Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pinky Winters Japan Press Coverage

The current issue (February) of the world's foremost jazz mag, Swing Journal (Japan), has nice coverage of Pinky Winters' recent performances in Tokyo, i.e. an interview, and a review of her TUC Club performance (scheduled for CD release in April). Translations soon to follow herein.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kurt Reichenbach Last Night

What follows is an email I immediately wrote in a flurry of enthusiasm to a mutual fan of singer Kurt Reichenbach after seeing him in performance last night at L.A.s Gardenia. Let's call him...

Mister X:

Mister First Nighter here. Just back from seeing Kurt at his sophomore performance, at the Gardenia.

Like you, until now I have only had his brilliant CD, "The Night Was Blue" to go on, and I've wondered a bit could he offer up an equally winning "live" analogue to his (digital) studio recording. (Slightly awkward wordplay there.) The answer is an emphatic YES. Much to my delight, he is no one shot wonder. Hard to believe that this is only his second outing as a "live"performer. He has gone from newcomer to seeming seasoned vet almost overnight. A full house by the way. Songs he performed that were not on the CD included a blistering up-tempo "I'm All Smiles," "All the Things You Are," "I Thought About You," and Roger Schore's lyricization of Billy Strayhorn's "Bittersweet."

Patter between songs was brief and judicious and added to the overall effectiveness of the presentation. (Mein Got!, I'm beginning to sound like an old Variety reviewer! Just call me Sime.)

Joining Kurt on three songs was his brother, the fine trombonist Bill Reichenbach, i.e. The Brothers Reichenbach. Although Kurt was working with only piano (the fine Jim Cox), Bill did not serve as a relief from a sameness (there wasn't any), but was merely a fine addition to the proceedings. (Variety-ese again.) Thanks for the much-appreciated boost you have given to Kurt with your kind communiques. I only "met" him around the same time as you did, and I think we are amongst the first few to have jumped on his bandwagon. He really did us up proud tonight. Not to mention himself.



Monday, January 29, 2007

It's BK's b'day!

Today is Beverly Kenney's birthday (she was born in 1932). When I began this blog a few years back, among the first things I wrote about was the serious lack of knowledge about the life and career of this great artist. At the time, there was scarcely a scrap of information in English about her on the net. In Japanese?, well that's another story. As a result of this blog, I have received an enormous amount of mail regarding Kenney. Just today, in fact, a long email from a family member. There is still much to know and understand, but it's a start.

In honor of the occasion I'm uploading a couple of rare Decca singles, "Your Love is My Love", and "The Magic Touch". These commercial tracks hardly represent her finest musical hour, but for those hardy Kenney completists amongst you, here they are.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Birthday Page

Page Cavanaugh has lived through it all---Movies, Radio, TV , Stage, Nightclubs and Recordings. He is the Chairman of the
(Key)board. Today is Page's 85th birthday---"Damn, that's old!," he says. In honor of the occasion, here is MY favorite PC track, the lyrics for which were printed herein a short while back.

Happy Birthday also to the great sourpuss character actor Charles Lane. He's 102! Guess it pays to be grouchy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Back to the Chicken Shack!

One of the best by-products of all this scribbleScribbleSCRIBBLING herein the past few years is that it enabled me to meet jazz pianist John Wood. If for no reason, that’s made it all worthwhile. Now, John has a brilliant new CD, with equally brilliant liner notes.

John’s collaborators on the CD include Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Anthony Waters, Eric Von Essen, Tony Dumas, Scott Colley, Mark Drury, Billy Mintz, Ralph Penland, Carl Burnett, Lenny White. It can be found at better record stores everywhere.. . .if there are any left. Or from Cadence Distributors.

Courtesy of John Wood, here are the liner notes---let’s call it a manifesto---- accompanying his new CD:

“I spent my life around recording. The first twenty years (I was born in 1950) they had it right, from '50 to say,'69. From then on, they had it all wrong. Let me explain: From the time Edison invented the phonograph 'til the middle and late sixties, all recorded music came from a disciplined group of musicians going for a take. No remixing, no overdubbing, and that is what made it great. It brought out the best in everybody. From '70 on, multitrack tape machines were in place and, essentially, musicians, in the vast main, no longer played together, everyone doing their parts separately; eventually, many musicians being replaced altogether by synthesizers. Sounds absurd, doesn't it? But it happened. Machines became central, musicians were marginalized, and music went right down the tubes. The unqualified were empowered, and the qualified were disempowered. In my view, that is the great tendency of rampaging technology. And music was the first casualty of the technology avalanche.

We had been listening to Bobby Darin, Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke Jackie Wilson, The Everly Brothers, Andy Williams, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Leonard Bernstein, Chubby Checker, Perez Prado, Richie Valens, Dinah Washington, Doris Day, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Dave Brubeck, Booker T. and the MG's, etc. etc.. Let's just say that this list, were I to continue, would go on pretty much forever. It was incredible, the depth and scope of American popular music. It was the height of our culture, and a beacon of hope to the world. But now, with the arrival of multitrack recording, it began Disco, Rap, what I call "phony country," where you know their hats and belt buckles and those headsets they wear, but you don't know any of their songs. That could apply to U2 also. I know Bono, his rose colored glasses, 5 o'clock shadow, sitting around with world leaders, but I don't know any of his damn songs. Now I know that Tim McGraw's fans and Bono's fans might not like what I'm saying here, but, I'll guarantee you that everyone in America knew Marty Robbin's EI Paso, knew the Beatles' songs. That's the only real criterion: knowing the music. In most cases we never even saw the artists whose records we bought and loved, it was the music we knew and wanted. It was about substance. For decades now, it has been about image more than the real thing.. What had been boxing became professional wrestling; what had been real had become unreal.

We were on our way down, big time down. Hey, Madonna ain't Frank Sinatra. And where we once had Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Joe Louis and Max Schmelling, now, I don't think people even know who the heavyweight champion of the world is. It seems that, without great music, there is no really great fighting.

Another huge byproduct of the loss of greatness in recorded music, was the rise of talk radio. Now, instead of Miles Davis or Elvis Presley, you were hearing Rush Limbaugh all day everyday, it seems, and so many others of his ilk. But I guarantee you, music used to be a point of unity for republicans and democrats, for young and old, for all cultures, for men and women. It is the purpose of art in human society to break down barriers and bring people together. Talk radio doesn't exactly do that. And what about these music award shows that seem to never end? 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 succeeded 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, I believe it would be fair to say, that, without great music, front and center in our culture, we are on a fast track to the loss of our freedoms and of democracy. We need to get back to the chicken shack and get some home cookin' goin' on!”

--- John Wood Society For The Rehumanization Of American Music

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Pages and pages in the current Rolling Stone devoted to the recent demise of Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegun, and exactly ONE SENTENCE devoted to their vast and influential jazz catalogue. Just the same old same old litany of kozmic kid music superstars. Oh well, it did at least acknowledge the existence of the extra-generically sui generis Ray Charles. Of the writer, who shall remain nameless, I can only invoke the immortal words of the great Bugs Bunny, "What a marroon!"

Nice final days footage of Jackie Paris singing "Tis Autumn" on youtube from Raymond DeFelitta's film of the same name.

Check this guy out!

Just heard Scooter Libby referred to on the terebi as LOUIS Scooter Libby. But there is no Louis Libby; both Scooter and Louis were invented to cover up the fact of his real name. . .IRVINGGGGGGG. ( Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Friday, January 19, 2007


by Bobby Troup

I got Triskaidekaphobia
And Triskaidekaphobia
Has got me

I open doors for claustrophobia
And I wear glasses for myopia
But Triskaidekaphobia
Won't set me free

Now One two three
They don't bother me
And neither do four five six and seven
But I can't reveal
The way that I feel
When I hear the number
That's two plus eleven

I'd be livin' in Utopia
In a glorious Utopia
If Triskaidekaphobia
Sets me free

* repeat
(as recorded on RCA Victor by the Page Cavanaugh Trio)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Diana Ross CD

Not exactly the Great American Songbook, but I find myself somewhat taken with this new CD of pop power ballads by Diana Ross, "I Love You," released in the U.S. today (it's been out in the U.K. since the fall). I was especially impressed with the arrangements. I was unfamiliar with the name of the arranger/conductor Gregory Rose. So I did a bit of net research on him and was fascinated to learn that he is, apparently, an esteemed personage from the world of classical music who, until now, if my Googlin' is accurate, has never been involved with a pop project before. Now, isn't that interesting?

Another interesting aspect of ILY is Ross' offbeat choice of Harry Nilsson's beautiful "Remember," as the linchpin of her new CD. I must confess to not being the world's most rabid Ross fan. Just a casual onlooker. But I fearlessly predict that ILY will easily hit number one on most charts that matter. And in so doing will strike a much-needed blow for thoughtful and intelligent record-making everywhere. To put it mildly, Ross ain't no rappa.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A toast!

Today is Gladys Bentley's birthday. For rare "moving" footage of "Glad" and Groucho, check this out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yours truly at the beginning and, alas, near the conclusion of my yearly Japan karaoke "tour." 12.12.06, Again Club, Tokyo

Pinky Winters and her "boys," pianist Kiyoshi Morita and bassist Masahiko Taniguchi, after their performance at TUC Club. Tokyo, 12/15/06

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The new 2007 ME!

On a list I belong to devoted to American Popular Song and its purveyors, someone wrote in to ask "What is Gordon Jenkins' 'Manhattan Tower"? The old me woulda wrote, "You've got to be kidding." But, instead, the new snark-free me posted the following:

Better yet, what ISN"T it? At first it was a mid-1940s concept album, but could have been a radio special before that? Then in 1956 a Saturday Night TV SPEC-TAC-U-LAR (eeeek!) with a cast conisisting of Helen O'Connell, Peter Marshall, Hans Conreid, Phil Harris, Ethel Waters, Cesar Romero, Edward Everett Horton!

And you haven't lived until you're heard Chris Connor's version of the production's "Skyscraper Blues," She also recorded its "Happy New Year." Both on Atlantique.

Here's the opening narration of MT:

“It was raining the first time I saw my tower. That is, the first time I saw it reality. In my mind I had seen it many times before.

“The outside of the building was as beautiful as the outside of anything can be, but the inside was pure enchantment. The elevator operator was Merlin. My feet touched the magic carpet as I ran down the hall and the key that I turned in the lock was Aladdin’s lamp.

“As I entered the tower for the first time I knew that at last I had found contentment. A home that I would leave many times, yet never really leave.

“I went over to the window. The sound of traffic on a New York Street creates a strange music. It is an orchestra conducted by the Statue of Liberty with the words engraved forever on her side. It is a great organ played upon by Father Knickerbocker, master organist.

“I opened my tower windows wide to let the music in. Uptown. Downtown. Chinatown. Harlem. Broadway. Times Square. Broadway. Broadway. Broadway.”

T'was a far far better world I tell you, a far, far better world! Now if they did it on TV, t'would be a rap version with Snoop Doggy Dogg in drag, and Fifty Cents. (Damn kids!)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sitcom degree zero

Yesterday I found a half-dozen episodes of Les Paul and Mary Ford's charming 1953 syndicated 5-minute TV series, "At Home With. . ." (and actually shot there) on youtube. In the first one, Mary is seen putting groceries into the refrigerator only to learn that the appliance is not working. Les plays an instrumental while Mary phones the repairman. Les finishes the song and Mary tells him that no one anawered. Commercial break (for Listerine). Mary then sings a song, after which she discovers that Les has inadvertently unplugged the fridge while fixing the iron. She is mildly miffed, but he explains that she has "got two for the price of one": An iron that works and a defrosted icebox. Another commercial. The End. All in the space of five minutes. In another episode, Mary buys a barometer and predicts sunny weather, but it rains. There are 138 more where these came from. Slightly more than 11 hours in toto. Not exactly the Moscow Art Theatre, but I love this stuff. The original show about (vide "Seinfeld") nothing.