Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Norman Mailer’s 50th Birthday Party

Monday, December 1st, 2008 friends:

Herewith is a chapter of a new book in progresss, with the working title of “Life with the Legends: Walking with the Showbiz Icons.” This segment is representative of a pretty singular instance, in one opinion anyway, and concerns how I got invited to the famed, 50th birthday celebration that the late literary icon, Norman Mailer, threw for himself in February of 1973. It was quite a night. Enjoy!

From 1971 to 1973, pianist/record producer Andy Kahn and yours truly performed in a musical group that we had the nerve to call “The All-Star Jazz Trio.” Kahn and I had been playing together since we were kids, with me on drums, and a number of bass players. By the time we turned 18, we had become decent jazz players. Well, enthusiastic ones anyway.

In 1971, there was virtually no live jazz to be heard in center city Philadelphia, but that didn’t stop us from approaching a restaurant/club– called “Skewers” and located on tony Rittenhouse Square–about presenting live jazz several nights a week. If memory serves, Andy Kahn played solo piano the first night, I brought my drums down–for free–the next night, and the following night a bass player who had been enjoying us from the bar joined us. We were booked five nights per week, and it didn’t take long for the whole enterprise to pick up steam.

All the real and wannabe jazz fans came out of hiding to hear these rambunctious, 18-year-olds, if only because Philadelphia jazz fans had nowhere to go after the demise of clubs like Peps, the Showboat and New Jersey’s Red Hill Inn. It didn’t take long for musicians to get the word about the action, and we had our share of well-known “sitters in,” including Pepper Adams and Jerry Dodgian of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, pianist Bernard Peiffer, Ronald Reuben and Glenn Dodson of the Philadelphia Orchestra (we later recorded with Reuben and Dodson), and on one evening, just about half of the Woody Herman Orchestra. We even hired our own press agent, who made sure our names appeared in the gossip columns regularly in exchange for a $25 per month fee.

Supporting us through the years in our musical endeavors was a dear, dear friend, who left us much too soon some years ago, named David Kay. Kay was not a jazz musician. He was a fan and listener who was exposed to the real stuff in New York City at a young age. His mother was jazz singer Carol Stevens, who recorded several impressive projects for Atlantic Records backed by the likes of Herbie Mann; did very well on the New York jazz club scene; and got some great write-ups in the trades and even in Time magazine. Since 1969, Stevens had been living with Norman Mailer, the literary giant and larger-than-life personality who passed away on November 10th of last year at the age of 84.

Always the publicity hound, which is why Mailer was as much a “personality” as he was a writer, he decided in February of 1973 to throw himself a 50th birthday bash. But this would be no mere party. It would be held at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City with 550 of Norman Mailer’s closest friends as invitees. In true Mailer style, he decreed that each and every one of the 550 people invited would have to pay $30 per person (then a hefty fee) to attend the bash. Evidently, all or most of them paid up, and the guest list included some major names, like Shirley MacLaine, Muhammad Ali and then-Senator Jacob Javits. A couple of somewhat lesser names were also on the guest list, courtesy of David Kay and his mother. Those names were Andy Kahn and Bruce Klauber. And we didn’t have to pay the $30 admission fee.

I have no recollection of just how we got to New York. I suspect it was either in Kahn’s Fiat or my Vega. However we did get there, what we witnessed upon our arrival at The Four Seasons was absolutely incredible. People were jammed in everywhere, and there were big stars at every turn. The crowd was buzzing in anticipation of Mailer’s remarks that were to be made later that evening. He was supposed to be saying something of major, international consequence (long-time Mailer foe Gore Vidal once commented that everything Mailer ever said in public was supposed to be of major consequence).

Kahn and I were greeted by our friend David Kay, his mother, and surprise of surprises, the “Man of the Hour” in person. Mailer was quite gracious, and said something to the effect that he heard of the fine work we were doing as young jazz musicians, and that he understood us to be “quite talented.” I don’t remember whether or not he patted us on the head.

Then the music began, and this was music of the real, all-star variety. The players included baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, who had kind of taken Andy and I under his wing when he played with us in Philadelphia; composer/multi-instrumentalist David Anram; and the legendary bassist /composer Charles Mingus. Pepper Adams tried to make us feel comfortable and at home. I think he realized that one of us–that would be me–was in way over his head that night. Andy Kahn, who had been in show business since childhood, was not in over his head. He was in his element.

One of the many real novelties of the evening had to do with just how the food was served. This night, guests were invited to get whatever they wanted–from desserts to appetizers to entrees–direct from The Four Seasons kitchen and eat in the kitchen if they so desired. None other than Charles Mingus himself made sure that Andy and Bruce, the two young jazzers from Philadelphia, were escorted properly into the Four Seasons kitchen. Mingus suggested that we all dine on apple pie, which he deemed “the best in the world.” It was, and the Charles Mingus who was said to be among the most volatile personalities in the music world, was not on view that evening.

Then it was time for the birthday boy’s big speech, the one that would be of major, international consequence. Mailer sauntered up to the microphone in front of 550 adoring fans. It soon became clear, however, that the honoree may have downed too many bourbons too quickly.

The notoriously anti-feminist Mailer began his remarks thusly: “A lot of people ask me,” he said after the applause had died down after his introduction, “why I associate with so many worn-out, older women. Well, I’ll tell you why. Because they’re all the same once you get past the old, worn-out part.” Hoo boy. And that was just the start of it.

His remarks only went further downhill from there. Mostly, he was rambling semi-incoherently, and the portion that was supposed to be of major consequence had vaguely to do with a citizen’s agency that he wanted to set-up to investigate the CIA. He called it “The Fifth Estate,” or something like that.

The evening seemed to slowly deflate after that, but the partying, eating and drinking continued long into the night, though not with the same fervor. I was ready to leave. Andy Kahn, bless his heart, wanted to stay until morning.

I again have no recollection as to when we got back to Philadelphia and how we got there. What I did know was that we had a singular experience that defined jazz and defined New York City during those great days.

I wish I had a photograph of that night, but I do have one memento. Our press agent certainly worked overtime for us in this case. A day or two after the party, an item appeared in the entertainment column of the Philadelphia Inquirer that read in part, “Andy Kahn and Bruce Klauber of The All-Star Jazz Trio playing at Skewers, were Philadelphia representatives and invited guests at Norman Mailer’s 50th birthday party held at New York CIty’s Four Seasons hotel.”

It’s true. I still have the press clipping. Andy and Bruce were, indeed, there.

October 20th: Jazz Update

Monday, October 20th, 2008

We have recently arrived back in Naples, FL, and before I could even get comfortable, I received a call from my editor at the Naples Daily News asking if I would review the upcoming Charlie Daniels Band concert at The Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts. I’m pretty much open to any kind of music these days–as long as it’s played well–and though I wasn’t overly familiar with Daniels, I figured, what the heck. While I could have done without his redneck rhetoric about Jesus, the flag, hanging criminals from a tall tree with a short rope–and a bit of gay-bashing thrown in for good measure–there was no getting around the fact that this group is superb. Sure, the 72-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist/violinist did his few country hits, and a tribute to Johnny Cash as well, but a good amount of what was played was a Latin/Southern rock/western swing/jazz/fusion hybrid that swung, was expertly executed and darned impressive. Those who thought they were in for a night of good ol’ country fiddlin’ may have been disappointed. I was impressed and surprised. Most of you know that fusion, of any kind, isn’t easy to play. Daniels and his five talented sidemen made it look easy. As he said during a recent interview about his plans for the future, Daniels said, “Heck, I might even make a jazz album.” He should. If Willie Nelson can do it, so can Charlie Daniels.

You may have noticed that we have lowered the price of everything to $10. Given the terrible economic climate, it’s the least we could do. So please order early and often–and try to order more than one item, please– and be patient with delivery. It will get there, and if anything is wrong, we will make it right. In our complaint department, we receive, from time to time as you all know, complaints about DVDs freezing or sometimes not playing at all. More than a few of our “in the know” customers have said that the stick-on disc labels we use might be the source of the problem. For that reason, we’re suspending their use and we are simply using a black marker to indicate the title. Let’s see how this works.

Word has come that pianist Dave McKenna has passed away at the age of 78. McKenna was one of the giants of the keyboard and one of the real individuals. He had an instantly identifiable sound and touch and was possibly one of the last, two-handed players. Indeed, he was an orchestra unto himself and was stylistically beyond categorization. visitors may be familiar with his stellar work with Krupa on “Hey Here’s Gene Krupa” and on the live set recorded at “The Inn Club.” He spent some time with Charlie Ventura as well. We are taking the liberty of reprinting Dave McKenna’s bio from his web site. Rest in peace, Dave, and keep swingin’.

DAVE McKENNA: 1930-2008

Dave McKenna was simply one of the legends of the jazz piano. He, of course, would probably have disagreed. “I don’t know if I qualify as a bona-fide jazz guy,” he said. “I play saloon piano. I like to stay close to the melody.” His humility and laid-back personal style seemed a contrast to the vibrant vitality of his masterful piano style. His range is truly extraordinary. One minute he is caressing a lovely ballad, the next he is thundering and rumbling through a high-powered rendition of “I Found a New Baby.”

Dave was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, into a musical family. His father William McKenna, a postman, played the drums part-time, and two sisters are singers. His mother, Catherine Reilly McKenna, was Dave’s first piano teacher. In additions to being a good piano player, she was a fine violinist as a young woman. He also took lessons from Preston “Sandy” Sandiford in Boston, a fine piano teacher Dave liked very much. He explains that he developed his trademark left-handed bass style because “I wanted to hear something like what I heard on the records.”

Dave began his career with Boots Mussulli Band, then left home to play with the Charlie Ventura band, followed by a stint with Woody Herman. After two years in the army, he returned to Charlie Ventura’s band, then worked with Gene Krupa, Stan Getz, and Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. He often worked with Bobby Hackett, including some gigs at Eddie Condon’s in Manhattan, playing what Hackett called “Whiskeyland Jazz.” Among Dave’s biggest influences was Nat King Cole, who remains one of his favorites to this day.
While working with Bobby Hackett, Dave discovered the pleasures of Cape Cod. He and his wife Frankie moved to the Cape in 1966 with their sons Stephen and Douglas. The move changed his career as well as his address – he worked less frequently with bands and more often as a solo pianist, but he still spent a great deal of time on the road.

Dave’s musical magic found a wider audience through recordings, from his first solo recording on ABC records in 1955 to his wonderful work in the 70s for Chiaroscuro Records and then for Concord Jazz. In the 1980s, Dave’s many fans could enjoy his magnificent medleys six nights a week at the Plaza Bar at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, where he was pianist-in-residence.

Dave has traveled all over the world to play festivals, cruises and concerts, and Boston-area fans always considered it a rare treat when he did perform close to home, either solo or with noted jazz artists including Dick Johnson, Gray Sargent, Marshall Wood, and Donna Byrne. Although he was no longer performing the last few years, he always appreciated the support and kind words he has received over the years from his many fans all over the world. Those of us who had the privilege to know him, whether personally or through his music, will miss him terribly.


Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Imagine a worldwide resource where one could obtain CDs and DVDs by the legends of jazz drumming-live concerts, television and radio programs and more, never commercially released-for $15, with no charge for shipping all over the world.

That was and is, and since the original announcement and the extension of our “everything $15 sale,” we have been overrun with orders that have come from all over the world.

That is the good news.

The reality is that, as big as we may sound, is a one-person operation-me-devoted to bringing the finest and rarest unreleased music to the world at large. I process the orders, duplicate them and mail them personally.

Additionally, the PayPal organization, which processes our credit card payment system and millions of other online credit card payment systems, seems to notify us of about eight in ten orders we receive. The other two fall into the cracks, and that’s a shame for you and for us.

In the ten years I’ve been running, I have now heard the word “rip-off” two times. This hurts and this saddens me deeply.

As most of you know, I will personally go to the ends of the earth to make good on each and every order, whether a DVD is defective (you are all aware that the duplication process has not yet been perfected), and/or whether an order has not been received. I have offered free items and double your money in order to make up for any problems in processing your orders.

You know us. Hopefully, you love us. Ideally, you will continue to know us and love us. We have touched on the fact, via various other columns, that worldwide economic problems have touched us all. is no exception, which is why we have lowered prices across the board.

Please trust us. Please be patient. And above all, please help keep us operating by ordering early and often.

Our longtime colleague and friend, Cathy Rich, has thankfully resurrected the Buddy Rich Memorial Scholarship Concerts. Cathy has single-handedly kept her dads memory, legacy and contributions alive, and believe me-and I know-it has not been easy.

On October 18 at the Hammerstein Ballroom within New York city’s Manhattan Center, The Buddy Rich Memorial will again be with us. Among the stars booked thus far are the worlds greatest drummers, including Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, John Blackwell and various others, who will be playing with the reconstituted Buddy Rich band. Also appearing? None other than the “heir to the throne,” Buddy’s grandson Nicky and bassist Will Lee. I’ve also heard rumors that there will be a certain, very underrated singer on the stage who you all know. Get your tickets now via Ticketmaster or the other usual ticket outlets.

The first of the 24-hour Internet percussion channels is about to roll out. As previously reported here, is the brainchild of Drum Workshop, Inc., and this site will be a doozy. On view will be interviews with the jazz legends, lessons, vintage footage, blogs and much more. Log on in the next few weeks for a free preview, including film of the famed, Buddy Rich/Statler Hilton Hotel shows.

Our Glenn Miller releases have received a surprisingly good reception. In all honesty, I was never really a fan of Miller’s, outside of having to learn all the charts, like any drummer should. My tastes, however, do not dictate what we carry, so we’ve gotten hold of a TV special that was broadcast some years ago, entitled “Glenn Miller’s Last Flight,” which examines the controversy related to the as yet unsolved death of the bandleader resulting from his airplane trip from London to Paris on December 15, 1944.

It is important to remember that out of all the big bands still on the road and still performing, the Miller franchise-under the direction of trombonist Larry O’Brien-remains the busiest. As of this writing, the Miller band has three franchises worldwide and they all work over 300 days and nights, per year.

We have lost several great drummers over the past few months, and each and every one of them have made significant contributions to the legacy of jazz and jazz drumming.

Earl Palmer was a rhythm and blues pioneer who perfected his studio chops in his native New Orleans with the likes of Fats Domino and Lloyd Price. Along with Hal Blaine, Palmer became so much in demand, that even Sinatra had to have him. His roots, however, remained in jazz, which is likely why he was able to swing even the non-swingers.

Jim Blakemore played for singer Jack Jones for years and years and years. Jim passed not to long ago in his adopted location of Naples, FL, not too long ago, where he was backing artists like Stu Shelton, Bob Zottola and many others. Jim was a great, great human being. Personally, he was as understated as his playing. As a timekeeper and as an accompanist, he was impeccable. He was taste personified. I could to my wildest, Buddy Rich drum solo impersonation, and Jim would put me away with a well-placed, two-bar break. I learned a lot from him.

This item is a bit off the beaten path, but it bears detailing. Those of you who have to travel have probably been scared to death to purchase airline tickets of late, given the prices of fuel, security surcharges, etc. On top of it, I am certain you all have heard about additional charges for checked baggage, snacks, water, etc. (I’m waiting for the time when the “pay toilet” concept will be reinstated for benefit of the airlines).

There is one airline, however, that is somehow bucking the trend of expense, surcharge and poor service. This is Southwest Airways.

They are the absolute best, in every area you can imagine.

Truthfully, I was most hesitant to go online and purchase airplane tickets for our annual, Naples, FL sojourn. I shouldn’t have been concerned. Given the general panic that goes along with any travel situation these days, I was pleased and overjoyed to get a very, very fair-actually incredible– Philadelphia-to-Fort Myers fare. And traveling on Southwest is a joy. Their personnel, often singing, dancing and joking throughout the trip, make the often stress-filled process of traveling by air an absolute ball. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why all the other airlines are not following the lead of Southwest.
Stay tuned for more new on, the status of the Slingerland Drum Company and other issues. Remember, if there is anything specifically that you are looking for, feel free to contact me directly at

Keep swingin’

Bruce Klauber
October, 2008

Jazz: September 2008

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

I cannot think of a business or an individual who has not been touched by the unfortunate economic situation in this country in some way, shape or form. is no exception. After all, is there really a choice between filling the gas tank or spending $20 for a Gene Krupa DVD? While I’m confident that a good many of you, and God bless you for it, would go for the Krupa DVD, most just cannot. And I understand. Over the summer, we experimented with the idea of pricing each and every DVD, CD and book at $15, with free shipping worldwide, of course. The response was so overwhelming that we are still, believe it or not, fulfilling orders. In an effort to lend an assist to the economy, the thousands of collectors out there, and to benefit, we are changing our pricing structure for the immediate future: Everything is, once again, $15.

Please take advantage of this extraordinary price break, and please be patient with delivery. As many of you know, each order is custom made, custom duplicated and custom shipped, and if something is not right or not exactly what you wanted or were looking for, we hope we’ve demonstrated our desire and ability to go to the ends of the earth until everyone is happy.

The only thing we ask in return is, given the low, low price and the fact that we continue to offer free shipping all over the world, please think about ordering more than one item. That’s all we ask.

Despite our recent rants about YouTube and the “vintage footage for free” situation, there are still outfits out there who know there is a market for unearthed discoveries. The folks running the “Jazz Icons” organization is one example. Another is Drum Workshop, Inc., one of the world’s premier manufacturers of quality drums, and certainly the makers of the best drums in the United States.

Drum Workshop, in addition to prepping the internet, has gotten into the DVD business in an impressive way. In the coming months, look for three of the most sought after programs in jazz drumming history: The famed, Buddy Rich, Statler Hilton programs.

For those unfamiliar with the shows, here’s a bit of background

Collectors of Buddy Rich material, and there are many all over the world, have their “Buddy Rich holy grail list. The “Eddie Condon Floor Show” television programs from the late 1940s, where Rich relaxed, sang, played and danced with dixielanders and mainstreamers, are high on that list. Right now, only some audio portions have been discovered.

Then there are those who still believe there is film from the Krupa and Rich “original drum battle at Jazz at the Philharmonic” of 1952. Norman Granz, the late producer of JATP and mastermind behind the famous duel, repeatedly denied there was any film taken of Gene, Buddy or any Jazz at the Philharmonic show.

The third item that has been discussed by collectors and fans throught the years are the Statler Hilton Shows.

In the past 10 or so seasons, there wasn’t a year that didn’t go by where someone stepped forward and claimed to have or own the shows and/or to know someone who did. A snippet or two did surface, but nothing ever more than a tantalizing minutes’ worth. Now, thanks to Drum Workshop and Cathy Rich, they will soon be in wide release, in all their mesmerizing entirety.

It would have been great if Rich had been able to do television programs like these on a regular basis throughout his career. They combined all facets of his talents as a player, as a personality and as champion of jazz.

And, of course, he was no stranger to television, having appeared often during the 1950s on “The Steve Allen Show,” “Broadway Open House,” “The Marge and Gower Champion Show,” “The Patti Page Show” and various others. And from the 1960s through the 1980s, hardly a month went by without an appearance on programs hosted by Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore.

In December of 1981, Buddy told author Doug Meriwether that there were plans afoot for an actual Buddy Rich TV series. “We’re going to have our own series very soon on PBS,” he told Meriwether. “Yeah, with the whole band and some guests who will be appearing with us, taped before a live audience. It’s something I’ve wanted. I’d been told more than once by people who supposedly knew what they were talking about, that the audience for a jazz series, man, was just too small. I never bought into that, and I feel we can prove them wrong.”

Well…he did and didn’t. Three programs were filmed on February 16th through the 18th, 1982. at the Terrace Ballroom within New York city’s venerable Statler Hilton Hotel. They were and are remarkable, but they were never sold, perhaps never offered for sale, never aired and no other episodes were filmed. A very, very few have even seen them.

And Buddy’s guest stars on these three shows? How about Mel Torme’, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Ray Charles, Anita O’Day and Woody Herman? Wow.

Rich didn’t wait around to see if the programs were sold or aired. As usual, he just went straight ahead after the taping of the shows, and continued to be a constant guest star on everyone else’s talk, music or variety show. Indeed, three weeks after the filming of these shows, Buddy and the band were off to London to tour with Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis, Dr., with no looking back.

Watch this space for release dates and availability.
Keep swingin’
Bruce Klauber
September, 2008


Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Websites like YouTube, MySpace, DailyMotion and the rest–to say nothing of the plethora of drum sites out there–are invaluable guides to learning and wonderful clearing houses for knowledge and information. By way of making available hours of vintage footage from the legendary jazz drummers, percussionists of every age have the ability to enjoy and learn from the likes of Gene, Papa Jo, Big Sid, Buddy, Tony, Art, Max and the rest. Influences of these giants can already be heard in the playing of the younger artists out there and I know they’re really listening to these legends more than ever.

Mainstream publications like Jazz Times and various drum magazines are directing readers to what they believe are “the best” clips on these sites.

What a revolution.

Until the advent of such sources of video and audio, where did drummers and music fans have to go for their info?

Most likely to videos and DVDs with titles like “Gene Krupa: Jazz Legend,” “Gene Krupa: Swing Swing Swing,” “Legends of Jazz Drumming,” “Classic Drum Solos and Drum Battles,” “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend,” “Lionel Hampton: King of the Vibes,” and more.

What do those titles, still very much in print, by the way, have in common? They were produced by true visionaries, from companies like DCI Music Video, Warner Bros. Publications and Hudson Music, who pioneered the concept of the “performance-oriented retrospective” on the great drummers in history, and enlisted such names as Steve Allen, Mel Torme’, Louis Bellson, Jack DeJohnette, Roy Haynes and Mike Mainieri to narrate and add commentary to these projects in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Oh, yes. They also were all co-produced and written by me, and I can give you no accurate estimate of the time and expense it took to put these together. These films were made to viewed in their entirety, with the narration, the order of clips, and the hundreds of historic photographs spanning 75 years of music adding up to a complete and organic “whole,” i.e., the sum of its parts.

Around a good 80 percent of the clips from these DVDs and from others are all up on YouTube and the like, free of charge, and with no credit given as to where they came from . It is not only the fault of the site (“You want to sue?” we were once asked by someone from YouTube, “Then stand in line behind CNN, Paramount, CBS, NBC and Disney”) but the fault of those who have purchased the products through the years and upload them on such sites without regard for those involved in the creative end, and without regard for those who spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars finding these historic gems.

When this started happening, and it blossomed rather quickly, my hope was that these clips on YouTube would feed into interest and hopefully, sales, for the complete product. In other words, if someone posted the famed clip of Gene Krupa on The Dean Martin Show and put a credit line on the clip that read–“from the Hudson Music video ‘Gene Krupa: Swing Swing Swing’–then maybe a few YouTubers would check out the actual video, buy it, and make it financially possible to produce more.

That hasn’t happened, except in a rare instance or two, and too many of the folks posting this material are either in states of denial or are just plain lying. For instance, one chap I emailed about unauthorized posting of material with no credit given claimed he found the video in a thrift shop in an unmarked package and therefore had no idea as to its source material. I guess he didn’t watch the part of the tape that said “a Hudson Music release produced and written by Bruce Klauber.” Another fellow challenged me on ownership.

These people are basically coming on my job and doing it for free. I wonder what would happen if I showed up at their places of business and did their work for free.

If this sounds like sour grapes, that’s because it is. Like I’ve said and have said many times in this space and other places, if we can just give credit where credit is due, then everyone profits. Folks get to see the free clips, with credit lines, on YouTube. In that way, everyone has the chance at profiting.

YouTube cannot be stopped. It’s just too large. And because of what they and the YouTube visitors have created, the “given” is that all this material should, quite simply, just be free for everyone.

One of the things we’ve tried to do through the years at is to discover and offer film and audio that is just not available on YouTube, DailyMotion or anywhere else. Perhaps you’ll see a clip or two from one of our discoveries, but never the whole DVD or CD. Likewise with the long-anticipated Internet drum channels from Hudson Music and Drum Workshop. Though still in the development stage, they will be offering everything from drum lessons to vintage films and interviews with the giants in a manner where everyone involved is duly compensated and credited.

I must also add here that the vast majority of drum sites, from on up and down, to a fine, fine job of crediting everyone involved in what they post, including artists, photographers, producers, writers, etc.

Is there still a market for the stand alone DVD? You bet there is, given that it’s material you can’t find on the Internet. And that’s what will continue to devote itself to.

God bless and keep swingin,

Bruce Klauber, September, 2008

Jazz Legends Update

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Once again, I extend my sincerest thanks to each and every one of you for your good wishes in line with my medical condition. Things are improving and healing well, though there will be additional treatments and surgeries down the line. The immediate concern, not just for me but for all of us in the states, is the insane prices being charged for essential prescription medicines. By and large, medical insurance only covers a fraction of this, so I would ask you again to take advantage of our JazzLegends $15 sale–now extended through Labor Day–and order as much as you can. Though we always work on the honor system here, because we offer free shipping worldwide, we do ask that you order a minimum of two items to defray these costs.


There is often a price to pay in some form when trying to keep up with what is considered state-of-the-art these days. Specifically, I am speaking of our brand new, stellar, high-tech web site, and the great community that is coming out of it. I have received nothing but glowing comments on the site, but the price to pay I speak of has to do with a frustrating glitch or two that we’re working on. Several of you have thankfully contacted me directly after attempting, unsuccessfully, to contact me by way of the web form. A few of you seemed to think that I dropped off the face of the earth, as I did not receive emails noting that you were attempting to contact me about shipping dates, questions about product, etc. The contact form on the web, quite simply, stopped working. We have now put in place a foolproof–we hope–contact email icon that will put you in touch with me directly and personally. Have a problem, an issue, a request, a question? Email me at It’s that simple, and you have my apologies for the tech breakdown.


In addition to the unbelievable Krupa discoveries that have come to us by way of great friends and colleagues like Bob Bierman and Dean Platt, we will continue to endeavor to offer items by other players and drummers that will, without doubt, be of interest to each and every JazzLegends supporter. Examples? The best print of “Las Vegas Nights” featuring Tommy Dorsey and the crew, The Steve Goodman Trio’s singular jazz version of Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera” (featuring a guy named Klauber at the traps), and now the film “Second Chorus,” starring the 1940 version of the Artie Shaw big band. There aren’t many examples of the Shaw band on film, so this is well worth having. Rumors still abound about the drummer on the soundtrack of “Second Chorus.” Nick Fatool, in all his glory, is seen onscreen, but if you listen closely, the drummer who preceded Fatool in the Shaw band may actually be playing on the soundtrack.


Joy Adams and I want to thank the large and enthusiastic crew who joined us for our short stay at Dino’s Restaurant in Naples, FL. Dino proved to be a fine host and the venue was a fun and intimate one. Our group, consisting of pianist Jean Packard, bassist Frank Begonia and trumpeter Bill Papineau was superb. We also want to thank the many supporters in attendance, including guest players Gus Maywald on saxophone the great voice of Rosemarie Smedile. Others special guest stars in the room that night included vocalist Jebry, guitarist Dan Smedile, pianist Mel Rosen, drummer John Lamb and others too numerous to mention. Upon our anticipated return to Naples in September, given that health issues hold up, we will hopefully take on another engagement or two. This has been a busy off-season for Jebry, one of our great vocalists. And musically, to our ears, she’s never been better. By the way, our thanks to Jeb and Bobby (“World’s Greatest Drummer”) for letting Joy and I “borrow” their band for a night.


We’ve given a good deal of space over the past several years to the wonderful line-up of talent appearing at The Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts. The 2008-2009 season has just been announced, and jazz-wise, the slate is as impressive as ever. Attractions include Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dianne Shurr, George Benson’s tribute to Nat Cole, smooth jazzers David Sanborn and Dave Koz, genre’ benders Turtle Island Quartet, Ernestine Anderson and Phil perennial Dick Hyman with Eddie Metz, Jr., Howard Alden, Alan Vache, Randy Sandke and more. There is one, very interesting surprise at The Phil this season. Whatever your personal take is on singer/pianist Michael Feinstein, he certainly has brought the legacy of American popular song to a wider public. So give him credit where credit is due. He did record for Maynard Ferguson, after all. Feinstein’s show at The Phil this season is a salute to Hollywood and MGM musicals, and there are two special guests set to be featured. One is 1950s, B-movie actress and cosmetics mogul Arlene Dahl, and I have no idea what she’ll do on the stage. The other guest is a singer Frank Sinatra once said had “the best pipes in the business.” He was referring to the one and only Vic Damone who has supposedly been retired since 2001. Check out Vic’s website for the actual story. I don’t know who–or what convinced this great artist to come out of retirement, but watch this space for updates and more information.


Our Buddy Rich collection of original VHS videos from the 1970s–on the Carson, Cavett and Merv Griffin programs–is still up for bid. Contact me about this, or for any other reason, at

Keep swingin’
Bruce Klauber
July, 2008


Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Each and every item: $15**
Friday, Saturday and Sunday only
**two-item minimum

Get all the DVDs, CDs and books you’ve always wanted at a once-in-a-lifetime bargain price, with free shipping, of course.


Monday, June 16th, 2008

For various reasons, I am making my invaluable Buddy Rich collection of VHS tapes and DVDs available for very quick sale. These are not copies or duplicates, nor are they being sold on ebay or any other web site. They were purchased at great expense some years ago, and the time has come to move on. Please contact me directly at and/or 215-620-5227. Serious inquiries only. Here is a rundown of what is available:



These DVDs were recorded directly from VHS tapes purchased from the Cavett offices, cut from their masters, which no longer exist. These are the entire 90-minute programs with Buddy playing and talking, in great, great quality.

One hour tribute to Buddy Rich, starring Buddy Rich and his entire big band, along with musical / showbiz associates Redd Foxx, Mel Torme’, Henny Youngman, and veteran dancer Jack Ackerman. This was taped directly from the television broadcast–which has never been re-broadcast, by the way–via Betamax in 1979. Buddy talks about his career, sings, dances and plays. This is a gem. The Griffin vaults do not have material that goes back this far.

One of the rarest clips of Buddy in the universe, this is in black and white with small time code at bottom of the screen. Surprisingly good quality, though not broadcast quality ala the Cavett, Griffin and other Carson shows.

All programs are complete, uncut, 90 minute, color programs, duplicated from the salt-mine-stored Carson masters. All were purchased directly from Carson Productions. Buddy Rich guests on all programs.
November 29, 1972
September 5, 1973
January 15, 1974
February 19, 1975
April 22, 1975
November 6, 1975
April 13, 1976
June 25, 1976
Note: One of these is a drum battle with Louis Bellson.


My sincerest thanks to all of you who have sent your prayers and good wishes in line with my recent diagnosis of malignant melanoma. The good news is that I am doing just fine, and that what I had was and is the most superficial form of this condition. I am healing well here in Naples, FL, though I do face a period of reconstruction and/or plastic surgery. It’s a shame I’m selling all the Buddy Rich material. I’m starting to look like him.


Staten Island’s one and only Robert Bierman was collecting and making a data base of Krupa materials long before a lot of us were around. He continues to be kind and generous with his stellar collection and has just shared a wonderful grouping of film clips that we’re calling “Book Revue and More.” “Book Revue,” of course, is the famed, 1940s, Warner Bros. cartoon that is highlighted by animated representations of Goodman, James, Sinatra, Krupa and many more. It’s here in its entirety and in full color. Also on the reel are very rare excerpts from the “World of Benny Goodman” TV documentary of the early 1960s with comments from Gene and various others, extensive interviews with Louis Bellson and Lionel Hampton prior to their participation in the Krupa tribute performance at The Felt Forum in 1974, a Gene Krupa Story trailer in mint condition, trailers for “Ball of Fire,” “The Gang’s All Here,” “Girl Crazy” and much, much more. This is a must-have.


You may notice that the web site has undergone more changes. Our goal is to make the site as easy to use as possible, while presenting the most accurate information about new and old product, as well as providing a forum for your suggestions and opinions. Let us know what you think.

Until then, keep swingin’
Bruce Klauber
June, 1008


Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Major, major improvements and renovations have come to the site, courtesy of our resident, genius of a webmaster, Terry McKyton. Improvement highlights include a wider design to match the standard users’ screen, a cleaner and less cluttered design, better layout of DVDs and CDs that will allow for track lists and a download/preview area, and banners that will point to new products on the site, holiday specials, etc.

Yes, I did mention “downloads,” and that feature will be instituted shortly. We are going to start with three of our most popular CDs, “Gene Krupa: The Great Concert,” “Gene Krupa Quartet at JATP: 1955,” and the famed “Benny Goodman/Gene Krupa Performance Recordings: 1937-1938.” Rest assured that the download process will be easy to use (there will even be short previews of songs that will help you to decide whether or not to buy) and at more-than-reasonable prices. If the response to this is positive, as it should be, we will be adding more CDs available for download each week.

One of the most obvious changes to the site in terms of visuals is the absence of the Google ads. Terry and I agree that, for whatever the minimal dollar value to, the ads were not attractive . They didn’t add much in terms of information, and they just took away from what we try to do on the site.

We have been rushing to come up with a real “special” in time for the holiday season, and along with the gift certificate, we think we have it. This is a boxed set of four CDs, chosen by yours truly–“The Great Concert,” “Gene Krupa: 1943,” “Rare and Live: 1941-1942,” and “Steve Allen Tonight Shows 1954 and 1955”–plus a copy of the increasingly rare book, “World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin’ Man.” This $75 value is yours, in a gift box with free shipping worldwide, for $69.95. Ho, ho, and another ho.

I have not mentioned the name of Buddy Rich in this space for some time. However, if the name of our site is “JazzLegends,” then the world’s greatest drummer cannot be ignored. I want to go on record as saying that Buddy’s daughter, Cathy, continues to be tirelessly devoted to perpetuating all that was and is good about Buddy. Most of you have heard about the “Buddy Rich Drum Company,” which has been garnering nice notices in and out of the industry and is a part of some really neat promotions, including one in Modern Drummer’s special publication, Drum Gods, in the trades. For more information on these fine drums, visit There is also a new Buddy CD out, culled from the famed, mid-1970s live tapes recorded by bandsman Alan Gauvin, with Buddy’s blessings. The CD is entitled “Time Out,” and it’s one of the best Buddy Rich recordings, from any decade, to be released in years. One listen to any cut at all will make us all realize why he was and is Buddy Rich, and why there will never, ever, ever be another. Products like these are not easy to get out to the marketplace, whether one is related to Buddy Rich or not. Cathy Rich deserves recognition and our thanks for getting these fabulous items out there properly.

In terms of other gift items, don’t forget the Bopworks, Gene Krupa model drum sticks, or the great new DVD from Hudson Music, “Classic Rock Drum Solos.” Set aside the labels of jazz and rock for a moment. This DVD is for drum fans, no matter what the style of music. I guarantee that you will be astounded by the technical virtuosity of Carl Palmer. Michael Shrieve, host Carmine Appice, Clive Bunker, Ginger Baker, Steve Smith, Cozy Powell, Neil Peart and various others. Additionally, there is an entire section devoted to the origin of rock solo drumming that features Krupa (with Carmine Appice doing a great impression of him), Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson. the Lionel Hampton band, Bill Haley’s Ralph Jones, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, and the only film in existence of the first rock drum star, Sandy “Let There Be Drums” Nelson. We will probably be making this available on our site shortly, but right now, log on to for further information.

Joy Adams and I are in Naples, Florida, until the early spring, enjoying the kids and the grand kids. As mentioned in this site several times over the years, the music scene is fabulous in Naples, and we are playing and singing–individually and collectively–at least twice a week. After hearing the new Buddy CD, I may have to cut it down to once a week!

God bless, keep swingin’, and all good wishes for the holiday and beyond,

Bruce Klauber November, 2007.


Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Those of us who are concerned about such things continue to be confused and disappointed about what the Gibson guitar company has done to the name of Slingerland and to the Slingerland line. To think that the drums– endorsed by Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and dozens of other drum stars through the years–has virtually disappeared, is simply a disgrace. The situation is beyond understanding, especially given the news that Yamaha is bringing out a Rogers drum line, even though the drums are nothing like the original or classic Rogers line. What counts in that case is the name.

A number of us– including Arthor Von Blomberg, the mastermind behind the upcoming 100th birthday celebration for Gene and the future Broadway musical play based on Gene’s life and music–have contacted Gibson about buying the Slingerland name. Our point is that Gibson is doing nothing with it and at the very least, our consortium would keep the name alive. After contacting the Gibson offices in the United States, Europe, Asia, Japan and China about this, we have not heard word one about any of this, which is hardly unexpected. There is no information on whether any Slingerland inventory exists, and Slingerland drums are not offered in any national catalog or the Modern Drummer Drum Buyer’s Guide.

Slingerland might not have been the General Motors of the drum industry, but they were among the “big four” of drum manufacturers, with the other three being Gretsch, Ludwig and Rogers. All but Slingerland are still with us, and that is a disgrace to the industry and to America.

The big question, and feel free to address this in the forum, is: “If Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich were alive today, what brand of drums would they be playing?”

From what little I know, I am pretty sure that these giants would have played drums made in America, and I’m pretty sure the brand would have been Drum Workshop, a.k.a. DW. Indeed, DW did offer a Buddy kit at one time.,

The last time I spoke to anyone within the company, I was told that they cannot manufacture their fine product quickly enough to supply retailers and players. Their story, indeed, is a singular one. Herewith is some background info, courtesy of DW founder Don Lombardi and the DW web site:

Their slogan is, “The Drummer’s Choice® ” and Lombardi maintains that it’s more than a slogan, “it’s a fact.” Shades of Buddy Rich!

“It’s remarkable that in our 31st year, the excitement level of coming to work is every bit as much now as when we started,” he says.

It all began in 1972 when Don, at age 26, opened a small teaching studio in Santa Monica, Calif. He called the studio Drum Workshop, offering both private lessons and monthly workshops.

“My fascination with drums started at 12 with a neighborhood teacher at a local music store,” Don recalls. “Over the years, I had such great experiences with renowned teachers that as my love for playing drums grew, so did my love for learning and teaching about drums. The day I got my driver’s license, I started driving to teach at a local music store where I had taken lessons.”

Seeing an ad for Drum Workshop in the Yellow Pages, John Good, now DW’s Vice President, signed up for lessons at age 17 to improve his drumming and reverse what he refers to as “bad drumming habits.”

“After three months of lessons, Don approached me and said, ‘You know, I’ve had lots of successful students. I don’t think you’re going to be one of them’,” John says laughing. “So I said, ‘Great…now what are we going to do?’”

The two ultimately hooked up to market the first DW product: Don’s new design for a height-adjustable trap-case seat. Selling about a dozen seats a month, John quit his day job and went to work full-time for Don.

When DW received a purchase order for 100 seats from Camco Drum Company, Don and John realized that they had an innovative product that would sell. Thirty years later, DW is now offering a new version of the trap-case adjustable seat, made out of a lighter weight material, called the 6100 Adjustable Trap-Case Seat.

However, when DW created the original trap case seat, they had the capacity and personnel to create only a dozen seats a month, not 100. Don was still teaching and playing a nightly gig while John built the products. Shortly thereafter, Camco Drum Company owner Tom Beckman approached Don in 1977 with an offer to sell him Camco’s machinery, dies and molds, everything it took to make Camco drums and hardware-everything except the Camco name itself. This gave Don the opportunity to expand his capacity for creating the seats and to expand his product line.

At that point, Don made the decision to accept the offer and change the direction of Drum Workshop from teaching and selling to manufacturing.

(For those who do not remember, the Camco outfit offered a fine and most individual looking line of drums–their round lugs, still a DW design feature today–really made them stand out. Camco was never as big as the “big four,” but they did have some endorsers, including the drummer of The Beach Boys.)

“The idea of failing never really occurred to me,” Don remarks. “Based on our mini-success with the seat, we had learned that if we could offer drummers products that would improve their drumming, we could be successful. Of course, having a desire to go into manufacturing and having the money to do so are two different things.”

Borrowing most of the money from his parents and some from outside investors, Don purchased Camco’s tooling and reintroduced the Camco 5000 nylon strap bass drum pedal under the DW name. The pedal was refined to improve consistency, quietness, smoothness and adjustability of its mechanical operation. As the pedal was rapidly becoming “the drummer’s choice,” Don continued to search for ways to further improve it.

The rest is history. The ever-expanding line of DW drums, kits and hardware is the drum industry standard. Specifically, with their “Classics Series,” “Jazz Series” and 6000 Series of ultra-light stands, DW has successfully brought a legacy of percussion tradition to the year 2007. Call them “traditionally innovative,” if you will, or as they deservedly say, “The Drummer’s Choice.”

Would Gene and Buddy be DW artists? You bet.

I urge each and every visitor from around the world to visit DW on the web at

We look forward, at some time in the not-too-distant future, to contact the fine DW folks about becoming involved with, as well as with the Gene Krupa upcoming 100th Birthday celebration and subsequent show based on Gene’s life and music.

It’s not only because I have a vested interest in these titles, but two, brand new DVD projects from Hudson Music constitute essential viewing and study. “The Art of Playing with Brushes,” presented by Adam Nussbaum and Steve Smith, presents the drum and brush masters–Billy Hart, Eddie Locke, Joe Morello, Charli Persip and Ben Riley–in performance and in instructional segments. This incredible, three -DVD set is, as the copy accurately says, “an educational and inspirational resource that will never go out of date and is certainly one that belongs in every drummer’s library.” visitors will also enjoy the vintage clips by the likes of Kenny Clarke, Denzil Best and many more.

And finally, “Classic Rock Drum Solos” is here. Despite the fact that helping to write and produce this incredible DVD took a year off my life–these vintage rock drummers were a handfull–the result is incredible. JazzLegends visitors and guests, though not rock-oriented, will love the clips by Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Billy Haley’s Ralph Jones, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, host Carmine Appice, and the many clips where the influence of Buddy and Gene are quite obvious. For ordering info, log on to

Finally, our Krupa drumsticks are getting great reviews and seem to be very much in demand. For ordering info, log on to

Keep swingin’

Bruce Klauber