Monday, December 31, 2012

Yoi otoshi o! (Happy New Year)

This track by Chris Connor pretty much says it all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Re: Newtown, CN

Reagan defunding mental health facilities and treatment. Add to that violent video games available to near-babies, growing drug use by adolescents, youth exposure to sick rap crap advocating killing of the "b*****s," almost total lack of gun control. . .and it all adds up. Just about every week, now, there is an event of mass shootings in malls and other public places. Mostly by teen or barely post-teen assassins usually outfitted in goth-like attire. There needs to be a Warren Commission-type congressional investigation of this growing national madness.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

sad Sad SAD

My published comment on a story today in the L.A. Times

"All well and good to mourn the loss of clever graffitum on the side of a former car dealership I suppose. But this new Culver City mall will be  erected on the site of the former home of Hal Roach Studios which, for fifty years until its destruction in 1963, served as the filmic home of such as Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang (just for cultural historic starters). No mention of THAT. Who writes this s**t anyway? Next time LAT, please send an adult."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012


One from the jazz singer Pantheon, David Allyn, died on November 22 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven, Conn. He was 93. The Twilight of the Gods, I tell you. . .the Twilight of the Gods. Hear here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Welcome back, Sue


Part Tribute, Part Torch, a Voice Goes All Out

Sue Raney at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency

by Stephen Holden, New York Times, November 13

Cosmic Charm: After a 30-Year Drought, Sue Rains Down From the Sky in a Refreshingly Smart Set

She was in better vocal control than ever, full of intense feelings that were never sabotaged by craft


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obamacare Rules!

David's Ehrenstein's new book!
 Here's a brief section from my book Early Plastic that demonstrates what can happen if one relies on emergency rooms, as per Mitt Romney's "solution" to the nation's health problems, in lieu of having some form of medical insurance. Only by a fluke (the E.R. mistakenly believing that D had insurance) did David manage to survive a stroke that put him in the hands of ER personnel whose sub rosa instructions were clearly to get such---let's face it---deadbeats off of their hands at all cost. Just make sure they had a pulse when you slid the gurney in the ambulance for the pitstop at "County" on the way to Potter's Field.

 CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: That's Where We Came In
"Chief Complaint/History of Present Illness:
This 49-year-old, David Ehrenstein, was presented to the Emergency Room at Midway Hospital on 12-28-96 complaining of headache and weakness. The patient's blood pressure in the Emergency Room was 207/126, and a head CT showed a large intracranial hemorrhage originating just adjacent to and extending into, and nearly completely filling the right lateral ventricle. The patient was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where. . ."
    This thing that happened to David, my significant other of nearly the last thirty years [now nearly fifty---2012] wasn't what I had in mind as a dynamite finish to this book. Two days after Christmas '96, and I had just been laid off from my job as a film researcher. To postpone telling David the bad news, I almost stopped on the way home to check out a new video store in the neighborhood. But I would rather be with David than aimlessly eyeballing empty video boxes. I got back behind the wheel of my beloved and beat-up three-decades-old VW and continued home.
   Pulling up in front of the house a few minutes later, something was wrong: David was supposed to have been home all day working on his book, yet it was six o'clock and mail still had not been taken in. Without even grabbing the accumulated post, I ran up the hallway stairs two at a time. All over the house wet towels lay scattered about. In his bedroom I found David lying prostrate, nearly unconscious and unable to respond to my entreaties to tell me what was wrong. He could only moan: "Leave me alone. I'll be be all right." Bullshit! I called 911, the paramedics quickly arrived, and after a cursory examination, David was diagnosed as suffering from nothing more serious than a "viral infection." Odd! He didn't even have a fever. They prescribed bed rest, liquids, aspirin, and departed.
    An hour later, David was somewhat more responsive, but I remained unsatisfied with the diagnosis: how could you have a viral infection but no fever? Our friend and neighbor Sharon Butler and I were somehow able to get him down the stairs and into the car. We took him to a nearby emergency room where he lay the next two hours almost entirely unresponsive in a chair. At last a doctor summoned us back to an examining room. Again, the diagnosis was the same as an hour earlier.
       "But how can you have a viral infection without a fever?," I pleaded
with the physician.
       "It happens sometimes."
       "Oh.. .."
As with the paramedics, aspirin (the worst thing that you could have given him it turned out) and bed rest were prescribed. We went home where it was a nightmare. David mostly moaned and cried out for something to kill the pain. Fortunately, for no particular reason, I gave him Tylenol instead of aspirin. Instinctively, I applied cold compresses. Later I learned that the "burning" of ice effects a kind of deflective and competitive false pain, which helps cancel out the real pain.
   Something had been not quite right with David for at least a week. He'd chalked it up to having eaten a "bad burrito" at a Mexican fast food place. "Does your stomach hurt?," I'd asked.
"A bad burrito could only give you food poisoning," I nagged. "Leave me alone. "
I let the subject drop.
     Sunup found David no better. And again I shoehorned him into the VW. Because it was close, we went to the same emergency facility. This time, however, all it took for a different doctor was a cursory exam before he hazarded that David clearly did not have a viral infection but was most likely suffering from something much worse. A half-hour later after a rush cat scan, the doctor's worst fears were confirmed: David had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Much later, I learned that he had been knowingly sent home the night before with diastolic blood pressure of over 200. That's nearly twice what it should be. Months later, by the time I found out, it was too late to file a malpractice suit in doctor-friendly California.
  "WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE DOESN'T HAVE HEALTH INSUR­ANCE?" The hospital's chief neurosurgeon's voice rang out from across the ER facility where David and a dozen others lay scattered about on gurneys. He stomped toward me.
"You've committed fraud allowing your friend there to be admitted to the hospital under false pretenses!" he pointed at David and ranted. "Do you have any idea how much the kind of operation he needs costs?"
"What operation?" I wondered to myself.
He stormed off.
        Ordinarily my impulse would have been to shout at the retreating doctor, "If I had known we weren't wanted here we wouldn't have come in the first place, we'll take our business elsewhere!" Instead I kept my cool and didn't give him an opening to toss us out bag and baggage. A few minutes later David was admitted to the hospital's neuro intensive care unit. Midway Hospital is one of the most expensive private hospitals in the city. Early on, I had twice informed personnel there that David had no health insurance (most free-lance writers don't!): still he was allowed to continue along the Hippocratic conveyor belt. And by the time the ER had uncovered the serious nature of his illness, it was too late for them to legally dump him the way they'd tried to the night before.
    I've always been a strong believer in E.M Forster's axiom that in the process of dealing with and embracing the daily "seen," there is little or no time left for dealing with the "unseen." But I contemplate those few minutes that I hadn't spent perusing the video store the night of David's (as we came to call it) "incident." It could have meant the difference between life and death for him. All those years David and I spent worrying about the inevitability of AIDS laying waste to one or the both of us. Instead, he had suffered a bomb in the brain. That's what killed my father fifty years earlier before he'd even hit the ground in front of me.
    Even though "Profit Before Patients," is Midway Hospital's motto, after stabilizing medically uninsured patients, its policy is to ship them off to a public facility post haste. But it was an especially busy time of year, what with the traditional Christmas upswing in driveby shootings in Los Angeles, the city where the future comes to die. There was not a single bed available in the L.A. County hospital system. They were stuck with David. 



Rare JapAndy Williams

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sue Raney SWINGS into The Apple

double click to enlarge

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Yet. . .more new from SSJ!

It simply doesn't get much hipper than this!
Historical Torme radio broadcasts
Rare radio broadcasts, most never before released

 Highlights from three Astaire TV soundtracks
Reisssue of out-of-print 2006 SSJ recording with added new bonus track, "First."



Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Hear tracks

Hear tracks

"new" Doris Drew

San Antonio-born Doris Drew was one of the most widely heard voices heard on U.S. TV and radio in the 1950s. In addition, she etched many dozens of tracks for major labels. And yet she recorded only one album in her entire career, a straight-ahead jazz issue featuring the likes of Marty Paich, Herb Geller, Dave Pell et al, and the Hollywood Strings. As for her other recordings, until now, most of singles had a short shelf life and then faded into oblivion----common for such discs during the heyday of the 45 rpm---until now. SSJ is happy to introduce this new Rarities Series, and is honored to present Doris Drew as its first star. Her backup on these sides constitutes a virtual Who’s Who of U.S. jazz of the 1950s, including John Williams, Les Paul, Herb Geller, Jack Fascinato, and Med Flory.

Track samples (note: Tracks 12 & 13 were chosen for their rarity and any imperfections are in the sources)

Dois Drew Allen today

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Johnny Prophet (Profeta) R.I.P.

"Johnny Prophet"John Profeta, known to most by his stage name, "Johnny Prophet" graced this world for 87 years. He passed away on July 24, 2012, surrounded by his loving family. John was a longtime resident of San Pedro, CA and chose to live his golden years in sunny Palm Desert, CA, with his loving wife, Shirley. Born of Italian descent, John entered this world on March 15, 1925 in Rochester, NY. After graduating from Monroe High School in 1940, he attended the famous Eastman School of Music where he studied trumpet. He then joined the Navy. After his honorable discharge from the Navy, he sang with the big band of famed violinist Joe Venuti. He them met his first wife, Ellen Leigh; they were married and had 3 children. He sang in small nightclubs until he got noticed by Frank Sinatra in the late 1950s. He was then signed with Reprise Records where he recorded several albums. He then relocated his family to Las Vegas where he had the great privilege of working with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. and many other greats. He worked the Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada circuit for many years. He had a very good life and was living his dream. He had a great career and a family that he loved very much. After traveling for years, he worked small nightclubs that were local, since he did not want to keep uprooting his children. He worked locally at the Del Rae Club, Fullerton, Gallaretos, Peppy's, both in Torrance and San Pedro. John was preceded in death by his first wife, Ellen Leigh Profeta and his second wife, Shirley Ann Profeta. John is survived by his three children, Lee Ann Marinkovich (Vince), John Profeta, Jr. and Melissa Prophet; brother, Joseph Profeta, Jr.; sisters, Janet Roehlk and Sheryl Stevens; grandchildren, Anthony Marinkovich (Lilly), John Marinkovich (Kristen), Vinnie Marinkovich, Chris Profeta (Rebecca) and Shaun Profeta; as well as his great-grandchildren, Lauren Marinkovich, Liam Marinkovich and Jaden John Marinkovich; and many nieces and nephews. He will be missed by his many fans and mostly by his family. One thing is most comforting, "We will always have his music." "But now he is singing to Jesus." Private services were held. Please sign the guestbook at and share memories


Here is a link to one of my several blog posts about Prophet. Obviously I eventually tracked him down. I might add that I feel there is a case for deeming Prophet the most-under-rated of all the purveyors  of the Great American Songbook.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I'm Don Wolff and I Love Jazz

Sue Raney Interview

Sue Raney has long been one of my most favorite singers & people. I have collected & enjoyed each & every one of her recordings & her new release"LISTEN HERE" is no exception but it is exceptionally great. Sue teams up once again with pianist-arranger Alan Broadbent in this duo recording. Sue continues her individualistic style of story telling with feeling & sensitivity.

One of my favorite but lesser know Sinatra hits is included here-There Used To Be A Ballpark Here written by Joe Raposo & it's as much about life itself as it is about baseball parks. Sue's husband Carmen Fanzone plays the flugelhorn & played with the Redsox & the Cubs. Years ago they recorded "Baseball" with the Bob Florence Group in Ridin' High.

In this interview you will understand my affection for this great artist whose voice has remained beautiful over the years & I strongly recommend you do as I have & LISTEN HERE.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your presence is presents enough!

click to enlarge

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday, July 02, 2012

Tip of the iceberg. More raves to come

Sue Raney “Listen Here” Rhombus Records

InTuneInternational - Dan Singer

"Sue Raney has done it again! She is a constant reminder of how a great singer can become an exceptional one. In this jewel she’s only assisted with the piano of Alan Broadbent. Less is certainly more here. Together they whip up 13 unforgettable examples of rarely heard songs. The ever popular “My Melancholy Baby” (Norton/Watson/Burnett) shows absolutely no signs of any wear. Its deeply rich romantic message is crystal clear here. “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” (Maschwitz/Sherwin) contains just an ever so slight rhythmic beat. Ms. Raney fittingly gives it her all. Her conclusion is almost heart stopping. Sue passionately nails “The Bad And The Beautiful” perfectly. Dory Langdon Previn and David Raksin are both responsible for creating one of the most exceptional romantic songs ever written. As I write this sadly I hear that we have lost the lyricist Dory Langdon Previn. “The Music That Makes Me Dance” (Merrill/Styne) is another heartbreaking evergreen. It was a blow away hit in the1964 Broadway show “Funny Girl” but was unfortunately omitted from the 1968 film version. Alan has an opportunity to give forth a wondrous affectionate solo midway. Hold on to your hats for “It Might As Well Be Spring” (Hammerstein/Rodgers). It receives a most charming upbeat whirl as it goes up, down, and across the scale. It’s truly a lively most meaningful go around. A powerful “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Harbach/Kern) concludes this absolutely perfect showcase." 

D. Oscar Groomes - O's Place Jazz Magazine

"Listen Here serves as a realization of two life-long goals for veteran singer Sue Raney: recording a duo album with pianist Alan Broadbent and performing the songs that were missed in 18 prior albums! There are thirteen freshly arranged classics done with class and confidence. The open stage allows all of the nuances to ring through loud and clear. Both musicians are easily up to the task never stepping of the other's toes leading to an enjoyable set."

Sue Raney
Listen Here
Rhombus Records

One of the most underappreciated jazz vocalists of the past half-century, Sue Raney is also proving one of the most durable. Raney, who has been singing professionally since age 14, delivered a trio of excellent albums for Capitol while still in her teens and early 20s, then endured a peripatetic recording career that involved multiple labels and occasionally lengthy gaps (filled with teaching and jingle work—as both writer and performer). Through it all, she has never stopped plugging and, remarkably, still sounds as vibrant and clarion-pure as ever.
In recent years, Raney has formed a mutually beneficial alliance with pianist Alan Broadbent. It was Broadbent at the helm, as arranger, conductor and accompanist, on Raney’s previous album, the silken Doris Day tribute Heart’s Desire. Here it’s just Broadbent and Raney, two thoroughbreds shaping an exemplary exercise in simpatico intimacy. They open with Dave Frishberg’s tenderly introspective “Listen Here,” then keep the tempo on simmer through a spectrum of major league ballads, extending from the romantic coziness of “My Melancholy Baby” and “You’ll Never Know” to the hazy heartache of “He Was Too Good to Me” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”
The pace quickens slightly for a sprightly “It Might as Well Be Spring” and a shimmering “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” But the standout piece in this sea of marvelous tracks is Raney and Broadbent’s gorgeously realized treatment, neither too maudlin nor too wistful, of Joe Raposo’s “There Used to Be a Ballpark.”

Talkin' Broadway - Rob Lester

Rhombus Records

As usual, warmth, good taste, and an especially attractive timbre are ever present on the performances by veteran singer Sue Raney on her latest endeavor. She was an early, early favorite of mine and I've never tired of her style and sensibilities. Her musicianship and very clean and unfettered sound make for something elegant and gentle, often restrained without risking becoming at all dull or emotionally aloof. And, every now and then, she'll judiciously use her formidable skill set as a vocal gymnast to remind you that she could join the singers' Olympics events if she chose to. Excellent intonation and diction add to the veteran's confidence. Melodies and lyrics are respected and relished, but never in a slavish or stodgy way. A creative risk-taker with tempi and phrasing, subtle and bold choices pay off handsomely. This is just the latest loveliness in a long series of released albums, too few and far between in recent years, that go back more than half a century now.

This time around, Sue is simply and thoughtfully accompanied by only one musician: pianist Alan Broadbent, whose instrumental solos are never indulgent or straying jarringly from what's been established. They're on the same page.

The melting ballads and soft sounds might be the strong suit here for some. The first track and title song, written by Dave Frishberg, is about heeding your inner voice, and attention must be—and is—paid: vocalist and pianist are paying attention to the general message of the lyric as well as the literalness of the command to "Listen Here." There's an urgency and seriousness, extreme focus, but also a down-to-earth, accepting spirit. Such maturity and pensiveness inform the proceedings down to the closer, the epitome of a bittersweet rumination, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Enjoy the luscious high notes (on the word "true") and deep tones, too, from this melody, classic Kern, shorn of the formality that too often encumbers it in "recital-style" renditions of this 1930 souvenir from Roberta. In between there are other gems from writers of Broadway and movie scores and standards.

On many selections, Miss Raney and Mr. Broadbent make a broad move or subtle turn down a side trip to a surprising path. "It Never Was You" from Knickerbockers Holiday is often heard as a heavy lament, throbbing with self-pity, but here it's a journey through true vulnerability, making the poetic line about "the heartbreak call from a meadowlark's nest" feel real. The famously trilling bird in "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" is usually approached with hushed awe so as not to break the bubble of magic in the recollection of how two lovers met and fell in love. At first, I thought it was the CD's "oops moment," as I was taken aback by the lighter, brisk tempo employed. I thought it would destroy the fragile ambiance I'm used to with this story-song, a particular favorite of my sentimental heart. But I find that the story and fine feathered friend survive quite well, the usual gossamer grace finding a kissing cousin in what's brought out here in the more ebullient, quicker telling: joy that radiates. Similarly, there is "The Music That Makes Me Dance" from the stage score of Funny Girl, thought of as a stand-in for "My Man," the ultimate beleaguered weeper of a torch song. Think again. The "Dance" metaphor sits this one out, and a happier, lilting tempo allows us to think of it as actually about a positive, healthy love relationship making one want to dance on air. There are two melodies by Richard Rodgers: "It Might As Well Be Spring" with Oscar Hammerstein getting a refreshing airing, and "He Was Too Good to Me" with Lorenz Hart's final line of the lyric, "He was too good to be true," phrased as if being realized for the first time, whichever of the line's double meanings is being considered.

A vocal version of the theme from the 60-year-old movie The Bad and the Beautiful becomes almost a treatise on life and love with a revelatory, line-by-line exploration. It's one of many highlights. I haven't heard her recording of another film song, "Aren't You Glad You're You?," which is an extra track on the Japanese/import version. But I do know I'll be rushing to catch Sue Raney sing movie songs when she's among the singers in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics and Lyricists concerts in the first week of June, in fine company: Rex Reed, pianist Mike Renzi, and musical theatre favorites Tom Wopat, Jason Graae, and Polly Bergen.

Sue Raney with Alan BroadbentListen Here (Rhombus Records)
Rifftides -Doug Ramsey
Raney is an interpreter of classic popular song whose creative gift and technical skill are matched by few singers in any category. Her empathy with Alan Broadbent was on display in their last collaboration four years ago. In that instance, her accompaniment was an orchestra that Broadbent arranged and conducted. This time, the orchestra is Broadbent at the piano, providing support and full partnership. After years of mutual admiration and occasional gigs, they have come forth with the duo album their admirers yearned for. It is a collection of ballads, but that by no means indicates that it lacks rhythmic interest. These two can swing at any tempo. That gift is striking in the medium bounce of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” “Aren’t You Glad You’re You?” and “It Might As Well Be Spring” with Broadbent’s “Joy Spring” introduction. In slow tunes, Raney can break hearts and moisten eyes. She finds the pathos in “He Was Too Good To Me;” uncloying sentiment in “My Melancholy Baby;” the poetry of longing in “Skylark,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Listen Here,” the inspired title song with words and music by Dave Frishberg.
When Raney enters a note, it is never by a side door. When she bends one, it is to enhance mood or feeling. Broadbent comps and solos with chord voicings that enrich not just a song’s harmonies but its meaning. Their version of “There Used to be a Ballpark” could almost make you forget Sinatra’s. This collection of 13 songs is bound to become a classic,

"When Sue Raney wraps her lovely voice around a lyric, that song knows it’s in good hands. She’s always true to the words and music, yet she establishes her own style, which is just this side of incredible"---John Bohannon, WRHU Radio

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

And she sings, too!

Due from SSJ Records 8/15/2012

San Antonio-born Doris Drew was one of the most widely heard voices heard on U.S. TV and radio in the 1950s. In addition, she etched many dozens of tracks for major labels. And yet she recorded only one album in her entire career, a straight-ahead jazz issue featuring the likes of Marty Paich, Herb Geller, Dave Pell et al, and the Hollywood Strings. As for her other recordings, until now, most of singles had a short shelf life and then faded into oblivion----common for such discs during the heyday of the 45 rpm---until now. SSJ is happy to introduce this new Rarities Series, and is honored to present Doris Drew as its first star. Her backup on these sides constitutes a virtual Who’s Who of U.S. jazz of the 1950s, including John Williams, Les Paul, Herb Geller, Jack Fascinato, and Med Flory.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Rare Lurlean

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Audio only of Lurlean Hunter on a 1970 PBS entry, "Jazz Alley." Beware of 20 second technical glitch early on in the proceedings

Monday, June 04, 2012

Mister First Nighter Checks In

Tunes From ‘Screwy Bally-Hooey’ Warner Brothers

Lyrics & Lyricists Salutes Warner Brothers at 92nd Street Y

Sue Raney

The Cast

Attention all ye would-be hosts, writers and performers aspiring to the venerable 92nd Street Y series Lyrics & Lyricists. The season finale, “It’s Magic: Nine Decades of Songs From Warner Brothers,” is a master class on how to escape the pitfalls of stuffy nostalgic reverence and make show business history crackle. Solemnity is the enemy, enthusiasm the key and insider’s gossip the secret ingredient. A sample: Kissing Ronald Reagan, Alexis Smith once confided to Rex Reed, the show’s host and writer, was like licking an elbow. There’s a lot more where that came from.
In the show, which had the first of five performances on Saturday night, the studio’s history is told through selected movie songs performed by the strongest cast I can recall in the three decades I have been covering the series. Christine Andreas, Polly Bergen, Jason Graae, Sue Raney and Tom Wopat cover all the bases. The pianist Mike Renzi, a one-man pop-jazz orchestra leading a trio that includes David Finck on bass and Dave Ratajczak on drums, maintains a confident balance between the swinging and the rhapsodic.
The show’s unofficial theme song is that still-fresh 75-year-old takedown of Tinseltown, “Hooray for Hollywood,” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Richard A. Whiting. The song reminds you that craziness and egomania have always ruled in “screwy bally-hooey Hollywood” and that its dictum, “Go out and try your luck /you might be Donald Duck” still applies.
In Mr. Reed’s dishy, anecdotal history of the movie studio and the founders’ fraternal strife, Jack L. Warner and Bette Davis are among the fearsome battling titans he brings to fulminating, fire-breathing life. A film clip of Davis singing and cavorting to the World War II song “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” is priceless. One casting coup is a rare New York appearance by Sue Raney, the West Coast pop-jazz singer who delivers the hits of Doris Day in a voice whose astounding freshness belies her age (71). Her sound on Saturday suggested a clear pond over which hovers a light mist.
Another is a reappearance of the too-seldom seen Polly Bergen performing songs from her 1957 “Playhouse 90” show, “The Helen Morgan Story,” in a deep torchy voice that infuses high drama into a medley of “Don’t Ever Leave Me,” “Why Was I Born?” and “Bill.” With semi-operatic flourishes, Ms. Andreas does the same thing to “The Man I Love” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”
Mr. Graae, a fleet vaudevillian clown, conjured Ray Bolger and James Cagney in “Once in Love With Amy” and “Give My Regards to Broadway.” Mr. Wopat’s tough, barked “Blues in the Night” projected the image of a restless drifter champing at the bit. His “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” took on an unusual edge of self-laceration.
In the past couple of seasons Lyrics & Lyricists, under the aegis of its artistic director, Deborah Grace Winer, has made considerable progress in shucking off a deadly aura of staid historical mustiness. “It’s Magic” uncorks the bottle and lets the magic fly wherever it will.
“It’s Magic: Nine Decades of Songs From Warner Brothers” continues Monday at the 92nd Street Y, Lexington Avenue, (212) 415-5500,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Among the many other unacceptable tracfone policies, if you happen to call their help line, they put you on hold AND while you're waiting they eat up your existing airtime. And if you buy a phone card and the seller (Walgreen's) fails to give you a second receipt with a unique pin number, there is no way that tracfone can/will straighten out the problem. 50 bucks down the drain!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"March" mystery

Found this on the net a number of years ago. Can't remember the singer, who also happens to be the brilliant Portuguese-to-Japanese translator. Anyone have a clue? Probably this recording was quashed due to the provision in ACJ's will: NO MORE TRANSLATIONS! He recorded them, but, nonetheless, is alleged to have hated nearly all of Lees and Gilbert's translations of his work. Perhaps---especially?---"ball" translated as "baby's bouncing toy." Overreaching a bit doncha think?

Some kind of a "record"?

From this month's ITI
Click to enlarge

The set covers Jane's career from the 40's to the present

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Landfill Press Presents

My 2000 memoir, "Early Plastic" is now available for Kindle download at:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Perfectly Frank Night

click to enlarge

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Lord Buckley's birthday

Natal felicitations to His Lordship from Prince William

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Couldn't have said it any better myself

Review: by Dick Lapalm
WCS 056 - Double Exposure
Frank D'Rone
If Jazz had four seasons, FRANK D'RONE would be Spring. Something to look forward to, and something absolutely distinct. It's his first recording in several years, and actually surpasses any album he's recorded. Not an easy task.
"Double Exposure" expertly showcases D'Rone with Phil Kelly's swinging band, alternately with just Frank as he accompanies himself on guitar. He brings intelligence, originality, and ultra-high standards to the music. His lyrical insight, and command over the material is truly staggering.

WCS 056 - Double Exposure
Frank D'Rone
"Frank D'Rone is a world-class singer and a fantastic guitarist. Double Exposure is a well thought-out disc with nothing less than an outstanding track among the eleven." -Chicago Jazz Journal

"There's nothing I can praise about D'Rone's singing and playing that doesn't, in some way, sell him short. This cd is a masterful display of his capabilities and more." -Tommy LiPuma

"What a joy to find that not only has D'Rone's voice lost none of its richness and accuracy of pitch, but that he still swings like the complete musiciab he is." -Journal Into Melody

"Frank is a singer with an individual sound that invites no comparisons; a singer who understands a lyric and tells a story when he sings it." -Nat King Cole

"He has never sung a bad song. When you listen to D'Rone, you're listening to the real thing." -Tony Bennett

"One of the many things I've always looked forward to when playing (in Chicago) is inviting Frank on-stage to sing a few songs. The guy's amazing." -Oscar Peterson (Interviewed by WGN Radio's Mike Rapchak -10/20/91)

"Frank D'Rone is another singer who blows me away. He's a great player, and no matter what song he's doing, it always sounds fresh and brand new. That's not easy." -Anita O'Day (Houston Chronicle 4/19/02)


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jackie and Roy on PBS

It's about time for more J&R moving footage on youtube, doncha think?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Not always as easy as it sounds

Extracted from Wall Street Journal jazz critic Will Friedwald's liner notes for the CD, The Undiscovered Jane Harvey, part of the jazz singer's new retrospective 5-CD set. Buy at amazon.

"The session by Jane, and Les Paul comes from a period when both principals were newly divorced. Around 1960, Jane, who had recently separated from [record producer Bob] Thiele was awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night from a deejay named Bob Landers. He had Les Paul with him in the studio, and the guitar legend was looking for a female vocalist to replace Mary Ford. 'He asked me to come over immediately,' says Jane. 'I got dressed, and actually left my son (Bob Thiele, Jr.) alone. Just praying that he wouldn't wake up while I was gone.' Once there, she proceeded to cut nine songs, with the pre-recorded tracks (guitar, keyboards---mostly celeste and bass, all overdubs by Les Paul).

'I had no idea what they wanted me to sing, or what tune was coming up next. Les just called out all these standards, one after another' she recalls. 'I never even knew they were going to want me to do a second, third, or fourth chorus, or when I was supposed to "finish a take" chorus after chorus.' She remembers that there was only one song that Les wanted to sing a second time, 'You Made Me Love You." She sings it as she normally would, slow and romantically, the first time round, and then 'Les told me to make it sound as sexy and breathy as as possible. She sounds rather like Marilyn Monroe wishing JFK a happy birthday here. When it was done [in the wee small  hours of the morning], she had passed the audition. 'Les wanted me to come on the road with him, but I couldn't leave Bob Jr, so I turned him down."

What Jane had just achieved was the singer's equivalent of pitching a no hitter, with a gun pointed at her head. . .and without a net (to mix several metaphors). The engineer yells 'roll 'em,' she hadn't even warmed up or rehearsed, it's midnight, she's working without lyric sheets, had probably never even sung most of the songs before (there are 9 tunes, 10 tracks in the session). What a pro! And. . .half her powers of concentration are probably still back at her flat where she has just, prrrrractically committed something resembling temporary child abandonment. (Hey! A gal---and her son's--- gotta eat.) And yet. . . . Well, you take a listen below and be the judge.  And in their own way, nearly every single track on this 5 CD set (sold separately) contains similarly miraculous moments. (And, oh yes, Bob JR slept through the night, and is still in fine shape these many years later.)

Take a listen:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kay Penton 1943 Soundie

Here's why Kay Penton was being rushed by all the major film studios.

Film courtesy of Mark Cantor Jazz on Film

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Friday, March 02, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Last Kind

by John Blase

Men, women, and girl singers - 
of the three kinds of humans
you were the last. You loved jazz 
and the smoky little rooms
where the tunes got played. They
took note of your crusade, your
scat without scatting, your 
vibrato-less gee-whizzy Fifties cool, 
plus this pluperfect female shape 
even George Shearing could see. 
But they kept listening because
of your uninhibited phrasing,
your mad human offerings
of punctuation: semicolons where
men could breathe, commas to
put women at ease, parentheses
that gave girl singers courage.
That you always sang haunted 
was widely-felt, but the ghosts were
only known by a few. Born to
be blue was always more than
a song. Then rock-n-roll invaded
our land and the loud was too
much, so you made yourself silent,
an esoteric casualty of war.
There will never be another you
is more than a song.