Thursday, December 31, 2009


I couldn't have sung it any better myself: Chris Connor

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jane Harvey update

Has any singer ever covered such a diverse range of songwriter songbooks than my friend, Jane Harvey!? Take a look at her CDBaby page and you'll see what I mean, i.e. Jane sings Fats Waller. . .and Stephen Sondheim!

NOW AVAILABLE: Hot from Harlem: Twelve African American Entertainers, 1890–1960

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Stop the presses!

That perfectly reliable CD cyber seller, Dusty Groove, actually has not only Jane Harvey's SSJ Stephen Sondheim CD in stock (they are almost always out of stock on SSJ items) but also---get this!!---Jane's even newer SSJ CD, I've Been There, also currently available. The nice thing about Dusty Groove, in addition to being dependable, is that their prices on Japanese import SSJ discs (unlike most other sites) don't exactly neccessate mortgaging one's first born. High-ish but, in most cases, worth it! Here are the links:

And the ship must have arrived from around the cape, for they seem to have an unprecedented number of other SSJ titles in stock, including those by Jennie Smith, Kurt Reichenbach, David Allyn, Mal Fitch, Dick & Kiz Harp, Bev Kelly, Beverly Kenney, Leslie Lewis, Perry Como, Linda Merrill, Frankie Randall, Frances Lynne, Carol Fredette, Corky Shayne, Jackie Paris, Richie Kamuca, Carole Simpson and Carol Sloane. If you are interested in ordering any of these titles, better act fast. Based on Dusty Groove past history, most of these are unlikely to last out the day.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Japanese Jazz Opera


update: This "jazz opera" isn't meant to be serious. It is based on an ancient Japanese fable, The Peach Boy (Momotaro), and all the jazz bop standards included herein contain written or re-written lyrics pertaining to that story. Think Saturday Night Live. I just meant it was "hip" because it was so funny and silly due to its drawing upon source materials from such widely divergent centuries. This video came to me via Bill Holman to Tamori Taguchi to Yasuo Sangu. . .

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We wish you a KURO Christmas

note: "Kuro" = "black" in Japanese.
AND---natch---Kuro is the name of our black cat.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Full Circle


I've just finished reading the wonderful (I'm leaning toward unqualifiedly GREAT) Hound Dog, an autobio (of sorts) of Jewish-verging-on-black songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, written in conjunction with amanuensis David Ritz. And "of sorts" because of its rather Wild Palms-ish construction, with Jerry and Mike trading anecdotal "fives" in an only slightly sequential fashion. Not just a book for lovers of rock and roll and r n' b, but for fanciers of any kind of musique (and that includes concrète).

Much of the early part of Hound Dog deals with the duo's childhood exposure---and immediate love at first sound---to the music of Black America. More than a little ironically I, in turn, was introduced to these sounds by the early work of Jewish "crossover" artists Leiber and Stoller, an experience that I dealt with in MY autbio, Early Plastic. To whit:

"After my father died, my mother, sister and I moved into a Charleston WV housing project: Washington Manor (almost universally pronounced by those who lived there, "May-nor"), a place I remember most especially for its racial lunacy. The apartment windows where whites lived faced out on the black section and, conversely, windows in the black section exclusively looked out on the outside white world. In the five years that we lived there, I never saw a single black face except from my window. The idea was to reinforce racism. On me it had just the opposite effect. I became deeply wrapped up in the notion of the "other."
Making matters even stranger was the official management policy of immediate expulsion from the projects at the merest hint of racial fraternization. One night when I could countenance the madness no longer, I awoke at two in the morning, slipped out of my pajamas and into my jeans, climbed over the fence dividing the two halves and defiantly stood, quaking, in the black part of the projects for several minutes before scurrying back home. The next day I spent half-waiting for some sort of axe to fall over my furtive symbolic gesture, but nothing ever came of my somnambulist experiment in, quite literally, crossing the color line.

But there was an Edenic side of living in the projects: music from the black block parties right outside my window. Strange, new (to me) sounds---radically different from anything played on white radio in the south or near south up until that time--- blaring out of the loudspeakers so deafeningly it rattled the pictures on the walls. I sometimes think I must have been the first white person, except for the records' producers, to have ever heard the likes of these songs sung by the likes of the Big Mama Thornton, The Clovers and The Coasters, et al. I immediately became an aficionado of this new music from, if not exactly another planet, another world; to the extent that I began patronizing Race Records---actually called that---located in the black Ferguson Hotel. What a figure I must have cut in the early-to-mid 1950s; a not­ quite-teenaged white kid in a black record shop, earnings from his paper route clutched in his hand, humming songs to an accommodating African-American clerk who spun the various 45's and 78's until we found the one for which I was looking.

Before long I also stumbled on the 50,000 watt clear channel station out of Nashville, WLAC, featuring deejays Gene Nobles and John R. Enacted after-hours and away from parental scrutiny, auditing WLAC was so clandestine and forbidden, that it operated like a vicarious trial run for sex---something that few teens in the 50s had partaken. Not in my set, anyway. In between their pitches for mail order rhythm and blues packages from Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee and salacious paeans to the lubricating properties of White Rose Petroleum Jelly, this powerhouse outlet blanketed almost the entire country with the real deal in black music instead of the pale white simulacrum coming to be known as rock and roll. Years later I learned that the jockeys on "LAC" ("a service of the Tennessee Life and Casualty Company") weren't actually black, but only "sounded that way." And I wasn't the only who got misled. Legend has it that no less than the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, showed up at the station late one summer evening with his first recording tucked under his arm hoping to get a break from men whom he had presumed for years were "Negro," until being led into the studio and learning otherwise. When the secret history of rock and roll is writ large, it will probably be made apparent that it wasn't really Dick Clark who turned on teenage America to black music, but instead, this seldom acknowledged radio phenomenon out of the heartland of America---WLAC.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

This Weekend in L.A.

DECEMBER 13, 2009
Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel
5855 W. Century Blvd.

The Los Angeles Jazz Institute is moving to a new location and throwing a big day-long jazz party to help raise the needed funds. The Institute is an important organization with the centerpiece being a huge jazz archive that includes 130,000 records, thousands of CDs, books, tapes, magazines, music, films and numerous musician collections. Moving all of this is a huge undertaking and will cost thousands of dollars.

Singers Pinky Winters and Kurt Reichenbach will be performing from 12:40 pm till 1:30 pm at this worthy benefit.There will be plenty of great music all day. In addition, 16 bands will be performing continuously on two stages. They include:

Bill Holman Band
Terry Gibbs
Carl Saunders Be Bop Big Band
The Cannonball/Coltrane Project
Tall and Small - Pete Christlieb/Linda Small
Steve Huffsteter Big Band
Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra featuring Bill Watrous
Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra
Med Flory Big Band featuring Supersax
Fred Selden plays Art Pepper + 11
Ron King Big Band
Dave Pell
Florescope - Chuck Flores Octet
Gerry Gibbs Quartet
Bill Reichenbach
Dewey Erney/Ron Eschete
Frank Capp
Bob Summers
Ron Stout,
Scott Whitfield
and more...

There are two specific donation levels to attend this special event:
The $150 Platinum level includes priority seating
The $75 Gold Circle level provides open seating.
Both ticket levels provide full access to all venues.
The L.A. Jazz Institute is a non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible.

To reserve your seats or make a donation please call (562)985-7065
For more details

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Annals of audioiana


Yesterday, I was a guest of my friends Hajime and Han at a meeting of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society. While there, I began to relate the following audiophile fable to Hajime, but we were somehow interrupted, and so when I arrived back home, I sent him the following followup email. I reprint it here because IMHO it is not without its somewhat amusing overtones (after all, this IS alleged to be a blog of mirth and music).
Hajime san:

To make a long story short (which I seldom do), after I finished all the weeks and weeks of soldering my Eico stereo amplifier kit in high school in 1960---building amps from kits was all the rage that season--- I had all these parts left over. (I have trouble even reading an instruction manual for a ballpoint pen.) And so. . .

I plugged the amp into a long extension cord which I ran the length of the house. Thus, the amp was at one end of the house and I was at the far end. I crouched behind a couch and plugged it in. At the other end of the house, there was immediately a rumble, a flash of light, and a sort of explosion replete with acrid-smelling smoke. I waited a few minutes, then tentatively plugged in the turntable to the (80 watts) amp, hooked up the speakers and, by crackies, the damned thing worked absolutely perfectly. I threw all those extraneous diodes, transistors etc. away (fie!), and kept the amp for at least ten years, during all of which time it performed absolutely perfectly. (I'm not exactly certain that I know what the moral of this story is supposed to be [?].)

I finally abondoned it for one of those classic suitcase KLH Model 11's, perfect for my then-hippie lifestyle and which I used for at least a couple of decades.

Not that you asked, but. . .. Today, I have a Nikko amp and pre-amp (with mega-wattage), KLH model 24 speakers that I bought at a garage sale aeons ago for ten dollars apiece, and which I could very easily blow out with the Nikkos if I'm not careful, and a nice Technics turntable.

Well I guess I didn't EXACTLY make my long story short, but when I start writing OR talking it often takes me a while to get to the verb......

Here is a link to Eico amplifier kit info.

Thanks to you and Han again for a lovely afternnoon.

(Not exactly) Keigu,


Jennie Smith CD liner notes by Jennie herself!

SSJ Records (Japan) has just released, on CD, singer Jennie Smith's Canadian-American Records album from 1963. I had a lot of fun working on the reissue with Jennie, and, in fact, she even wrote the liner notes, included in the CD package in Japanese translation. I was very proud and happy that she took time out of her busy schedule to do this for SSJ. Here is her original English language text.

"I was born in a coal mining hollow in Burnwell, West Virginia in 1938. At an early age when my mother took me to movie musicals, I'd go right home and sing all the songs. Singing was what I wanted to do more than anything. My stepfather, John Kristof, was a newscaster at radio station WMON in Montgomery, WV. Eventually we moved from Montgomery to Charleston where my stepdad signed on with WCHS - doing news, weather, etc.

After graduating high school at age 17, I went to N.Y.C. Hugh McPherson (WCHS late night) put me in touch with the right person, Ray Ellis. I auditioned for RCA Records and got a contract. Steve Allen, who had an NBC Sunday night television show, heard one of the tracks on my album and invited me to do a guest shot on his show. This was my first national television performance.

I started working nightclubs around the country (with a chaperone, as I was under 21). My first nightclub date was at the Black Orchid in Chicago with Jonathan Winters, one of the funniest comedians ever. Later, I again worked the Black Orchid with a comedian who was doing his first nightclub performance - Bill Cosby. He talked a lot about a beautiful girl named Camille, that he wanted to marry. A few years later, Biil and I worked together again - this time at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe. By now, he had married Camille and they were expecting their first child. Bill had zoomed to stardom and I felt so lucky to be performing with him. I'm uncertain as to when it was, but for a few months I was a regular on Arthur Godfrey's radio show on CBS.

Steve Allen moved his telelvision show from N.Y. to Los Angeles, and was syndicated five nights a week. His show kept asking me out to L.A. to perform and finally he hired me to work on his show as a regular. I moved from New York to L.A. and this was one of the happiest periods of my life. It was exciting meeting all the stars that guested on the show, and the musicians on the show were absolutely top notch, a pleasure to work with. Sometimes the entire entire show worked other places around the country doing concert dates.

After being on Steve's show for about two years, I started doing more nightclub dates. I worked with Red Skelton at the Sands in Vegas, Joey Bishop at Harrahs in Tahoe, the Smothers Brothers at the Flamingo in Vegas, Mickey Rooney at the Fairmont in Vegas, then toured with Buddy Hackett. Pat Boone, his musicians and I toured in Japan. Also, around 1968, I was lucky enough to land the national Chevy TV and radio commericals on which Frankie Randall and I sang together. It was exciting and fun.

Eventually, however, traveling began to lose its excitement for me. I longed to be in one place with my friends and my little pet dog. I didn't work for nearly a year and finally decided to live a more stable life by getting a secretarial job.

I worked for General Reinsurance Corporation for 31 years (I retired about ten years ago). During the time I was at General Re I met my husband, Arthur Brown, and we've been together since 1978.

Steve Allen and I collaborated on two songs - I wrote the music and he did the lyrics. To this day I have jazz artists calling to ask for a lead sheet on one of the songs, "After You." I recorded both the tunes on an album for Dot Records.

A while back, I collaborated with a gifted lyricist, Ruth Feeley and the fabulous writer, Jack Segal, who's written some of the world's treasured songs like "When Sunny Gets Blue" and "Scarlet Ribbons." Nearly every top artist has recorded his material. The song we collaborated on is called "The Best of Love", on which I wrote the melody, and Frankie Laine recorded it."

--- Jennie Smith Brown - 2009

Here's a link to my Jennie Smith discography.
And a link to a Life Magazine article about Jennie.
AND a link to a 1968 "Frankie and Jennie" Chevy radio commercial.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Still on a "Jane kick"

For the past four years I have worked with SSJ Records Japan on a number of projects. My efforts for the label have included: producing, reissue producing, liner note writing and contract negotiation.

However, a recent SSJ CD that I am highly enthusiastic about is one on which I had almost no input at all: Jane Harvey Sings Sondheim. Lest you think that this is but a reissue of Ms. Harvey’s 1988 Atlantic Records release, The Other Side of Sondheim, you are only partially correct. Let me explain:

When the album was released in ‘88, at the very last minute, to both Harvey’s and pianist-arranger Mike Renzi’s extreme displeasure, an overdub of arrangements by Ray Ellis was added by Atlantic to all tracks, which were originally trio performances. Not that there’s anything wrong with the wonderful Ray Ellis, but in this instance, the addition of his large ensemble charts essentially defeated the jazz intentions of the album.

Not long ago, however, Ms. Harvey was able to buy back the master of the album from Atlantic, and it has just been released in Japan on SSJ Records. Now, with this new 2009 release (in this case, “reissue“ is not really the right word), those overdubs are gone! Medleys were arbitrarily sliced and diced by a house producer, leaving the floor littered with a remaining 43 minutes; the current version is 59 minutes.
To my ears, the difference between the original release and the “unexpurgated” (Harvey’s word) version is astonishing. In the 1988 issue, there was a jazz album hidden in there. . . somewhere. But one had to search long and hard through the undergrowth of large orchestral sounds in order to find it. But now, at last, it can be heard as originally intended! There is no question in my mind, that what Jane Harvey and Mike Renzi (and Grady Tate and Jay Leonhart) initially created is a work of great importance. (And in addition to original (now-stringless) tracks that were on the original release, there are now four bonus tracks not on the original release, plus Jane’s 2009 recording of “Send in the Clowns.”)

Stephen Sondheim songs include "Old Friends", "Everybody Says Don't", "The Story Of Lucy & Jessie", "Pretty Women/Not While I'm Around", "Could I Leave You", "Not A Day Goes By", "There Won't Be Trumpets", and "Send In The Clowns."

Per usual, the traditional cost of Japanese imports tends to be on the offputting side; and the current weak dollar to yen exchange rate isn't helping matters. However, knowing what I know now, and IF I had not received my own freeFreeFREE comp copy, I'd be willing to shell out almost whatever was necessary to obtain a copy of this jazz vocal masterwork. Available at CDBABY.COM.
Audio Specs

Digitally remastered with superior sound quality.

Complete obi-strip & Japanese introductory/lyrics sheet included.
HQCD (High Quality CD), fully compatible with standard CD players, enables greater       transparency, higher perceived sound pressure levels, a better frequency balance, higher resolution and wider and deeper soundstage. HQCD achieves higher quality audio through the use of a polycarbonate plastic with improved transparency derived from LCD display manufacturing technologies.

Here is a track from the new version: Who's That Woman / The Ladies Who Lunch (The first song was deleted from the medley intended for the Atlantic version)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kurt alert!

click pic to blow up realll gooood!

Also of note (in addition to Kurt Reichebach), Peter Marshall, self-described "boy singer" (of un certaine age) will be appearing at Vitello's in North Hollywood on December 2, at 8 pm. w/Larry White on piano. This is an advance woodshedding gig for Marshall's upcoming Feinstein's NYC date, December 6 & 7 . Clearing out those pipes and loosening up those limbs.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just call me the "Keane" of jazz photographers.

You would do better to give your dog a camera to take photos. To put it another way, I ain't exactly no William Claxton. Be that as it may, here are a few snaps taken, while I was in Tokyo this week, of singer Jane Harvey in rehearsal, and post-performance at Tokyo TUC nightclub.

This last pic is of Jane, the next night, making her karaoke debut.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Curtain Up, Light the Lights (Again!): The Jane Harvey "Story"

I am with singer Jane Harvey in Tokyo (and I don't mean Tokyo, Indiana) right now. Tonight is her show at Tokyo TUC night club, which will consist of a mix of standards and major Sondheim arcana. I have gone to rehearsals and she is in superb form. Jane just suddenly (after remarrying about five years ago) got the bug to work again, and so. . ..

People on the street, here, recognize her from album cover photos taken a number of years ago, and come up to congratulate her on the reissue of her Sondheim album. Jane will be recording and performing again. She appears in perfect health, and looks great!

Yesterday , I sat in on Japanese magazine interviews with Jane, and her career tales of more than skeenteen years in show business are spellbinding to say the least. Everything but the Mankiewiczian hounds snapping at her rear end. She started out, professionally, as a teenager, in burlesque. (Who knew????) Not as a stripper, but as a singer who sang and restored order in between more hectic parts of the show with the baggy pants comics and the "girls." She stumbled into this "career move" quite by accident after being booked to "sing in a show" by a theatrical agency. In timeworn showbiz fash (pacé Ira Gersh), the "girls" immediately took her under their collective wings to "protect" her. . .natch! Her singing career, as such, actually began when she was four-years-old performing in a style derived from Helen (The Boop Girl) Kane. Jane was then known as Little Baby Phylis. But she was not quite a professional at that juncture. Women's clubs, that sort of thing.

Several years before joining the Benny Goodman band in 1944, she had already appeared with several other outfits, including that one of well-known bandleader of his day, Ray Herbeck. Also, before Goodman, she had her own sustaining radio show on the Mutual Broadcasting System. That was news to me.

Although her official recording ouevre is somewhat slim (due to unfortunate professional inactivity, the result of several marriages), she brought along with her to Tokyo several tapes' worth of unreleased material, including tracks with several Pantheon players. And my guess is that there is still more where that came from. She has even made mention of a "lost" session from Chicago with Duke Ellington in the 1950s. Any Ellington scholars out there care to get on the case?

Some of what I have written here was gleaned from overhearing Jane's interview with Japanese jazz critic Keizo Takada yesterday. I trust that he doesn't mind my expropriating these few little tidbits. Look for a much, much fuller version of Jane Harvey's ---let's face it---epic showbiz saga in an upcoming issue of the Japanese magazine, Jazz Critique.

I could sit and listen to Jane talk all night. . .and I think I have. She loves to talk. . .and sing! It is quite a daunting task keeping up with her and husband Bill going shopping on the Ginza. Saturday they went to a four-hour Kabuki performance, and Jane still hasn't stopped (you guessed it) talking about it. No surprise, her critical exegeses of the event seem, to me, most perceptive.

Tonight is Jane's performance at Tokyo TUC. I'll try and report in again tomorrow.
Tokorode and iroiro:

I've gone Tokyo record shopping, of course, i.e. Recofan, Disk Union(s), the seven-stories tall (!) Tower Records in Shibuya, etc. But trying to be prudent with my yen, I've only bought two LPs thus far. . .major gaps: Frances Wayne's "The Warm Sound" and Claire Hogan's DeSylva, Brown and Henderson songbook. (Of course, the trip's not over quite yet!)
Drchilledair gets all Haiku-y (for Jay)

There is rain today
In Tokyo, and so now
All is wonderful

Friday, November 06, 2009

We're here!

I'm far too revved up to make obeissance to that ol' journalism formulae, the inverted triangle, and so here, in no particular order, are some random impressions of my current trip to Tokyo, Japan accompanying singer Jane Harvey (and husband Bill King) for her upcoming gig next Wednesday night at Tokyo TUC Jazz Club.
We arrived safe n' sound yesterday and are now settled in at our respective hotels. Last night, I received my copy of the new and revamped version (see below) of Jane's 1987 Stephen Sondheim tribute album. A standout is her added 2009 version of "Clowns." Absolutely in great voice, pitch perfect! Especially amazing inasmuch as she has been professionally hors de combat for more than a decade. I fearlessly predict that she will kill next Wednesday night in performance; and I mean KILL! Yesterday, a Japanese workman at the Kings' hotel, in broken English, congratulated Jane on the reissue of her Sondheim outing. NOW---I ask you---How hip is that?
I also was given copies of the three new SSJ label CDs that I worked on recently in one capacity or another: Jennie Smith Nightly Yours on the Steve Allen Show, Corky Shayne: In the Mood for a Song?; and Richie Kamuca / Buddy Tate Live at Donte's, but You Steve. . .Me Jane (as I prefer to call it) is, for my money, the crowning glory of the current crop of SSJ releases, which also includes pianist David Morgenroth's fine Alone with Duke (Ellington).
If one had a dollar for every car horn (and tire screeech) that one did NOT hear in Tokyo, but DID hear in N.Y. or L.A., said auditor would die (eventually) a happier, healthier and far wealthier person. It never dawns on the typical Japanese driver to use the car horn for anything other than the purpose for which it was originally devised: the alerting of potential danger. . .and NOT the venting of frustrations and/or anger. And the lack of tire squeals is probably attributable to, as Jane excitedly exlaimed last night, "Look! The drivers all stay in their lanes!" And, I might add, move mighty fast! A nation of veritable Sterling Mosses.
Jane, her husband, jazz crit Keizo Takada, Mssrs Sangu and Kobari (of SSJ) and I went out for sushi last night. Jane amazed, amused and surprised everyone by packing away at least twice as much of the stuff as anyone else.
I am staying at my ususal humble, but quite wonderful Tokyo abode, the Asia Kaikan hotel (8000 yen a night!). I went to visit some friends today at what is clearily the most opulent upscale hotel in Japan, The Ritz-Carlton, which begins on the 45th floor and, then, proceeds to ascend ever-heavenward into the ether. To give you an idea of exactly how upscale the R-C is. . . in their, umm, errr (for want of a better word) "coffee shoppe", a cuppa Joe costs sixteen samoleons, however---it should be added---mit refills. It dawns on me that you could put the entirety of Asia Kaikan into the nosebleed-inducing R-C lobby. . . and still have room left over. But ohmigawd. . .wotta view! If I ever stayed here. I'd probably never get to sleep, so transfixed would I be by the vast expanse of the night time Tokyo cityscape. Makes NY and L.A. look positively Palooka-ville by comparison.
I find that by employing a mixture of my rudimentary Japanese, English, body language, and foley artistry, I am now fairly able (in this, my sixth visit here) to get around in this wondrous (definitely) not-Kansas-anymore, space age locale, i.e. "Do you know where there is a payphone?" is affected by my saying "Denwa" (Nihongo for just plain "phone"), then miming the the action of dropping coins in a slot, accompanied by my FX of "KA-CHING"!
The Jane Sings Sondheim CD is in stores already and is flying off the shelves; and I mean FLYING!
Phone call from home yesterday: the cat is fine and the new smoke detectors have been installed.
More later.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


And Now. . .Dr. Chilledair is off to Tokyo to attend singer Jane Harvey's 11/11 performance at Tokyo TUC nightclub. Be there or be square. . .or both.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alert the media! Jane in Japan!

It strikes me as auspicious and anomalous, not to mention amazing, that singer Jane Harvey, who has not performed "live" for (to put it mildly) a month of Sundays, has chosen to get back into action in ---hold on to your wigs and keys, boys and girls---Tokyo, Japan!
Jane will be flying there from L.A. in early November, along with her husband Bill King, for one performance only in celebration of SSJ Records' radically retooled reissue of her 1988 album The Other Side of Sondheim, now called simply Jane Harvey Sings Sondheim, which includes four previously unreleased tracks and Jane's new 2009 version of "Send in the Clowns."
This CD Launch Party, presented by SSJ, Inc with the cooperation of Tokyo TUC, will take place on November 11, 2009 at Tokyo TUC, Iwamoto-cho, Tokyo, where singer Pinky Winters recorded her 2007 SSJ release, World on a String. It is to hoped that SSJ just might happen to have recording apparati lying about so that Harvey's gig might similarly be captured for possible CD release. She will be accompanied by Hiromu Aoki (p) and Jambo Ono (b).
The evening will commence with an overview of Jane's career presented by Japanese jazz critic, Keizo Takada
Admission is 5,800 yen, which includes Chinese food and a drink. Doors open at 6:45 pm, show begins at 7:30. For more information, check out TUC's web site (in Japanese).
It would seem to me that the occasion would be well worth hopping on a jet and wending your way across the Pacific just for this occasion alone. Truly the jazz vocal event of the season!
Here is a review of a performance of Jane's that appeared in the New York Times in 1984. Inasmuch as there is a picture of Jane Harvey next to the definition of "ageless" in the dictionary, it would seem most likely that a.) her chops are still in excellent shape despite her somewhat protracted time away from the performing stage and b.) we can expect a similarly fine show as was experienced by critic John S. Wilson when he wrote about the singer in '84 in the Times.
Jane, you are, indeed, AMAZING!

Monday, October 05, 2009

And MORE! from SSJ in October

Abridged liner notes for SSJ Records' October release of Corky Shayne's In the Mood for a Song?:

Getting in touch with the rightful owner of the master of this album, veteran music executive Mort Hillman, was easy enough. And after negotiations were completed for SSJ’s release of the 1956 LP, next came the task of securing some background on the making of the disc. But so far back in time did Hillman oversee the production of the recording---more than fifty years ago ---that he can only remember a few scant details about the artist, Corky Shayne.

Hillman can recall doing a record promo tour with Shayne, including appearances by Shayne on popular radio shows in the Chicago area such as those of popular dee-jays Howard Miller and Marty Faye. But that was just about it,

And were it not for the help of legendary Chicago singer-pianist Audrey Morris who did, in fact, recall Shayne from the golden era of the Fifties music scene in Chicago, I might never have ascertained the few facts about the singer that I finally did. In late 2008, the still professionally active Morris put me in touch with Shayne’s half-sister, Ava Schneider, who was able to supply me with a few facts about Shayne. From Schneider I learned that Corky (real name Corinne) was born in 1932 in Illinois and that she died in Indian Wells, California in 2005.

Schneider recalls that her sister didn’t remain in Chicago too much longer after her performing activities ceased, and that Shayne then moved to the Los Angeles area where she remained active in show business, but behind the scenes with a series of jobs as assistant to music industry executives. I did, however, find an L.A. Times reference to her performing at a 1965 charity event. Shayne’s half-sister also said that somewhere along the line, Corky became an avid golfer and eventually moved to Palm Springs, California area where she could actively pursue her growing interest in the sport. Clearly, if she was half as good a golfer as she was a singer, then Shayne must’ve had more than her share of holes in one.

A longer version of these notes can be found here.













Another new SSJ October release

It doesn’t take an advanced knowledge of the U.S. music scene in the latter half of the 20th Century to realize that an artist committed to performing the best in American Popular Song could not have come along at a more inopportune time. That is, at the very moment when the rules governing the music business were being radically rewritten by the coming of rock and roll, and by the emergence of the singer-songwriter. In its December 9, 1957 review of Smith’s first album, Time Magazine found itself calling attention to three other young singers also set on making their mark in the music business. Needless to say, also like Smith, none of the others, Trish Dwelley, Eileen Rodgers, and Carol Ventura were able to sustain mainstream visibility over the long haul.

But for the meantime, Smith had talent and beauty to spare and was able maintain a highly active career, especially in nightclubs and on TV shows such as the Hollywood Palace, and Ozzie and Harriet. Later on, she also was featured with another fine singer Frankie Randall in much of the national advertising for 1968 Chevrolet Motor Cars, appearing in TV commercials and print ads for the vehicles for several months.

In the early 1960s, Jennie would find safe harbor in the protectorate of U.S. TV star Steve Allen, who had also, earlier on, taken up the cause of such burgeoning young singers as Andy Williams, Steve Lawrence, and Eydie Gorme. Smith made her first guest appearance on Allen’s popular Sunday night primetime TV variety show in 1957 and would eventually join his five-times-a-week series in 1963. After the Allen Show went off the air the following year, Smith continued with her career for a time, appearing at such popular spots as New York’s Michael’s Pub and on TV’s Johnny Carson Show.

Much like Jo Stafford who packed it in around the mid-1960s, Smith also realized that she could not continue to buck popular music trends forever, and so she too, in the latter part of that decade, departed show business in favor of marriage and home life. Not yet thirty, she had had a remarkable run of 15 years as a professional. Quite a feat for one who was still so young and in control of her musical powers. For nearly thirty years she was also part of the business world. Retired now, she is still happily married and living in Southern California.

The new cover of this (originally) 1963 Canadian-American album, Nightly Yours on the Steve Allen Show, features a photo supplied to SSJ Records by Smith herself.

* This issue also contains a bonus track of one of the singer's single for Can-Am, "As I Love You."

Nightly Yours on the Steve Allen Show Canadian-American CALP 1010

Kurt at Vitello's

My good buddy Kurt Reichenbach will be making an auspicious debut at the increasingly popular intime boite, Upstairs at Vitello's Friday, October 16, 2009 , 8-11 p.m. 4349 Tujunga Avenue / Studio City, CA 91604.
Jim Cox-piano, Jeff D'Angelo-bass, Ralph Penland-drums, Special Guest Bill Reichenbach, bass trombone
Reservations are a must at this popular new jazz room! Phone - 818.769.0905. Online -
$15 Cover plus 2 drink or $13 food minimum. Wine tasting from 7 to 8 p.m
Kurt Reichenbach IS:
“... a jazz singer out of the Mel Torme-Billy Stritch school of polished pop-jazz crooning...”
- Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“... a natural swinger who understands lyrics, is blessed with a smooth baritone voice, and has the musical sensitivity to find approaches to each song that make his versions of even the most frequently performed standards sound fresh...”
- Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz

“... a dazzling new singer... I have not been broadsided by a voice this way in many years... words fail to adequately describe the thrill of hearing someone with this much talent and class.”
- Rex Reed

“… one of the most dynamic vocal debuts of the past decade…”
- Christopher Loudon

Sunday, October 04, 2009

New from SSJ Records in October


Final version of notes for upcoming Jane Harvey October 21, 2009 issue on SSJ Records:

"This album is Atlantic's Record's 1988 The Other Side of Sondheim, by Jane Harvey, as it was originally envisioned. The recording took place in New York City with the Mike Renzi Trio, but was overdubbed by the Ray Ellis Orchestra in Los Angeles by the label. To release this authentic version has long been Jane's dream.

Jane Harvey was born Phyllis Taff in Jersey City, NJ. In the mid-1940s, she auditioned and got a job at Cafe Society, owned by Barney Josephson. Know as "Phyllis" or "Taffy" growing up, she changed her name to Jane Harvey in honor of Barney's favorite scotch, Harvey's.

Hearing Jane in the club in 1944, John Hammond was so impressed that he did not miss the chance to bring Benny Goodman to the spot. Jane immediately became Goodman's band singer and made several recordings with the outfit.

In 1945, she sang at the Blue Angel with the legendary Ellis Larkins at the piano. [Then] Latin bandleader Desi Arnaz heard her there in 1946 and asked her to go to the west coast to appear on the Bob Hope radio show. How could she refuse?

In Los Angeles, Jane appeared on the Hope show four times, sang at Ciro's longer than initially contracted, and signed with both RCA and 20th Century-Fox.

As time went on, her singing career took a back seat to marriage, motherhood and other interests.

Jane fell in love with the music of Stephen Sondheim and held a tribute to him in a jazz vein at Freddy's in NYC in 1986. Her concerts were so sensational that Sondheim himself showed up one night. She had never met him before, but after the show Sondheim was very compimentary and they talked and exchanged ideas. That night was the inspiration for this album."

Aside from being available in its original small group format for the first time, two other things differentiate this version from its original release: the addition of four never released tracks AND a new 2009 recording by Jane of "Send In the Clowns" to replace the original one that she feels was sonically inferior. Her voice sounds unchanged on this, her first recording in more than two decades.

Although I had no participation in this particular SSJ Records release, nevertheless its issue resulted in my fortuitously having lunch with Jane Harvey twice over the past few weeks. I came away from both occasions with the sense that she is --- as they say ---one really one sharp cookie. It feels/seems to me as though she has never forgotten anything she ever once learned, experienced or knew.

It turns out that she and I are both major fans of James Gavin's recent bio of Lena Horne, Stormy Weather. So much so that she has been going around to stores requesting they display the book prominently. . .if it is not being done so already. In passing, I said to Jane over coffee, "It is not so much a biography as it is an adventure novel." That is to say, put the book in the hands of just about any halfway literate person and it becomes a real page turner. The trick, of course, is how to direct their maws to it in the first place.

For the record, Jane IS NOT retired. She is still very much interested in performing. Something quite wonderful in that regard might happen very soon. Stay tuned and when and if it comes to pass, you'll "hear" about it right here. 10/11/09 Update here.

Back to the Ballroom - Buddy Tate & Richie Kamuca "Live"

My liner notes for the forthcoming (November 2009) SSJ Records (Japan) release Back to the Ballroom : SSJ Records XQAM1611

The tapes for this recording were virtually forgotten for forty years until a chance meeting resulted in their finally being brought to light. And now, with the release of this remarkable CD, what went down musically that night at a North Hollywood, CA jazz club [Donte's] four decades ago can, for the first time, finally be heard.

This historic 1970 coming together of Bop’s Richie Kamuca and Swing Era veteran Buddy Tate (Count Basie) turns out to be an intergenerational jazz summit meeting of the first order. Definitely not laid-back, cerebral sounds typical of West Coast jazz, but, rather, scorching tenor playing more along the lines of Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray’s 1947 “The Hunt.” Or Ellington‘s ‘56 “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.“ It’s the kind of playing that one might have heard in the late ‘40s and 1950s at one of the many U.S. ballrooms that specialized in hot, late night jam sessions. In other words, “cool school” jazz circling back to its raucous pre-bop beginnings. ---Bill Reed

Here's a taste. The other players on the date are: Mundell Lowe, either Monty Budwig (poss.)or Leroy Vinnegar (poss.), and Jake Hanna
For information regarding advance orders, contact Eastwind Import:


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Scribble, scribble, scribble eh, drchilledair?

My new collection Vera Hruba. . .WHO?: is now available for downloading at Here are the table of contents and the introduction.

INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Two Print Premieres
Chapter 1. The Good Girl: Lucille Bremer and the
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Golden Age of MGM. . . . . .5
Chapter 2. Joe Louis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Funny Folk
Chapter 3. Spike Jones: The Prince of Parody . . . . . . 83
Chapter 4. Lord Buckley: Lord of the Hepcats. . . . . . 97
Chapter 5. Sally Marr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .. .. 113

The Music Men
Chapter 6. Walter Shenson and the Beatles. . . . . . . . . 126
Chapter 7 Sam Phillips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Chapter 8. Tommy and Al . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
Chaper 9. Alan Livingston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Chapter 10. Joel Dorn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .168
About the author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .184


Initially, "The Good Girl: Lucille Bremer and the Golden Age of MGM,” was intended to be one chapter in a volume about Hollywood movie moguls and their alleged (in some instances) mistresses that my good friend and constant traveling companion, David Ehrenstein and I were planning to write. Other chapters would have been devoted the likes of Darryl F. Zanuck, who made a veritable cottage industry of starlet-mistresses and, perhaps, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies. (Although that one has probably been anthologized, analyzed and, retrospected to death enough already!)

But the linchpin of the book would have been the rather well-known affair between Herbert J. Yates, head of Republic Pictures and Consolidated Film Laboratories, and former Czech figure skater, turned actress (of sorts) Vera Hruba Ralston). It is somewhat amusing and ironic that Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which was supposed to be a film à clef of Davies and Hearst was much closer to the saga of Yates and Ralston. For while hardly anyone ever questioned the acting abilities of Davies, in Welles' masterpiece, Kane's opera singer, “Susan Alexander” was endlessly derided, much like Ralston, for the questionable talent that they brought, respectively, to the opera stage and the movie screen.

At the beginning of Yates and Ralston's affair, he was already married. Eventually, he divorced his first wife for Ralston, and the two lived happily ever after. . .or at least until his death in 1966. This, despite the fact the twenty-six mostly expensive and mostly flops the actress made for Yates played a major part in the eventual demise of Republic in 1958.

Why this whiplash inducing digression right out of the Introductory starting gate?, you might well ask. Simply because, whenever David and I, in verbal pitches to agents and editors, got to the part about Ralston, invariably the response was, “Vera Hruba. . . WHO?” Ah, well, as the great Lenny Bruce once remarked of something or someone in one or another of his routines, “Ah, how quickly we forget!” For it seems as if it was only yesterday that V.H.R. was burning up the silver screen in her last Republic potboiler, 1958's The Notorious Mr. Monks (“A hapless hitchhiker takes a ride with a drunk driver who takes him to his house. There he meets the driver's wife [Ralston] and murder ensues. “) In other words, for purposes of David's and my book, any reference to the actress, who died in 2003, proved to be, as they say, just a skosh too hip for the house.

As far as potential editors and publishers were concerned, that also seemed to be the case with most of the other biographical personae contained herein. At one time,not so long ago, the three most famous “people” in the world were considered to Mickey Mouse, Albert Einstein, and Joe Louis (also profiled herein). But, alas, when it came to the latter, even his name drew mostly black stares from book pub types. Again. . .“Ah, how quickly we forget.” And, as for 1940s recording superstar, Spike Jones---also contained herein---fuhgedaboutit!
Regarding the other profiles contained herein, the two never-really-famous famous comedy figures, Marr and Buckley, along with the profiled quartet of behind-the-scenes producers, they were never exactly household names in the first place. So, finally, the title of this book might well have been Too Hip for the House? Or some such. But I finally settled on Vera Hruba. . . WHO? It has a nice ring about it, doncha think?

attn: Sinatra fans w/ disposable income

Slightly before the Punic Wars, I was an editor for the program guide for an early form of subscription/pay television known as ON-TV . One of the productions we broadcast was the initial showing of Frank Sinatra's Concert for the Americas. For the cover of the guide we commissioned a portrait of Sinatra by artist Craig Nelson. But we had overlooked the fact that that particular cover had been contractually promised to, ulp, 80s Canadian soft-rocker Gino Vannelli, who also had a presentation on ON-TV that month. And so we had to scrap a Sinatra cover in favor of one devoted to His Hairyness. And as I recall, our contract with the artist specified that the Sinatra portrait had to be used as a cover or not at all. And so. . ..

Meanwhile I snatched up a whole bunch of offprints of the abandoned cover and, over the years, have given them to my Sinatra-fan friends. I think I am now down to one. 

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Schadenfreude for supper

Ramblin' opportunistic, neo-schizophasic, be-dreaded film crit Elvis Mitchell is apparently in deep dreck with the IRS and has just been slapped with a lien by them for approximately a half a million dollars.

Here's a comment I posted yesterday on the L.A. Weekly web site where I first came across the story:

Aeons ago, I worked with Evil Slime Letch (a close enough anagram) in a ticket booth at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Hey. . .a girl's gotta eat!) Even then, his on-the-make modus operandi made Anne Baxter in "All About Eve" seem positively altruistic by comparison. He wanted IT in the worst possible way. Now, it looks like he might have to give a whole bunch of moolah back; but at least he made a lot of bread in exchange for all his trouble. Even his heroine, Pauline Kael, probably didn't make THAT much!

I once asked him if his birth name was "Elvis." He changed the subject mighty quickly.

Kiss kiss.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nat Shapiro's Birthday

Today is the birthday of my late friend Nat Shapiro. Were he alive now, he would be 87 (he died in '83).

The only Twilight Zoney psychic thing that ever happened to me was when Nat died. He was NOT a touchy - feely person, but the last time I saw him---in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel yet---he hugged me goodbye. The time before that---in New York---he told me to raid his office and take anything I wanted in the way of books and records. (Hunh?) Mind you, he almost certainly did not know that "Mister Death from the Village" was hot on his tail. Then a few weeks later at what must have been the very instant of his demise, I began thinking about him and sobbing (?). The next morning someone from the east coast phoned me here in L.A. and told me that Nat's body had been found in his NY office that a.m.

I went to New York for the memorial service. Everyone in the music biz was there. The entire affair was videotaped and copies eventually given to those who attended. Among other things, there was a lengthy musical presentation by Michel Legrand, Nat's only. . . "client" (it was a handshake deal). And even though Michel is IMHO---even today---the greatest living composer/etc. (he's even just about my favorite male singer), in all likelihood it probably would never have "happened" for him had it not been for Nat Shapiro. Surrounded by so many of the things Nat gave me, I still think of him almost everyday. Not that I wouldn't anyhow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jeanne's 38th Annual Jazz Bash Today at Playa Del Rey, CA

Pinky Winters and Dave McKay

Diane Hubka singing; Paul Kreibich, drummer

Sunday, September 06, 2009


. . .somebody got something right for a change! I tell you, Ceil, I nearly fainted.

Vera Hruba. . .WHO?

My new e-book, Vera Hruba. . .WHO? is now available for purchase at . It contains profiles of Lucille Bremer, Joe Louis, Lord Buckley, Sally Marr, Spike Jones, Alan Livingston, Tommy LiPuma & Al Schmitt, Joel Dorn, and Sam Phillips. Now I ask you, could it be any more eclectic?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Eden Atwood in Sept. Swing Journal

Translated from the Japanese by Hajime Sato
Swing Journal Reviews of Turn Me Loose
Yozo Iwanami

5 stars

It has been a while since I heard Eden Atwood’s last release. Reportedly, this CD is her first new recording in five years. It shows that she has matured significantly from her Concord years. Atwood’s singing now has more depth, the range of her expression has widened, and her technique has improved. Listening to this passionate album, one can tell that she spent a lot of time preparing for it and did not hold back. At age 40, she is entering the most productive phase of her career, and her confidence is reflected in the selections and interpretations of songs contained here. With this CD, Atwood sheds the image of “a good-looking singer with a beautiful voice,” created during her Concord years, and reveals herself as a real jazz singer. Her range of expression has widened significantly, and the simple accompaniment by a piano trio is perfect here, allowing Atwood more freedom. The arrangements by David Morgenroth, the pianist and musical director for this album, are also superb. At the hands of Atwood and Morgenroth, even familiar standards are transformed into something entirely different, fresh and exciting. The selection of “Don’t Fence Me In” is particularly impressive. Jazz singers seldom sing this number, made into a huge hit by Bing Crosby, and Atwood truly makes it her own. The bluesy “Miss Celie’s Blues,” and “True North” takes her to a new musical territory, but perhaps this is a manifestation of her Southern blood, as she was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Atwood’s deep and heartfelt interpretations of “Ill Wind” and “True North” and the very slow rendition of Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Any More” are just a few of many surprising, and very entertaining, twists in this album.

Masamichi Okazaki

4 1/2 stars

Through her commanding and confident delivery, Eden Atwood shows a tremendous growth as a singer in her latest release Turn Me Loose, which is reportedly her first new recording in five years. Living in Montana, Atwood has enjoyed the surrounding nature, calmly looked at her life, and honed her singing skills and musical expressions. It seems as though her current state of mind has turned into something persuasive and spills out of each melody on this CD. When she debuted from Concord, she was seen as a photogenic singer with delicate sensibilities. The current album clearly shows that she has moved away from that image, and is now singing the songs she wants to sing in ways she wants to sing. Her conviction is reflected in the song selections, many of which show a unique perspective. Songs like “Home” from the musical The Wiz, Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Miss Celie’s Blues” from the movie Color Purple, and “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is rarely performed by jazz musicians, but is truly great songs that shine like gems here. On other occasions, Atwood takes approaches that are different from most other singers’. She begins singing Ellington’s “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” from its rarely heard verses, and turns “Don’t Get Around Much Any More” and “I’ll Close My Eyes” into very slow ballads. Her deep affection for each song is well augmented by the strength of her expression. Turn Me Loose is Atwood’s best album so far.

Kitty White R.I.P.

Two of my favorite singers in one week. Chris Connor and, now, Kitty White. Twilight of the gods I tell you. Twilight of the gods.

White perhaps qualifies as the most underrated jazz vocalist of all time. Maybe there should even be a picture of her beside that adjective in the dictionary. The sad fact of the matter is, she probably would not even have rated this L.A. Times obituary were it not for her Elvis Presley connection.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Some lyrics for Y.S.


(Antonio Carlos Jobim - Newton Mendonca)

(Scat chorus)

This is just a little samba
Built upon a single note
Other notes are bound to follow
But the root is still that note

Now this new one is the consequence of the one we've just been through
As I'm bound to be the unavoidable consequence of you

* There's so many people who can talk and talk and talk
and just say nothing or nearly nothing
I have used up all the scale I know and at the end I've come
to nothing or nearly nothing

** I must come back to my first note as I must come back to you
I will pour into that one note all the love I feel for you
Any one who wants the whole show ré-mi-fá-sol-lá-ti-dó
He will find himself with no show, better play the note you know

* repeat

** repeat

(Scat chorus)


(Antonio Carlos Jobim - Vinicius de Moraes)

Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,
Vai, vai, vai, vai, vai
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,
Vai, vai, vai, vai, vai
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,

* Já dancei o twist até demais,
Mas não sei, me cansei,
Do calipso, ao chá chá chá
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,
Vai, vai, vai, vai, vai
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,

Só danço samba,

Só danço samba,
Vai, vai, vai, vai, vai
Só danço samba,
Só danço samba,
Vai, vai, vai, vai, vai

* repeat

(Antonio Carlos Jobim - Vinicius de Moraes - Susannah McCorkle)

Tristeza nao tem fim
Felicidade, sim
A felicidade como gota de orvalho
Pétala de flor
Brilha tranqüila
Depois de leve oscila
E cai como uma
lágrima de amor

Happiness must end, but sadness goes on and on
Happiness is like the dew drops on a flower that sparkle for a moment in the dawn,
Then falls like teardrops from the eyes of a young girl
Who cries to realize her love is gone.

* Poor folks work all year to make one dream come true
To share a night of joy [another night] at carnaval
They dress up as clowns, and pirates and kings
And dance the night away, they’re still dancing at daybreak
As long as they dance they can pretend
That happiness and carnaval won’t end

* repeat

Happiness and carnaval won’t end

E cai como uma
lágrima de amor
Happiness and carnaval won’t end
Uma lágrima de amor
Happiness and carnaval won’t end
That happiness and carnaval won’t end
E cai como uma
lágrima de amor

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sue Raney "Live"

One always hesitates to write that an artist is "better than ever," for the logical response to that might well be, "Well, what was wrong before." In the case of Sue Raney, nothing has ever been wrong with her singing. But yesterday evening at her Marina Del Rey (California) concert she seemed to boost things up just a notch and even top herself. I have witnessed Sue sing numerous times in person, under many circmstances, from intime boite to vast concert hall (when she was touring with Michel Legrand). But last night was the best yet! Aside from Barbra Streisand (a different kettle of stylistic fish altogether), Sue might well be the last woman standing from the Golden Era of mainstream pop/jazz singing. She has been doing all of this big time for more than a half century and even pre-dates the wonderful Marilyn Maye. If not for Sue's artistry, then for just plain old-fashioned tenacity, she deserves some sort of medal. Or at least, a beauty prize.

Backed by a state of the art trio, led by pianist Alan Brodbent (with Putter Smith and Kendall Kaye), Sue worked---it didn't feel like work at all---her way through a 17-song set that clearly held the large outdoor audience spellbound every step of the way. Many of the songs were from her latest (2007) CD, "Heart's Desire," a tribute to Doris Day.

As if all of this weren't enough, the concert setting was that of SoCal's famed boat marina, with vessels floating by in the background of the outdoors concert stage where the concert took place. Sue began singing at just around sunset and when it was all over, the skies were full of stars, none of which glowed any more brightly than she. Except for the flapping of the occasional yacht sail, one could have heard the ping of the proverbial pin drop throughout the entirety of the slightly more than one-hour affair. As much as the enthusiastic applause after every number, this, too, must have done the singer's ol' heart good.

Lest I tumble headlong into a sea of hyperbolic overkill---perhaps I already have?---let me close now with the advice that the next time Sue swings through your area with her copy of the Great American Songbook in tow, do yourself a favor. . .. Last night was free, but even if you had to pay big bucks, it'd be worth it!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Month of Wonders

In conjunction with the e-publication of my new I'll Take Romance: My Lifelong Affair With Jazz Singing and Singers, each day for the next month, I'll be uploading a different One Shot Wonders. Here is the intro from the book to the section about such rarified and recherche creatures:

The one thing that every one of the singers in this chapter have in common is that they recorded only one album bearing their name, and mostly between 1955 and 1965. This was the time when rock music was coming along and beginning to commercially blow every other kind of recorded music out of the water. There was simply no room for peaceful mutual co-existence. If an artist like Peggy Lee or Frank Sinatra was established by this time, for the most part they were able to maintain careers as recording artists, but for a great number of others just beginning to come along during this period it was over almost as soon as it began. I have now collected a list nearly 300-singers-long who fall into that category. The one thing that nearly all have in common, as well, is that they were uncommonly talented. But it was all to no avail. Most continued to perform---many on the Holiday Inn and Playboy Club circuits---or teach music, but some gave up music altogether. I did my best to track down the whereabouts or the outcome of these singers, but in a couple of instances they seem to have just fallen off the edge of the planet.

8/16/09 I'll Take Romance Donna Brooks Dawn DLP 1105 (1956)

8/17/09 Renee Raff Among the Stars Audio Fidelity AFSD 6142 (1957)

8/18/09 Charlie Appplewhite Love Affair Design DLP 57 (1958)

8/19/09 Joyce Bryant Runnin' Wild Epic LG 1016 (1954)

8/20/09 Juanita Cruse Juanita GNP 51 (1960)

8/21/09 Charlene Bartley Weekend of a Private Secretary RCA LPM 1478 (1957)

8/22/09 Marlene Cord Marlene Cord Dot DLP 3081 (1958)

8/23/09 Don Nelson The Wind Mode 111 (1957)

8/24/09 Kevin Gavin Hey! This is Kevin Gavin Charlie Parker PLP-8100 (1962)

8/25/09 Deno Kannes The Kid from Salt Lake City (Coral CRL 57205 (1957)

8/26/09 Larry Hovis My Heart Belongs to Only You Capitol LP/ST 1218 (Hovis also sang as part of a vocal group on Carlton LP by the Bill Gannon Trio.)

8/27/09 Diana Dors Swinging Dors Columbia CL 1436 (1960)

8/28/09 George Kirby The Real George Kirby Argo LPS 4045 (1965)

8/29/09 Doris Drew Delightful Doris Drew Mode 126 (1957)

8/30/09 Corky Shayne In the Mood for a Song? Salem SLP-1 (1956)

8/31/09 Flo Handy Smoky and Intimate Carney LPM 201 (1964)

Note: After 9/1/09, the pre-pub price of 5.99 for A Fine Romance will no longer be in effect. The new price will be 9.99.

New from SSJ Records

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quel Bazazz!

If this wonderful stalking horse for Sam Irvin's forthcoming 2010 bio of the great Kay Thompson is any indication, we are in for a real treat. This one has me reaching for my French Roget's for every single synonym for "fabulous" that there is, i.e. fabuleux, formidable, sensationnel. . .and you can quote me.
Suds of great photos, impeccable disographical info, terrific sound restoration, and a wonderfully warm and informative essay by Irvin.
More about the disc, that will be released 9/10, here

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Falling under the heading of. . .

. . .Too Much Spare Time on My Hands:

"There I go, there I go, there I go"

Saturday, August 15, 2009



Here is the link to the Scribd Store where one can purchase an (exclusively) ebook version of my new collection, A Fine Romance: My Lifelong Affair With Jazz Singing and Singers. For Scribd sales outside of the U.S. contact me at

After 9/1/09, the pre-pub price of 5.99 will no longer be in effect. The new price will be 14.99.