Friday, April 30, 2010

Your understanding is appreciated

Most readers of this blog are aware of the fact that most of my music posts are for 48 hours only. It's a choice I've made, and I've explained my reasons for doing this in previous posts. Basically, I feel that music downloading of any sort (even paid), is having a deleterious impact on the record business. But I digress. . ..

From time-to-time, especially recently, I have received emails from readers "beseeching," "imploring," etc. that I re-post a music file because said correspondents missed out on downloading one music post or another. Please understand that I just don't have the time to honor these requests; and even if I did, I am disinclined to do so. For as should be obvious by now, I'm somewhat conflicted against uploading these files even the first time around.

That being said, check in tomorrow for a slightly unusual---and I think---interesting file download.

Annals of Anxious Acronymy

G.A.S.P. Which stands for Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play, a recently formed parental group devoted to stemming the increasing popularity among adolescents of something called the "choking game," AKA "space monkey," "sleeper hold" and "funky chicken", i.e. restricting the blood flow to the brain in order to cause a quick euphoric sensation.

Now I ask you. . .just whatever happened to good, old-fashioned model airplane glue sniffing?

Yours truly,

Mrs. Grover Cleveland

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The NEW Group

What's New, the LP that I digitalized today's download from, is now fifty miles away, back safe and sound with its original owner. Thus, no cover photo shot. I could only find a handful of references---and nothing substantial--- to this New Group (formerly The Group) album on the net. (And most of them, in Japanese.) Hell. . .I came up with more "hits" for my Uncle Earl's Hog Calling Instruction LP. (There are more ways to intone "Suweeee!" than ya might think.)

One of those few Google "hits" re: The Group confirmed what I'd recalled about the LP's particulars, i.e. that it was released on Morris Levy's Roulette label in 1964, a year or two after the group's. . .I mean The Group's RCA LP. See yesterday's post for more on The Group.

arr & cond by O.B. Massingill (not much about him on the net either)

Download available for 48 hours only.

"Don't think! Whenever you do, the nation's well-being suffers."

Something overheard one brittle, witty evening at the Algonquin Round Table? Hardly! Instead, I heard this line spoken yesterday (actually I didn't hear it, a friend told me about it) by Larry to Curly in the Three Stooges' Half Shot Shooters.

And just because I---I mean---my friend, chose to watch a Stooges short on AMC rather than Satajit Ray's Pather Panchali on the Sundance Channel, that doesn't necessarily mean that I---I mean--- he's a bad person. . .does it?

Monday, April 26, 2010


Dear Mr. Reed,

I have some info for you on the people that made up the group called "The Group". I just came across your blog today as I was doing research for a documentary I'm working on about an unfinished film from 1962 called "Ten Girls Ago". Most of the film was shot but they ran out of money. It was supposed to be the first musical filmed in Canada at a studio just outside of Toronto. The film starred Bert Lahr, Eddie Foy Jr., Buster Keaton, Dion, Jan Miner, and Riselle Bain. The members of THE GROUP played a trio of black leather clad people called the "Jay-Dees" a take-off of the slang JD for Juvenile Delinquent. Here is what it says about them in copy that was given to potential investors in the film.

"Toronto's own Ann Gable has teamed with Larry Benson and Tom Kampman to create an outstanding new singing-comedy team. Miss Gable is well-known in television and allied fields in both the United States and Canada. Mr. Benson is a nightclub jazz singer. Mr. Kampman is a member of the Ray Charles Singers on the Perry Como televison show. Together they have headlined at such clubs as New Yorks's famouse BLUE ANGEL and BON SOIR."

Of other musical interest, Riselle Bain played a girl that worked at her aunt's (Jan Miner) diner where Dion was a dishwasher. She went on to be part of the group THE FORUM and had a minor hit on the west coast with THE RIVER IS WIDE. The other members of THE FORUM were Phil Campos and Rene Nole. Ms. Bain had a small career as a child actress under the name Babette Bain and most notably appeared as the child Miriam in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. She currently is a Cantor at a synagogue in Florida.

The first 3 photos were taken by John Sebert and the two diner photos that have Riselle Bain in them were taken by Ed Bagley.

--- Jack Dragga

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chet Roble - 1957

1. Sugar
2. I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me
3. I'm in the Market for You
4. The First Baseball Game
5. Easy Living
6. Have Another One, Not Me
7. Little Augie is a Natural Man
8. Memphis in June
9. Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans
10. Judy
11. Lazy River

Recording director: Jack Tracy

Hear here. Download available for the next 48 hours only. Recommended by: Audrey Morris

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two wrongs don't make a right, but in this case. . .maybe they do.

1 Love Among the Young
2 Impossible
3 A Very Special Love
4 While We're Young
5 Young and Foolish
6 Take Me in Your Arms
7 Cross Your Heart
8 A Fine Romance
9 Teacher, Teacher
10 S' Wonderful
11 There Will Never Be Another You
12 All I Do Is Dream of You

Most readers of this blog are probably aware of the fact that I do not upload any music that is in print, or, in 99 % of the cases, ever likely to be commerically available again.  However, in this instance, I'll make an exception with this recording which was recently re-released in a country other than the U.S.

In and of itself, the recording Love Among the Young, IS in public domain in the nation where it has just become commercially available once more. However, the question arises as to whether the operation that re-issued the work doesn't have a moral if not, in fact, legal obligation to recognize the U.S. right to likeness copyright laws? That is to say, even though this recording is no longer under copyright to Columbia Records in the country in question, the artist who created the recording, Jennie Smith, is still alive and would seem to have a right to derive compensation---which she hasn't thus far--- based upon public familiarity with her name, likeness and persona, etc. Especially because the country in question is, along with the U.S., a signatory to the Berne Convention , which deals with issues of international copyright protection. And, NO!, this won't be on the final. And, NO!, I'm not jockeying for that gig on the Supreme Court.

Then there's the school of thought that adheres to the theory that, "Well, at least someone made it available again, something that, clearly, Columbia Records will never do."  Paging the RIAA rabbi!

Download available for the next 48 hours only. A won-der-ful recording!

Yours truly,

Monday, April 19, 2010

A surfeit of superlatives

By now it should be apparent that singer Jane Harvey's new, radically revamped version of her 1988 Stephen Sondheim tribute album has become something of a "cause" for me. And not just because I work for the record label in Japan that has re-issued it.

The current incarnation of the recording has received just about the best set of reviews of recent memory. And make that "extra-categorically." For if this were a Broadway musical they're writing about, it'd run as long as South Pacific. Feast your eyes on the passel of write-ups assembled on Harvey's page at CD Baby. If you remain unconvinced, then take a look at this rave just in from Joe Lang writing in the April issue of Jersey Jazz. But if still aren't convinced, I'd suggest you take a listen to Jane's searing, soaring version of SS's "Old Friends" from the CD. Case closed!

"Back in 1986, I caught singer JANE HARVEY perform a program of song by Stephen Sondheim at Freddy’s in New York City. It was a good show, and I was excited to learn that Atlantic Records was going to release an album of Harvey singing Sondheim. She had worked with the trio of Mike Renzi on piano, Jay Leonhart on bass and Grady Tate on drums, and that is the way that the album was recorded. The powers that be at Atlantic decided that they would overdub the string heavy Ray Ellis Orchestra on the basic tracks. When the album came out, it seemed to lack the excitement that marked the live performance. That is a wordy way to say that the new release of Jane Harvey Sings Sondheim (Sinatra Society of Japan – 1039) is a long overdue happening for this new CD contains, with one exception, only Harvey and the trio, no overdubbing, plus a newly recorded take on “Send in the Clowns.” Sondheim’s music has been largely ignored by jazz performers. The common view seems to be that his material does not work well outside of his shows. Of course, cabaret performers have successfully been doing many Sondheim selections regularly through the years. Harvey, who has her roots in jazz, shows on this album that there are many wonderful Sondheim songs for a jazz oriented singer to explore. There is humor, irony, passion and a whole range of other emotional and psychological states of mind to be found in his rich and tuneful catalog. Harvey takes some unusual paths through many of the songs, but this makes for an interesting and challenging listening adventure."

Now available at

Rex Reed & Polly Bergen talk about Ira Gershwin

If you want to watch this in all its wide-screen glory, click the image twice and you will be re-directed to youtube

Vic Damone on the tube

This is from CBS Sunday Morning a week ago yesterday. I could hardly believe my ears when I heard this segment billboarded at the top of the show. My guess is that this was a somewhat belated segment filmed as a promo for Vic's autobio, Singing Was the Easy Part, published last June. There hasn't been anything even remotely this hip on Sunday a.m. since Billy Taylor retired a while back.

Vic is retired, too. Too bad. Looks terrific, easily a couple of decades younger than his 80-something years. And if the few a cappella bars he sang are any indication, his "best set of pipes in the business" (Sinatra) remain intact. It would seem, then, that he has a moral imperitive to get out there on the firing line with the others and do what he can to try and hold at bay the ever-expanding Blob of brain rot that threatens to irreversibly engulf and devour whatever remains of something that used to be known as music. (Rap MUSIC, my ass.)

Of course, if he prefers to spend his time, as he claims, knocking a ball around with a stick. . .hey, it's a free country. But if anyone would like to send an email to Vic, begging, pleading and, yea, even beseeching him to give the singing "thing" another shot, I'll be happy to forward it to his manager (yep, he still has one). In case you didn't know, I'm .

PS: Would someone please tell the host of the segment, Rita Braver, that the name of one of Damone's former wives is NOT pronounced Pier ANN-JELLY (as in Smucker's). Where do they get these people?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This just in. . .film at 11.

My good friend, Chicago singer-pianist Audrey Morris, is one of this year's recipients of the Chicago Federation of Musicians' prestigious Dal Segno honors for her many years of contributions to that city's music scene. Here's what the organization's monthly publication, Intermezzo, had to say about Audrey in its February issue, upon the occasion of the award announcement.

"Born and Raised in Chicago, IL, Morris studied piano as a child and would listen to the radio when she was supposed to be sleeping, hearing artists such as Fats Waller when he broadcast from the city’s Sherman House Hotel. Her studies were at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, and she also studied with Mildred Davis. Although her piano playing was of a very high standard, she was sometimes cajoled into singing. Her initial reluctance to sing was eventually overcome and a significant part in this was played by Gene Gifford, who was writing arrangements for a band with which she was working. He insisted that she should sing and wrote an arrangement especially for her of a song made popular by Peggy Lee, “What More Can A Woman Do?”. After her marriage to reed player Stu Genovese she abandoned band work and thereafter appeared on her own, singing and playing the piano. In the late 50s, Morris appeared on Bobby Troup’s television show, “Stars Of Jazz”, but was mainly active and very much in demand in Chicago’s upper echelon supper clubs, including the London House.

Her skills were also admired by musicians and she became friendly with Billy Strayhorn when the Duke Ellington band played the Cloister Inn in Chicago. In the mid-80s she sang on George Shearing’s New York radio show. A 1996 engagement at Eighty-Eights in Greenwich Village, where she initiated a series of evening performances paying homage to singer-pianist composers, led to her recording Look At Me Now. An outstanding interpreter of the great American Song Book, Morris sings with seemingly effortless command of music and lyric, her voice ageing with grace. Her self-accompaniment, a difficult art in itself, is highly accomplished. Although Morris is reluctant to place too much emphasis on influences, when pressed she has cited Lee in particular, but also Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae and Lee Wiley. As is apparent from her repertoire, which is replete with the great standards, Morris believes that lyrics are the most important thing in a song. However, she does not ignore latter-day songs, declaring, 'I don’t agree that good songs are not being written nowadays, it’s just that there aren’t too many of them.'"

The award will be presented in Chicago at noon tomorrow at The Lido, 5504 N. Milwaukee Ave. This year's other honorees are: Michael Delaney, Nick Schneider, and Barry Winograd.

The award comes just a handful of months before the June 20, 2010 Japanese reissue of Audrey's Afterthoughts on SSJ Records.

Now available on CD Baby

A bad case of Starlet Fever

Circa 1950 - ? singer Tony Travis dated Jane Wyman, Judith Exner (!), Mona Freeman, Jackie Gleason's "Girl Friday" Lee Reynolds, Cleo Moore, Elaine Stewart, Shelia Connolly, and Joan Tyler. And that's probably just for starters.

In between, he built a lotta buildings (under the name Travis Kleefeld), played tennis constantly, starred in the 1959 (so bad it's good flick) The Beatniks in which he sang the immortal lines, "sideburns don't need your sympathy," and recorded two excellent abums, this one for RCA, the other for Verve. Leading one to wonder, Didn't he never sleep? Alive and well and living in Rancho Mirage CA, and according to one web site, "He's 82 yrs old and dating his neighbor."

Download available for the next 48 hours only.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take a recording, Miss Hogan

1. If I Had a Talking Picture of You
2. It All Depends on You
3. Lucky in Love
4. Aren't We All
5. Button Up Your Overcoat
6. I'll Know Him
7. Together
8. The Best Things in Life Are Free
9. You're the Cream in My Coffee
10. Just Imagine
11. My Sin
12. Thank You Father

Claire Hogan, a former big band singer, eventually became the secretary for legendary composer, Cy Coleman.It was while she was working in this capacity that he oversaw the production of a pair of Hogan recordings for the MGM label. This is the first of the two, with Leroy Holmes orch., released in 1956. The second, Boozers and Losers, came more than a decade later, in 1967.  Rather far apart, I would say. Guess she was otherwise detained answering the phone, and taking dictation for Coleman. Of the two, I prefer the '67 effort. But that one is rather easy to come by on the rare record market, while this one eluded my capture for a number of years until last November when I was record shopping in Tokyo and I came across this perect facsimile edition of the LP. Perfect because the copy is absolutely accuarate in every reproductive detail, down to even the same rather heavy cardboard stock that MGM employed for its jackets. A-ma-zing!

Available for downloading for the next 48 hours only.

Kamuca - Konitz Update

Now available at ebay  AND CD Baby. Read more about it here.

I just now posted the following to the Yahoo group, Jazz West Coast. It might also be of interest to readers of this blog:

I am pleased to report that my new---and previously un-issued---Cellar Door Records CD release, Richie Kamuca and Lee Konitz 'Live' at Donte's is now available for on-line purchase at:

The raw material for this release was given to me by Richie's widow Dory. I sent Konitz an advance copy and he seemed quite pleased with what he heard. Understandably, given the numbers of dates he's played over the years, he could not recall the other musicians on this more than 35-year-old date.

The person who cracked the riddle for me was singer Pinky Winters who, when I gave her the advance CD for help in identification of the other players besides Lee and Richie, immediately said, right off the bat even before she'd heard the first number: "That's Jake Hanna's laugh." Amazing!

I immediately rang up the (alas, now, late) drummer, just back from a tour in Italy with singer Roberta Gambarini. Immediately and somewhat miraculously he COULD recall the other players, i.e. himself, Dolo Coker and Leroy Vinnegar. I have since learned that Hanna's laugh was as famously identifiable as his playing.

I might add that, before Ms. Winters came to my rescue I had just about given up on cracking the riddle of the other musicians on this gig. To begin with, I could find no listings or reviews of the date. I did, however, did eventually manage to uncover someone who was actually there for the occasion. But even though said attendee could even recall parts of conversations that went down that night with friends, he too drew a blank re: the other players. (Gakkkk!) Thanks again, Pinky.

For those, (I'm guessing) relative few of you unfamiliar with CD Baby, it is a cyber seller that has proven a boon to independent CD outfits. I like to think of it as kind of the CD equivalent to the terrific regional food retailer, Trader Joe's. Fast, efficient and easy to deal with. If you've never done business with CD Baby before, I'd suggest that there is no better time to give them a shot. Admittedly I'm biased, but I think that this is a really wonderful CD. A summit meeting of two giants of jazz sax, and a near-first for them. Prior to this, they had only performed and recorded together in ensemble big band sessions, and on one track on a Lee Konitz LP. Well worth the wait!

Apr.16 - 8pm Dolores Peterson Presents jazz singer Karolina Naziemiec & legendary reed man Sam Most at Duna Csarda Hungarian Restaurant, 5820 Melrose Ave. L.A.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tommy Wolf

1. I've Never Been Anything (Wolf)
2. So It's Spring (Arnold - Wolf)
3. Apples on the Lilac Tree (Wolf - Landesman)
4. Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most (Wolf - Landesman)
5. It Isn't So Good It Couldn't Get Better (Wolf - Landesman)
6. Here's to Spring (Wolf)
7. You Smell So Good (Stone - Wolf)
8. A New Day, a New Life, a New Love (Wolf - Landesman)
9. My Gal Likes Me Like I Am (Arnold - Wolf)
10. She's in Love With the Boss (Wolf - Landesman)
11. From an Ancient Proverb (Wolf - Landesman)
12. Will Love Come Along Again? (Wolf - Landesman)

How this managed to elude certaine notorious record bootleggers all this time is anyone's guess. Maybe they just couldn't find a copy of the LP to re-master from. Well, I have one; but I wouldn't have loaned it to them even if they had asked, the moofoo gonifs. They did manage, however, to snag Wolf at Your Door, the first of two albums that Tommy recorded for Fraternity Records.

Singer-pianist-songwriter Wolf was discovered for the label by its part owner, Dick Noel. Yes! That Dick Noel. Here is a nice bio of Wolf that appears on his songwriting partner Fran Landesman's website. Liner photo (not shown) of Wolf was taken by my late friend Ted Williams.

Bass: Monty Budwig; drums: Shelly Manne. Guess this fantastic L.A. dream rhythm machine just happened to be in Chicago on Sept. 5 & 6, 1957 when this was recorded. And to think. . .I was still in junior high school when all this hipness was going down in Chi-town.. Didn't take me too long to catch up with it though, thanks to, among others, Charleston, WV radio jazz dee-jay Hugh McPherson. But I digress. . ..

Available for download for the next 48 hours only.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A slight change of venue

Sometimes I'm Happy (Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar)
If I Should Lose You (Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger)
Summertime (George Gershwin, Dubose Heyward)
Good For Nothing Joe (Rube Bloom, Ted Koehler)
Day In, Day Out (Rube Bloom, Johnny Mercer)
'Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams, Bernie Hanighen)
He Needs Me (Arthur Hamilton)
Makin' Whoopee (Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn)

The title of this LP---one of Shirley Horn 's first recordings---was not recorded at the Vanguard but, rather, Gaslight Square in St. Louis. The Vanguard was about a thousand times more well known to the average record buyer than the actual recording site. Besides, who could tell the difference anyway? To HELL with historical---not to mention discographical---inaccuracy. rec 8/61 w/ John Mixon, bass & Gene Gammage, drums. Download available for the next 48 hours only.

Although the label that released this, Canadian-American, was a bonifide (not bootleg) label, it is somehow doubtful this was released with Horn's knowledge or permission. Still. . .nice to have it. Sorry 'bout the jacket scan. Then again, maybe the more the scan crops off of the jacket---ummmm--- "design," the better.

Friday, April 09, 2010


Bill Black

From my blog post of Monday, June 13, 2005

Who KNEW?!

If someone had told me as recently as only a few months ago that a several-years-long CD labor of love of mine would ever actually see the light of day as a 2005 release, I'd have been tempted to invoke a paraphrase of that much-quoted line uttered by Estelle Reiner in When Harry Met Sally: "I'll have what you're having."

The album, Down in the Depths by ex-Gene Krupa band singer Bill Black, is just about the only one of my various writing or music projects to ever come to pass without my doing much in the way of causing it to happen.

Last year I went to Japan, half to try and sell some recording masters that I was representing, and just as much to experience cherry blossoms for the first time. As an afterthought, I placed a Bill Black track on a sampler disc. But leave it to the Japanese, true custodians and keepers of the U.S. cultural flame! Black was by far the least well-known of the lot, but a fine medium-sized record label chose his album for release over nearly all the other artists on the sampler, some of whom are fairly well-known. Down in the Depths is scheduled for release 8/31/05.

In the same spirit one might pay to have a favorite but faded painting to be cleaned up, I had shelled out to have the previously-unreleased 1955 recording restored, mostly because I wanted to be able to hear it without the attendant sonic distress that had built up on the acetate disc over the years. Then, like Topsy, it just grew.

The record outfit also picked up two others of the albums on the sampler for release this year on my own boutique label (Cellar Door Records - Japan) to be distributed by them. But I still can't get over the Bill Black release. In fact, it's already shown up for ordering on the great U.S. Dusty Groove web site.

I've just received the both concise and thoughtful copy for the text that will appear on the back of the CD. A Japanese associate of the label wrote it; I'd like to share it.

"Bill Black was born in 1927 to a musical family in Granite City, Illinois. He started singing professionally at an early age and, after several years in St. Louis, headed for New York. Gene Krupa hired Black as his band's vocalist in 1948. Black, who was with Krupa for 18 months, was the last fully-employed 'boy' singer with the band before it folded in 1950.

George T. Simon predicted that Black would become the next big singer, in the lineage of Crosby, Sinatra, Haymes and Como. In the 1949 "Down Beat" magazine readers' poll of Band Singers, he came in fourth, just behind Johnny Hartman and one notch ahead of Buddy Greco.

But Black's career did not progress after he left Krupa. He fled to Canada and changed his name to Clay Mundey, according to Black, to avoid a tax problem. However, others have said that in 1951 Black was attacked bythe Mob and left on a Los Angeles freeway, and that his injuries required ayear of recuperation. Around this time he had signed as a solo artist with Mercury Records, but for whatever reason, it was a contract he was never to fullfil.

Bill Reed, the release producer of this obscure but historically and artistically important album, met Black (still posing as Clay Mundey) when the latter was working as a desk clerk at the YMCA in New York City in the early 1960's. They became friends and Black gave Reed the original acetate disc of Down in the Depths, recorded in the mid-fifties. Despite a serious alcohol problem, Black remained popular with his friends,who included many Hollywood stars. Then, one night in 1989, a seriously ailing Black had one final shot of his drink of choice, vodka, went to sleep andwas found dead the next morning by a neighbor who looked in on him. He was buried in "Potter's Field."
and from my blog of. . .
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A has-been under TWO names

By the late 50s, singer Bill Black, on the run from the mob, had fully inhabited his new persona of "Clay Mundey." And when, around that time, influential midwestern music critic Dale Stevens informed that, in essence, he would eat his shorts if Mundey didn't become the next big thing, he apparently had no idea that he was writing about the very same performer of whom, less than a decade earlier, major jazz critic George T. Simon had written:

"Right now Gene Krupa has himself a fine singer and a fine performer. I have a hunch that sometime in the future he's going to garner a little additional glory of the reflected variety from Bill Black."

Both men were very right about Black/Mundey's artistry, but couldn't have been wronger about the fact that he would soon arrive. He finally does---sort of---when SSJ Records (Japan) issues his posthumous CD, Down in the Depths on August 25th. Too bad there's no heaven, no hell (t'ain't ya know) from which he can observe his belated digital transcenendence.

I suppose I'll never get over wondering what it was that caused Bill Black to run so fast, so far from the long arm of the organized crime "wing" of the record biz.
Over the years since the, I have collected some of the several dozen air checks and  the five commercial sides that Black/Mundey did with Krupa.. One of the songs, "Tulsa," has a somewhat interesting back story. Clearly the number was written for the soundtrack of the motion picture of the same name that year. And most likely, "Bill Black" would have made a commercial recording, which in turn might have been used on the soundtrack of the film. All of which could have conceivably pointed his career in a nice direction, because the tune, by Allie Wrubel and Mort Greene, is an uncommonly good one as far as these things go. And Black just might have scored a hit recording that would have catapaulted him out of the boy band singer category and into the solo big time. Alas, there was a musician's strike that year and, thus "Tulsa" was never commercially recorded. Thus the "live" version with the Krupa band here---along with one other Krupa/Black aircheck of the song---are, to the best of my knowledge, the only versions of this terrific little song ever cut.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

New on Cellar Door Records

The seeds for this release were planted in early 2009 when I introduced a music group from the stage of L.A.’s Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill and in which I referred to myself as “a jazz record producer.” Afterwards, in between sets, I was approached by a pleasant and attractive woman who introduced herself as “Dory,” and in a somewhat self-effacing manner said to me: “My late husband was a jazz musician and perhaps you might be interested in some of the unreleased recordings he left behind. Maybe you‘ve heard of him.” I asked his name, and when she told me, I made no attempt at concealing my enthusiasm: “Richie Kamuca! Of course I‘ve heard of him.”

We were off to the races. Dory and I made an appointment to go through Richie’s tape archives, and a few days later we got together at her pleasant Los Angeles condominium, with “archives” being perhaps not quite the right word. For while the boxes of cassettes and a handful of reel-to-reel were well taken care of, there was very little in the way of written description on the tape containers.

Before departing that afternoon, Dory told me a little bit about her marriage to Richie. Until the end of her husband’s unspeakably short life (he died in 1977 just before his 47th birthday), they had led an uncommonly comfortable life for a couple whose main source of income was his activities as a jazz musician. This, due to his more than a decade as a fixture in Merv Griffin’s TV band, first on the east coast and then in Southern California when the tele-talker moved his base of operations westward.

Dory entrusted me with the tapes and I spent the next few weeks listening to, and trying to suss out the audial contents of those dozens of tapes. Finally, the cassettes contained little that was releasable, due to poor sound quality. (“Just put the mini-recorder down anywhere.“) But what was on the small batch of 7 inch reel-to-reel tapes? Needless to say, I no longer possessed such a creature in my small arsenal of audio equipment.

At one time a near-common fixture in sound-oriented homes, the r-to-r tape machine has suffered the fate of 8-track, quad, and a panoply of other once-common audio novelties of recent memory since consigned to the Museum of Forgotten Formats (“For BETA, turn right at the Selectavision room.”). I was not even able to rent one from any audio supply houses in Los Angeles. But at just about the time I was ready to give up, I learned that my friend, vet jazz trombonist Dick Nash owned one. AND he was happy to loan it to me, for as he informed: “I haven’t used the thing in years.” (Thanks, Dick!)

I began to listen to the r-to-r’s, and what I heard turned out to be well worth the all the tsuris I had gone through to secure a player. A box labeled “Buddy Tate - Richie Kamuca - Donte’s 1970” was exactly that: a blistering intergenerational late night jam session at the long-gone, legendary North Hollywood jazz spot Donte’s. Not exactly the highest of FI, but as they say, “Close Enough for Jazz.“ Overall, it was so good that the contents were issued in late 2009 by Japanese jazz label, SSJ Records. Equally rewarding, and with even better sound, was a box labeled “Kamuca - Konitz Donte‘s 1974” and which serves as the basis for this release, a summit meeting of two giants of jazz sax, and a near-first for them.

Donte's, where this album was recorded, opened shop in 1966 in North Hollywood, CA and ran continuously for more than twenty years, finally shuttering for good on April 3, 1988. During that time, there were very few stars in the world of jazz who did not appear there either on stage or else in the audience. For it was an especially favored hangout of musicians from the Tonight Show band which operated out of nearly NBC-TV studios. The club was the brainchild of former dancer and choreographer Carey Leverette, who was found dead in the club's cluttered office just three days after it had closed its doors for good.

In addition to Dory Kamuca Atkinson, I am also grateful to singer Pinky Winters and (the late) drummer Jake Hanna for assisting me with identification of the players on the date. And to Rick (Atomic) Alper and Tom Henderson for taking the time to listen to the recording and helping identify who’s playing what. Richie’s steady instrument was tenor, but from time-time-time he switched to alto; and Lee Konitz operated in a similar but opposite---alto to tenor---direction on occasion. However, on this particular date, both men stuck to their main instruments of choice throughout the gig. Lastly, much gratitude especially to Lee Konitz who so graciously cooperated in the release of this recording. --- Bill Reed

Piano: Dolo Coker; drums: Jake Hanna; bass: Leroy Vinnegar

Available now in a limited, numbered edition of 300 copies @12.99 ea. at:

Atomic Records, 3812 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505
PM Sounds, 1115 Satori Avenue, Torrance, California 90501

Also available at ebay and soon at CDBaby

1. Baby Baby All the Time (Listen to 1 minute of) 11:47
2. Just Friends (Listen to 1 minute of) 11: 10
3. Star Eyes (Listen to 1 minute of) 7:41
4. All the Things You Are (Listen to 1 minute of) 14: 25
5. Lester Leaps In (Listen to 1 minute of) 11:16

Monday, April 05, 2010

Quite a character, I'd say

Plus four bonus tracks from Shannon's 10" Atlantic LP

Available for download for the next 48 hours only.

Here is most of Whitney Balliett's chapter on Hugh Shannon in the former's American Singers: 27 Portraits in Song .  The missing page contains material about Billie Holiday's appreciation of Shannon's singing ("Man, you don't sound like nobody! You gotta sing!"), and his hanging out in P'town in the mid-1940s with the likes of Marlon Brando, Imogene Coca and Julius Monk!

Recording and cover scan courtesy of J.L.
Available at
Coming from Cellar Door Records April 2
Coming this Fall from BearManor Media

Thursday, April 01, 2010

VDP Rarities

Van Dyke Parks. Genius? Ask yourself, "What would Mozart say?" In other words. . . .doubtful; still. . ..

1. Come to the sunshine - Esso Steel Band
2. Come to the sunshine - Harpers Bizarre
3. High coin - Harpers Bizarre
4. Number nine - VDP
5. Come to the sunshine - VDP
6. All golden - vdp
7. Datsun comm'l - VDP
8. On the rolling sea - vdp
9. Ice capades cue 1 - VDP
10.Ice capades cue 2 - VDP
11.Ice capades cue 3 - VDP

 Download available for the next 48 hours only.