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.