Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Jimmy Scott

 Jimmy Scott (see previous post) Rarities

1. Cherry (Roost single)
2. I'll Close My Eyes (Roost single)
3. Crying My Eyes Out for You (Roost single)
4. When Day is Done (King single)
5. Don't Cry My Heart (Roost single)
6. Embraceable You (w/ Charlie Parker at Birdland)
7. I''m Falling for You (King single)
8. I Got it Bad (Roost single)
9. Hands Across the Table (Roost single)
10. When Did You Leave Heaven (radio b'cast, 12/1/90)
11. Imagination (radio b'cast, 12/1/90)
12 The Masquerade is Over (Roost Single)
13. The Masquerade is Over (radio b'cast, 12/1/90)
14. Don't Be Mislead (King single)
15. My Mother's Eyes (Roost single)
16. Somehow (King single)
17. Time After Time (radio b'cast, 12/1/90)
18. What Sin (King single)
19. Woke Up With You on My Mind (King single)

Download available for next 48 hours only.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The presence of palpable GENIUS

1. All Of Me
2. Imagination
3. Unchained Melody
4. Bye Bye Blackbird
5. Day By Day
6. Jealous Guy
7. All Or Nothing At All
8. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
9. I Cried For You
10. Everybody's Somebody's Fool

In 2001, a manager of Jimmy Scott's---no names please, not even initials---contracted the Japanese label Tokuma to record and release this "live" recording. The only problem was that Jimmy was under contract to another record company at this juncture. Whether there was a connection or not, shortly after the debacle Scott terminated his relationship with the manager. The CD was quickly withdrawn and rapidly escalated in value. Today, it sells for fairly big bucks.

I was there in Japan that night when the CD and video (eventually shown on Japanese TV) were recorded at the b flat club in Tokyo on October 17, 2001. Jimmy and I had not seen much of one another since the early nineties and it was great to do catch-up between sets. I was astonished at how jammed the club was, even at 6 pm of a weekday. People hanging from the rafters (Jimmy is considered rather une grande vedette in Japan).

Jimmy and I go back together even before his big comeback around 1990. Then, in November 1991, he came out to Los Angeles to do a week-long engagement at the Hotel Roosevelt's Cinegrill. In 2002, author David Ritz interviewed me about the gig for his bio of Jimmy, Faith in Time. He quoted me in the book as follows:

"It was an auspicious moment, a glamorous affair. I had discovered Jimmy through [the album] The Source  a few years earlier. I remember asking Gerald Wilson, one of the arrangers of Jimmy's Tangerine album, whatever happened to Jimmy. 'He's dead,' Wilson said. So when I learned he was alive and well, I was thrilled. We became fast friends. I'd never met an artist so friendly and open. On opening night, all the stars came out. Bonnie Raitt was there, and so was Paul Gayten, Jimmy's musical partner from the early fifties. There was widespread media coverage, big crowds and enthusiastic response. Jimmy looked resplendent in his tux. It was a happy occasion but also sad. For all the hoopla, Jimmy was so broke he didn't have enough money for food. I had to give him and [his then wife] Earlene fifty bucks to buy dinner. I also helped him set up a stand in the hotel lobby to sell his CDs and tapes."

I picked Jimmy and (then wife) Earlene up at LAX when he came to L.A. for the gig, and before even going to the Cinegrill to check in, we drove out to the Pacific Ocean for a walk on the beach. As we slogged along through the sand, I can recall Jimmy's talking about his plans for starting a kind of show biz academy for training young hopefuls. I don't think he got very far with this. Most likely because, shortly thereafter his career took off like a rocket, not just nationally, but internationally as well. Replete with fashion shots in Italian Luomo Vogue and giant record release posters in Tokyo bus stops, etc. Not quite on a par with Sinatra's post-"Eternity" comeback, but pretty wild nonetheless. Besides, "comeback" is not quite the right word, for prior to this Jimmy Scott had been almost exclusively known to the black community, and what soon transpired with his career was highly extra-racial. Besides, most blacks of un certain age had never really forgotten him in the first place.

I was in Jimmy's dressing room just before showtime at the Cinegrill. I marvelled at how shined to the max his blacks pumps were. "That's the way we old show biz troopers are," he laughed. Then he jumped up, shouted "It's showtime!" And with his right arm linked in Bonnie Raitt's and his left in mine, we strode off down the hallway to the Cinegrill. It was an exciting moment that I'll never forget. Jimmy killed that night and each subsequent one of the engagement.

If you want to get technical about it, I was not even aware that author David Ritz had interviewed me for the bio until I bought the book, read it and happened upon my name somewhere around page 200. For the life of me I could not recall having spoken with Ritz about Jimmy. Eventually, however, I recalled a phone conversation with Ritz about something else entirely; and he, somehow, brought the the conversation around to the subject of the singer. And, lo and behold, it seems like he just happened to have his tape recorder engaged at the time and plugged into the phone. (Or else, he's a super shorterhand whiz.) Later, I asked Ritz about the incident. "Oh, I can be kinda sneaky sometimes," he laughed. In the final analysis, I couldn't have been less p.o.'d about being bugged. Anything for Jimmy.

Others on hand for various nights of the engagement included Ruth Brown, Nancy Wilson and, ulp, Phil Spector. Just an instant before I espied the latter in the lobby of the Roosevelt, I remarked to my friend David (if you don't want to believe me, you don't have to), "I sense the presence of palpable evil." I then turned and there was Spector coming right at me surrounded by no less than a phalanx of bodyguards. eeeeekkkk!

Despite unbelievable career-long obstacles, i.e., greedy managers (again. . .no names, puh-leese), shady record producers, health issues, booze, failed romances and marriages, crooked club owners, etc., Jimmy Scott has prevailed. Heading into his 85th birthday (July 17th), he continues to peform internationally and to record. On May 8, 2010, he headlines at the C. C. Amphitheater Las Vegas, NV. And my guess is that it won't be long before he heads back to Japan (for a seventh time) to perform there again.

Available for download for the next 48 hours only.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Remembering Alec Wilder

1.Walk Softly
2.What Happened Last Night
3.Tacet for Neurotics
4.The Endless Quest
5.Pop What's a Passacaglia
6.Let's Get Together and Cry
7.No Plans
8.An Unrelenting Memory
9.Around the World in 2.34
10.She Never Wore Makeup
11.Suggestion for Bored Dancers
12.Mama Never Dug This Scene

NYC, June 12, 1956: Walk Softly, What Happened Last Night?, Tacet For Neurotics, The Endless Quest
Joe Wilder (tp) John Barrows, Jim Buffington (frh) Don Hammond (fl) Jerry Roth (ob) Bernard Garfield (basn) Jimmy Carroll (cl, bcl) Mundell Lowe (g) Trigger Alpert (b) Ed Shaughnessy (d)

NYC, June 19, 1956, Harold Goltzer (basn) replaces Garfield: Let's Get Together And Cry,  Pop, What's A Passacaglia?, No Plans, An Unrelenting Memory

NYC, July 3, 1956, Milt Hinton (b) replaces Alpert: Suggestion For Bored Dancers, She Never Wore Makeup, Mama Never Dug This Scene, Around The World In 2:34

 Available for download for the next 48 hours only.

Demo reel of my friend Melodye Dewine

Coming April 2 on Cellar Door Records

Richie Kamuca and Lee Konitz "Live" at donte's, 1974

Rex Reed Presents Ira Gershwin w/o George
click to enlarge

Psssst! Get your red hot copy of "Sandhog"

1 New Faces of 1956: What Does That Dream Mean? - entire company
2 New Faces of 1956: Rouge / Matt Dubey & Sid Silvers - Jane Connell
3 New Faces of 1956: A Doll's House / Arthur Siegel - Inga Swenson
4 New Faces of 1956: The Washingtons Are Doing OK / Michael Brown - Tiger Haynes
5 New Faces of 1956: Girls n Girls n Girls / Irvin Graham - John Reardon, Inga Swenson
6 New Faces of 1956: I Could Love Him / Paul Nassau - ?
7 New Faces of 1956: A Broken Kimona / Robert - ?
8 New Faces of 1956: She's Got Everything / Dean Fuller & John Rox - T.C. Jones
9 A Mother's Kisses: There Goes My Life / Kenny Chesney - Bea Arthur
10 I Do! I Do!: Thousands of Flowers / Harvey Schmidt - Mary Matin, Robert Preston
11 Carnival in Flanders: Here's the Rainy Day / Jimmy Van Heusen - Here's that Rainy Day
12 Molly: I See a Man / Jerry Livingston - Kaye Ballard
13 Molly: In the Afternoon of Our Years / Jerry Livingston - Kaye Ballard
14 Molly: Go in the Best of Health / Jerry Livingston - Kaye Ballard
15 Chicago: It / John Kander - Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon
16 High Button Shoes: Bird-Watchers Song / Jule Styne - Nanette Fabray

Available for download for the next 48 hours only. Sixteen cuts are all contained on two downloadable tracks. Yesterday, an incorrect recording was linked here. That is now corrected.

JJA (Jazz Journalists Association) Records, A Box Office Production. Inarguaby and extracategorically, JJA Records was the finest "unofficial" (that is to say, bootleg) label. . .ever. The sub-rosa outfit probably existed from sometime in the 1970s through the '80s. Where they obtained much of the material is anyone's guess. This particular JJA issue contained material that was recorded for various official original cast recordings but which, for whatever reason, never made the final cut. I remember buying my copies, from under the counter, from an applicance store on the north side of NYC's 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. I feel reasonably ceretain that this was the, um, headquarters for the record operation. The releases were distinguished by, for the most part, uncommonly good sound quality. . .considering the source. There was never any label art on any JJA issue with which I came into contact. All were strictly from the plain brown wrapper school of design with a affixed sticker describing the contents. There were dozens upon dozens of releases with emphasis on Broadway shows and film scores, but within those parameters the material partook of a great deal of jazz as well. I searched on the net for a complete JJA discography but couldn't find one. Seems like a good project for those among us who have some time on their hands. One can find a very small listing, however, on the web record dealer consortium  I am uncertain as to whether the operation ever made the transition to CDs. Nor do I have the foggiest noption what the Jazz Journalists Association was. Methinks, however, that it must have been an attempt at a quasi-official loophole to accord the label some legal wiggle room should the vinyl have hit the fan. I would be grateful for any information readers of this post be able to provide regarding JJA Records.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rare Bing Crosby

These came to me not as pressed recordings but as a series of acetates. Doubtful that any of these were ever on vinyl of any sort. Given to me years ago by a certain Song Cycle-ist in the form of reparations for not showing up for a newspaper interview. Not the first time, nor the last.

A Medley of Parodies: Set to the tunes of Mack the Knife, Surrey With the Fringe on the Top, Yellow Bird, I've Been Working on the Railroad, You Came a Long Way from St. Louis, The Pleasure of Your Company, Galway Bay, Old Man River. Special lyrics detail the activities of a Texas quail hunting group of which Crosby was a member. Thus recording weaves into the songs the names of many of the group's members. With the late Jake Hanna, Johnny Smith, Joe Bushkin, Milt Hinton.

Anthem of the Clams: w Bing Crosby, m James VanHeusen. 1960. Source? Date?

South of the Border: Small group with flute prominently featured. Source? Date?

 Available for the next 48 hours only. This just in: one of the comments to this post is a link to an improved, processed version of this Crosby material.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just plain "The Group"

1. It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got that Swing)
2. But Beautiful
3. Joey, Joey, Joey
4. Something's Coming
5. Nina Never Knew
6. I Hear Music
7. Get Me to the Church on Time
8. The Second Time Around
9. I Won't Cry Anymore
10. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead
11. Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye
12. Fugue for Tin Horns
13. Lulu's Back in Town (bonus track from The New Group)

This longgggg-out-of-print 1963 vinyl album and one other by a group known as, um, The Group (and, later on, as The New Group) was given to me by my late friend (and singer) Zanee Hall. Just about all I know about the singers is that one of the. . .Group was Tom Kampman, who shows up on the net as a former (the other) Ray Charles Singer(s) who still keep in touch with one another and, occasially hold reunions, according to this 2006 story in the Orange County Register. The other two members of the. . .Group are Larry Benson and Anne Gable, both presumably New York session singers from that era. Orch. arranged and conducted by Don Sebesky (track 13 by O.B. Masingill). No processing was used in my CD transfer, so you will hear the occasional snap, crackle and pop (which only makes it sound better as far as I am concerned).

Available for download for the next 48 hours only.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Doc's Film Corner

NOT because it's of Japanese origin---admittedly, I'm biased---but I can't recommend too highly Departures (Okuribito), the Academy Award-winning foreign language film of a couple of years ago. The star, Masahiro Motoki (ex-teen idol-turned-actor), comes from the world of Japanese boy bands---Johnny's Boys ---and the director, Yojiro Takita, is out of Japanese soft porn "adult" films (think Radley Metzger). Talk about changing horses in mid-stream!

Departure's arc from conception to realization took fifteen years, according to director Takita in an interview that comes with the DVD of the film. And, he informs, it was totally a group effort, i.e., improv, commitment, story contributions (the germ of the idea for film was Mokoki's), etc. I was amused by it, and, alternately, shed a tear or three as well. As the saying goes. . ."I laughed. I cried. I loved every minute of it." Available now on home video. "Departures is surely the gentlest, sweetest movie about death that you will ever see."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gems from Jerome Kern

Available for download for the next 48 hours only.

This is one of the first 78 rpm sets I ever transferred, and it was long before I ever had any processing software, so it is not exactly pristine audio. Still there's probably enough FI here to make it worthwhile listening for devotees of the great Jerome Kern. Released in 1949 (?) and never available on LP (?).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010



Note that the Colonel's glasses are missing. The latest I've heard is that the good Colonel is being restored and will be returned, full circle, to his original home near the Hanshin Tigers ball field.

Brand new Tatsuro Yamashita commercial jingle for Japanese KFC ad campaign:

Yet ANOTHER reason to love Japan: that nation's ongoing veneration of OUR Stephen Foster. Witness Akiko Yano's reading of an undeservedly obscure---in these climes, but not in Japan---S.F. melody, "Hard Times Come Again No More."

For J.

Rare Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

photo: Ted Williams
LH&R at Newport 1959 w/ Count Basie and Joe Williams

1. Joe Williams intros LH&R
2. It's Sand Man
3. Let Me See
4. Doodlin'
5. Taps Miller
6. Everyday
7. Rusty Dusty Blues
8. Spirit Feel
9. Avenue C

(Download available for the next 48 hours only.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton R.I.P.

Yet another musical face of Alex Chilton. Hear here.

Bob Sings Fran

A demo to secure other recordings of these songs, with words mostly by the wonderful lyricist Fran Landesman, and music by Tommy Wolf and others. All sung by Bob Dorough, who also wrote some of music. I can recall the circustances surrounding the purchase of nearly every recording in my collection, and this one is no exception. At a midtown, west side NYC Sally's (Salavation Army)  thrift store in 1975 just before I moved to LA from NYC circa '75. One of my better finds over the years. Never came across another copy. A surprise that this was, to the best of knowlege, never commercially released.

(Available for download for the next 24 hours only.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kay Thompson à la Russe

Here's a section, courtesy of author Sam Irvin, about KAY THOMPSON PARTY, VOLUME 1: LET’S TALK ABOUT RUSSIA  (Hanover-Signature, SM 1017) from his forthcoming biography of Kay Thompson, to be published 11/2/10 by Simon and Schuster. Thanks to Irvin for permission to reprint. By the way, much like there was never a Volume 2 of jazz singer (Here Comes) Carole Creveling's album, although it was titled "Volume 1," similarly there was not a volume 2 of this Kay Thompson long out-of-print vinyl outing. And speaking of recordings, check out Sam's spectacular K.T. collection issued a few months ago. Available at finer brick and mortar record stores everywhere. (Are there any remaining?) And at:

Hear here (link to the recording)

By Sam Irvin:

Hanover-Signature Record Corp., 119 West 57th Street, New York 19, N. Y., was owned by Bob Thiele and Steve Allen. The label’s other spoken word records included recordings by Jack Kerouac; and, Bill Dana’s hit comedy album My Name José Jiménez. Others comics and jazz artists on the label included: Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows, Don Cornell, Jack Kane, Milt DeLugg, Jerry Fielding, Morey Amsterdam, George Cates, Audrey Meadows, Jane Harvey, Don Adams, Sam Levenson, Yank Lawson, and Pat Harrington, Jr.

Let’s Talk About Russia was a spoken word album. The label tells us that it was “actually recorded at Miss Thompson’s home.” Her apartment at that time was located at 9 East 62nd Street, off 5th Avenue.

It was released in November 1959 (to coincide with the publication of Thompson’s book, Eloise in Moscow). Billboard reviewed Let’s Talk About Russia on January 11, 1960.

The album was produced by Richard Grossman (Kay’s editor at Simon & Schuster).

Kay’s agent at that time was Mace Neufeld (who later produced such mega-hit movies as THE OMEN and HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER). He put together the deal for Thompson to record this party for Hanover-Signature.

LP jacket cover: Color photo of Kay holding a balalaika with one hand (quite misleading since there is not one note of music on the album), a cigarette in the other hand, seated in front of a table with loads of cocktails and a silver ice bucket. Kay is dressed in a beige blouse with three-quarter sleeves.

Back cover: Five black-and-white photos of Kay’s party. Kay wears a fur hat in two of the photos. She sports a black cocktail dress with spaghetti straps, cut just below the knee. She wears several pearl necklaces and in two of the photos, she has draped one of the strings of pearls over her head. There is another photo, a head-to-toe profile, cut-out and floating on the white background, of Kay dressed in her mid-calf-length fox fur coat, carrying umbrella, camera, fez-like hat, and scarf blowing over her shoulder in the wind.

Guest List at Party: Bob Thiele, co-owner of Hanover-Signature Records], Jane Harvey, singer (and Mrs. Bob Thiele), Dick Grossman, producer of this LP; Kay’s Eloise editor at Simon & Schuster, Mace Neufeld, Kay’s agent (and future mega-hit movie producer); Bill Dana, comedian; Sally Kirkland [Sr.], fashion editor for Life (and mother of actress Sally Kirkland); Mary Leatherbee, another fashion editor for Life; Sid Ramin, Milton Berle’s music conductor; Trudy Warner, aka Gertrude Warner, played “Margot Lane” on radio’s THE SHADOW from 1949-1954; Paul Rosen, percussionist; Dennis Stock, photographer (most famous for his shots of James Dean); Harold Roth, vice president of Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster; Irving Stimler, Associate Producer of SUPER FLY (Warner Brothers, 1972); in 1979, he was the proprietor of Caracalla Restaurant behind Lincoln Center, 168 Amsterdam (between 67th and 68th Streets); he was a vice president at M-G-M for a decade “with a personal penchant for movie musicals.” His restaurant presented M-G-M musicals to diners on Mondays and Tuesdays with a $10 “all-you-can-eat” Italian buffet; Majorie Holyoak, not sure what she was doing at the time, but, in 1985, she was working for 60 MINUTES as “Director of Audience Services”; And, last but not least, Eloise makes a surprise cameo appearance for one line at the very end of Side 2: “Here’s what you can’t do in Moscow. Charge it, pajalasta, and thanks a lot.”
Also courtesy of Sam Irvin:

Let’s Talk About Russia liner notes by Richard Grossman:

On February 16th last [1959] a blizzard swirled and whirled into Moscow. With untiring wind it whooshed down the long road from the airport to the city. There it circled the Kremlin, sought out the carved crannies of St. Peter’s Basilica, whistled through the National Hotel, and spread from there, ubiquitously, into every corner of the Russian capital.

But there was something different about this February blizzard. True, it bristled withy energy, it went everywhere, it touched everything – but it was different. It was a pretty blizzard, a blizzard with music and a beat to it, a blizzard with a sprittely pixie-child buried somewhere in the middle of it, a girl blizzard; the tallest, blondest, chic-est, longest-and-prettiest-legged blizzard that ever touched down in the middle of the ochre buildings of Moscow. Kay Thompson had landed…

And now she’s back with us. Bubbling with things to say about Moscow – not about the sputniks and nutniks, but about the things she knows and sees so well wherever she goes; music (from balalaika to bop), clothes (her own and the world’s), children, drink, hotels, men (her own and the world’s), restaurants, cars (Eloise rides in a Rolls), airplanes, women, conversation (her own and the world’s), herself…

Of course, “herself” is a Kay of many well-known parts. In this album, though, she’s Kay at home – where, as a happy habit, she brings the world with her to share with her guests.

That’s where you are now. You’ve been invited to Kay’s; you’re sitting in the living room of what she calls her “flat”; the room is large and squarish, the colors are white and an especially alive and brilliant orange. Around you are fine books, fine paintings, fine food and drink and you see and hear – not altogether as a surprise – even another facette of Kay Thompson.

Oh, the same grace is there, and the poise and the electric quickness. But you are her guest, you are comfortable and aware of it, you are curious and you are being served food for your curiosity. You ask about Moscow and Kay tells, tells you the personal, picturable, hold-in-your-hand things about Russia and Russian people:

What are those quilted mandarin jackets like? What does a Russian girl think of Jazz? or the Bible? Where do the young-in-love go in Moscow? Pear Lemonade instead of tea? A meal of farinaceous foods? A hotel room the seems “very long ago”? A porcupiny vicuna coat with a split up the back? A fashion show at G.U.M.? A ride to the palace of Prince Yssupouv, standing in queue at the tomb of Lenin, a soaring moment of “The Stone Flower” at the Bolshoi Ballet? A puff on a Russian cigarette, a chord from a balalaika, a Soviet seal act at the circus…

To be Kay Thompson in Moscow is to be both endlessly inquiring and everlastingly retentive. These are the qualities that radiate from her as she plays hostess in this superbly produced album to some friends very like you, people who love her and like to hear her good, lively, knowledgeable talk. An evening with Kay, they know, is full of laughs, high spirits, intimate warmth and hospitality, musical phrases and the insights of a bright and charming woman who would like nothing better than to have you drop by for the evening. And a purely delightful time you’ll have.

---Liner notes by Richard L. Grossman

UPDATE 8/19/10
Author Sam Irvin has a new website in celebration of the forthcoming publication of his long-awaited Kay Thompson bio. It's here!
Join Kurt Reichenbach Upstairs at Vitello's Saturday, March 20, 2010
Upstairs at Vitello's Saturday, March 20, 2010 • Seating at 7pm •
Show at 8pm (One show only)
Jim Cox - piano, Jeff D'Angelo - bass, Chad Wackerman - drums 
New songs and old favorites.
$15 Cover plus 2 drink or $13 food minimum.
Reservations are a must at this popular new jazz room!

Doc's Komedy Korner

"The Satirical Impressions of Arthur Blake" TRACKS: 1. Introduction - Arthur Blake, Noel Coward 2. Zazu Pitts, Sophie Tucker 3. Raymond Burr, Peter Lorre, Barbara Stanwyck, Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis 4. Eleanor Roosevelt 5. Bette Davis 6. Jimmy Stewart, Hedda Hopper, Edward G. Robinson, Mae West 7. Katherine Hepburn, Ethel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Lionel Barrymore 8. Peter Lorre, Orson Welles, Clifton Webb, Louella Parsons 9. Louella Parsons, Jimmy Stewart, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Noel Coward, Mae West, Ethel Barrymore, Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson

Hear Here this recording from 1961. (Available for download for the next 48 hours only.)

Arthur Blake on IMDB

Check Blake out, and see what a relatively big deal he was in his day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Johnny Prophet

It's Johnny Prophet's birthday. But WE get the presents. . . so to speak.

Contrary to the info in the above link to a previous post, I did finally manage to locate Mr. Prophet. He is alive and and well and living in the Palm Springs area. Do yourself a favor and check this guy out. If you like him, I found a cheapo cheapo copy of one of his LPs for sale. . here .

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alert the Ducal Detectives

Here is the first outing for an---up until then--- otherwise never-recorded Duke Ellington composition "Champagne Oasis." It was retrofitted with lyrics by Johnny Burke to become "A Hundred Dreams From Now." Sung by Jane Harvey. Although the label doesn't say so, this is obviously the Ellington band as "directed by Billy Strayhorn." Recorded circa 1959. Jane also recalls, from around the same period, recording at least part of an album in Chicago with the band, Ellington and Strayhorn all on board for the occasion. She recalls: singing "Just a-Sittin' and a-Rockin," doing a duet with Ray Nance, and also a version of Duke's "The Sky Fell Down," to which she added her own lyrics. But Harvey has no knowledge of whatever happened to the results of the sessions. Not exactly the Ellington equivalent of von Stroheim's complete Greed; still, it would be nice if those tapes were to surface. The flipside of this Signature label single # 12007 is "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Meet The Smoothies!

RE-UPLOAD FROM 1/10/09 The Smoothies (Available for download for the next 48 hours only.)

I seldom upload music to this blog [NOT SO TRUE ANYMORE, 3/14/10] because I am not in agreement with the pervasive anything-goes school of uploading recorded material that is not only in-print and easily available, but, in many cases, CDs that are fresh out of the pressing plant. When net users first began trading music, however, the general rule-o-thumb was that the recordings be, if not exactly public domain, at least hard-to-find. That school of uploading, though, has long since gone by the boards and a fast-and-loose new one has taken its place. One that is playing a big part in the current and ongoing demise of the record industry. That caveat withstanding, I would like to make available some recordings by The Smoothies, a somewhat seminal vocal group of the late 1930s and '40s. These recordings probably are public domain by now, but even if they're not, the chances of any possible rightful owners ever again re-releasing them in any form are slim to naught.

If anyone has any rightful or legal objections to these tracks being here, speak now---or later--- and I will remove them, and then forever hold your peace. And so. . .moving right along: Here are the first 16 tracks from a 32-song Bluebird label LP reissue, Easy Does It, from 1975:

1 If I Had My Way
2 Alabamy Bound
3 Show Your Linen, Miss Richardson
4 You’re An Old Smoothie
5 Three Little Fishes (Itty Bitty Poo)
6 Ain’t She Sweet
7 Steamboat Bill
8 Chew, Chew, Chew (Chew Your Bubble Gum)
9 Breezin’ Along With the Breeze
10 Love For Sale
11 Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)
12 I Must Have One More Kiss Kiss Kiss
13 Love Grows On the White Oak Tree
14 Everybody’s Happy for Myrtle
15 It’s Funny to Everyone But Me
16 The Starlit Hour

Frances Nealy

Part of a post about my friend tap dancer-character actresss extraordinaire Frances Nealy (1918-1997) that I uploaded here in 2005; and now, with the addition of a demo reel that helped Frances secure film and TV work, and a portion of an oral history I conducted with her for the California African-American Museum. By the way, I don't think that the movie that Frances made with Brock Peters, a clip of which is on the reel, was ever released.  In fact, I'm not ever sure that it was completed. Too bad; it looks as if it might have had some potential. She is very funny here. . .very remindful of the way she was off-screen. Needless to say, I miss here. Just like so many of my other (mostly somewhat older) friends who have also bought the farm, and who include the diverse likes of (namedropping the dead): Fayard Nicholas, Frances E. Williams, Tony Holland, Demas Dean, Sandy Kadet, Leonard Reed, Lou Levy, jazz photog Ted Williams (definitely NOT the ball player), Joyce Collins, Jimmy Wyble, and Nat Shapiro. Like one local wag, Noel Coward, once said, "If your friends only last through lunch. . ."

"Frances' best friend was actress Cora Lee Day. She was one of the stars of Julie Dash's terrific film, Daughters of the Dust. Not long after Frances died in 1997, I was driving to the grocery store, saw Cora standing on the sidewalk and pulled over to chat. Mostly, we talked about Frances. Cora Lee, who was the last person to see her alive, told me that Frances had tapped out a time step on her (Cora's) palm and then passed. I got so verklempt when Cora told me the story that day that I had to turn around and drive back home. I'm all better now, thank you.

I was always astonished by the fact that in all of her 79 years, every penny Frances ever earned had come from show business, especially as a fairly big (perhaps "respected" is the better word) fish in the smallish pond of tap dancing. As for Cora, for a brief, mercurial (and hysterically funny) moment in time, she was also a professional jazz singer, but I'll save that one for some other time.

Frances Nealy was the classiest and most dignified creature you can imagine; the sort who never took the garbage out unless she was dressed to the nines. That's the way old troopers were.

Not long before she died, I happened to look out on her terrace and see an American flag stuck in one of the pots. I had never known Frances to be unduly patriotic, and so I asked:

"Why do you have that flag out there?"

"Oh, honey," she said. "That's pot. But if I stick a flag in there and anyone happens to come snooping around they won't pay any attention to it."

Twilight of the gods, I tell you. Twilight of the gods."
Pt. 1

Pt. 2

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shows ya how much I knew

Watching the Flying Down to Rio air ballet sequence on TV as an adolescent, it was what I thought life would be like when I grew up. Just about the most beautiful and amazing five minutes in motion picture history. Dave Gould Rules!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ted Williams R.I.P.

For several months now, when I could no longer reach my friend, jazz photographer extraordinaire Ted Williams, by phone, AND, conversely, I had not heard from him for a while, I suspected something bad (indeed, the worst) might have happened. I kept sweeping this under the carpet, hoping for the best. But yesterday, I could no longer avoid the obvious, and so I somewhat gorily Googled: (quote) Ted Williams (unquote) + photographer + obituary, and, alas, my worst suspicions were verified when THIS popped up at the very top of the search results page.

Ted is probably one of the least well known of---extra-categorically---great American artists. Probably due to the fact that when Ted, an African-American, began to operate as a professional in the field of photography in the late 1940s, there was really not much of an old-boy network of similar professionals that he could connect up with. Back then, there were but a relative handful of blacks working in the overwhelmingly white world of photography. Even the field of jazz picture taking was dominated by whites. In other words, he was fairly much operating out there alone and without a net. He never talked about this with me, but I really can't see how it could have been otherwise. On top of that, Ted was simply the most modest and self-effacing of men. He never told me so, but I am assuming that he and his wife, Adrienne, were active Buddhists. At least, they were forever going on Buddhist retreats for purposes of meditation and spiritual regeneration. His always calm and friendly demeanor seemed to lend evidence to that assumption of mine. In other words, Ted was not much for blowing his own horn; there is also the probability that Ted's sharing his name with a certain famed sports figure might have helped bolix his recognition factor a bit. ("Oh, you mean The Thumper also took jazz photos?")

Over the years, I had the pleasure of going through most of Ted books of contact sheets, and the range of artists he photographed---aside from jazz---ran the gamut from the likes of Edith Piaf to Jack Benny. And he had wonderful remembrances of the circumstances surrounding the taking of his photos. As for the jazz subjects he captured on film, I think he and I came to the conclusion that the only major artist he had failed to "get" was Chet Baker. And the range of his coverage of Duke Ellington was mind-boggling, i.e. in dozens of contexts and milieus, both professional and behind the scenes. Also, he was especially "big" on documenting the music scene of his home stomping grounds of Chicago in the 1950s and early '60s, having been employed non-stop by that city's Down Beat magazine, Mercury Records, and Hugh Hefner, for both the mag and the Playboy TV show.

Here is a link to a post I did about Ted a few years ago: "Annie" and. .  .

. . .a link to Gallery M, the Denver gallery that represents Ted (just LOOK at that photo of Sarah Vaughan!) and to:

. . , the agency that represents Ted's overall body of work

Actually, Ted had two other major periods as a photog besides the subject of jazz. He lived in Mexico for a few years, some time ago, and accomplished much in documenting the life and culture of that country's people. He also was a major documenter of Martin Luther King and the activities of civil rights activists during the time of Doctor King's international prominence.

Ted's father died only a few years ago at an age somewhat beyond a hundred. My friend was so full of life and always so active; thus, well into his late seventies he told me that he surely hoped that he had inherited his father's longevity gene. Sadly that appears to have not been the case. Still, he had a good, long, rich life.

My sympathies go out to Ted's wife Adrienne and all others of Ted's friends and family.

Tell WHO?

From my memoir Early Plastic and this chapter about growing up with the movies in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia:

"Mothers of America let your kids go to the movies!," counsels poet Frank O'Hara in his salute to the golden age of movie going, "Ave Maria." And go to them we did in droves in the 1950s, whether our parents knew we were at the "picture shows" or not. . .and not always with whom. Shortly after The Debonairs poured elixir of soul on troubled waters at that high school assembly, a daringly integrated bunch of us went to see the movie Island in the Sun together. We cheered when Harry Belafonte touched Joan Fontaine's hand, but finally booed when they copped out and didn't lock lips. The rumor was that they kissed---a movie first---and we were mightily ticked off when they didn't.

We saw the disappointing Island in the Sun at the Kearse; one of three big movie houses in town. The Kearse showed Twentieth-Century­Fox "product," along with Buena Vista-Disney; the Virginian exhibited Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal; and the Capital had a lock on MGM and RKO. One other downtown theater, the Rialto, located in an office building, exhibited fare that no one else wanted to show (or see for that matter). It was there that I viewed such oddities and major studio castoffs as The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T, (a theme double bill, both were about floods in rural communities and both starred Jo Van Fleet) consisting of  This Angry Age (featuring Silvana Mangano) and Elia Kazan's Wild River; Russ Meyer's The Immoral Mister Teas, and somewhat harder later on (although not X), films like Suburbia Confidential. I saw it several times, not so much for the sex as for its inadvertent surrealist content, which included scenes of a reflexively heterosexual man romping around in his wife's undergarments, only to get caught in the act by a surprisingly sympathetic mate, and another wild swing 'n' swap pair who get off sexually by pouring (shades of Anita Bryant) containers of orange juice over one another. In later years, Ed (Plan Nine) Wood scholars have denied the director's participation in this soft core messterpiece; but if not by the master himself, it was certainly "school of Wood." It was also at the Rialto that I witnessed a strange little number about a walking, talking TV set, The Twonky, directed by Arch Oboler, and starring Hans Conreid. I recently came across an article about this "Lost Rarity of Film and TV From Decades Past," in which its producer, a chap by the name of Sidney Pink, declares the film a "$300,000 mess." Many years later, however, I continue to remember The Twonky (which its producer claims almost singlehandedly managed to kill off the Sci-Fi film genre) as being. . . swell. The Rialto also exhibited occasional first-run fare that had worn out its welcome at the Virginian that had need to clear the decks for some hot new Hollywood hit.
In addition to the Rialto, there were approximately twenty other smaller, second-run, double-feature neighborhood theaters in Charleston, including two---the Greenbriar and Lyric---on infamous Summers Street, which were parentally off limits to all but trashiest of local youth due to their regional resemblance to Bowery grind houses. What it was we were supposed to be avoiding was never exactly spelled out to us by our parents, but had something to do with rats nibbling on your toes and about winos (perhaps nibbling on other parts of your anatomy). The Greenbriar was where they played producer Kroger Babb's cycle of films like [click the link to listen] Mom and Dad (aka Tell Our Parents---"separate showings for men and women and a nurse in attendance at all times"---which seemed to come around every six months or so. [I later learned after writing this that Mom/Tell was not a Babb film but only School of Babb.] Occasionally, the Greenbriar even got religion when local church groups "four-walled" the place for showings of regionally-filmed, cheesy bible pageants featuring cross-eyed Jesuses and hillbilly Marys. These were a genre unto themselves.
TV was still a novelty and the big movie houses in town were open seven days a week from noon to midnight, with the noon weekday shows (adults, fifty cents; children, a quarter) occupied by a handful of straying housewives and perhaps a couple of kids, like myself, playing hooky. I can still vividly recall the way the sound bounced off the walls during these sparsely occupied times as the images were thrown on the screen non-stop- the lights never came up. The Lyric was topheavy on westerns, and when the bus from the coal mine camps pulled up in front of it on weekends, nearly all the passengers would empty out into it in an ant-like trail. In his essay on the movies, "The Devil Finds Work," James Baldwin observed that people did not go to see Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, but Sam Spade as Humphrey Bogart. If that's true, then who were these obscure (to me) Vera Hruba Ralstons and Jane Frazees advertised on the one-sheets outside the sub-respectable Lyric and Greenbriar where Monogram and Republic films had their local premieres? Who were these Weaver Brothers and Elviry, and the Three Mesquiteers? I was destined never to find out. Only when the original Godzilla premiered at the Greenbriar---and I was fairly along in my teens---did I dare enter its dreaded inner sanctum. In the final analysis, my upcoming loss of virginity proved easier than my belated first visit to this long-maligned movie house. A childhood's worth of parental bad press accorded the Greenbriar died hard while my heart beat like a hammer as I skulked my way into the place and found a seat. I felt rejected when the movie was over and I had not been advanced upon by a single one among the Raincoat Brigade's number. For as long as I could remember, authority figures kept warning me about a dangerous strangers at the Greenbriar, Lyric and elsewhere, but none ever materialized.

There was also a foreign film house in town, the Best Art, but since it was an hour and two bus transfers away from where I lived, I never went there much (besides. . . who were these Alec Guinesses and Jean Cocteaus anyway?). The Best was the theater of choice of professors from the two local colleges, and chemical plant executives from out-of­state (who tended to be Unitarians). The State in the east end of town also tended toward foreign and more recherche film fare.
A few years after I saw Godzilla at the Greenbriar, I finally succumbed to the lure of the Lyric when a triple bill of Joy House (Lola Albright and Alain Delon!),Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed (Dean Martin and Carol Burnett!), and Lady in a Cage (Olivia De Havilland and James Caan!), whose scandalous reputation preceded it (but which no other theater in town would exhibit) proved too much for me to resist. A tribute to castrating mothers the world over, this tale of a nasty, rich woman trapped in her private elevator while a gang of street trash stage a murderous orgy in her house-right before her eyes-may well have been the last non-porno film to incite rampant controversy. A kind of Oedipus in Tarzana, "Cagey Lady" was totally minus any redeeming social value, with all the characters looking like they had stopped off to visit the film on the way from one genre to another: "Why are they showing these people on the screen?" reviewers cried out. The experience proved well worth all the rats scampering over my feet and the gum stuck to my shoe soles it cost me to view this Citizen Kane of sleeze during my maiden foray to Charleston's notorious Lyric; which fittingly, not long after, became the first theater in town to go "Triple­X." It wasn't until years later at New York revival houses that I saw films in the sub-Technicolor process, Tru-Color (films in it were shown almost exclusively at the Lyric and Greenbriar), and realized what I had been missing all those years; blues and greens and reds you could eat with a spoon---like Joan Crawford's lips in Johnny Guitar, which seemed to float twenty feet in front of the screen. Alas, no one laid a hand on me at the Lyric. It wouldn't have counted anyway; by that time, I was almost "legal. I still hadn't completely figured out sex, but I craved acceptance, no matter what form it came in.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Seven Come Eleven

Side A:
1. Opening: Seven Come Eleven (Roy) - Company
2. This Is New York (Holmes) - Ceil Cabot, Rex Robbins, Steve Roland
3. The Jackie Look (Davison) - Ceil Cabot
4. Suddenly Last Tuesday (skit by William F. Brown) - Rex Robbins, Donna Sanders
5. I Found Him (Urbont-Geller) - Donna Sanders
6. School Daze (M. Brown) - Company
7. Forbidden Tropics (Wood) - Mary Louise Wilson
8. New York Has a New Hotel (M. Brown) - Company

Side B:
1. Captain of the Pinafore (Warren) - Steve Roland
2. Alma Whatsa Mater (Davison) - Company
3. Sick (Roy-Siegel) - Philip Bruns
4. Don't You Feel Naked Not Drinking? (skit by Robert Elliott) - Mary Louise Wilson, Rex Robbins
5. I Flew to Havana Last Wednesday (M. Brown) - Ceil Cabot
6. Umbilicus Undulatus (skit by Robert Elliott, music by William Roy) - Rex Robbins
7. Christmas Long Ago (Strain-Barer) - Donna Sanders, Steve Roland
8. John Birch Society (M. Brown) - Company
9. Finale: Seven Come Eleven (Roy) - Company

Even though this recording of the 1961 Julius Monk review Seven Come Eleven was given a Columbia Records catalog number, the album was never actually released and distributed. Instead all the copies that were sold were done so exclusively at the venue, Upstairs at the Downstairs, where the revue played. Somewhat valuable and hard to come by, I sold my copy for fairly big bucks several years ago. But not before making a CD burn of it. Available at this site for the next 48 hours.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Japanese Modern Jazz Opera

For those few of you who have not yet cyber-stumbled upon this astonishing vocasurrealese Youtube post. Plus, it bears re-viewing even if you seen it before.

This insightful radio commentary explains what it's all about. Once you are at "The World" page, hit the arrow at the top of the page on the left hand side, right under "2010." Got that?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Oscar Crash '87

In 1987, two Cal State Northridge students acheived the near-impossible---even in the pre-9/11 U.S. --- of a credential-less crashing of the 60th annual Academy Awards. What they got for their troubles was exactly fifteen minutes of fame---that many mins.---on Carson. Next to them, the much-vaunted publisexuals, the Salahis, are nothin' but a couple of pikers.

Apparently all the deals alluded to by Carson, in the last part of his interview with them, never quite came the two guys' way. One of my more Baroque worries is wondering what happened to them.
pt. 1

pt 2

Wonderful Smith

From the 9/18/2008 edition of the L.A. Times:

"Wonderful Smith - whose boundary-pushing comedy routine in Duke Ellington's satirical revue "Jump for Joy," staged in Los Angeles in 1941, helped the black cast rebel against racial stereotypes in entertainment - died Aug. 28 of natural causes at an assisted-living facility in Northridge." He was 97."

Like the preceeding interiew I conducted with actress-activist Frances Williams, here's part of yet another oral history that I conducted in 1992 for the California African-American Museum.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Gladys Bentley WASN'T a man!

Let's jump on the Wayback Machine and travel back to a 2006 post on this blog about singer-pianist Gladys Bentley . She also happens to be one of the Subjects for Further Research in my book Hot from Harlem.


now available at CDBaby
"A wonderful album---jazzy and theatrical in just the right proportions. "
--- Terry Teachout, author of the 2010 biography,
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bearcat and the Bomber

Another chapter in my book, Hot From Harlem, is devoted to all-round African-American showman-dancer-entertainer-songwriter Leonard Reed. Here he is with his long-running comedy partner, none other than Joe Louis. They did this act "on the road," barnstorming the world almost non-stop for more than a decade.

Today is the birthday of Clark Burroughs, of Hi-Lo's fame. Happy Birthday, Clark! (See yesterday's blog post.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Hi-Lo's

From Dutch TV 1980
Pt. 1


Monday, March 01, 2010

A new Lambert, Hendricks and Ross tribute band!

LH&R's creations are (re) compositions and deserve to be (re) performed "live" as well as (re) recorded in perpetuity. This is a musical "experiment" worth conducting, and these folks, a group known as Cloudburst, are fairly much up to the task. And they're bound to get better as time goes by. Their studio versions available on their myspace page sound really good. . .a shade better than the videos. They deserve a big hand. Mind you, this encomium comes from someone who not only has ALL of the LH&R sides, but who even saw them "live" a few times when he was but mere protoplasm in Buster Brown Shoes. Keep up the good work!

And speaking of Dave Lambert. . .

A brief snippet from the D.A. Pennebaker doc, Lambert & Co.  Dave's musical accomplices are: Mary Vonnie, Sarah Boatner, Leslie Dorsey and David Lucas. In researching the group a while back, I was actually able to make telephone contact with Ms. Boatner. Sadly, I learned that Leslie Dorsey, the black male in the group, had remained a struggling (mostly) choral singer until, while moonlighting as a taxi driver in NYC, he was murdered by robbers 24 years post-Lambert on Labor Day 1988. Here's the story from the NYT. Read it and weep.

By the way, does anyone happen to know the title of the composition sung here?