Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015


In 2001 I wrote a long career article in Japan's Record Collectors magazine about former Capitol Records head, Livingston. I interviewed him in the Hollywood domicile that he shared with his wife, actress Nancy Olson (Sunset Boulevard). Here's some of what he told me about his association, beginning in 1950, with singer Yma Sumac.
"I can tell you a story. I had a man who was head of the New York office. He said somebody brought me in this woman, a Peruvian Indian, who had a 4 l/2 octave range. She has an amazing voice quality. She doesn't speak any English. I don't know what to do with her. He sent me some tapes. There was no music on them, nothing that you could put your finger on. Somebody tired to do something with her on another label, but nothing had happened. She came to California and I met with her and her husband, Moises Vivanco, who was a musician and a guitar player. He spoke English. I said, I'd like to try something with her and we made a deal. I hired the composer/arranger Les Baxter. And I said, 'I want you to work with me and her and see if we can come up with something that will be appealing.' She couldn't read music, we didn't know where to start. We had her sing all the various things she did which had no form of any kind. Les sat down and wrote a score based on what she was singing. Then I went into the studio with them and an orchestra and we began recording the whole thing live and literally we were dealing with pieces of tape that were [hold out his hands one foot from each other] this long. We'd get something, then say okay, then go from there. (Sumac continued in "Shared Air: My Six Decade Interface With Celebrity"

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015



April 18, 2015

Midwest Record by Chris Spector

Giving out a set of all originals, Dees will have you scratching your head wondering where he’s been hiding all this time…Solid stuff throughout, this is real deal classy stuff that never fails to impress.  Well done.”

JAZZED MEDIAMICHAEL DEES/Dream I Dreamed: An old school jazz vocalist that’s made a good life over the last 40+ years makes one of his rare steps to the fore and shows he’s had the goods up his sleeve all along.  With a look that could stereotype him as a Sinatra manqué, the only thing the two have in common is white hair and swing.  Giving out a set of all originals, Dees will have you scratching your head wondering where he’s been hiding all this time, especially if you’ve got that jazz vocal jones.  Solid stuff throughout, this is real deal classy stuff that never fails to impress. Well done.

April 24, 2015

Jazz Profiles by Steve Cerra

“Michael Dees is an accomplished artist who has been honing his art for almost half a century and it shows on The Dream I Dreamed.”

April 24, 2015

AXS by Paula Edelstein
“Overall, all of the original compositions tell a story of Michael Dees’ exceptional prowess as a singer/songwriter. With The Dream I Dreamed, he achieves the level of artistry he introduced on his Capitol Records recordings and "One Single Rose."

April 29, 2015

Music Man Blog by Robert Nicosia
"Multi-talented Michael Dees wrote all 14 songs on the CD, and his compositions are nothing short of brilliant. Michael writes in the finest tradition of the "Great American Songbook". His melodies are powerful and his lyrics are alive and full of passion...songwriting doesn't get any better than this!"

April 30, 2015

Jersey Jazz by Joe Lang (June issue)
The Dream I Dreamed is a damned fine vocal album.”

MICHAEL DEES recorded a few albums in the 1960s and played gigs around the country, most notably on the Playboy Clubs circuit.  By the 1970s, he turned his attention to singing on soundtracks, and writing and recording advertising jingles.  In recent years, he has been doing more live gigs, and now has released his first album since 2001, The Dream I Dreamed (Jazzed Media – 1071).  The program is comprised of 14 original songs with music and lyrics by Dees.  The songs are very much in the tradition of mainstream pop standards, and are well sung by Dees.  He has a trio of Terry Trotter on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass and Steve Schaeffer on drums, with occasional contributions by several reed and brass players.  This is no mere vanity album.  Dees is a fine singer who reads lyrics well, and knows what swing is all about.  He has written serviceable songs that he puts over convincingly.  The Dream I Dreamed is a damned fine vocal album, the kind that used to come along regularly, but is the exception in today’s music market.  It is a refreshing collection that deserves a wide audience.  (

May 11, 2015

Bebop Spoken Here by Debra M.

The collection is definitely worth a listen for fans of the afore-mentioned mature, male jazz vocalists, and for those young pretenders seeking to master the craft.

May 18, 2015

By Rex Reed

“The new Michael Dees recording revives my faith in the kind of style and artistry that has all but faded from the quality of life we used to know, and rarely leaves my sound system even for bathroom breaks.  What a fresh-air revelation in the polluted ozone!” ~ Rex Reed

May 24, 2015

Jazz Mostly by Bruce Crowther

“Although Michael displays maturity with his interpretation of the lyrics he sings (here his own – elsewhere those of others), his lithe and fresh vocal sound is something many will love and certainly belies whatever age it might say on his passport.”

MICHAEL DEES The Dream I Dreamed (Jazzed Media JM 1071)
Although only recently becoming a familiar name to all who love to hear good songs well sung, Michael Dees has been around for a long time and heard by unknowing millions. During these many years in the business, dating back to the late 1960s, he was often heard singing on film and television soundtracks. He sang What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life on the soundtrack of the 1969 film, The Happy Ending, and the title song for the 1970 film, A Walk In The Spring Rain; he appeared on The Steve Allen Show; and he recorded albums for Dot Records and Capitol Records, the latter including 1968’s Talk To Me Baby. In later decades, Michael was heard on the soundtrack of Sabrina (1995) and he provided the singing voice, performing One For My Baby And One More For The Road, for actor Ray Liotta who played the role of Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack (1998).m dees cd He also recorded a fine album in 2002 for Mack Records, One Single Rose, but that was a dozen or so years ago and since then only those lucky enough to catch him live at jazz and supper clubs in and around Los Angeles and Palm Springs (where he now lives) have heard him. Now, there is a new album, recorded in late 2014, that shows another facet of this remarkable artist’s talent. Although his past performances have found Michael singing the great standards, he is also an accomplished songwriter and that particular talent is on vivid display on The Dream I Dreamed, all the songs on which are his compositions. And good songs they are, too, ranging through romantic ballads, I Miss You, Where Love Goes, I’m Home, and the especially attractive I Stay, to gently bouncing swingers, In A Moment, So Crazy For You, Back In New Orleans. Michael is accompanied by front-rank studio and jazz musicians: pianist Terry Trotter, bassist Chuck Berghofer, and drummer Steve Schaeffer, with guest trumpeters Steve Huffsteter and Sal Marquez, tenor saxophonists Chuck Manning, Bob Sheppard and Doug Webb, and percussionist Don Williams. Although Michael displays maturity with his interpretation of the lyrics he sings (here his own – elsewhere those of others), his lithe and fresh vocal sound is something many will love and certainly belies whatever age it might say on his passport.

June 2, 2015

Blogcritics by Jack Goodstein

Whether it is the swinging opener, “In a Moment,” the Dixieland shout-out “Back in New Orleans,” or the yearning ballad that gives the album its title, these are songs that call to mind another era.”

Michael Dees has been around. The singer is a seasoned pro. He has the kind of voice that made a legend of Frank Sinatra, but while Sinatra is a household name, Dees has a name few outside the business have ever heard of. And that is unfortunate – the man can sing. It may be that he came along at the wrong time. It may be that his retro sound is out of step with the directions contemporary music has music taken. Whatever the reason, it is shameful that he isn’t better known.

His new album The Dream I Dreamed, only his second release since the 2001 One Single Rose, might do the job if given half a chance. The 14-tune set of original songs highlights both his vocal stylings and his traditional songwriting. His songs, while they lack the kind of familiarity that makes the old standards warm the hearts of the sentimental among us, have the vibe of past decades. Whether it is the swinging opener, “In a Moment,” the Dixieland shout-out “Back in New Orleans,” or the yearning ballad that gives the album its title, these are songs that call to mind another era. That will be their glory for some audiences, and their feet of clay for others.”

June 4, 2015

Interview with Cyrus Webb on Blogtalkradio

June 12, 2015 by Dee Dee McNeil

Michael Dees - The Dream I Dreamed
Michael Dees, vocals: Terry Trotter, piano; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Steve Schaeffer, drums; Steve Huffsteter, trumpet & flugelhorn; Chuck Manning, tenor sax; Sal Marquez, trumpet; Bob Sheppard, tenor sax & clarinet; Doug Webb, tenor sax; Don Williams, percussion.

I put this CD on my player for the third time. Michael Dees is smooth, sexy and addictive. Not only is he an outstanding vocalist, comparably a cross between Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, but he is a magnificent composer. Dees knows how to craft a song, both melodically and lyrically. When he sings his original compositions, he puts unequivocal emotion and excitement into the music, using both appropriate intonation and emotional gusto. Back in the 1960's Michael Dees was voted "Best New Male Singer" at the International Popular Song Festival in Rio de Janeiro, followed by a recording deal with Capitol Records. They released two albums featuring Dees, and he began to get a reputation as a singer who could best represent a songwriter's work. Alan & Marilyn Bergman agreed, enjoying his memorable interpretation of their songs. When television, commercials and movie soundtrack people got wind of him, Dees began making a lucrative living, even singing as the voice of Frank Sinatra in the HBO "Rat Pack" movie. He was sought out as a soundtrack vocalist and sang, wrote and/or produced numerous jingles for radio and TV.

Now, in the prime of his creativity, Dees offers us a richly produced and composed compact disc of beautiful, original songs, with nearly an hour of expressively delivered stories of love and loss. Dees vocal acrobatics and expressively sung compositions bring great joy and entertainment. Here are a lovely bouquet of songs offered generously, that should be recorded over and over again by the best in the business.

June 15, 2015

Jazz History Online by Thomas Cunniffe

“Fans of the Sinatra school and those interested in the continuing evolution of the Great American Songbook will enjoy this album.”

In Bob Fosse’s semi-autobiographical 1979 film, “All That Jazz”, the Fosse character Joe Gideon is mounting a new Broadway musical. He is saddled with “Take Off With Us”, a simply awful airplane-themed ditty loaded with innocuous sexual references. The Fosse/Gideon choreography starts as a typical bouncy showstopper, but then the group goes into a fantasy sequence called “Air-Rotica”. The now semi-nude dancers are split into three couples: straight, gay and lesbian. The backers are shocked and the composer puts his head in his hands and mutters, “Now Sinatra will never record it”. The deliberately bad “Take Off With Us” never had a chance with Ol’ Blue Eyes, but Frank Sinatra might well have recorded many of the original songs on Michael Dees’ new CD, “The Dream I Dreamed”. The opening track, “In a Moment” is loaded with energy, engaging lyrics, and a great set of changes forDoug Webb’s tenor sax solo. Dees’ vocal delivery is straight out of Sinatra with lots of machismo, and a little touch of lounge-lizard growl. The similarities are even more pronounced on the ballad “Look at Me” where Dees evokes the late-night feel of Sinatra’s “Wee Small Hours” album. Dees has superb diction, and for the most part, exceptional pitch control (the exception is “I Miss You”, but despite the wobbly delivery, the composition is so good that I’m sure other singers will be eager to cover it). And unlike most singer-composers, Dees is quite willing to depart from his original melodies to create new melodic variations. Dees is backed by a superb band, including Terry Trotter (piano), Chuck Berghofer(bass), Steve Schaeffer (drums), with appearances by saxophonists Doug Webb, Chuck Manning and Bob Sheppard, trumpeters Sal Marquez and Steve Huffsteter, and percussionist Don Williams. Like these instrumentalists, Dees has logged many hours in the Hollywood recording studios. His jazz discography has been rather spotty, with a handful of LPs in the mid-60s, and a 2001 CD for Mack Avenue. But as one of his new songs states “You were a long time comin’, but you were worth the wait”. Fans of the Sinatra school and those interested in the continuing evolution of the Great American Songbook will enjoy this album. 

July 3, 2015

JazzWeekly by George Harris

Michael Dees ups the ante here as he not only sings but writes the songs here. He teams up with a simpatico rhythm team of Terry Trotter/p, Chuck Berghofer/b and Steve Schaeffer/dr along with guest saxes, trumpets and percussion. He’s able to deliver vocal  clarity and style on high energy tunes such as “A Long Time Comin’” as well as a clever “So Crazy For You” that includes an excitedly outside tenor solo by Chuck Manning.  He sways with the blues on ”Back In New Orleans” with Bob Sheppard’s clarinet but is also able to sound intimate in a trio setting on “I Miss You” and gets shadowy on “Where Love Goes.” He sounds street wise on the soulful bopper “Am I Supposed to Care?” along with Steve Huffsteter’s trumpet and goes gloriously despairing on “Look At Me.” This guy sounds like he means it!

July 21, 2015

By Nick Mondello, All About Jazz
“…throughout the recording Dees shows he is a superior interpreter of lyric and has a marvelous grasp on the interplay between word, note, volume and delivery ("I Miss You"). Where's there's love lost, you hear the yearning in his voice ("I Stay"). On his up-tempo material ("In a Moment," "So Crazy for You," "Truly Love") Dees swings…”

August 2, 2015

By Maria Miaoulis of Celebrity Café.

“With The Dream I Dreamed, this seasoned vet has proven why he’s continued to thrive in the music world all these years. Just like wine, Michael Dees’ artistry only gets better with age.”

September 11, 2015

O’s Place Jazz Newsletter by D. Oscar Groomes

“This quarter we reviewed a lot of cabaret vocalists and a few crooners but none as distinct as Michael Dees. He is a polished veteran that knows how to swing and more importantly, he knows how to sing (vs. speak) the lyrics. Listening to Dees soar on "Look At Me", we enjoy his range and dynamics, a sample of what we hear throughout the session. The icing on the cake is that Michael brings all new, original material. Terry Trotter (p), Chuck Berghofer (b) and Steve Schaeffer's (d) are a solid rhythm section anchors a first rate band that features guest artists on brass and percussion. The result is a performance that you'll want to repeat!”

Monday, September 07, 2015


In advance of Gravine's forthcoming new CD, musician / radio host Bill Kirchner salutes vocalist Anita Gravine. Musicians backing the singer on her recordings heard here include Mike Abene, Gary Burton, Tom Harrell, George Mraz, Jerry Dodgian, Akira Tana, Mickey Gravine and more. And while you're at it, check out some of Anita's other Youtube contributions. Full Gravine discography at

Saturday, September 05, 2015


MOVE OVER DAISY CLOVER AND MAKE WAY FOR TODAY'S BIRTHDAY HONOREE, MARA LYNN BROWN (1943 - ) Here's a bio that I purloined from a youtube upload:
"""Mara Lynn Brown was born in Chicago in 1943. She was just-turned-sixteen, and an intense student of dance when the famous Maurice Chevalier accidentally discovered her amazing singing talent, during his brief appearance in Chicago's famed Empire Room. An evening out with her mother at a ringside table at Chevalier's personal appearance: the veteran showman soon spotted this young "Gigi" in the audience and was so taken with her gamin-like beauty that he called her on stage, and, despite her insistence that she was no singer, induced her to join him in a duet. Urged on, Mara next sang a solo and the audience broke into wild, cheering applause - and the birth of an exciting new singing star had come about! The years followed with engagements at some of America's top supper clubs, and television and radio appearances.""" . . . And suds of singles and two LPs from one of which comes this Previn-Previn song from "Inside Daisy Clover. Come to think of it, Brown's real life story isn't all that dissimilar from the fictional Daisy Clover. No time now to track her down, but here's hoping all continues to go well for Ms. Brown. Check out some of her other youtube tracks. They're reallll good. HEAR HERE

Friday, September 04, 2015


As hard as I try to avoid doing so, it seems pert nigh impossible not to append that hoary adjectival overkill LEGENDARY to his name. Among Tommy Wolf's other co-creations with lyricist Fran Landesman are two bonafide somewhat late-blooming additions to the classics section of the Great American Songbook, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," [HEAR HERE]and "All the Sad Young Men." And there dozens of lesser known ones from the duo that are just as memorable: "You Smell So Good," "Listen Little Girl," "Season in the Sun," etc. many of which have been covered by the equally, uh, well, ummm, legendary performing duo of Jackie and Roy. And on the Bill Black CD that I produced for Japan, there is a Wolfsong (with lyrics by the elusive Wayne Arnold rarity "So It's Spring." Wolf was nearly as gifted a lyricist (on the rare occasions when he acted in that capacity); also a fine pianist and vocalist. In 2003 I played a part in overseeing the reissue of singer Bobbi Rogers' albu, "Tommy Wolf Can Really Hang You Up the Most."At the very last minute, when Wolf's widow/publisher couldn't (make that "wouldn't) supply the songs' lyrics for the CD booklet, I copied them while auditing the recording. At first, it proved a bit slow-going and tedious, but finally, when I realized just how good (was there ever any doubt?) Wolf's music and Fran Landesman's lyrics are, I realllly got into the process of playing lines over and over again to get it just right (they really hold up even under the closest of scrutiny).

Thursday, September 03, 2015


I've been known to be called The Diva Detective due to my ability to track down salient facts regarding female (and male, too) jazz singers. Who why what where & when kind of info. And, in fact, I've only been totally stumped once, i.e. whatever happened to Kay Penton?; did she run off into the wilds with Rafael Trujillo or not? Somewhat curiously, the chanteuse in question, Claudia Thompson, seems to've been L.A.-based. At least that is where her one (1) album was recorded. Also making her total un-Googleability (except for multitudinous net entries to the LP) a bit perplexing are the pedigrees of the players, i.e. Barney Kessel, Benny Carter, Joe Mondragon, Alvy Stoller, Dick Nash, Red Mitchell et al. Topping off the curious lack of remembrance of Thompson is the absolute wonderfulness of the singing AND the songs (a nice mix of the well-known, i.e Body and Soul - and the unknown: Sam Coslow's The Morning After).Every year or so I get bitten in the behind by the riddle and I become (to mix metaphors) like a dog with a bone (digging thru old Billboards and L.A, Times, etc.) Thompson is so low-keyed on most of the tracks she almost makes Julie London, in comparison, sound, like Sophie Tucker. Thompson just sings the song and goes home. Anyone out there in Great American Songbookland have any thoughts re: this riddle?

Monday, August 31, 2015


It's Arthur Godfrey birthday time on 8/31. He'd be 107. Why do we still remember him? Because overnight on November 19, 1953 Godfrey managed the extraordinary feat of going overnight from being the most beloved figure in show biz to, in all likelihood, the most reviled. Read all about it here:'sstory.html
From this blog of a while ago:
Such a bastard, in fact, was Godfrey that his wife of 40-some~odd years divorced him on her deathbed in 1983. Talk about having the last word!

Maybe Gertrude Stein never really replied, “What is the question?” to Alice B. Toklas’ “What is the answer“?“ And perhaps it's not true that jazz drummer Buddy Rich, when asked by a doctor, “ls there anything you’re allergic to?” replied “Yes, county and western music.“ One would like to think, though, that these are not apocryphal true stories.

And it's also "nice" to think that, according to singer Julius LaRosa, when Godfrey was on HIS deathbed and a nurse inquired, “Is there anything we can get you, sir?” “Yes,” he is said to have answered. “Get me some friends.”
LaRosa told me that one a while back in an e-mail, He also wrote to me at the time: “And another display of the man‘s personality/character, which recollection still stuns me. It‘s a Thursday afternoon, he's just flown me and [singer] Ian Davis to his farm in Virginia, At the airport, his wife and son, I guess 9 or 10 years old, are there to greet him. As the "Old Man" steps off the ladder his son comes up, extends his hand and says, “How do you do, Sir?" To his father!! An image which still astonishes mel”

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Eddie “Rochester” Anderson Joe Louis   Tallulah Bankhead   Molly Picon Joe Louis Tiger Woods Jack Benny Ruth Brown Willie Bryant Walter Winchell Dusty Fletcher Florenz Ziegfeld Duke Ellington Ethel Waters Abbey Lincoln Lester Young Peg Leg Bates Moms Mabley Nina Simone Dinah Washington Carl Van Vechten Bessie Smith Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Edith Piaf Sunshine Sammy Fayard Nicholas Sammy Davis Ted Rhodes Tony Martin Cyd Charisse Louis Armstrong Lloyd Mangrum John Garfield Charlie Mingus Rae Dawn Chong Oscar Micheaux Olsen and Johnson Lena Horne Sam Snead Herb Jeffries Molly Picon Princess Wee Wee James Brown Roy Hamilton Diahann Carroll Butterbeans and Susie Fats Waller David Merrick Gene Krupa Ella Fitzgerald Al Capone Will Marion Cook Pigmeat Markham Bille Holiday Laura Bowman Bunny Briggs King Rastus Brown Thomas E. Dewey Earl Fatha Hines Nora Ray Holt Whitman Sisters Mary Lou Williams Sarah Vaughan Ben Hogan Sophie Tucker Ethel Barrymore Ink Spots Louis Armstrong Van Dyke Parks Mills Brothers Frank Rich Johnny Otis Valaida Snow Max Schmeling Harold Nicholas Frankie Lymon et al.

Friday, August 28, 2015


8/29 is Dinah Washington's birthday! Here's a section on the Queen of the Blues from my book HOT FROM HARLEM:

Three scenes from "Unforgettable": an imaginary movie based on the life of Dinah Washington.
                                                         Scene one
"Any minute now that son-of-a-bitch is going to come through that door," Dinah Washington shouts. She thrusts out her hand—a drink tightly clutched in it—in the door's direction, and holds it there for several seconds. Then she pulls it back, mutters something inaudible, and takes a swig of her drink. The dressing room is very quiet, very intense. This isn't just another date. This is the "downhome" and popular Roberts' Show Lounge in Chicago, a club Dinah has played many times before. Ordinarily she'd be laughing and joking with the  musicians, holding court backstage as friends and admirers dropped by to pay their respects between sets. She'd be cooking too, passing around plates of  some special dish or other to whoever wanted it. And above all there would be Dinah's furs. She loves nothing better than taking out her many minks and sables to comb and pet them. She loves showing them off to others. She loves looking at herself before a full-length mirror. Tonight, though, Dinah isn't in the mood, and she isn't making her upset a secret.

"That son-of-a-bitch from Mercury Records," she barks to her band leader, Danny Young. "Jacking me around for months, and now he's coming over." She tells Young how her contract is coming up for renewal with the record company, and how they aren't rushing to have her re-sign. "They're trying to bluff me, those mother-fuckers—trying to get my price down." Then comes a knock at the dressing room door. "Well, who the hell is it," Dinah yells, knowing perfectly well who is there.

The record executive, a typically middle-aged, business-suited individual comes through the door. Dinah sits with her back to him. "Can we talk a  minute?," he asks. Go ahead and talk," she says, not moving around to look at him. "I'm not going anywhere."

 "Well, it's private," he says pointing at Danny Young.

 "Shit!," hisses Dinah. "You can say anything in front of him you want to, but you won't change my mind. I've spoken to three other companies already. You fucked up."  The man puts a large box on the dressing room table before her.

 Mr. Mercury Records then leans over the box and opens it slowly. It is a mink coat. White. Full-length. Tens of thousands of dollars. Dinah stops talking; Dinah starts smiling. A great big lusty smile obliterating the gloom that had come before.

"Well, why the hell didn't you say you wanted me to sign the godamned 
contract?, she says, picking up the mink coat and wrapping it around her in a continuous motion.
 Everything is going to be alright.
                                                              Scene two
 The occasion is a Royal Command Performance in Great Britain in the late 1950s. Orchestra leader Val Parnell strikes up the first few bars of "Unforgettable" Out strides Washington onto the stage of London's Palladium. She looks up approximately in the direction of the Royal Box. A mischievous look passes over her face. "There is one heaven, one hell, one queen and your Elizabeth is an imposter," she outrageously remarks, then launches into her opening number. Cut to a shot of HRH Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, not knowing quite what has hit her.
                                                            Scene three 
 A montage of Dinah's 1963 funeral. At a Chicago mortuary 25,000 mourners come to view the body, 6,000 attend her funeral, and 30,000 attempt to attend memorial services at the Detroit church of Aretha Franklin's father, the Reverend C. L. Franklin, which is inundated with 400 floral sprays. The casket is solid bronze, she wears a glittering tiara, one of Dinah's many beloved mink coats is draped across her and expensive rhinestone shoes  twinkle up at endless procession of those that has come to pay tribute. The cortege consists of twenty-five Cadillac limousines and over a hundred cars, resulting in a thirty block traffic jam.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


In honor of the occasion, here's a track by her daughter, Melodye Condos.

Hear here:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015



Monday, August 10, 2015


I was at a party one time in NYC and w/o advance alert Pinky Winters came descending a spiral staircase lip sync-ing this---her recording of Flying Down to Rio on the stereo---with a mixing bowl and spatula whomping up a mess of Al Cohn brownies. I thought to myself, "My god, Bill, are you EVER in hipsville! This could never have happened to you back in West---by god---Virginia." This is the recording in question: Pinky, with Lou Levy on piano, and Rob Pronk cond. & arr. the Netherlands Metropole Orch. Don't try to buy this CD unless you've got a C note or two to spare.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Happy Birthday to "Busby" Freberg

How much less wuner'ful my adolescent years would have been w/o Mag Mag and Stan Freberg. The latter actually made watching TV commercials tol'able. Witness his immortal Heinz soup ad. He died this year at 88, but his dozens of great parody discs live on!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015


 I've recently brainstormed a possible series for TCM entitled "Where's My Bess." Bob Osborne would be the host and there would be four panelists with laser beams. One of the panelists would be a celeb along the lines of Little Baby Peggy, Marsha Hunt or Mary Carlisle. A film clip would be shown containing a crowd scene in which Bess Flowers, Queen of the Dress Extras (869 films), appears as a background player. The first panelist who spots Flowers and flashes on her image with his/her beam wins. When they do so, they must also shout out "There's my Bess." It has to be those EXACT words or it doesn't count.They would win a dinner with Leonard Maltin or Richard Lamparski or Tony Slide. Meanwhile, I guess I've just got too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

(voice of Westbrook Van Van Voorhis) On this day in history in 1984 . .

. . .  Queen of the Dress Extras, Bess Flowers, ascended unto that great cattle call in the sky

Friday, July 03, 2015

I Get Dizzy Just Thinkin' About It

Here is the final lineup of "Dramatis Personae" in my forthcoming book (now called) "Shared Air: My Six Decade Interface with Celebrity" To be published by Landfill Press, Fall 2015 *** Charles Laughton - Robert Blake - Little Jimmy Scott - Lou Levy - Nico - Severn Darden - Tim Hardin - Tim Reid - Jane Harvey - Dusty Springfield - Chris Connor - Mary Ann McCall - John F. Kennedy - Lizabeth Scott - Joe Franklin - Stanley Siegel - Dan Propper - Elizabeth Montgomery - Djuna Barnes - Myrna Loy - Billy Wilder - Shelley Winters - Chet Baker - Lucy Ann Polk - Jo Stafford - Paul Weston - Oscar Brown, Jr. - Marilyn Bergman - Nat Shapiro - Fayard Nicholas - Charlie Mingus - Fred Katz - Carl Van Vechten - Frank Zappa - Salvador Dali - Dame Joan Collins - Barbara Stanwyck - Neal Cassady - Ricky Jay - Chuck Berry- Blossom Dearie - Miles Davis - Nino Tempo - Leslie Nielson - Priscilla Presley - Ricardo Montalban - Gore Vidal - Ruth Olay - Sir Richard Rodney Bennett - Demas Dean - Bumps Blackwell - Sally Marr - Richard Berry - Charles Manson - Page Cavanaugh - Paul Giamatti - Frances E. Williams - Wonderful Smith - Johnny Carson - Michael Legrand - Herb Jeffries - Dave Frishberg - Sir Ian McKellen - Van Dyke Parks - Annie Ross - Sarah Vaughan - Cynthia Harris - Jimi Hendrix - Bette Midler - Noreen Nash re: Lucille Bremer - Walter Shenson re: The Beatles - Alan Livingston re: Yma Sumac - Don Bagley re: Julie London - Clayburn Pierson - Tuesday Weld - Barbara Harris

Monday, June 01, 2015



Saturday, May 16, 2015

More About "Brains/Feet"

The Leonard Reed Story: Brains As Well As Feet
Legendary Leonard Reed and twentieth century Black show business come alive again through the eyes of the man who saw it all.

If you’ve ever viewed anyone tap dance the Shim Sham Shimmy, you’ve seen Reed’s remarkable signature dance. You've heard his famous songs, “Piano Man” and “It’s Over Because We’re Through.” Now, experience his harrowing and exhilarating adventures that span his intriguing birth on an Indian reservation, his rise from humble beginnings as a minstrel performer and a barker for tent shows, his performances in Al Capone’s outlawed speakeasies, Vaudeville, The Cotton Club, The Apollo Theater, and his nationwide exposure with the original Showtime at the Apollo TV series and producing many musical short films.

Meet the performers who broke through racial barriers along with him to become unforgettable stars, such as Ethel Waters, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Edith Piaf, The Nicholas Brothers, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Sammy Davis, Jr., Cyd Charisse, “Moms” Mabley, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, The Ink Spots, and Willie Bryant. Actors John Garfield and Laurence Olivier, producer David Merrick, journalist Walter Winchell, golfers Slammin’ Sammy Snead, Ted Rhodes, and and Tup Holmes were influenced by Leonard, and even Tiger Woods has gone on record with praise for him.

Leonard’s career took a surprising turn as he formed a lifelong professional partnership with boxing great Joe Louis. Leonard was one of the first Black men to break into Pro Am golf. He played a big part in the creative development of 1960s Motown artists. He became an important choreographer and producer at Chicago’s Grand Terrace, New York Cotton Club, and the Apollo Theater. His sometimes touching yet often comical challenge of being physicallyas he describes it“Too Black to be White, too White to be Black”—uniquely positioned him to experience the best and worst of behind-the-scenes struggles through the back stages and alleys of the theater world’s most celebrated haunts.

Thrill to the true Leonard Reed story, finally told through a no-holds-barred series of fascinating interviews, the author’s rich research through a treasure trove of historical documents, and more than fifty rare photos and illustrations that capture the glamour and excitement of the Golden Age of show business. 

Appendices include Reed’s exhaustive rundown of almost every Black performer of his era; the theaters in which he and the others performed; synopses of Reed’s long-running nightclub act with boxing champ Joe Louis; and a typical Amateur Night at New York’s Apollo Theater. Indexed, and with a Foreword by author James Gavin.

About the author: Bill Reed is a journalist and writer, whose articles on show business, the Arts, and popular music have appeared in such publications as Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Examiner, and International Documentary. His published books include Rock on Film and Hot from Harlem. He is also a producer of Jazz recordings for SSJ Records (Japan).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New From SSJ Records





                                                     ART BLAKEY  






Sunday, April 12, 2015




Legendary man-of-many-faces Leonard Reed and historic Black show business come alive through the eyes of someone who saw it all. From beginnings in medicine shows, Al Capone, speakeasies, Vaudeville, on up through The Cotton Club, The Apollo Theater, TV, and his professional partnership with boxing great Joe Louis, Reed was—in his own words—“too Black to be White, and too White to be Black.” His behind-the-scenes struggles through theatre’s most celebrated haunts are told through no-holds-barred interviews, rich research, and more than fifty rare illustrations that capture the glamour and excitement of the Golden Age of show biz and African-American golf.
About the author: Bill Reed is a journalist and writer, whose articles on show business, the Arts, and popular music have appeared in such publications as Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Examiner, and International Documentary. His published books include Rock on Film and Hot from Harlem. He is also a producer of Jazz recordings for SSJ Records.