Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hang in there

If I were able to write a song this sick I could die happy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Harska who?

Here are the 107 singers selected by critics and journalists [update: I am mistaken in this notion. In fact, most of the participants are merely hard core vocal fans, or---if you will---maniacs] in the current Jazz Critique (Japan) mag (see previous post) as being the best post-1980 jazz singers:
Karrin Allyson, Eden Atwood x 2, Patricia Barber, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Margaret Bengston, Cheryl Bentyne, Mario Biondi, Erin Bode, Jimmer Bolden, Richard Bona, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Karlie Bruce, Michael Buble, Ann Hampton Calloway, Mike Campbell, Eva Cassidy, Catia, Natalie Cole, Eric Comstock, Dee Daniels, Dena DeRose, Diana, Sally Doherty, Donald Douglass, Eliane Elias x 2, Kurt Elling x 2, Jenny Evans, Michael Feinstein, Fleurine, Laura Fygi, Danielle Gaha x 2, Roberta Gambarini x 2, Sara Gazarek, Natalie Gardiner, Siri Gjaere, Arthur H, Bruce Bruce Hamada, Jennifer Hanson, Mary Cleere Haran, Stephanie Haynes, Nicole Henry x 2, Diane Hubka x 2, Sanae Ishikawa, Jose James, Masaki Kanamaru, Stacey Kent x 2, Rebecca Kilgore, Carol Kidd, Diana Krall x 2, Carolyn Leonhart, Leslie Lewis, Josefine Lindstrand, Lisa Lombardo, Lyambiko, Katrine Madsen, Kevin Mahogany x 2, Monica Mancini, Claire Martin x 2, Carolyn Martin, Rebecca Martin, Greta Matassa x 2, MAYA x 2, Robin McKelle, Chris McNulty, Naoko Mizuki, Sophie Millman, Yvonne Monnett, Jane Monheit x 2, Yasuko Nakatani x 2, Silje Nergaard, Patricia, Sofia Pettersson, Madeleine Peyroux, John Pizzarelli, Polly Podewell, Rachel Price, John Proulx, Diane Reeves, Kurt Reichenbach, Rene Marie, Terrie Richards, Hanna Richardson, Judy Roberts, Jackie Ryan, Miranda Sage, Kozue Saito, Spider Saloff, Ann Sally, Janet Seidel, Kendra Shank, Ian Shaw, Janet Seidel, Daryl Sherman, Beverly Staunton, Zara Tellander, Asako Toki, Junko Tosaka, A Tres, Sachal Vasandani, Harska Veronika, Joan Vishkant, Roseanna Vitro, Carol Welsman, Weslia Whitfield, Hiroko Williams, Edna Zari.
In separate sections of the mag, some other newer singers also received favorable mention. They are:
Akiko, Karen Aoki, Takako Afuso, Jackie Allen, Hilde Louise Asbjornsen, Chie Ayado, Joyce Breach, Jeri Brown, Donna Byrne, Ann Hampton Callaway, Amanda Carr, Claire Chevalier, Fay Claassen, Holy Cole, Jamie Cullum, Dee Daniels, Melanie de Biasio, Lisa Ekdahl, Connie Evingson, Calabria Foti, Carol Fredette, Crystal Gayle, Rigmor Gustafsson, Kelly Harland, Joe Henry, Marika Hiraga, Yasuko Hirata, Robin Holcomb, Norah Jones, Rebecca Kilgore, Kei Kobayashi, Keiko Lee, Lovisa, Janice Mann, Kate McGarry, Robin McKelle, Olivia, Rachel Price, Leon Redbone (?), Kate Reid, Alice Ricciardi, Linda Ronstadt, Rosey, Kaori Saiki, Woong San, June Tabor, Laura Taylor, Tiffany, Asako Toki, Viktoria Tolstoy, Haresa Veronika, Cleveland Watkiss, Phillip Weiss, Cassandra Wilson, Sumiko Yoseyama, Keico Yoshida
I'LL do the math: the grand total of singers mentioned is 163 (107 + 56), nearly all of whom only showed up ONCE on the lists of these thirty-three (mostly) Japanese jazz critics and journalists. Some of the choices are dubious as to their being post-1980, most namely Leon Redbone, who surely goes back to the mid-1960s.
It's curious that the most successful young singer of the past decade, Michael Buble, received only one nod. And not much more for the high profile Diana Krall. And zip, nada for the popular U.S. singer, Tierney Sutton.
The bottom line is. . .it was a bad year for singers whose last names begin with Q & U. That's just about the only conclusion I can come to, except that all the advert hustling and PR shilling in the world is for naught when it comes to trying to mold a consensus among serious Japanese devotees of jazz singing.
I try to stay on top of things, but as I noted in my previous post, I am unfamiliar with most of the singers cited. Harska who?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pages and Pages. . ..

I just received this in the mail today, from my friend Larry Canova. How did I ever live without it? Almost couldn't resist taking it into the tub with me this a.m., but better sense prevailed.
The first thing that caught my eye about this 91-page (!)circa 2001 labor of love was just how many great and near-great singers Page Cavanaugh backed during his career (in addition to all the recordings where he also accompanied his own terrific singing) either on recordings or "live" / film / radio / tv. But a partial list (*'d where "live," etc. only) of those fortunate many includes the likes of:
Beryl Davis, Doris Day, DeCastro Sisters, Johnny Desmond, Michael Feinstein, Betty Garrett, Connie Haines, Jane Harvey, Dick Haymes *, Peggy Lee, Helen O'Connell, Sue Raney, Mavis Rivers, Bobby Sherwood *, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Kay Starr.
Probably the only recordings missing from the discography are a few post-publication releases, including four more vocal-backing albums, by singers Mark Miller, Lauren Koval, Tony London, produced by (yes, THAT) Marsha Hunt, & (yes, THAT) Stefanie Powers. There was also the last great studio effort under his own name, "Return to Elegance."
At the time, last year, when Page's career was finally interupted by health issues, he was working on an (only partially completed and as-yet-unreleased) album with Nancy Sinatra.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Flashback: The Bestest Christmases Ever!

I've had a special request from---no names puh-leese---to re-run my last year's Christmas post, and so. . .
The following Christmas memory is from my memoir, Early Plastic, a terrific stocking stuffer and guaranteed to freak out everyone on your Christmas list.
“Fade in; time, Christmas Eve - 1963; location, the corner of 6th Avenue and Eighth Street in New York’s Greenwich Village; place, the Women's House of Detention, an ominous dark fortress (alas, no longer there) out of the Middle Ages.
One time, I happened by the "House of D," as nearly everyone called it, and heard an inmate bellowing down to someone gazing ten stories upward: "Big Ruby is Dead." Who was this Big Ruby person anyway, I wondered? How did she die? Whacked by another prisoner in a love triangle, iced by a guard? Was she even an inmate? Exactly how large was this Big Ruby person anyway? Nearly forty years later I still want to know the answer to these and many more questions.
Anytime of the day or night you could catch prisoners, and those down below on the sidewalk, shouting messages to each other.
One Christmas Eve I remember, dozens of prisoners from various floors serenaded busy shoppers and passersby with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." We stopped and looked up at living Capra. Until! Reaching the final stanza, they rang out:
"And may all your Christmases be. . .
The warm and fuzzy mood of the crowd below quickly shifted 180 degrees. I, on the other hand, found it mildly hilarious. And almost as memorable as the time a few Christmases ago when a (I found out later) suicide gunshot down the block here in L.A. triggered our coffee table, sound-activated singing Xmas tree.
Ker-blam! “Up on the rooftop, click click click. . ..” A South Central Christmas. I turned to David and Dondi-esquely enthused:
“Goshers, this is the bestest Christmas everrrr!

Thinking about Page C.

Mainstream press obituaries have begun appearing for our friend (we are a hardy cult) musician Page Cavanaugh who died Sunday. There was one in Daily Variety yesterday, and another in the L.A. Times today. Both are fairly lengthy as befitting the artistic importance of their subject. Also both strike me as well-wrought. (Though I suppose, if I wanted to get into heavy nit-picking, I COULD find omissions and errors.)

There is also an obit for Page at a site, The Big Cartoon Forum that mentions a 15-minute Disney cartoon he did the soundtrack for, "The Truth About Mother Goose." I just found it on youtube. Here is the link to pt 1. The link to pt. 2 is on the same, um, PAGE. I'd never seen it before, and found it quite charming.

The obituary in the L.A. Times correctly alludes to the fact that in the late 40s and 1950s Page Cavanaugh, if not exactly a household name, was close enough for jazz. He is quoted in the obit as blaming his somewhat precipitous fall from fame in the ensuing decades to the tsunami of rock and roll. But---and this is meant as praise, not criticism---the truth also is that, like his old friend Frank Sinatra, Page simply did not suffer fools gladly and, as a consequence, burned a lot of professional bridges behind himself in the process. One of the last steady gigs he had was in the lounge at a toney hotel on L.A's Sunset Strip. He walked away from that job because the owner of the place wouldn't let him discreetly sell copies of his new (2006) release, "Return to Elegance," there. And really, it wasn't about making money for himself, but more out of loyalty to the producers of the album---er, I date myself, I mean "CD."

All Page wanted to do was make music and skip a majority of the vicissitudes of playing the game of show biz, which, as Mort Sahl once observed, is the only animal that eats its young. But between this seeming rock and a hard place, ironically Page probably had a better career than if he'd fought to hang on to his considerable former celebrity. To wit, he was fairly much his own man, didn't have to play politics and a lot of games, was never at a real loss for the opportunity to work at what he liked to do best, i.e. making music, thus always managing to at least keep food on the table, AND probably recorded at least as much or maybe more than if he'd remained in the big leagues of the business. True, the sides are more often than not on little mom n' pop outfits like Leeds and Vaya, etc. Still the body of work is nearly all first cabin and of considerable volume. So it was more like having his cake and eating it too, rather than rock and a hard place.

Right up until the day he died, his employers at Newport Beach's Balboa Bay Club were keeping his long-running Thursday night gig open for him. That's the kind of loyalty and affection Page Cavanaugh engendered.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"The Christmas Song"
sung by Julius LaRosa

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frances Lynne R.I.P.

Two RIPs in one week. I guess it comes with the territory of one's aging, and let's face I ain't zackly no spring chicken. Page Cavanaugh and also, last Sunday, singer Frances Lynne.

I met singer Frances Lynne and her husband, master jazz trumpeter John Coppola, in a most interesting and roundabout fashion. A few years ago I was researching the release of the Bill Black CD, Down in the Depths, for which I was the release producer for SSJ Records. When I learned that a singer by the name of Frances Lynne had been in the '49 Krupa band with Black, I thought I might try to "Google" her. But I had little hope of striking paydirt; her name was such a fairly commonplace one that I feared I would get thousands of "hits." But, fortunately, hers was the very first "Frances Lynne" that popped up because of a recent radio interview she and John had given. I then looked up the Coppolas in the Yahoo phone directory, found them living in San Francisco, rang the them up and lo and behold who should answer the phone but Frances. Instead of the year it later took me track down singer Carole Creveling, finding Frances was quick as a flash.

It was love with the Coppolas "at first sound." She was very helpful with my Bill Black research. Then John got on the line and in the course of my conversation with him (he was in the Woody Herman band at the same time as my friend Lou Levy), he happened to mention that, a few years earlier, he had produced an album, Remembering, for now long-retired Frances. A couple of days later, John sent me a copy and I was astonished at the overall professionalism of this mom n' pop effort. First off, it was just about the best selection of repertoire I had ever seen on a single album, i.e "Last Night When We Were Young," "Blue Prelude," "Can I Forget You?," "Spring Isn't Everything" and. . .well. you get the idea. And the sidemen on the album were just as jaw-droppingly impressive: Johnny Coles, John Handy, Herb Steward and. . .well, again, you catch my drift. And Frances sounded wonderful, even after all these years of professional inactivity!

Then, the following December I played a couple of the tracks at a presentation I made before the Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society. Immediately after the conclusion of my talk, Mister Yasuo Sangu of Japan's SSJ Records approached me and said that he would like to reissue the record in that country. I should add that, up to that point, there was not a single Google hit for the undeservedly sub rosa album, so SSJ's eventual reissue of the CD finally and unquestionably helped bring deserved attention to this little gem of vocal jazz mastery.
And I'm happy to note that long after the reissue of Frances' CD was effected, John, Frances and I became ongoing inveterate phone pals.
My unbounding and sincere sympathies go out to John Coppola and his family.

Illegal music download sites

Earlier today I sent the following post to Songbirds, a Yahoo list of which I've been a member almost since the era of the steam-driven pc.

"There have been several Songbirds posts recently that direct readers to Blogspot music download sites. (There are such music sites on other blog services as well.)

These free, hydra-headed download sites are being closed down -- and rightly so-- by Blogspot at a fairly vertiginous rate. But, in my opinion, still not fast enough! One that was recently shut down had a fair number of recordings that myself, Pinky Winters, Denise Donatelli, Carol Sloane and others (known by most members of this list) SHOULD be receiving royalties from, or as my grandmother woulda said, they're "taking the bread from our mouths." (And yes, the record label that I'm associated with DOES pay royalties. Will wonders never cease?)

The sites usually contain a proviso in their mission statements to the effect that the recordings in question are out-of-print, but that is just so much legal shucking and jiving. (Oh, you mean it ISN'T out-of-print? I FORGOT!) This is usually followed by a phrase, something to the effect that if the rightful owner of the copyright contacts the site and confirms that the recording in question is in print, then it will be removed from the site. But that is usually a flatout lie. Recently I tried unsuccessfully to get several BRAND NEW releases that I am associated with removed from one of these music download blogs -- but to no avail. Jeez! I have enough on my plate already without having to deal with such nonsense.

Frankly, I don't expect that most who read this post will have much sympathy with my dilemma. I suppose it's just too much of a temptation to save $15.00 or whatever with a couple of keystrokes of one's pc... and too much of a temptation to the latent anarchist that lurks within most of us. But for every day that these sites are allowed to continue to proliferate, that's just one more nail driven into the coffin of the music we all love, and hope would prosper and prevail. Plus -- small matter -- they're illegal and immoral!

In addition, these sites are as responsible as anything or anybody for the death of that once venerable institution... the record store. A cultural calamity of incalculable proportions.

I have a blog, and occasionally upload a truly long out-of-print or public domain track, but NOTHING LIKE THIS. I would humbly suggest to OFL that he go so far as to -- if you will -- CENSOR these posts. They really are a classic case of the questionable first amendment right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater.

If Songbirds readers want to seek this stuff out, let them undertake the net search themselves."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Page Cavanaugh R.I.P.

Sorry to report that the great pianist-whisper vocalist (he loved being called that) Page Cavanaugh died this morning at a San Fernando Valley hospice after a brief bout with cancer, complicated by kidney failure. He would have been 87 in January.

Until quite recently Page gave a series of Sunday afternoon concerts at the Seasons assisted living facility in Northridge, CA. He went out musically at the top of his game.

Page was among a handful of pioneers who strongly overhauled the sound of American jazz in the 1940s, turning it into a much softer, less aggressive sound and surely paving the way for the West Coast school of jazz that would come a few years later. Among that rank, also, were Joe Mooney, Matt Dennis, Nat King Cole and Bobby Troup. Joao Gilberto is on record as citing Page as having a major influence on his art. So one could regard Page, also, as a Bossa Nova progenitor.

I came to know Page fairly well over the past few years. Surely also one of the wittiest persons I ever encountered. One of my favorite Page moments happened at a performance of his at the S.F. Valley club, Charlie-O's. He had just finished a rather un-Page-like overly flashy run on the keys, more in keeping with the style of, say, oh Liberace. He shut down playing for an instant, turned to the audience and offered the observation that. . ."A little whorehouse piano never hurt anyone." Then commenced playing again.

I had the honor of cobbling together a little video tribute that was shown at his 85th birthday party a couple of years ago. Here's a link.
Recently there was movement afoot to get Page a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now it can be told, that when the sponsors approached Page's old friend Doris Day for a recommendation to the H'wood Chamber of Commerce, she acted with whiplash-inducing alacrity. I can't remember the exact wording of what she wrote back, but it was something to the efect that no one was more deserving of such an honor. As usual, she was only right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Meli...maki. . .kelee. . .

. . .oh hell, Poncie Ponce can sing it better than I could ever hope to say it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The C-Notes

Top to bottom: 78 rpm acetate label, Mort Hillman as a young man with a horn, on the road, Mort with Eydie Gorme, C-Notes clipping, promotional photo of The C-Notes.

I produce reissues for the Japanese record label, SSJ. One album that I licensed recently, from 1955, has a highly interesting story behind it, especially when it came to its producer, Mort Hillman. I tracked him down living in retirement in Florida. "Retirement" from a long and interesting professional life in which he wore a number of disparate "hats."
He started out as a trumpet player in 1947 with the Tommy Dorsey band, and ended up in 1980 as a NY State assemblyman. In between those two temporal poles, among other things, he sang in a highly-active and forward-thinking vocal group (The C-Notes), owned a record label in Chicago, and was an exec with Jubilee, Audio Fidelity and Music Minus One Records. (Today, Mort remains active in Democratic Party politics in Florida.)
The other day he sent me some acetates of The C-Notes and I was highly impressed by what was in the grooves. Or should I say what little music remained on these 1952 78 rpm recordings. For acetates were usually made for audition purposes and were expected to be played only a couple of times. After that, the grooves became increasingly distressed with each additional spin. Clearly the acetates Mort sent me have been played many many times. And then, some of what little that managed to survive had evaporated off into the ether. Nevertheless, from listening to what remains, one can still get a sense of just how good these four guys + one gal were.
This particular vocal group "sound," as exemplified by The C-Notes, was clearly in the air that season and is a pluperfect example of what the fabulous 40s outfit, The Merry Macs, along with Kay Thompson, hath wrought. The recordings also demonstrate just how full the woods were, in those times, of wonderful talented musicians and of the great music they made. Even though they never broke through to the big time, The C-Notes were just about as good as anyone else around at the time. And there were probably hundreds, if not in fact thousands of other semi-annonymous traveling and strolling musical players who were just as talented as the members of The C-Notes.
Not having a turntable (I never leave home without mine), much less one that spins at 78, Mort had not heard these sides for many years, and so a few nights ago---just like being back in junior high school---I played one of the tracks to him over the phone, and he simply could not believe how good the group was. He was as knocked out as I was. And he couldn't even recall recording the track!
The C-Notes did commercially record. I have found a couple of tracks on Columbia, but there might be more. Mort cannot recall. I also unearthed a 45 rpm of two sides that The C-Notes recorded with the very fine singer Dolly Dawn, but Mort had no recollection of these either until I also played them for him over the phone: "Oh god, yes, now I remember. Of course!" He also was in the vocal outit that backed Eydie Gorme on her very first recording, "Tea for Two."
Coming across someone like Mort Hillman, for me, is like dying and going to heaven.
Listen to The C-Notes singing "Great Day." (Please note that at the present time one can only download this track from, but not stream (i.e. play) it.

(Thanks to Busterooni for helping make the sound on "Great Day" a little better.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like. . .


Kurt Reichenbach's Christmas Show will be at the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill, 6122 Sunset Blvd. (in Gower Gulch), Hollywood, Saturday, December 13, 2008, 8-11 p.m. Kurt's 3-track Christmas CD FREE for each audience member!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ronnie Deauville Society UPDATE

Please note that there is now a much cleaner copy of Ronnie Deauville singing "It Wasn't Much of a Town," AVAILABLE HERE. The file also includes the Jerry Lewis message flip side.

Ohhhhh, Hutchie!

Read all about the Greatly Gifted---in more ways than one, if you catch my drift---singer-pianist Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson) at the blog of my good friend and constant traveling companion David Ehrenstein.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feliz Natale/Natal

Today is the birthday of trumpet player/singer Jack Sheldon. AND a perfect excuse to post one of my fav-o-reet Xmas records.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New from SSJ

Three new CDs from SSJ Records, Japan


Liner notes for "Introducing. . .Sue Childs" by Bill Reed

"For playing on the [1964] ‘Introducing Sue Childs’ album, I received sixty dollars, a pair of pants [?] and a box of Sue’s album,” guitarist Bill Pasquale told me. “At the time, I said to one of the producers, Jim Sotos: ‘What do you expect me to do with all of these records?’ Sotos said, ‘Give ‘em to your friends, I guess.’ Which is exactly what the musician proceeded to do, hanging on to only a couple of them in the process. Too bad he didn’t keep more of them, for today the original vinyl of the recording goes for $300-$400 on the collectors‘ market. Not bad for a recording that certainly didn’t sell out its original pressing of 1,000 copies.

The reason for the extreme bump in the original price has to do not only with the fact that the LP is by a good but obscure singer (whose only recording this was), but also by virtue of an appearance on the release by tenor sax player J.R. Monterose. And just how, exactly, did the legendary (and highly collectable) musician end up on not only this recording but another one as well on the small, fledgling Rock Island, Illinois Studio 4 label, operated by musician brothers Jim and Tony Sotos? It’s something I’ve long wondered about, and finally, in my conversation with guitarist Pasquale from his home in Brookfield, Illinois I was told the following story: “J.R. Monterose was traveling as a sax player in the band of, of all people, the rock group Jay and the Americans. Somehow Monterose stayed behind when the band left town and he stuck around.“ Pasquale laughed, then added, “I guess you could have called the group ‘J.R. and the Americans.

J.R. Monterose was thus taken up by the local Rock Island, Illinois jazz community and for a while became a very big fish in that locale’s somewhat small jazz pond. Significantly, he was rushed by the Sotos brothers, and took part in two recording sessions for their label, the Childs release and a complete album as a leader. (Monterose died in Utica, NY on September 26, 1993.)

Only one other LP ever appeared on Studio 4, a live session of the Sotos Brothers band, recorded while they were appearing at Flint, Michigan’ Mr. C’s Supper Club. It was there that they first met Sue Childs who was also performing at the spot. Not long afterward they asked her to record for them.

Only a few weeks after the date resulting in this recording in early 1965, the singer was scheduled to give birth to a son, her second. The Childs date should probably not have taken place when it did, for as almost every surviving musician on the date has recalled to me, the singer was having a very difficult time getting the “job” done. Breathing problems plagued her, still she insisted on pressing onward. Ordinarily she was not known to have intonation problems, but they do arise here from time-to-time out of the fact that Childs was “singing for two,” so to speak. According to Pasquale, this accounts for Monterose’s relatively brief appearance on the album. Due to the relative chaos surrounding the session, which started late at night and ran until sun-up the next day, Monterose stormed off the date after completing only two cuts.

One track that actually benefited from the time-is-money disorder is the duet between Pasquale and Childs on “Lollipops and Roses.“ It was rehearsed and recorded within a quarter-hour break taken by the rest of the band while arranger (and Kenton alumni) Gerry LaFurn completed an arrangement. “I had never even heard the song before,” the guitarist told me. “Sue hummed it to me and we then nailed it in a single take.” Then it was back to recording with the full group. Ironically, it might well represent the single best work by Childs on the album.

A measure of how good the playing is by all the musicians on the date is that afterward, nearly every one of them went on to greater jazz world acclaim. This is especially true of saxophonist Tony Sotos, trombonist Sherm Mitchell, and Bill Pasquale. As for bassist Bruce Anderson, shortly after the recording of this session he turned down a full-time gig with Sarah Vaughan to, instead, go into the ministry, a vocation he still practices to this day. In addition to his playing on the album, Mitchell arranged two of the numbers, “Lonesome Road” and “Honeysuckle Rose.”

In the preparation of this reissue I contacted most of the five of six surviving players. I did so, as much as anything, to uncover whatever happened to the star of the show, Childs. There are no other references to her on the net beyond those relating to “Introducing.“ But no one could tell me much, not even Mitchell, who Childs considered her musical mentor. No one retained much beyond the most superficial of recollections. The trombonist recalled that Childs’ favorite singer was June Christy. On the other hand, her personal style was strongly informed by, says Pasquale, Anita O’Day: “Dressed like her, talked like her, moved like her.” In other words, a rough spiky demeanor. The guitarist adds, “Once I saw Sue go through her purse looking for a lipstick and in the process, she laid a 38 revolver on the table. I asked her why in the world she was carrying a 38 in her purse and she muttered something about once being run off to the side of a freeway in Detroit.” (To the best of my knowledge, O’Day never packed a rod.)

In my search for Childs I eventually came across enough information to enable me to solve the riddle of the missing in-action performer. This included an late 1964 interview with the singer appearing in a Flint, Michigan newspaper about the recording of “Introducing Sue Childs,” originally to be entitled “Out of Nowhere,” “because,” she told Flint writer Lawrence Gustin, “that’s where I’m from. We started with 125 song possibilities---now it‘s down to 55. I want to record them in a variety of jazz styles, and nothing too far out.” The date was scheduled for early 1965, but finally did not take place (for reasons that have since fallen through the cracks of history) until summer, nearing the end of Childs’ pregnancy.

The write-up informed that the singer’s last name was not Childs but rather Childers; the article also included the last name of her drummer husband, Joseph. So instead of my searching for the essentially non-existent “Sue Childs,” I was now looking for Donna Sue Childers Rosanova. Armed with this new information it was a fairly easy task for me get to the bottom of things. And while I was finally unable to learn much about the singer after the making of “Introducing” (and before her death on January 10, 1993 at age 55), prior to the recording of her lone LP it was a different story.

Even while still a student at Flint’s Northern High School the singer had her sights set on a career in show business. She appeared multiple times on the popular nationwide TV show, “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” which over the years had helped launch the career of the diverse likes of Frank Sinatra and comedian Lenny Bruce. After the Mack appearances, a recording company wanted to channel her talents her talents into country music. But after making a few test recordings she returned her contract to the record outfit unsigned. She just couldn’t take country music as a steady diet, she told the Flint reporter. The news article also alludes to the singer’s appearances with the bands of Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Morrow and Ralph Flanagan, and on bills with Chris Connor and Al Hibbler. Most likely, these were one-shot guest appearances on bills of shows traveling through the Flint, Michigan area.
Donna Sue Childers wanted to make her mark in the world as a singer, and was insistent that this now-or-never recording be made when it was. It is a tribute to the singer‘s “stubborness“ (as described by her friend and mentor Sherm Mitchell) that more that four decades after it was made, and fifteen years beyond her death, “Introducing Sue Childs” lives on. A promising start for a singer we should have heard more from.

Be there or be square. . .or both

Nino Tempo is also an excellent singer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ronnie Deauville Society (of sorts)


In a recent post, I suggested that, perhaps, fans of singer Ronnie Deauville (1925-1990) could assemble a not-for-profit CD of uncollected, out-of-print RD tracks. After giving this some thought, it seems to me that Deuville mp3s could be sent to this blog for anyone to download and burn to a CD (or whatever) at their own discretion. Here are my first six contributions; all future additions by myself and others can be added to this particular page. Send all Deauville mp3 tracks to .

"Be My Love" (w/ Ray Anthony)

"Day In Day Out " and flip side:

"April Sings"

note: "Day In, Day Out" appears to have been recorded in 1961. As such, it might have been Deauville's last recording. The flip, "April Sings," was co-written by multiple Oscar-winning songwriter Ned Washington.

"Young at Heart"

"Three Coins in the Fountain"



"It Wasn't Much of a Town" re-upload of much cleaner copy, along with the flip side of "A Special Message From Jerry Lewis." Contributed by Busterooni of the blog, Big 10-inch Record


"As Children Do" b/w "I Concentrate on You"
(courtesy of Busterooni)

"Haji Baba (Persian Lament"
(contributed by Lee Hartsfeld)

"Comme Ci, Comme Ca" Hi-Tone Records 117-A

"Gloria" Signature single w/ Ray Anthony

"The Night is Young (and You's So Beautiful)" Capitol single w/ Ray Anthony

Opening segment of "This is Your Life: Ronnie Deauville"

Link to selected Ronnie Deauville discography

CHECK BACK FROM TIME-TO-TIME FOR PERIODIC UPDATES added 12/5/08 - "When April Sings"; 12/7/08 "Haji Baba (Persian Lament"; 12/12 - "As Children Do" b/w "I Concentrate on You"; 12/13 - "I Only have Eyes for You"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tim Hardin: Close Enough

Tim Hardin in Colorado with Karen Dalton________

It was 1962, I was that decade's equivalent of a teen runaway, and had just washed up on the shores of New York City. Through peregrinations long since slipped through the dim recesses of time, I found myself living at 417 E. 9th Street in New York City. "417" has since taken on a kind of historic notoriety as ground zero for the nascent hippie movement. It was a basement apartment, chockablock with guitars, autoharps and dulcimers. This late 19th century five story walkup served as a kind of dormitory for performers appearing at Gerdes Folk City, located to the west in Greenwich Village.

At the time I was strictly a jazz guy---MJQ, si, Weavers, nyet! I should have kept my eyes open. It took author David Hajdu and his 2001 book on the Village folk music scene of the 1960s, "Positively 4th Street," to fully open them to the fact that I had been plunked down square in the middle of one of the major cultural and political movements of the century.

Gerdes Folk City was where: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel first tried out their post-Tom and Jerry act; Mary Travers tested her mettle long before there was a Peter or Paul; Joan Baez, while a student in Boston, made her first New York, appearance; and it was where John Hammond first heard Bob Dylan and signed him to a recording contract. It was Gerdes that drove one chronicler of the era to write of: "Young artists. . . strumming their guitars, singing old folk, new folk, old blues, and new blues [who] would become the immortals of the pop music world of the 1960s, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement; their words and music would be the tender conscience of a generation, daring to question the nation's political drift between Hiroshima and the Vietnam debauchery." (Whew!)

All of which might have been true, but most of the Gerdes regulars I knew were at least equally as intent if not more so, on scoring their next kilo of grass. Most Gerdes folk who hung at "417" are long-forgotten, such as Karen (Dalton] and Richard Tucker. One among them, however, became very famous, very fast. A complete unknown when he was living there in the mid-sixties, five years later singer-guitarist-songwriter Tim Hardin, if not quite an international pop star, was famous enough.

"With his sobbing voice and introspective, almost reticent compositions," so goes one internet bio, "Tim Hardin was one of the more memorable singer-songwriters of his day. A cult figure who never really broke through to a wide following, he is now chiefly remembered via cover versions of his best songs, especially "If I Were A Carpenter" and "Reason To Believe."

By the early 1970s, however, his life and career were reduced to rubble due to a daily intake of a substance abuse cocktail of heroin, booze,cocaine and pills. Someone once calculated---factoring in Hendrix, Lennon, Joplin, et al--- that the median age of death of rock and roll musicians was thirty-nine and that is exactly how old Tim Hardin was when he died in 1980.

Tim Hardin never won a Grammy, but if they ever gave a prize for service above and beyond the call of duty to drugs, he would have won the equivalent of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. One night in '62, someone at the local Lower East Side hangout, Stanley's (which has also since come to have taken on some amount of hippie historical resonance) had tried to turn me on to my first grass. But I didn't even get a buzz. Later that night, Tim, recently blown in from Boston heard my tale of woe that I Couldn't Get High, and insisted that he could get me high.

He then proceeded to reach over the requisite Lower East Side tub in the kitchen to the ledge between that room and the kitchen from which he plucked an empty Scott towel roll. This!," he said, "is called a bong." If he had been Mister Rogers, he would have added, "Can you say 'bong"'? He stuck a joint he had just lit up into a hole in the device and proceeded to demonstrate its proper use. Which, as at least two generations of savvy, substance abusing American teens since then are aware of, calls for placing your hand over one end of the roll and then drawing in the smoking that has begun building up in the chamber. Thus, causing the narcotic to blast into the lungs, and speed to the brain. . . well, you know.

After he had taken a toke, Tim handed it to me, and with all the country mouse sincerity I could muster up I said, "Oh, no, Tim, don't waste your drugs on me. There is apparently some sort of chemical imbalance. . ."

Still holding in the precious smoke he had just inhaled, he shook his head negatively, withdrew the bong, and forcefully thrust it at me, miming that I should copy his actions. "Well, if you insist, but it's just a waste of . ..." And with that, I put the crude but highly effective homemade device to my lips, puckered up, drew in the smoke, held it in just like my sensamilla sensei had just demonstrated, and before I had even had a chance to take it away from my lips, ker-blam, I was flat on my ass on the floor. That was the first time I laid eyes on Tim.

Tim Hardin was always very generous with his drugs. Shortly before he died 1980, in a fine example of his ability to varnish the truth to a high gloss, he told a reporter that his management team had stolen 22 million dollars from him during his fast and furious flirtation with fame, circa 1965-1970. The truth was, that the amount he had earned was probably far less than this, and in all likelihood most of the money didn't go into the pockets of his management but into the lungs and veins of himself and various friends and hangers-on.
Tim Hardin was born in Eugene, Oregon on December 3, the same year as me, 1941. When asked about his family, of his father, Hal, he said, "He was a fool," and let it go at that. His mother Molly, was musically literate and had pursued a career in classical music at one time. His father was also musically inclined, but mostly worked at the lumber mill owned by Molly's family. Tim once boasted that he himself had taught musicology at Harvard. Well, ummm. Not bad for someone with just a high school diploma. No doubt about it, Tim marched to his own inner autobiographer.

Perhaps the most well known of Tim's embellishments on factuality, was the one about how he was descended from John Wesley Hardin, the wild west "friend to the poor," celebrated in Bob Dylan's song of nearly the same name, "John Wesley Harding" In fact, Tim was no more related to Robin Hood figure Hardin than the man in the moon.

He oft-averred that he was a "better singer than Ray Charles," and that Brother Ray himself had told him so. More mythomania? Tim once asked me, before he had even gone into a recording studio for the first time, who I thought was a good jazz singer. "Mel Torme," I rather unimaginatively replied, at which point Tim became positively apoplectic; "Mel Torme is not a jazz singer, I am a jazz singer." No question about it, for whatever reason, Tim HATED being called a "folk singer." Blues singer. . .maybe. Today he is still stocked in CD bins as a "folk" artist. In keeping with Tim's wishes, I prefer to remember him as a jazz artist. A perusal of the credits on nearly all of his albums, consisting of a great number of solid jazz musicians ---Joe Zawinul, Warren Bernhardt, Mike Manieri, Gary Burton et al---would lead one to the conclusion that if Tim's albums weren't the real thing, they were as they saying goes, Close Enough for Jazz.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ronnie Deauville CD?

I would be interested in hearing from readers of this blog regarding the possibility of compiling a private issue CD of the best of the numerous non-collected sides recorded by singer Ronnie Deauville (as has already been suggested by one correspondent). I would be happy to help co-ordinate such an undertaking. It is also possible that I might be able to help secure a commercial CD release of Ronnie's "Smoke Dreams" album. In all likelihood the master tape of this LP would be difficult to come by. If the CD had to be mastered from existing LP copies, as a rule of thumb, are the red vinyl issues of the album better? Contact me privately with any thoughts or info at:

Whither Corky?

Does any regular reader of this blog---and you know who you are---or any Googler who might have stumbled upon this page, have any information regarding 1950s Chicago singer Corky Shayne? I recently contacted musician Johnny Pate who arranged her lone album, "In the Mood for a Song?" But he remembers nothing. Nor does Mort Hillman, who owned the label, Salem, and produced the album. I'm a bit younger than both of these chaps, but quite frankly the 50s are a bit of a blur to me as well. That being the case, I'm turning to you, dear reader, to ask if you might have any recollection or info regarding Shayne

Monday, November 17, 2008

All About Ronnie


RONNIE DEAUVILLE DISCOGRAPHY (work in progress, any corrections or additions are appreciated)
Singles (including 31 non-album tracks)
My Happiness / You Can’t Be True Dear- Bullet 1032
I Only Have Eyes For You/ Brush Those Tears From Your Eyes - Mercury 5203
Here I’ll Stay / Portrait of Jennie - Mercury 5229
Is It Too Late / I’ll String Along With You Mercury 5267
Hajii Baba / R.D. ? - Tops 78 rpm R 248-249
With All My Love / I Keep Telling My Heart - Hollywood 105
Mirror of Love / The Fields of Love - American 113
As Children Do / I Concentrate on You - Era 1055 (Era LP tracks)
Laura / It Wasn’t Much of a Town (and Jerry Lewis message) - Era 1056
Hong Kong Affair / Crazy, Wonderful - Era 1067
Around the Corner / Unfaithful Diane - Era 1071
Blame Your Eyes / King of Fools (Imperial album tracks)
Honey Hill / Heaven in Hawaii - Dot 16011
Can It Be You / Brother Beware - Forecast 104
Who But You / Mahubay - Forecast 301
Bring Back My Heart/She Acts Like a Woman Should Do ACAMA x - 107
Deep in a Dream / Mad About You (w/ Ram Ramirez) - Super Disc 1049
Someday / With Every Breath I Take - Signature 5279

Comme Ci Comme Ca / not R.D - Hi-Tone 117-A
Single tracks as featured vocalist (partial listing) All of a Sudden, Sentimental Me, Harbor Lights, Be My Love, I’m Getting Tired of Dreaming, Man in the Moon, Sitting By the Window, Nevertheless, Blue Moon, Autumn Leaves, Marshmallow World, Why, My Heart is Out of Town, Can Anyone Explain, The Night is Young and You're So Beautiful (all with Ray Anthony on Capitol) Passing Fancy, Bye Bye Blues, London Bridge is Falling Down, Peace of Mind, Gloria (all with Ray Anthony on Signature)
Smoke Dreams - Era 20002
Smoke Dreams/Something To Remember You By/Wonderful One/Say It Isn't So/I Had The Craziest Dream/Soft Lights And Sweet Music/I Concentrate On You/Love Is Here To Stay/So In Love/I'll Close My Eyes/As Children Do/Easy To Remember/I Kiss Your Hand Madame

"Even if he should never sing again, this record could bring him musical fame. Time Magazine 12/31/56

Romance With Ronnie - Imperial 9060
Deep In Love/King Of Fools/Glory Of Love/Blame Your Eyes/Tormented/The Wedding Has Started/Dream Girl/The Secret Of Love/I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night/Back In Your Own Back Yard/Nice Work If You Can Get It/Unchained Melody

Compilation album tracks I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me (& Paul Horn Quintet) - Callliope 3018
White Christmas - Tops (?)
Answer Me My Love - Tops
Hajii Baba - Tops Parade of Hits
Young at Heart - Tops
Three Coins in the Fountain - Tops

A Girl, A Girl - Tops (?)

Air checks (partial listing) Appearances do not necessarily mean that audio and/or video exist
La Mer, East of the Sun, Encore Cherie (Tex Beneke)
All of Me, Ocean Room, Plaything , Thirsty for Your Kisses, It's You I Like Best of All, Jean, More Than I Care to Remember, I Still Miss You, Goodnight Irene, Can Anyone Explain (Ray Anthony)
TV appearances
Steve Allen (5/18/1958): sings Someone to Watch Over Me

Stars of Jazz (1957) sings Nice Work if You Can Get It & All the Way
Stars of Jazz (1958): sings I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me (see compilation albums)

This is Your Life (11/6/57) Deauville’s life recounted on this popular NBC-TVseries Florian Zabach Show: sings “Aloha Oe”

MiscellaneousAudio/Visual materials related to Linus & Ava Helen Pauling, 1974. "Ronnie Deauville to Dr. Pauling." Standard audiocassette.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ronnie Deauville Rarities

A couple of rare tracks by Ronnie Deauville from one of those 1950s budget label collection of songs from the movies.
And here is the title track from Deauville's above-pictured 1956 LP along with "Laura," an Era single.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Janet Brace R.I.P.?

Every once in a while I set off on a cyber search for jazz singer Janet Brace. It's been a source of major annoyance to me that I cannot uncover her earthly denouement, especially because she is from my home town of Charleston, West Virginia. This good ol' Charleston girl's major claim to fame ("I'm sooooo prouddddd") is that, in 1953, she recorded and introduced the standard-ish "Teach Me Tonight" several months before Jo Stafford's eventual hit version.
The last time I was buycomb (i.e. "back home") I even made a visit to the West Virgina Cultural Center (no wise cracks please) to see if they had a file on her, but to no avail. And even noted Charleston-born singer Jennie Smith, and a fine one at that, had never heard of Brace, which seems strange because we're not exactly talkin' ---must be the Sarah Palin influence creepin' in---about a throbbin' megalopolis here.

And then tonight---with too much time on my hands---I thought I'd give it another shot, and thus, for what it’s worth, I came across this recent post on

"I am seeing [regionalese for "dating"] a woman whos [sic] mother was Janets [sic] first cousin and she [the cousin or Janet?] grew up knowing her as a young child. Janet moved to Florida in later years and then ended up in Costa Rica later in life, ultimately returning to Florida to live with her daughter before she passed away."

Does the West Virginia-based writer mean that the daughter passed away instead of Janet? Inasmuch as concision when it comes to the English language is perhaps not that state's educational system's strongest suit. . .alas, probably not.

I Remember. . .

. . .I once went to see Chris Connor at Birdland (I "date" myself, and YES I'm having fun!) and I can still recall that the legendary "little person" (I'm sooooo pc) mc Pee Wee Marquette announced her as "Chris ConnorS." Years later I learned that it was tradition at Birdland that if one didn't ante up with a bribe, Marquette, who Lester Young once described as "half-a-mother fucker," would intentionally screw up the pronunciation of your name in his intro. I guess Chris wouldn't come across.

I also remember that: the other act on the bill was (I think) Gil Evans (George Russell?), the film of Sweet Bird of Youth was playing in Times Square, and some time during the proceedings I lost a contact lens and I had prrrractically the entire place crawling around on its hands and knees, including Chris, trying to help me find it.

Now how hip is that? I mean. . .there I was at Birdland and I LOST a contact lens and Chris Connor helped me look for it. I mean.. .can you imagine? Birdland. . .lost a contact lens. . .Chris Connor. . .. (I just couldn't wait to get back to school and tell Muriel Puce and Bunny Bixler alllll about it.)

Now if I could only remember what I had for breakfast.

PS: And we finally DID find the lens! (I eventually had it bronzed.)

And then there was the time that. . ..)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Kuro's Kitty Kat Kondo

designed by frank lloyd rat

Monday, November 03, 2008

Yma n' Al

In 2001 I wrote a long career article in Japan's "Record Collectors" magazine about former Capitol Records head Alan Livingston. Here is some of what he told me about his association, beginning in 1950, with singer Yma Sumac, who died this week:

"I can tell you a story. I had a man who was head of the New York office. He said somebody brought me in this woman, a Peruvian Indian, who had a 4 l/2 octave range. She has an amazing voice quality. She doesn't speak any English. I don't know what to do with her. He sent me some tapes. There was no music on them, nothing that you could put your finger on. Somebody tired to do something with her on another label, but nothing had happened. She came to California and I met with her and her husband, Moises Vivanco who was a musician and a guitar player. He spoke English. I said, I'd like to try something with her and we made a deal. I hired the composer/arranger Les Baxter. And I said, 'I want you to work with me and her and see if we can come up with something that will be appealing.' She couldn't read music, we didn't know where to start. We had her sing all the various things she did which had no form of any kind. Les sat down and wrote a score based on what she was singing. Then I went into the studio with them and an orchestra and we began recording the whole thing live and literally we were dealing with pieces of tape that were [hold out his hands one foot from each other] this long. We'd get something, then say okay, then go from there. We sat and worked and worked and it was driving me crazy. I thought we would never get finished. But we did finish and had come up with an unusual album of effects and sounds. Now what to we call this. I asked Moises. What is this music known as? Tell me about her background. Well, she came from the hills of Peru. She's an Indian and they called it the music of Xtabay. What does that mean? Well, it has a significant meaning to them. I don't know exactly. Well I said, 'We're going to call it Voice of the Xtabay.' And we put it out and promoted it as something unusual. And it caught on."
A typical Livingston understatement if there ever was one: Sumac went on to become perhaps the most successful offbeat act in Pop history. Left out of the article, for purposes of space, were his fascinating comments about how the subsequent "sell" of Sumac was instrumental in helping to launch the newly aborning 1950s Hi-Fi (remember HI-FI?) craze. Suddenly, post-war Americans felt it incumbent upon themselves to go out and buy the best woofers and tweeters that money could buy in order to experience Sumac in the lowest lo's and highest hi's that money could buy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thinking about Ray Ellis

The death this week of arranger Ray Ellis, who was equally at home in the worlds of jazz and pop ("Splish Splash" and "Lady in Satin"), caused me to also think about my friend, still alive and well musician Nino Tempo. He also, at one time, "worked both sides of the (musical ) street." On the one hand, he functioned as Phil Spector's number two (after Jack Nitzsche) arranger of choice. Including playing down n' dirty Joe Houston-style sax on some of the sides. And then there are all those pop and rock recordings ("Deep Purple," etc.) he produced on his own. But he was also arranger Don Costa's first chair tenor sax player. And he even co-wrote a song that Sinatra recorded.

Today, he plays strictly jazz on his horn and sometimes naturally sounds so much like Stan Getz that there was once a (now-removed) Wikipedia entry that Nino Tempo was a pseudonym for Getz. These days his music activities are strictly related to jazz. And then there is that beautiful 1993 bossa album by Nino that was co-produced and arranged by . . .RAY ELLIS.

Only this week, this blog featured a couple of songs, by singer Jennie Smith, that were arranged by Ellis. The tracks heard herein are from Jennie's 1957 album with him (it is being reissued in Japan next month BTW). The following year Smith recorded with Ellis, once more, on an album that featured a far more commercial sound. i.e. lots of echo and slapback bass, in other words one can easily detect the "fine touch" of Mitch Miller in the mix. But both, in their own way, are quite wonderful and demonstrate just how versatile an arranger Ray Ellis was. They simply don't make those turn-around-on-a-dime studio guys the way they used to! (Back to two-track!) The twilight of the gods, I tell you, the twilight of the gods.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dr. Chilledair's Kitchen (annual repast, I mean re-post)

Today is the birthday of Queen o' the Cowgirls Dale Evans (1912-2001). In honor of the occasion, here is Dale's recipe for Marshmallow Treats, Roy's (and Trigger's) favorite.

1/4 cup butter

6-10 ozs. regular marshmallows (about 40) or 4 cups miniature marshmallows

1 cup Rice Krispies.
1. Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan. Add marshmallows and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until marshmallows are melted and mixture is syrupy. Remove from heat.

2. Add Rice Krispies and stir until well-coated.

3. Press warm mixture evenly and firmly into buttered 13 x 9-inch pan. Cut into squares when cool. Yield: 24 (2-inch) squares.

Note: back of some current Rice Krispies boxes contain not only above recipe, but also discount coupon good for heart bypass surgery at participating HMOs. Void where prohibited by law.

And while we're on the subject of the King of the Cowboys, here is a Japanese senryuu for urging children to bed (author anonymous):

"One who is asleep
Is the very first to smile
And to be as Roy!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's About Time

"I'm Glad I Thought About You" , the followup CD to the 1998 debut album of singer Jimmer Bolden, has finally arrived! Along with Kurt Reichenbach, John Proulx, Bruce Hamada, Bolden is one of the best new male jazz vocalists to come along in some time. The new CD proves to have been worth the wait. Recommended!

Speaking of Pictures

January 1950

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thinking about Jennie

Singer Jennie Smith was 18-years-old when she recorded her first album, for RCA, in 1957. The arranger was Ray Ellis. It was a spectacular debut, followed by three additional albums and a raft of singles. Retired now, married, and living in Southern California, happy domesticity's gain is definitely music's loss. Here are a couple of tracks from that first LP.

"I'm a Fool to Want You"

"He's My Guy"

My Gawd. . .18-years-old! People really used to know how to sing!

Dept. of Lee Wiley Amplification

Earlier today I received this comment from a reader:

HI my dear friend, I thought of you today, you know I've been looking to find a video footage of Lee Wiley, a friend of mine lives close to Washington DC and she was helping me to find some information that could be helpful, she finally went to a place that has lots of videos, it's like a library and she said there was a video from 1938 where it seemed to be that Lee appeared, and yes, her name appears but it seems that her part was cut, it's a video with Woody something...don't you know why was her part cut? =( You once told me you had tracked down a silent video that it seemed to exist, haven't you known more about it? I really can't wait to see Lee Wiley someday.

Here is my reply:

Unfortunately, this is not "our" Lee Wiley, but a dancer by that name. Her name appears in the credits, but she is apparently not in the final release print. Your friend is not the first who was led off on a wild goose chase by this Woody Herman Vitaphone short, and, in fact, I'm told that in an issue of IAJRC (Intl Assn of Jazz Record Collectors) there is an article about his experiences by just such an individual. To the best of my knowledge there were approximately five appearances by Wiley on TV: on an Eddie Condon Show in 1949, an early NBC TV show called "Nothing But the Best" with Eddie Albert, a local NYC appearance in the early 1950s on the Larry Carr Show, the Jack Paar Show in 1959, and a 1951 TV program, Once Upon a Tune. There is a slim possibility that the Paar footage exists, but most likely not the others. I was never able to secure cooperation from the Paar archivist. There IS known to be silent home movie footage of her appearing on the Rudy Vallee radio show. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Love Leslie!

A drum roll and a strong recommendation for Leslie Lewis and her new CD, "Of Two Minds," the other mind (I'm guessing) being her music director and pianist, Gerard Hagen. The quality of the stellar players on the session----Gary Foster, Larry Koonse, Ron Stout et al---should give you some idea of the quality of Ms. Lewis' singing. Until a friend of mine sent me her new CD (her first) yesterday, I mostly knew her as a singer-pianist gigging around southern California hotels, etc., but had not really heard her work, except for a modest four track demo (which I liked). But her new CD is something else. Next month I'm contributing to a group article for a Japanese jazz magazine about the best singers to have come on the scene since 1990. Clearly already a seasoned pro, Leslie will definitely be on my list. She bears a natural slight resemblance to Carmen McRae, but mostly in the timbre of her voice. Otherwise, totally original all the way. Doesn't fall into the scat trap (too much), just far out enough, has a genial "sound," with good taste in repertoire (In Walked Bud, Well You Needn't, etc.), sings in tune, and. . . swings. And the placement of the vocals into the ensemble playing is worthy of the best of Betty Carter. Who could ask or anything more?

If convinced, curious, or just merely dubious, etc., you can check her out here.

(Without intending to do so, I guess I just wrote part of my entry for the Japanese jazz mag.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dr. Chilledair goes political

The so-called Joe the Plumber IS NOT registered to vote, DOES NOT have a plumber's license, IS RELATED to the notorious financial ally of McCain (i.e., the Keating Five), Charles Keating, and admittedly NEVER had any intention of buying a business of his own. Can you say, "OBVIOUS REPUBLICAN PLANT," boys and girls?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Great Day pics

Fabulous trumpetiste Clora Bryant

Master actor-singer Bill Henderson. When he saw me snapping his pics, he jokingly retorted: "Paparazzis, they're everywhere."

The world's tastiest drummer, Ralph Penland

Monday, October 13, 2008

Great Day in L.A. photos (see yesterday's post)

Conceivably the most recorded musician of all time, Plas Johnson (center)

Page Cavanaugh and Pinky Winters (friends since the fifties)

Jazz giant Buddy Collette

Great guitar guy Ron Anthony

Jazz vocal star Kurt Reichenbach and guitar legend Jimmy Wyble
More to come. . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

William Claxton R.I.P.

Today I accompanied some jazz musician friends of mine who were to take part in a latter-day restaging of Art Kane's famous 50s photo Great Day in Harlem. The mammoth event at UCLA, Great Day in L.A., was to have been overseen by jazz photog William Claxton supervising a crew of other shutterbugs. But he was a no-show. Prior to the group shoot, the official version was that he had become ill. But after the last shot had been taken, it was announced---shades of Gower Champion---that the truly legendary Claxton had died yesterday. I only met the guy once, but I'm pretty bummed out. The twilight of the gods and the end of an era. And not such a Great Day after all.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lest we forget. . .

. . .today is the centenary of the birth of Lee Wiley. Here is a link to my multifarious blog posts re: the the great Lee over the years.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

l'aventura di sushi


Avec le special participation de Ms. Pinky Winters AND introducing Yasuo Sangu as "Yasuo"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Last weekend I conducted an interview with singer Helen Grayco for an article about her that a jazz critic friend of mine and I are writing for a Japanese publication. Based solely on her slim ouevre of just two solo albums, she is considered a great singer in that country, verging on Goddess.

There were numerous fascinating disclosures that Grayco made about her career in my conversation with her via phone here in L.A. An unbilled appearance as a tot in a Marx Brothers movie for example. Another revelation regarded a music scene that "just grewed" in the mid-1970s when she and her second husband, restaranteur Bill Rosen (the first was. . .Spike Jones!), hired pianist Bob Millard---who as luck would have it, is an acquaintance of mine---to play atmospheric background piano for diners at their Beverly Hills restaurant, Gatsby's. Bob, it seems, was also such a fine accompanist that, soon, singers began to come by not just to dine but also to sit in with him. . .like Tony Bennett, Vic Damone et al. (Sinatra would also drop in on occasion, but always only to listen.) And so, for several years, Gatbsy's became a place for singers to "woodshed" here in Southern California. Sort of a jazz vocalists' Minton's.

Grayco also began to sing there. Thus, although she had officially retired from show biz in the late 1960s to concentrate on her new marriage, a few years later, as chance would have it, she was back singing just as much as she ever had. . .nearly nightly at Gatsby's.
I never knew about this somewhat legendary venue until Grayco told me about it. Obviously, then, I also wasn't aware of Bob Millard's participation in the proceedings there, and I phoned him right after I spoke with my interview subject, and he confirmed most of what she had told me. When Keizo and I write the article, perhaps I can also interview Bob about this fascinating singers' hangout. When the Grayco article is published, I'll try and post some of it here in English.