Who are some of your influences?

A: The filmmaker I'd most have liked to please would have been Felllni. Not necessarily that he's my favorite director, .but his movies were "dimensional" films about the loss of connection with reality (especially Juliet of the Spirits)... they were very interesting to me.

Q. After Carnival, did you think about doing other films?

A. We were so disappointed in the distribution of Carnival that we never made another theatrical film, We just said "why fight ' ' Plus we were very busy at Centron. But we have over the years tried to develop some scripts for backer interest. We got a half-dozen sitting here just crying out, "Okay, when do we go?" One is called "Flannagan's Smoke" which is a comedy; another is called "Windwagon on the Western Sailing Wagons." I sent a script of it to Disney and they sent it back saying that they were in the middle of a movie on the same subject, but it turned out to be a cartoon short, We have a couple of fantasy projects too that, like Carnival, delve into dimensional non- reality, I'm not really interested in the occult, though, [only] a little fascinated still, The history of it through the centuries is wry interesting. James Gunn who lives here wrote on the "shows" I was talking about that we're developing. "The Reluctant Witch." He wrote the sci-story "The Immortal." He teaches at the University. Also he's prominent at documenting the history of sci-fi writing.

Q. What kinds of letters do you receive about Carnival?

A: I'm aware that Carnival is a cult film. We get a lot of letters from people who've searched us out. Most of them are from people interested in how the film was made rather than the subject matter itself. We're planning to put the film back in circulation soon. We're especially interested in getting a good 16mm print available to universities. If we find any interest, we'll also work on getting a 35mm print available.

Q. Tell me little more about the logistics of the making of the film.

A. We had a five-man crew. Our sound man had never made a movie before. He'd only been a sound recordist. Our camera man had a really good feel for black and white. Maurice Prather; he worked for Centron. First we shot here in Lawrence for about four days. Then we went to Saltair. I'd written the governor previously and he said they'd co-operate, which they really did, because when I got to Salt Lake they just gave me the key and said go out and enjoy it. When we got there, we found this guy who was doing a survey of the pilings to see if they could rebuild the place. The decorations for the finale were already there when we got there, which was lucky. And it was a great break when we discovered that the electricity was still on and we could shoot at night which made for wry interesting effects.

Q. How about your own role on the screen?

A: I played the part of "The Man," and one night I was just sitting out there and some school kid came walking by and I had my make-up on.

Q. What don't you like about the film?

A: I think the sound effects are not very good. The make-up was improvised. There was not a make-up person. I devised it out of make-up and starch. I wanted it too look like the salt air had made them look the way they did. A: I felt hampered by the budgetary limitations but it was also a challenge. I was really thrilled just to be getting it shot. At my age now, I probably wouldn't react quite that way. Now I'd say to myself, we can't so that. can't do that... We didn't know that couldn't be done, so we did it.

Q. Tell me about early showings of the film.

A. The premiere in Lawrence was a big deal, spotlight out in front, etc. We know that Carnival was shown throughout all of Europe and also Brazil and Argentina and Venezuela. The good reviews were initially really heartening. I don't know why the British reviews stated that the film was released by American-International. I have no idea.

Q. Are there any recent films you like?

A. I like The Howling very much. I didn't think I'd like The Watcher in the Woods, but enjoyed it very much.

Q. Tell me a little about the music.

A: The organist was named Moore and was a sound man for Calvin Productions in Kansas City. He scored it directly by watching the film like in the old days. We would have still done it that way even if we'd had more money.

Q. Have you kept up with your cast?

A: I only saw Candace once after the making of the film, in an off-Broadway play in New York.

Q. You've also done some local theater, haven't you?

A: "Wabash Winning Streak," a play that Clifford and I did here in Lawrence. It takes place in Las Vegas and has a cast of nine. A comedy. It played for four days and was given a very nice reception. It would be ideal for dinner theater.

Q. How about your job with Centron?

A. I've directed 400 to 500 films for Centron. Some of them I'm very proud of. We bring in professional actors for them. I've worked recently with Jesse White, Rowan and Martin; Ricardo Montalban does the narration for a film I've just completed. Films that are used for business meetings, stockholders meetings. We've made films all over Europe. I've been to the tip of South America, Alaska, the Far East, Korea, Sometimes the clients tell us what they want, we map it out, and we meet somewhere in the middle. Other times they give us an outline and turn us loose, Other times they tell us exactly what they want and we deliver. It all depends.

Q. I often wondered why the man who did Carnival of Souls never made another movie. I now can see that he did.

A: I have wondered that myself... that is, about a theatrical movie... especially when I'm off somewhere in the wilds of South America. I think anyone who can put something like Raiders of the Lost Ark together. well, that's masterful filmmaking. Ridley Scott, Walter Hill, Altered States; films where fantasy and sci-fi are intermixed

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Let the celebration begin!

Today is the 99th birthday of legendary singer Lee Wiley. One could traipse the length and breadth of the land in search of Wiley "product" in so-called big box stores such as Target and Best Buy and in all likelihood not come up with a single Wiley CD. But that does not alter the fact that she is one of the greatest purveyors of jazz singing in the history of the art form. Here are a couple of the Wiley entries that have appeared on this blog over the past few years of its existence.



And a clip on youtube from a Japanese TV documentary about Wiley that I posted a while back.

Monday, October 08, 2007

By Request

Talk about tangled jazz lineages! Here is the ex-wife of arranger George Handy, the late widow of sax legend Al Cohn, the sister of Ella Mae Morse and the step-mother of guitarist Joe Cohn. Heard here with guitarists Carl Kress (whose centenary it is this year) and George Barnes from her LP, Smoky and Intimate.

Any excuse to spin a couple of tracks by, perhaps, my personal favorite of all my 225 "One Shot Wonders" singers, Flo Handy .

No Moon At All

Fine and Dandy

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Barry Blitt's "Ahmadinejad's Narrow Stance"
Inasmuch, as has been observed by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that there is no such thing as homosexuality in Iran, that must explain, as sagely observed last week by David Letterman on "Late Night":

"The current pathetic state of musical theater in Iran."

"Why Iranians must journey to Jordan to look at drapes."

"Why Iranians have to go all the way to Turkey for a facial."

"Why it's so difficult to find a good dog groomer in Iran."

"Why Iranians have to travel to Kuwait to see good [any?] figure skating."

"Why Iranians must trek all the way to Syria for a decent perm."

Finally, however, perhaps not all that humorous as is evident by this linked news report.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Beverly Kenney rarities

Here are two rare Beverly Kenney tracks that, to the best of my knowledge, have never appeared on CD. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to include them on SSJ Records' brand new Kenney release, Lonely and Blue, on which I acted as release producer. In the immortal words of Jane Powell, Too Late Now. Oh well, here they are---for a limited time---and for free! _______________________

link removed

link removed

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"New" Beverly Kenney release


A phone call from Carole Creveling!

After nearly a year of trying to track down jazz singer Carole Creveling (see previous post) I finally found her. Like me dear departed grandma woulda said, If she'da been a snake she'da bit me. For more details:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Creveling Case Cracked

Go here for the latest developments surrounding my hunt for Phantom Singer Carole Creveling.

Yours truly,
Mister Trace, Keener of Lost Jazzettes

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ROBISON not Robinson

Today is the birthday of noted American songwriter / singer-pianist Willard Robison (1894-1968). Nearly as much a mystery to me as "Who is Carole Creveling" is how she came to record such a relatively obscure and rarified repertoire as on her lone LP (now CD). This is typified by one of the few recordings ever of Robison's (with Ray Mayer) "Now We Know." Creveling's '55 recording contains songs that are still a bit recherche a half-century later, i.e. Rodgers and Harts' "You Have Cast Your Shadow on the Sea" and Berlin's "Better Luck Next Time" fr'example. Also included are TWO songs written by Milt Raskin who, I'm convinced, produced (uncredited) the album. But even a phone call to his physicist son, living in the midwest, was ultimately of no use in verifying this. But I obsessively digress. In tribute to Willard Robison. . . Hereeeeee's Carole!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

RAY Not George

Last night , songwriter-pianist-comic-social commentator-bon vivant-master parodist-Einstein lookalike Ray Jessel recorded his forthcoming (second) CD, "The Next Seventy Years" at L.A.'s Steinway Hall. I first heard Ray a couple of years ago. As such, I am probably the last on my block to get hip to him. He made me laugh then and he made me do so even louder last night. As an alien from the planet of the goyim, where we neither scream at one another or hug, it's not easy to get me to guffaw out loud, but Jessel can do it. He is a terrific entertainer.

One of his new songs is a lament about lost love for a "girl" who has panache, style, flair etc. but, alas, something, um, extra that's not usually found in persons of that gender. In other words, technically she is a he. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Not since the great Abe Burrows' "Girl With the Three Blue Eyes," "Boulder Dam"and "Upper Peabody," etc.

Something of a novice at performing, 77-year-old Jessel only began doing his act about five years ago. That might explain why he has not quite been elevated to the status of national treasure. . .yet. But he is no stranger to writing for the stage and TV. Here is a bio and list of some of his credits. They stretch back to at least 1960 when he wrote and co-wrote the following two songs for the legendary Julius Monk's revue "Dressed to the Nines": Nanny and Unexpurgated Version (with Marian Grudeff). Performers include Ceil Cabot (Nanny) and Gerry Matthews, Pat Ruhl and Gordon Connell.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Disc o' the day

Cole Porter as you've never heard him before.
Hear here

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This year's Kennedy Center honorees

I hate to come off like Mrs. Grover Cleveland here, but some of the Kennedy honorees of the past few years make me wonder whether there shouldn't be at least a degree of attention paid to the private, extra-artistic lives led by some of the recipients. In other words, whatever happened to standards and personal accountability?

Previous winner Chuck Berry, a personal favorite of mine otherwise, has been arrested and charged for crimes against other human beings, some of which are so foul that I wouldn't want to sully the fragrant blogophere air by invoking them here. The late James Brown (is he buried yet?) also was not exactly a good burgher. And, in my opinion. Smokey Robinson simply isn't all he's cracked up to be. But that's another issue entirely.

Next to these characters it seems to me that even Ms. Diana Ross, one of this year's honorees announced yesterday (her insane contractual riders and recent detox escapades aside) is a veritable artistic giant and model citizen by comparison. Her last year's "I Love You" CD was her best post-Supremes work IMHO. In other words, I don't have a problem with Ross being accorded Kennedy honors, nor with any of the others singled out this year. Along with Diana Ross, a couple of the other honorees have their fair share of personal problems. But nothing that even comes close to the outwardly-directed evil agression of the likes of Berry and Brown. The next thing you know they'll be giving the Nobel Prize to Berry for his pioneering work in the area of the P** Cam.

Congratulations to Brian Wilson, Leon Fleischer, Diana Ross, Martin Scorsese and Steve Martin. Good "fellows" all!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Baby's first book report

Viz-a-viz Tony Bennett's smash engagement at Radio City Music Hall last weekend, I just finished reading The Good Life, his 1999 autobio, written in conjunction with Will Friedwald. One of the best entertainment bios I've read in a while. A real nuts-and-bolts look at the world Bennett came up in. Very few punches pulled, including at least passing references to mob fealty and Bennett's one-time substance abuse problem (without wallowing in it).

Somehow I have just always assumed that Bennett's stint in WWII was spent in one special services unit or another. And while he did conclude his stay in the armed forces in just such an outfit, there were---I learned from the autobio---at least four months spent on the front lines with bombs going off all around him and comrades getting blown away right and left. A perfect prelude to five or so years getting a post-war start in show biz, which Mort Sahl once pointed out is the only animal that eats its young. Someday I would love to just shake Tony Bennett's hand. . .if I live long enough.

Singer Kurt Reichenbach has only just begun performing "live." And already. . ..

Kurt's in-person appearance last year at Herb Alpert's Vibrato was his first ever as a singer (he's been known to do stand-up). Then, recently, two more at Hollywood's Gardenia. And last month, for the first time, at the Hollywood Bar and Grill, located at Sunset and Gower in L.A., where he did such a bang-up job that he was invited back almost immediately. That'll be this coming Friday.
Already, Kurt looks like he's been doing this sort of thing for years (probably his training as an actor). "Live," he comes out, hits the ground running and does all the things that all good singers should do. Sings consistently in tune, packs a class repertoire, works with only the finest musicians and, yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as swing, I can prove it and Kurt does it non-stop. Even on snails-pace ballads.
This Friday at HSB&G he'll be doing songs from his debut CD, The Night Was Blue, along with selections from his forthcoming "live" CD, With a Song in My Heart. You can hear some full-length samples from the former at

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Disc o' the day

"Birds in a Wood," from the new hit album, "Fishermen's Triumphant Song" on the fine fine superfine Guozi Shudian label.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rummaging through a desk drawer. . .

. . .I happened upon a handful of old snow. And this! My original English language manuscript for an article that was published in Japanese in the June 2002 issue of Record Collectors' Magazine (Japan)

JOEL DORN by Bill Reed

Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1942, when he was twenty-one Joel Dorn became a disc jockey in that city. A few years later, as the result of a ten-year letter writing campaign to Atlantic Records executive, Nesuhi Ertegun, he was hired as a record producer at the label. Over the past 35 years, first for that company and later for a number of labels, he has overseen the making of a staggering number of albums; by rough estimate, around 300. The forward-looking Dorn has never even bothered to keep track of such mundane things as facts and figures. Over the past three decades he has proved adept not just in the field of jazz recording, but rock, gospel, pop, folk, rhythm and blues, and all the multiple fusions and variations therein. He has at least a few inarguable classic recordings under his belt as the result of collaborating in the studio with the likes of Roberta Flack (his discovery), Eddie Harris, Les McCann, Mose Allison, Bette Midler, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Marion Williams, Ray Bryant, Les McCann, Leon Redbone, Sonny Stitt and approximately 130 other groups and solo artists. At the present time he is producer of choice for popular jazz vocalist Jane Monheit. So vast are his contributions, I decided to concentrate on three artists with whom he has worked: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, an enthusiasm of my editor here at Record Collectors’; the Neville Brothers, a personal favorite of Dorn‘s; and Little Jimmy Scott, a performer for whom I possess not only a great deal of affection but also, like several of my friends, a good deal of curiosity.

The prospect of interviewing and subsequently writing an article about Joel Dorn for “Record Collectors‘” ahead of me, I began to try and figure out how to best avoid going over the top with adjectives, i. e. the “best,” “most,” “greatest,” “legendary” etc. For no one is more likely to bring this weakness out in any writer than this---there’s no getting around it---legendary music industry figure. Thus I decided to present my talk with him, which took place in New York City in early December 2001, as a question-and-answer session and let the facts---and Dorn----speak for themselves.
. . .continued Here

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007


I was asked to write the liner notes for the great new CD by Bobbi Rogers. And through the courtesy of Victoria Records I have been given permission to not only reprint the notes here, but to also present a track from this hot-off-the press recording. No offense meant to pianist Ray Kennedy, but because I'm such a sucker for singer-bass duets, it was not a difficult choice: Bobbi and bassist Tom Kennedy's "Oh, Look at Me Now" is one of two such tracks on Some Little Something.

"No singer has better demonstrated the fine results that can happen with a less-is-more approach than Connecticut-based Bobbi Rogers, first heard on two LPs from the early 1980s. She’s back on records now after more than a twenty-year hiatus.

It’s not just a simple matter of economics; it could well be that if a jazz singer possesses, in sufficient quantities, pitch, personal style, a genial voice, and swing---as does Bobbi---then the addition of a cavalry charge of players behind him or her doesn't necessarily add all that much to the overall impact of the music. It’s a lesson whose basic principles were laid down in a big way by Julie London on her 1955 minimalist (guitar, bass) masterpiece, Julie is Her Name.

Bobbi’s second LP, in ’81, found her solely supported by the great guitarist Gene Bertoncini. The year before, she recorded her debut album with a small group led by longtime professional and personal associate Chic Cicchetti. With Some Little Something, once again she’s recording with a band that could comfortably fit into the back seat of a small Italian sports car.

It’s not that Bobbi isn't capable of holding her own in a large crowd of players. Witness her many years of performing “live,” mostly with big bands, in the Hartford, CN area. But never having heard Rogers in such surroundings, it’s hard for me to imagine her any other way than hanging out in the recording studio with just a few of the guys. (Truth to tell, there is a limited issue album by Bobbi with a big band, Live at the Mohegan Sun, by Chic Cicchetti and the Hartford Jazz Orchestra. Recorded in 2000, she sings on 4 of the 14 tracks.)

Although Bobbi has been plying the vocalist’s trade since the 1950s---she toured the U.S., performed at the upstairs lounge at New York’s Copa, did TV in the 1970s and even sang in France with a big band----it wasn't until the early eighties that she gained her first shot at the national spotlight with the two aforementioned LPs, 1980’s Tommy Wolf Can Really Hang You Up the Most and the following year’s Crystal and Velvet. The subject of the first album was ostensibly songwriter Wolf, but it also operated as a salute to his longtime lyricist partner, Fran Landesman. Together, the twosome penned such late-blooming standards as “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” It would be nice if someday Jackie Cain and Roy Kral's various recordings of Wolf and Landesman were gathered together under one roof, but until then Bobbi’s salute will do quite nicely thank you very much.

Both of Bobbi’s recordings were produced by NYC dee-jay Mort Fega who first heard her, singing with Cicchetti, in 1979 at a Waterbury, CN restaurant. In addition to his radio activities, Fega was also a record producer of no little distinction, having overseen sessions by the likes of Bob Dorough (Just About Everything) and Carmen McRae (Bittersweet). He also had his own label, Focus. And although the recordings he made with Rogers have been out of print for some time now (except in Japan), that hasn't stopped dee-jays of a more refined sensibility from continuing to spin them on a regular basis.

The Wolf album earned Rogers the seal of approval from John S. Wilson, Rex Reed and Dick Sudhalter, as well as a shot on Good Morning America and a passel of gigs at NYC’s Michael’s Pub. That’s where, until 1996, Woody Allen held down a clarinet gig almost every Monday night for almost as long as anyone could remember. Upon hearing an advance copy of this CD, Reed remarked: “When I first discovered Bobbi Rogers in 1980, I wrote that she has a voice soft and perfect as a peach blossom in May. I am so happy to discover she has not changed a bit. Time and the weather have only added dimples of depth and wisdom to her already innately unique interpretations of lyrics.“

Some Little Something finds Bobbi ensconced in a comfortable duo format, except for a few even more scaled-down tracks with just piano, or in the case of “Oh, Look at Me Now“ and “I Thought About You“ just bass (not since Helen Merrill and Sheila Jordan!). And what a duo it is! Until very recently pianist Ray Kennedy appeared regularly in support of guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli, and his bassist brother Tom can be heard on over 200 recordings, in addition to two under his own name. Recently, one of Ray's solo outings, a jazz “take” on Mozart, was a hit CD in Japan, And considering his great fondness for that nation’s kakino-tane, i.e. hot spicy rice crackers, he most likely considers it a fortunate turn of events indeed.

The idea for this recording came about as the result of a party held by the Erroll Garner Society a short while back. Bobbi sat in with Ray and before the evening was over, the wheels were already in motion. And its actual making was almost as smooth and swift; a few of the tracks were even accomplished in one take. The only bone of contention arose when Bobbi wanted equal billing for the boys, but Tom and Ray insisted: “No, Bobbi, this is your CD.” As is apparent from the object in your hands, eventually the brothers “won.” Otherwise it was beer and skittles, clear skies and green lights all the way.

“The first time I sang a tune with Ray Kennedy,” says Bobbi, “I knew within four measures that here was a rare sensitive musician that a singer could trust. The warmth of his playing made me connect with him immediately. He deserves a lot of credit for keeping the recording sessions so spontaneous. Set the key, set the tempo let‘s go.“ As for Tom: ”He did more than just account for the bottom line, brilliant bassist that he is. It was a shared thing, each of us contributing an equal voice to the music. When the bass is right you can feel it in your solar plexus, and Tom was right there.“

And so what has Rogers been up to in the near quarter-century since Crystal and Velvet and this one? Until her retirement not so long ago, she was engaged in twin day gigs of teaching and practicing pediatric nursing. But she could then, and can continue to be always found doing what she’s been up to ever since she was a mere slip of a thing (and practically still is). Singing! She has performed with Dave McKenna (a good friend), Tony Monte (another good friend), Joe Raposo, Gray Sargent, Bucky Pizzarelli, Brian Torff, Harry Allen, et al. And especially with the Hartford Jazz Orchestra, an extension of the big band once led by Bobbi‘s guy, Chick Cicchetti (he died in 2000), and now overseen by Donn Trenner, formerly of the Steve Allen TV show. And in the 1970s Bobbi worked with Charlie Ventura. Some might call her a “weekend singer,” but most often she’s been deemed a “singer’s singer.“
Bobbi Rogers treats her songs the way that their composers (and nature) intended. She just sings them straight---well, almost---no muss, no fuss, and goes home. And so, I’ll leave you with further words of Rex Reed regarding Some Little Something:

“I have never heard ‘I See You Face Before Me’ sung with such delicacy, ‘You'll Never Know‘ is so fresh and warm I am sure that somewhere Alice Faye is smiling with approval, and I am in love with ‘Something To Remember You By.’ With this musical embrace, a wonderful singer has indeed rewarded passionate followers of the Great American Songbook with something special to remember HER by."

I couldn’t have put it any better (mayhap, maybe, and perhaps not even as well) myself."
---Bill Reed

Here's a link to the Victoria Records page. Bobbi's CD is not listed on the order form yet, but there's a space to write in the name and the catalogue number, which is VC 4368.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Page Cavanaugh alert

National treasure, as I prefer to deem him, Page Cavanaugh is coming along very nicely, but about two weeks ago he fell at his San Fernando Valley home and broke his hip. He is mending so well, in fact, that he's been performing at the grand piano in the lobby of the hopital. "Live from the Rehab Room!" Now. . .how "hip" is that?!

He'll be going home in a few days just in time to make his new Sunday afternoon gig at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach. He's charmed the nurses right off of their feet, so much so that I'm sure they'll miss him when he's discharged. The saltiest mouth since Julie London, but, coming from Page, the effect is simply one of great charm. Like the world's oldest debauched choirboy.

I visited him last weekend. I wanted to take him something along the lines of a F**k George Bush T shirt, but had to settle for a DVD of "Romance on the High Seas." Speaking of which, I uploaded a Page C. clip from that film a while back on youtube. It is contained in a short docu that I produced on the occasion of his 85th birthday back in January.

A word to the wise

For several days running I've had a serious problem with my PayPal account. For those happy few of you unfamiliar with PayPal, it's a service which allows you to pay over the internet to sellers who don't have credit card accounts. Recently, I sold some goods (original Soundies actually) and accumulated a fairly large balance in my account, but due to a screw-up on the other end, i.e. at PayPal, I can no longer log into said account. And even when I finally was able, after several days of automated phone hell, to speak to a somewhat seeming human being, and then, eventually to a half-dozen more PayPal androids (supervisors, techies, et al) they were not able to solve the log-in problem. The final party that I spoke with told me that they would transfer the funds to my bank account, but thus far they have not.

As for the log-in problem, the final PayPal pronunciamento was that I should keep trying to log-in and maybe they might be able to eventually solve the problem. Yeah, sure! And I was not able to close my account, because one could only do so via the process of logging in to do so. I couldn't believe my ears. Today, PayPal. Tomorrow, the California Department of Consumer Affairs. When I alluded to the PayPal rep that I was contemplating just such a next move, she advised me to "Go right ahead." Might as well have added, "See if I care."

PayPal: a handy service until a snafu arises. Just remember to always have a spare day or two held in abeyance for voice mail runaround, and a snifter of brandy, or better yet, a bottle of tranquilizers at the ready for just such an eventuality.

PayPal is the devil.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sue's new

Surfing around the net, I note that the terrific cyber commerce site, Dusty Groove has Sue Raney's fine new CD, "Heart's Desire," available at the unbelievable low price of only 12.99. That's a full five smackers less than . How can Dusty Groove do it?
volume . . . I suppose.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mystery singer.

Today, I played this for a friend whose reaction was, "My God, she sings worse than Alfalfa."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Memories 'o Merv

Jazz star Helen Merrill once sang an entire number on the Merv Griffin show, the theme from "All in the Family," which was written by pianist Roger Kellaway. I have always assumed that this might have been Merrill's only major U.S. TV appearance. Could that possibly be? Are we THAT un-hip a nation? It is one of the first things I archived from vhs when I bought my vid burner a while back.

I remember one particular Griffin quip that had me laughing long and hard. A five-year-old Janet Jackson (and her family) was a guest on his show. She kept looking up at him very quizically and he finally said, "You think I'm Big Bird, don't you?"

A pretty hip guy, but I just heard a posthumous anecdote related on TV a couple of nights ago to the effect that Merv recently opened an envelope that contained a rather large check for usage of the Jeopardy theme (which he wrote). He gazed at the check a beat and then asked an associate, "What's a ringtone?"

My friend, singer Bill Black, started out in music at just about the same time as Merv. In fact, Bill worked for him very early on in the latter's game show career. I always thought that if I could "get to" Merv that he would have great tales to tell about my off-the-wall late pal. But the idea of going through those layers and layers of "protection" surely surrounding Griffin proved too daunting for me.

My longtime saddle pal David Ehrenstein was a guest on Griffin's show onetime and has a recollection of Merv's entire musclebound male staff being clad in identical Izod shirts. (You do the math.) The appearance required David to wear a tux. And we were so destitute at the time that he had to roll pennies to pay for rental of the garment. That's how poor we were back then. And prrrrractically still are.

Max Roach

I have just heard the sad news that drummer Max Roach is dead.

I am forever quoting him on the subject of rap of which he once remarked, "Those who voted for defunding of music eduction programs in public schools are getting what they paid for." That pretty much sums it up.

Recently, I watched a restored version of filmmaker Oscar Micheaux's silent era "Within These Gates," which contained an entire wall-to-wall soundtrack played by just Max! The first thing that always leaps to mind when I hear his name is his TV "duet" with dancer Harold Nicholas on "Little David."

I believe that he had been instututionalized for the past few years suffering from Alzheimer's, the growing plague that is beginning to rival global warming in terms of its longterm, worldwide impact. When I heard about Max and the disease a while back, that really put a "face" on it for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New to me

About twenty years ago I attended a Jimmy Rowles Christmas gig at Catalina's here in L.A. He sang a Ray Noble song that was new to me then, but which I have never forgotten, "Why Stars Come Out at Night." Originally, it was recorded in 1935 by Noble with the great British vocalist Al Bowlly, who died a few years later during a London blitz. But I digress. "Stars" was a song I've never been able to get out of my head after hearing it only once. Ever since then I've been on the lookout for one of the few recordings of the song, either Bowlly's or, perhaps, pianist Rowles' (I believe he made one in one of his all-too-few vocal outings on records). But it wasn't until the other day that I happened upon one, on the net. I secured the CD that it came from, by U.S. expat to Oz, John Harkins. Happily, the song is every bit as wonderful as I recalled its being; but, doubly nice, is the discovery of terrific new singer-pianist Harkins. Take a listen to his version of the long sought-after "Why Stars Come Out At Night." And if it knocks you out as much as it did me, make a visit to his website, where his debut CD is for sale. In the immortal words of Borat Sagdiyev, "Wo Wo We Wa!"