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A MEMORABLE NIGHT FOR JAZZ
Since I’ve been writing these columns, I have frequently touted Naples, FL, as having one of the healthiest jazz scenes in the country. The evening of Wednesday, January 14, was in indicative of this. It was truly a night to remember for Naples jazz lovers. And there are a lot of Naples jazz lovers. I’m posting my review of the concert in this space, as it would have been a night to remember for all fans of jazz.
STU SHELTON AND FRIENDS
Jazz aficionados packed the Unity of Naples Church Wednesday in a memorable and swinging concert presented by noted area pianist, Stu Shelton. Though most of these artists who performed-and there were ten of them in all-perform locally, there is no doubt that their playing is as good or better than any “national” artist on the jazz scene. Gauging by the level of response from the sold-out house, the audience agreed.
Shelton presented a varied and satisfying program of swing, bop, and touches of modernism. The players on hand were presented in various groupings to spotlight their unique talents. The only constant throughout was Shelton, who played for everyone.
The first three numbers-Milt Jackson’s”Bluesology,” Rame De Pal’s “I Remember April” and Lester Young’s swinger “Lester Leaps In”-featured drummer Patricia Dean, vibraharpist “Sir John” Jeffrey and bassist Dan Heck. “Sir John” was the certifiable highlight of this set. His energy and sense of swing on the vibes often evoked Lionel Hampton and Terry Gibbs, but he remains, after years on the scene here, his own man.
“Alone Together,” written by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz; and Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “My Shining Hour” featured an impeccable trio of Dean, Dan Heck on guitar this time, and the maestro. Heck, out of the Wes Montgomery school. was incredible, with impeccable technique and wonderful ideas.
Cole Porter’s “Everytime We Say Goodbye,” Bernice Petkere’s “Close Your Eyes” and Ellington’s venerable “Take the A Train,” were performed by the duo of Dean, singing and playing drums simultaneously, and Shelton. Dean is a real talent. One of the few female jazz drummers around, and she’s a solid and tasteful player. As a vocalist, she’s charming and sometimes recalls the young Nancy Wilson.
Another popular Naples vocalist, Rebecca Richardson, joined the group, with guitarist Heck returning, for a medley of “Nana” and “Daydream,” followed by the old Fats Waller stalwart, “Honeysuckle Rose. Richardson has a pure and beautiful tone that’s a joy to hear, and it was put to effective use in the hypnotic medley of Manuel De Salla’s “Nana” and Duke Ellington’s “Day Dream.
After an intermission, singer Carla Valenti, Shelton and drummer John Lamb performed Billie Holiday’s fondly remembered “God Bless the Child,” done as an up-tempo swinger; Shirley Horn’s touching “Here’s to Life” and Ellington’s “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” Valenti’s commanding stage presence and obvious professionalism has won her a strong and devoted following in Naples for some years. She was and is clearly an audience favorite.
Stu Shelton introduced trumpeter Bob Zottola by saying how much Zottola has done and how hard he has worked to open up and expand the jazz scene in Naples. Indeed, Zottola’s Expandable Jazz Band, with Shelton, saxophonist Jerry Zawicki, drummer John Lamb and Shelton, often works seven nights per week to consistently crowded and enthusiastic houses. This group’s repertoire comprises swing, bop and compositions from the “Great American Songbook.” The three songs they played-Lennie Niehaus’ “Bunko,” Illinois Jacquet’s “Robbin’s Nest” and Clifford Brown’s “Tiny Capers”-were three great examples of tight, clean and swinging mainstream jazz. Zottola’s range and ability to invent, night after night after night, is extraordinary. Saxophonist Zawicki plays in a lovely Al Cohn/Zoot Sims style, devoid of exhibitionism, not heard too much these days. He is taste personified. Likewise drummer John Lamb, who always surprises with his refreshing drum breaks and attention to what the soloists-and the band-are playing.
Tenor and alto saxophonist Lou Califano was the next guest, and joined the group for three, certifiable jazz numbers, Joe Henderson’s Latin-flavored “Recordame,” Benny Golson’s “Blues March” and Clifford Brown’s “Daahoud.” Stylistically, Califano comes out of the more modern, Sonny Rollins school of saxophone playing, highlighted by an amazing technique. “Blues March” really stood out on this set, with all involved simply rocking the house. Even Jerry Zawicki was moved to honk a few times.
Zottola, Shelton, Patricia Dean (back on drums) and Dan Heck (back on bass) performed a touching “I Thought About You,” mostly as a feature for trumpeter Zottola, before the grand finale.
The entire cast came on stage for the final tune, Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia,” a fitting end to one of the most memorable nights in Naples music history.
Stu Shelton, who also serves as the Unity Church’s musical director, deserves a great deal of credit for every aspect of this concert, which was actually more like a mini-festival. He paced it beautifully and proved to be quite the genial master of ceremonies. It all worked. Naples as a world-class city for jazz? You’d better believe it.
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 JazzLegends.com 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 DrumAlive@aol.com 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 DrumAlive@aol.com
Drummers, by and large, are apolitical animals. That's because they're usually just animals. This is why I've steered clear of saying anything political, outside of a recent column I wrote for the Naples Daily News on the late, perennial Presidential candidate, Harold Stassen.
But the present situation in the United States, specifically the out-of-sight prices of gas, is impossible for anyone–drummers, saxophonists, pianists, brass players and even string players–to ignore. Gigs for jazz players, or any players, have always been tough enough to get. Now? It just can't get any worse.
The powers that be in The White House, and whomever else is responsible for this embarrassing and deplorable state of affairs, appear to have ignored the fact that five dollar a gallon gas prices–and five dollars is where prices soon will be–effect everything and everybody. No one and no business is exempt.
Let's make matters simple: Venues that use live music are in more trouble than usual. Food and beverage prices are high because of the high cost of fuel needed to transport and manufacture food and beverages and everything contained in food and beverages, from sugar and corn to packaging. High prices in restaurants, and the high cost of travel to places that use live music, mean fewer customers. This means cutbacks, and we all know that live music is often the first to go. The scenario is an obvious one, but it's really bad right now. I'd be interested in knowing how many JazzLegends.com visitors have lost gigs or have been cutback in recent months.
While spending fifty bucks to fill the tank of my 1995 Olds, I've often thought of exactly who is responsible for these ridiculous gas prices. Is it one guy who calls the gas stations and says, “Okay. Raise the price two cents today.” Who is this guy and why can't anyone find him? And, pray tell, just what would happen if the decision were made–tomorrow–to lower the price of gasoline at the pump, everywhere in the country, to two dollars a gallon? Would the world end? Would there be revolution in the streets? Would people go hungry? Would we all die? Two bucks a gallon. Just what would happen in the United States beyond making a bunch of people very happy?
The problem now of course is finding the guy who makes the calls and convincing him to drop prices by two bucks. I'm telling you. It's a guy. And Bush knows who he is. Bush calls this guy first and tells him how much to raise prices.
If there is ever going to be a resolution to this problem, we must find out who and/or what is to blame. Currently, we're not even close.
The President's latest gambit is to blame a Democratic Congress for soaring oil prices. Incidentally, others named in the “who's to blame” sweepstakes have included the Arabs, the Saudi's and the oil companies. Eight years ago, when gas prices increased a penny or two, one consumer coalition blamed Al Gore.
High gas prices are central to Gore's political philosophy, and he has deliberately tried to raise them during his entire career in Washington, said Consumer for a Sound Economy's Director of Environmental Policy, Patrick Burns, in 2000. Whether it's casting the deciding vote to raise gas taxes, preventing domestic production of oil, or slapping costly regulations on consumers and producers the responsibility for the current crisis rests squarely on Gore's shoulders.
Right. It was all Al's fault. Hey, maybe he's the guy on the phone. But he showed them all. He won the Oscar. Just like Sinatra.
This is interesting. Not only will no individual, no organization or no country take responsibility for the gas price situation, but the most brilliant minds in the universe don't even know where to look for the responsible party or parties.
This recalls a personal incident of a few years back. I had received a check in the mail for services provided to a national company, and they inadvertently listed both my name and my then-company name as the payees. The company name was never registered, nor was their a business banking account created with that name. It was just something I used back then to call my company.
I took the check to my local bank branch to deposit it. I guess because it was somewhat sizeable, the teller inspected the document closely and asked who the company was. I explained that the company was really me and that it was just a name I used to describe my business. The teller then voiced true concern about whether or not the check would ultimately be accepted for deposit.
I went to the branch supervisor, showed her the check and asked her who makes the decision about whether or not a check is accepted for deposit? The answer was that the paying bank–the name of the bank on the check–decides if the payees, the endorser, etc., appear to be correct and in sync. If so, the paying bank pays and everything goes through properly. Then again, the branch manager said, banks don't look at each and every check for this, so my check might go through or it might not go through.
“How would I find out in advance whether it would go through or not?” I asked the manager. “Call the paying bank,” was the reply.
It took nearly five hours of telephone work the next business day, but I finally got into the main office of Mellon Bank and the division of that office that handles these things.
My question to that office was simple: Who decides whether a check will be accepted for deposit if, as in this case, there is more than one payee and endorser listed. Is there a person–a guy–who decides this, and if so, could I please speak to them?
The answer as to who makes decisions like this? There was no guy. There was no department. There was no individual. There was no office. It wasn't really an automated process, either. Computers, though, may be involved. Bottom line? No one knew, or no one would take responsibility for knowing. From what I heard, the check could have been made out to Stan Getz and it would have gone through.
Maybe, just maybe, the guy who makes the decisions on checks is the guy calling the gas stations. Let's check Gore's phone records. Then let's book him on a “728.” And what's a “728?” I don't know. But I know a guy who knows.
I'll bet that Bush, Cheney, Congress, Iran, Iraq, the oil companies, the Saudi's, and all those who have been accused of ruining much of our country didn't know that their shenanigans would hurt America's only original art from. Jazz.
Now things have gone too far. In one opinion, mine, the administration that has been serving in Washington for the last eight years has destroyed virtually every area of our society. Jazz is one of the few things we have left. Let's see that we save it.
Meanwhile, in a cover story in Rolling Stone magazine, Senator Barack Obama, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, said that his iPod includes music by Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.
Right now, probable Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whose daughter as long worked for Capital and EMI Records, has only said publicly that he enjoys the work of 1980s rock group ABBA.
The International Association of Jazz Educators, the voice of jazz education in more than 42 countries since 1968, has declared bankruptcy. With over 10,000 members, a thriving annual convention, plenty of local chapters and a number of still-impressive publications, this news was shocking.
The term I’m hearing used most often by those in IAJE is “blind sided,” meaning that even many close to the organization did not realize that massive amount of debt amassed. There are, of course, allegations of IAJE Board mismanagement and other accusations and instances of finger-pointing. Those things go with any Chapter Seven territory.
I have little knowledge of the IAJE management skills past and present. I resigned as an active member a few years ago, as I became frustrated and insulted by the fact that IAJE never mentioned word one about any of our videos, books, DVDs, CDs, or anything else, for that matter
Perhaps this was a part of their problem. It seemed to me that IAJE had the same advertisers, sponsors and supporters year after year after year, and nothing was seemingly ever done to court newer companies, which would include outfits like Hudson Music, Alfred Publishing, EJazzLines, and yes, JazzLegends.com. IAJE chose to believe we just didn’t exist.
Then there is the issue of just how many music-themed conferences can be supported annually, as a big part of the IAJE revenue picture was its big, annual get-together. There are two NAMM (Music Merchandiser) confabs, the Frankfurt Music Fair, the Percussive Arts Convention, and Lord knows what else during the course of 12 months. Just how many of these can be viable in today’s economy? Jazz Improv Magazine has also entered the fray with a convention, and they reportedly did very, very well with it this year in New York city. There is even talk that Jazz Improv may take up some of the IAJE slack in terms of publishing and a convention. Just how that would work or if it would work are questions.
Jazz Improv, as everyone in the industry knows, is almost totally advertising driven, meaning that anything mentioned editorially, by and large, is directly connected to paid ads. This concept has been a mainstay of weekly “shopper”-type newspapers across the country for years. The fact that it’s being applied to jazz, presumably successfully at that, really says something for the publisher. Editorially, though, outside of a column or two, the publication is barely readable, rife with inaccuracies and laughably amateurish.
Everything, seemingly, is for sale at Jazz Improv. Can you imagine a large and lengthy issue devoted to Buddy Rich without even mentioning any of the Buddy Rich DVDs on the market…including the only official DVD of his life story? The point is, if a publication has little or no credibility, how seriously can any of its endeavors be taken?
The coming months are going to revitalize and revolutionize the worldwide percussion community. Both Hudson Music and Drum Workshop are launching two, separate, 24-hour, internet drum channels. Hudson’s is DrumTV.net. DW’s is TheDrumChannel.com. Exact details will not be forthcoming until the formal launching of these projects–Hudson’s is set to start in June–but both will feature interviews, lessons, blogs, vintage and contemporary clips, interactive features, etc.
With DW, I will be involved in producing some of their impressive, stand alone DVD product, including the commercial release of the Gene Krupa/Dukes of Dixieland project “Championship Jazz” coupled with the famed Harry James/Buddy Rich outing from Chicago in 1965. I am also looking forward to writing narration for a most significant DW discovery, that being the “thought to be long lost” television specials filmed by Buddy Rich in 1982. Filmed live at the Statler Hiton Hotel in New York city in February of 1982, these three, never-aired television specials featured BR and the band, along with guests such as Anita O’Day, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme’, Ray Charles, Stan Getz, Woody Herman and Cathy Rich. Throught the years, especially when I was heavilly involved in Buddy Rich material, someone came to me almost every six months with the claim that they had these tapes. They never did. Leave it to Don Lombardi at DW. He’s got them.
By way of TheDrumTV.net, I will be contributing weekly blogs, clips, commentary, etc., most of the vintage variety. I am looking forward to truly having an international forum, much like I do in this space, that will grant exposure to the unsung giants of the drums–new and old–as well as rare material of those we know and love.
These internet drum channels are coming at a good time. WIth sites like YouTube and MySpace running rampant with unauthorized and unorganized material, anyone interested in percussion or drum history can now log on to TheDrumChannel.com or DrumTV.net to find out absolutely everything they wanted to know about drums…all in one (rather, two) places.
Our German colleague, Arthor Von Blomberg, has reported that several appearances by his Krupa orchestra did very, very well at some dates in London, including the prestigious Ronnie Scott’s club. Arthor is still angling for some U.S. festival dates…
Though we haven’t yet seen it, bassist Milt Hinton’s new book, chock full of his great photos, of course, is now on the market…
On the maket is a new CD by Naples, Florida’s finest–a guy you’ve read about in this space many times–trumpeter Bob Zottola. In two words? “Buy it.” For more info, log on to Bob’s great site at www.NaplesJazzLovers.com, where you can also sign up for his great newsletter that lets fans know everything happening, jazz-wise, in Naples…
More Krupa discoveries are on the way, courtesy, once again, of the hard work of our man in Las Vegas, Paul Testa. All we can say at this juncture is that part of this DVD will feature every network obituary ever aired about Gene’s death…
If those of you who run into me personally within the coming weeks seem to think I look like Claude Rains in “The Invisible Man” (all bandages), don’t think I’m auditioning for a film part. On May 5th, two days after my birthday, I had a “larger-than-a-silver-dollar” sized malignant melonoma removed from under my right eye. It was caught–all of it–very early in quite in time, but do to the size involved, a number of skin grafts had to be performed. This will take some time, but the experts who know about such things claim I’ll be looking just like Frank Jr. again in no time at all. Guess my days of using no sunscreen are over…
Drummers, by nature, are not political animals, maybe because most of them are just animals. I’m no different, but I will answer finally answer the question that all wanted to know, in line with who I’m endorsing for president. Answer: I was, am and always will be a confirmed supporter of Harold Stassen.
Keep swingin and God bless,
I like Kenny G. Consider it a guilty pleasure. In our home, the moment the Christmas decorations come out, three seasonal CDs are immediately played. Two are pianist Ramsey Lewis’ famed albums recorded for the Argo label in the late 1950s. The other is Kenny G’s Christmas CD. To me, it evokes the season. No, it isn’t jazz, and Kenny has never really professed to be hard core jazz player. Sure, he’s a “lick” player–aren’t we all?–but Kenny’s licks are his own. The critics, such as they are, have done the same thing to Kenny G. as they did to the late and great trumpeter, Al Hirt. Critics have judged these players by way of their own expectations. In other words, Al Hirt and Kenny G. have sold a zillion records, so in their judgement, if Al didn’t play as well as Dizzy and if Kenny G. doesn’t play as well as Coltrane or Steve Lacy, then they must be shams. I remember a Down Beat magazine cover story from the mid-1960s that focused on Al Hirt who admitted that he indeed was no Miles or Dizzy and that he never said he was.
Still, business is business, and after 25 years and 26 albums with Arista Records–an association that yielded 75 million in record sales–Kenny G. and Arista are separating. Kenny G. will be going to the Concord/Starbucks label because, as he told the Associated Press, Arista wanted another album of standards, while the saxophonist wanted to do his first album of originals since 2002. “Rhythm and Romance,” not to be confused with the legendary Krupa film, “Rhythm Romance,” is the title of the new effort for Concord, which will also feature some Latin tunes.
Truth be told, one doesn’t end an unbelievably lucrative, 25-year association purely because of “artistic differences.” I’d bet the farm that Kenny G.’s sales for Arista have not been what they used to be, which is likely one of the main reasons behind the parting. But don’t worry. I understand that Kenny G. will be doing just fine without Arista, or without anyone, for that matter. Someday, however, I would really love to hear this guy in a straight-ahead quartet setting, swinging the blues, standards and “rhythm” changes. Anthony Braxton did it. Why not Kenny G.?
My main man, Frank Sinatra, Jr., has finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is long, long overdue. Before Harry Connick, Michael Buble, Michael Feinstein, Rod Stewart and rest–long, long before, by the way–Sinatra was out there working and singing the finest of songs backed by the finest of arrangements. “This has been quite a sentimental journey,” Sinatra said. “My brother deserves the honor because he is practically, single-handedly, keeping the American songbook alive,” said sister Nancy. And all good wishes go out to “big Nancy,” Nancy Sinatra, Sr., who is said to be recovering quickly from a heart attack.
“Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland,” the live recording from 1960 that featured–in solo and in battle–Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones and Charli Persip–is now available from JazzLegends.com on CD. This has not been available, to the best of our knowledge, since the early 1990s. It is a must-have for drummers of all ages and styles. The story of this drum battle and all the others throughout drum history will be featured in a cover story in “Traps” magazine, said to be on news stands on or about April 21st. Another recent and rather startling discovery is the fondly-remembered Harry James band television broadcast of 1965 that featured a certain world’s greatest drummer. Our good detectives have found–get this–a full color version of this fabulous show. Stay tuned.
The jazz scene here in Naples, Florida, keeps on cooking and shows no signs of slowing down even as the season draws to an end. Trumpeter Bob Zottola’s Expandable Jazz Band is now working an unprecedented seven nights per week. This fabulous group was recently augmented for a short time by one of Duke Ellington’s greatest bassists, Philadelphia’s own John Lamb. Get your reservations now for The Joy Adams/Bruce Klauber show upcoming at Remy’s in Naples. The last one was sold out–inside and outside–so get your tables now by calling 239-403-9222. We will be joined by pianist Jean Packard, bassist Frank Begonia and tenor saxophonist Lou Califano.
Readers of this space have probably become familiar with the name of “Jebry,” a.k.a. Judy Branch, the ex-Harry James singer who virtually started the jazz scene in Naples years ago. Jebry is fortunate, and deservedly so, to work the same spots, year after year, so “opening nights” at new venues are rarities. The following is the story of a recent one, which will appear in the “Marco Island Eagle” newspaper. Incidentally, I’m happy to announce that I am now contributing semi-regular reviews and features for the “Naples Daily News,” including an interview with Frank SInatra, Jr. that is set to appear March 28th. You can access this fine newspaper from anywhere by logging on to NaplesNews.com. Herewith is the feature on Jebry:
OPENING NIGHT WITH JEBRY
Jazz singer Jebry, a.k.a. Judy Branch, the one-time Harry James Big Band singer who was among the first to bring jazz to Naples when she came here 22 years ago, doesn’t have to look for work. Work comes looking for her. The owners of a relatively new Naples restaurant, Capri: A Taste of Italy, heard about Jebry’s great band and devoted following, came out to hear the group, and hired them immediately.
Jebry doesn’t have many opening nights, in that the majority of her club work, at places like Norm’s and The Island Pub, has been ongoing for many seasons. So last Thursday at Capri: A Taste of Italy was indeed a special evening, and befitting such a singular event, Naples jazz fans and jazz players filled the place to capacity.
Long time Naples music aficionados, who have been following the singer since her appearances at The Witches Brew (a famed, Naples nightspot that was torn down about five years ago), know that an evening with Jebry is not run-of-the-mill entertainment, jazz or otherwise. Actually, “Jebry and Friends,” as it is billed, revives the lost art of the jazz jam session. There’s nothing new about the concept of a jam session, where singers and instrumentalists of all ages and styles guest, or “sit-in” as they say in the vernacular, with the rhythm section (in this case, the bassist, drummer and pianist accompanying Jebry). Jam sessions, in one form or another, have been around since the birth of jazz itself, and there have been some legendary ones throughout jazz history. One that stands out in memory, if only because it was recorded, was an early 1950s meeting of three of the greatest alto saxophonists in jazz, be-bop master Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, multi-instrumentalist/composer Benny Carter, and Duke Ellington star soloist, Johnny Hodges.
Jebry’s sessions through the years have featured just about every player and singer of quality in and around the Naples and Marco Island area, to say nothing of those horn players and vocalists visiting from New York, Philadelphia and points north, south, east and west. On an instrumental basis, just about every pianist and horn player of note in the area has either passed through Jebry’s bands, or has guested with her groups at one time or another. The late, legendary and beloved bop pianist, Kookie Norwood, was one. Others who immediately come to mind are the sublimely lyrical trumpeter Bill Papineau, who was with Jebry for years, and pianist Stu Shelton, a technically astounding artist who leads his own groups and appears often with leader and trumpeter Bob Zottola. Zottola, by the way, appears at Capri with his fine group every Monday night.
The jazz historians will decide whether the Thursday night get-together at Capri: A Taste of Italy belongs in the next book written about jazz history, but it was, without doubt, tremendously entertaining, and that’s what these things are supposed to be. As another great jazz singer, Joy Adams, is fond of saying: “That’s why they call it playing.”
Jebry’s accompanists, who also back all the guests, are as talented as any national or international “name,” past and present. Pianist Jean Packard, a superb player who knows just about every song ever written, and in any key, has for years been a favorite of famed mainstreamers like Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Ruby Braff and Harry Allen. Bassist Richard Lytton is a great swinger with a wonderful ear, whose inventive solos are always a joy to hear. Drummer Bobby Phillips, Jebry’s husband, can–and does–play in any style, with great taste, and with unparalleled technique. No drummer is better at backing up Jebry.
As a vocalist, the star herself is surprisingly versatile, and really transcends categorization as a “jazz” or any other type of singer. She shouts the blues with the best of them and her country singing is as authentic as any singer on the country charts. Obviously, she shines at jazz, with influences that range from Ella Fitzgerald to Anita O’Day. What makes every night with Jebry so special is her generosity with the stage and with the spotlight. That is, of course, what makes a jam session.
And among the great jammers in attendance and on the stage last week were singers Betsy Guy (who always shines in her duets with Jebry), the Billy Eckstine-like stylings of Frank Michota (one fine drummer as well), the always-from the heart singing of Al Reddington, and my colleague of long-standing — which is why I can describe her as “astounding”– Joy Adams. Joining the group instrumentally though the night were that master of traditional jazz, cornetist Dick Cashman, master trumpet bopster Marty Krebs, clarinetist and saxophonist Karl Zihtilla (whose clarinet work startingly echoed that of the clarinet giant Buddy DeFranco), Naples’ pianistic answer to Dave Brubeck, Mel Rosen; and even yours truly, who got in some hot licks on drums and vocals.
It was quite an event, quite a night, quite an opening, and quite a jam session. Right now, the powers-that-be at Capri: A Taste of Italy have wisely booked Jebry and the group every Thursday for the foreseeable future. It’s easy to see why. As for next Thursday? Who knows what jazz star might show up?
Jebry and Friends perform at Capri: A Taste of Italy, every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The restaurant is located in the Riverchase Plaza shopping center at the corner of Immokalee Rd. and Route 41. Call 239-594-3500 for information.
Eddie Shu was among the most under-rated and under-appreciated of jazzmen. He may now get the recognition he deserved, though not for his playing. His widow, Carol Shulman, has filed a Civil Suit in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that the film, “The Lost City,” directed by and starring Andy Garcia, is actually based on the life of Eddie Shu. The film focuses on, among other things, how entertainers and the entertainment business were affected by the Castro takeover in Cuba circa 1959. One of the central characters in the film, an entertainer, is exiled for freedom of expression from Cuba when Castro came in…as was Eddie Shu. To view the actual lawsuit, log on to JusticeNotBlind.com.
In many of the early JazzLegends.com CD releases, we tended to group various sessions together on one CD. A number of sessions, therefore, have tended to get lost in the shuffle.
I bring your attention this month to “Gene Krupa: 1964 to 1971,” which contains three, very significant sessions. First is a very, very rare session featuring Gene with the Balaban and Cats dixieland crew, recorded in Milford, CT in 1971. Part two is a 1964 radio interview, with William B. Williams speaking to Gene, Hamp, Benny and Teddy, celebrating the release of “Together Again.” Finally, from 1970, just about when Gene came out of retirement, we have GK’s third and final appearance on “Dial M For Music,” with Eddie Shu, Marty Napoleon and Knobby Totah…incredible.
Finally, reports have reached my desk confirming that writer Burt Korall is still dead. I will call his home telephone number just to make sure.
Keep swingin, Bruce Klauber, March, 2008
Naples, Florida, enjoys the healthiest of jazz scenes. Indeed, there is more happening here–where Joy Adams and I will be until April–than in most major cities. Locally-oriented examples include jazz trumpet virtuoso Bob Zottola’s Expandable Jazz Band, currently working seven nights a week (!) and the always-wonderful vocalist, Jebry, aka Judy Branch, as busy as ever in a number of locales.
The Joy Adams/Bruce Klauber engagement celebrating Fat Tuesday here at Remy’s Bistro was, in fact, a sellout. And this is the first perfomance we’ve done under our own leadership since first coming to Naples eight years ago. Management told us that all 160 seats indoors were filled, with another 50 eating and drinking outside, waiting for an inside vacancy. Joy and I owe a debt of gratitude for the superb, swinging and flexible backing by three wonderful friends and artists: Pianist Jean Packard, bassists Richard Lytton and reedman Lou Califano. We have basically been offered an “open door” at Remy’s Bistro, meaning that we can appear there whenever we want. We are returning on Tuesday, March 11. For any of our JazzLegends.com visitors who may be in the Southwest Florida area at that time, please come and see us. Call 239-403-9222 for reservations, or email me personally at DrumAlive@aol.com
On the national level, the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts has booked a great number of jazz and jazz-oriented attractions for the 2008 season, including appearances by Tony Bennett, Steve and Edyie, Bill Cosby, Frank Sinatra, Jr., a number of shows by pianist Dick Hyman (featuring players like Harry Allen, Randy Sandke and Eddie Metz, Jr.), singer Freda Payne paying tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Steve Tyrell, Anne Hampton Calloway, 23-year old Russian singing sensation Sophie Milman, Branford Marsalis and Chris Botti.
This is, without question, a very healthy scene. The majority of these events, by the way, were, are and will be sold out.
A surprise, last-minute booking was none other than The Ramsey Lewis Trio. Those who remember the Chicagoan’s famed, funk-based trio featuring Red Holt and Eldee Young on million sellers like “Wade in the Water” and “Hang on Sloopy” were very, very pleasantly surprised at what they heard. Here is an detailed review of the show, which took place on February 6th: ******
Jazz musicians who have sold a million records and reached the top of the music sales charts are a very rare breed, though there have been some notable exceptions through the years. Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” actually knocked The Beatles off the hit parade in 1964. And there were others, including Stan Getz’ “Girl from Ipanema,” Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five,” Eddie Harris’ “Exodus,” and “The In Crowd” and “Wade in the Water” by a young pianist out of Chicago named Ramsey Lewis.
Lewis, who performed with his trio before a sold-out and wildly appreciative, three-encore audience at The Phil on Wednesday, could have easily rested on his laurels and play a medley of his seven gold records and three Grammy winners. He did not, and the result was one of the most refreshing and entertaining evenings of music–of any kind–presented during this or any other season. Accompanied by virtuoso bassist Larry Gray, and the amazingly versatile drummer Leon Joyce, Jr., Lewis has moved into a modern and impressionistic pianistic area, often invoking the lyricism of the late Bill Evans and the modal explorations of McCoy Tyner. He has combined this with a tremendous flair for gospel music, a good amount of crowd-pleasing humor and arrangements for the trio that often had it sounding like an orchestra Still, the famed, Ramsey Lewis funk remains very much in evidence, so while he has evolved stylistically, the Lewis sound continues to be instantly recognizable.
Other than a short rendition of “The In Crowd,” done as one of the encores, the repertoire of The Ramsey Lewis Trio is an electic one, ranging from the touching John Coltrane ballad “Dear Lord” to a rousing “Oh Happy Day.” Lewis has strong classical roots as well–he studied the classical concert repertoire as a youth with the legendary Dorothy Mendelsohn in Chicago–and that influence was quite clear on The Beatles “In My Life” and several Lewis compositions written for a suite of dances entitled “To Know Her,” which united the trio with the Goffrey Ballet.
Not enough can be said about Lewis’ accompanists. After hearing the superb, arco work and always inventive soloing by bassist Larry Gray, it is no surprise that his classical background is extensive. He was the featured bassist with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and principal bassist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He has also worked with a number of jazz greats, including Joe Williams, Clark Terry McCoy Tyner and Jack DeJohnette.
Like Gray, drummer Leon Joyce, Jr. transcends categorization. He is fluent in the New Orleans drumming style via his work with New Orleans legends like Pete Fountain and Ellis Marsalis; but he is equally at home with funk, gospel and even rock. Though his technique is astounding, is it always musical.
Ramsey Lewis is more visible and more popular these days–and not only as a pianist–than he was during his hit-making Chicago days. He hosts a popular, syndicated radio show, entitled “The Ramsey Lewis Morning Show.” And in 2006, he filmed a series of half-hour television shows for PBS called “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis.” Now widely available on DVD, “Legends of Jazz” represented the first time in 40 years that jazz was regularly broadcast on television.
He has often been described, quite accurately, as a legend. And just how does that feel? “It’s a high honor when someone says so,” Lewis has recently said, “but I don’t see myself that way. What keeps me enthusiastic and energizes me is the realization that the more I learn, the more I find there is to know.”
And though he is constantly learning, evolving and growing, Ramsey Lewis has never forgotten the audience. Above all, he is a dignified communicator, who, by the way, still swings like no other. This concert stands as one of the highlights of a great, jazz-oriented season at The Phil.
******JazzLegends.com appreciates the continued support of our thousands of international visitors, especially during this difficult economic period. Things are tough here and everywhere, but we continue to go to the ends of the earth to find product of interest that simply cannot be found elsewhere. Please note our new Tony Williams DVDs, including the famed “Zildjian Day 1985,” two outstanding VSOP concerts from 1982 and 1982 and a “Tony Williams Superstar Band” concert from 1983. Additionally, Dean Pratt, collector and annotator extraordinaire and former Buddy Rich big band member, has come up with two CDs that are as close to the “Krupa Holy Grail” as one can get. First is an extended, backstage conversation at Mr. Kelly’s in Chicago, between Gene and B.R., recorded in July of 1973, just about 90 days before Gene’s death. This is touching and often hilarious. You will hear and feel sides of these giants that you just won’t believe. On the same CD are the legendary out takes from “Burnin’ Beat.” The second CD, “Where’s Benny?” is an ultra-ultra rare concert from May of 1953, when Gene took over leadership of the Benny Goodman band that was to tour with Louis Armstrong. Pops stayed, Benny dropped out due to alleged illness, Gene took over and Benny, by and large, was not missed. You will hear some unreal Krupa drumming, on an 11-minute partial version of “Sing Sing Sing” coupled with a Willie Smith/Teddy Wilson/Krupa Trio verson of “Drum Boogie,” and a Krupa/Cozy Cole battle on “The Saints” with Pops and The All-Stars. The finale of this CD is an in-depth interview with Mr. Personality himself, “The King of Swing.” These two items, like a lot of our other material, were thought not to exist. These are must-haves.
Finally, we are told that our good colleague, drummer/producer Arthor Von Blomberg, has lined up several dates at Harrah’s in New Orleans for his all-star Krupa Tribute band that includes star alto saxophonist Richie Cole. Stay tuned, keep swingin’ and God bless.
Bruce Klauber February, 2008
Joy Adams, Philadelphia’s “Golden Girl of Song” to Perform at Remy’s Bistro in Celebration of Fat Tuesday, February 5thSunday, January 27th, 2008
Joy Adams, dubbed Philadelphia’s “Golden Girl of Song” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, will be performing at Remy’s Bistro in Naples on Tuedsay, February 5th, in celebration of the New Orleans/Mardi Gras Tradition of Fat Tuesday. Adams will be accompanied by drummer Bruce Klauber, and his Jazz Trio. Performances are 6 to 9 p.m.
Adams, a part time Naples resident, has been entertaining audiences all over the world for more than 30 years with her classic interpretations of American Popular Song. Her singular versions of compositions made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall, Nina Simone and Harry Connick have delighted fans in the Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos. and in locales as far away as London’s Savoy hotel and the famed, Rue de Caves jazz club in Paris.
Adams has managed to accomplish the virtually impossible in the music business. She is an original. She is stylistically a one-of-a-kind, and above all, a story-teller, with an absolute belief in the lyrics and the meaning of a song. She draws the audience in to the song and the story, which is only one reason why her following is such a devoted one. Her CD, “Joy Adams Sings the Classics,” received stellar reviews nationally, including one in “Cadence” Magazine that compared her favorably with Billie Holiday. Her individual rendition of Chris Connor’s “All About Ronnie,” continues in heavy rotation on WRTI-FM in the Northeast part of the country. But Joy Adams has that rare quality, as does her accompanist, Bruce Klauber: They appeal to a wide range of audiences who might not have liked jazz before or since. And in line with that, they do plan on doing some material long associated with the Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras tradition of New Orleans jazz.
Musical Director Bruce Klauber is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist best known for his two books on drumming legend Gene Krupa, and as writer/producer of the landmark, Warner Bros. DVD documentaries on Krupa, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton and the Legends of Jazz drumming series.
Remy’s, A Neighborhood Bistro, long a favorite mainstay of the Naples restaurant scene, has been accurately described as “the taste you’ll always remember in a place you’ll never forget.” It is located within the Target Plaza shopping center at 2300 Pine Ridge Road. For reservations and further information, cal 403-9922, or visit them on the web at RemyBistro.com. For information on Joy Adams or Bruce Klauber, call 215-620-5227, or email DrumAlive@aol.com
There is virtually nothing that the Berlin-based Arthor Von Blomberg has not done in the entertainment industry. His experience includes stints as record producer, recording engineer, recording artist, author, jazz drummer, actor and band leader. I received a telephone call some weeks back from Arthor, who wanted to enlist some of my services in line with an upcoming project about Gene Krupa. The project? “The Gene Krupa Story,” a Broadway musical based on the life and music of that ace drummer man. At first, I was skeptical about the concept, but upon hearing further details about it and looking into Arthor’s extensive resume’, I concluded that this was, indeed, “the real thing.” Though still in the early stages, Arthor and his colleagues (and I proud to be one) are moving forward with plans for a national promotional tour with a big band that will include some pretty big-name players (like the great altoist Richie Cole), casting, discussions about merchandising, various presentations to potential backers, etc. Arthor Von Blomberg’s passion and knowledge of Gene and jazz is extraordinary, and if anyone can do something like this and do it well, it is Arthor. Gene Krupa led a life filled with superb, innovative music and a good deal of singular drama. Could there be any better material than this for a Broadway show? Anyone interested in being a part of “The Gene Krupa Story” should contact me directly at DrumAlive@aol.com. We will keep all of our JazzLegends visitors updated on the progress of the show and the tour.
As if everyone did not already know, the Krupa model drumstick from Bopworks are here and are currently available at www.Bopworks.net. We’ve received nice write-ups in several percussion publications and will be amply represented at various international drum shows, including the upcoming Vintage Drum Show in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Bopworks, by the way, also makes Mel Lewis and Shelly Manne models that are exact duplicates of the fondly-remembered originals.
In the merchandising area, we are still in discussions with a cymbal company–sadly, not the one known as “the only serious choice–about a Krupa model cymbal or cymbals. Right now, we are zeroing in on a few possibilities, mainly a 24-inch heavy ride that Gene used through the 1950s and early 1960s, and his unbelievable swish cymbal. Gene’s cymbal sounds and cymbal models were as individual as his drumming.
I used to love PBS, the Public Broadcasting System. Upon release of my first video in 1993, “Gene Krupa Jazz Legend,” I was anxious to hook up with the Philadelphia PBS affiliate, in hopes that they would air the program. Talks with them did not go well, and as I recall, the only deal they offered was structured so I would be paying them instead of vice versa. Several years later, during the production of “Buddy Rich Jazz Legend,” I tried obtaining a screener of Buddy on a program called “The Mark of Jazz,” aired by the same, PBS Philadelphia affiliate. I’ve had easier times running marathons. And I don’t even run marathons. I did have permission to screen and use the footage from the actual producer, Sid Mark, but PBS demanded that I provide proof that Mark was the producer. The only way I could provide that proof was to get a screener of the footage which would clearly show on the credits that the program was “Produced by Sid Mark.” They said that they couldn’t give me a screener without proof that Sid Mark was the producer. Get it? We did get the footage in the end, but the whole situation was simply not pleasant. We tried getting clearance to use Buddy’s famed appearance with the Boston Pops Orchestra from the Boston PBS affiliate, WGBH. Their terms? We could use only two minutes of film, maximum, and that would cost $60,000. I told them that no one would pay that price and that we were the only people likely to ever produce anything like what we were producing on Buddy Rich. No go. I asked them, “If no one ever buys this film at this price, does that mean the video will eventually disintegrate and turn to dust?” Their answer? “Yes.” Several months ago, I received a phone call from WNET, the New York city PBS outlet. They were producing a documentary about New York city during World War II and were interested in obtaining footage of Gene, Glenn Miller, Count, Duke and Tommy Dorsey. I quoted them a fee and they turned it down. I cut the fee in half and they turned it down. Finally, feeling that maybe I should do something good for the PBS “cause,” I took several, full work days and assembled more than enough great footage for them. I sent it to the producers and told them that if they wanted to use any of it, they could pay me whatever they thought it was worth or whatever they could afford. Ultimately, I was told that they did use some of the clips, and that they would send me a dub of the program and what I judged as a reasonable fee or “honorarium.” This was over a month ago and I have yet to receive the fee or the dub. The last thing I heard–after bombarding the producer with emails and phone calls– was that the powers that be did not realize that I had to file a W-9 tax form. This was ten days ago, and still nothing. Based on my experience with PBS, little has changed with them in 25 years. They remain arrogant and haughty and continue to have the attitude of “being entitled.” The difference in 2007 is that there really is no need for PBS, their attitude and their beg-a-thons. Everything PBS does and a lot more, with the possible exception of the initial showings of Kenny Burns’ documentaries, is available on cable. Unless PBS changes their tune and offers innovative programming that cannot be seen elsewhere, they will go the way of the Dumont Television Network.
Robbie Cavolina and his talented colleagues have finished production on the documentary DVD, “Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer.” The project is absolutely marvelous in every way, and in my opinion, it is destined to be an award winner and thought of as a classic, alongside “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” and “Great Day in Harlem.” In addition to very rare performance and interview footage of Anita, including film from the TImex television special we don’t have, there are on camera talks with BIll Holman, Billy Taylor, Gerald Wilson, Maynard Sloate and many others. It is a gem. I am doing whatever I can to assist in getting this the proper, international home video distribution that it deserves. Hopefully, by that point, we will be able to offer it here as well.
Call this one–a DVD on the life and music of legendary cornetist, Wild Bill Davison–a discovery. This 100-minute project was actually a privately but very professionally produced video that was released, also privately, in 1991. When it sold out its run that year, it disappeared. It’s a wonderful document, based on extensive interviews with Bill, performance footage from the Sacramento Jazz Festival, rare film of Bill with Eddie Condon and more. This, too, deserves proper home video distribution, and we’re working on that as well. There have been rumors circulating for years about film taken during the famed “Jazz at the New School” concert with Gene, Wild Bill and Condon. If such film does exist, this would be the perfect place for it.
A good friend and a great supporter of music through the years (remember, we have to have listeners, too) has started an innovative, new business called “The Balloon Store on Wheels.” Serving the Greater Delaware Valley (areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) the Balloon Store comes to your location and offers wonderful balloon arrangements for birthdays and just about every kind of private party or corporate event. Additionally, they design and offer one-of-a-kind gift baskets for all occasions, their special “Party in a Box” (containing everything from plates and utensils to invitations and table covers), as well as personally designed, take home “goodie bags.” We know that JazzLegends visitors are party people, so if you are having one and live in the Greater Delaware Valley, log onto www.BallonStoreOnWheels.com and start partying as soon as possible. Until next time, keep swingin’.
Bruce Klauber, October, 2007
At long last, Chris Bennett of the Bopworks drum stick company, the Gene Krupa Estate and yours truly are able to announce the pending availability of the first, officially sanctioned Krupa stick to hit the market since 1972. Those of you who follow this column and have asked about the sticks’ release are well aware of the time it’s taken to get this deal together. There were times, quite frankly, when Chris Bennett and I were about to throw in the towel, and it is a testament to his patience and dedication that this has finally happened. I can tell you that the stick is well worth waiting for. Bopworks puts out, in my estimation, the finest product on the market, and their Mel Lewis and Shelly Manne models are prime examples of the company’s integrity and dedication to quality and authenticity. JazzLegends.com expects to have the sticks available in the coming weeks, though the first ones to likely have them will be www.Bopworks.net and the retailers they currently service. It is my goal to, at some point, have the Krupa model stick available everywhere drum sticks are available, including mega retailers like Guitar Center, Sam Ash and maybe even Target, to say nothing of web giants like Musicians Friend, Interstate Music, etc. If any of the JazzLegends.com visitors and supporters are retailers–or know of one–get in touch with Chris Bennett directly at: Info@bopworks.net or visit the Bopworks web site. We may have mentioned that our good friend Michael Berkowitz, who leads the “New Gene Krupa Orchestra” (officially sanctioned by the Estate), is our first endorser, and it’s an honor to have him. There are none better and make sure you get his CDs. In many of the recreations I’ve heard through the years, either the band has been great and the drummer mediocre, or vice versa. In this case, both Berkowitz and the group are fabulous.
Because of our constant shuttling back and forth from Philadelphia to Florida, we are changing our mailing address in order to better serve our long-standing mail-order customers. Though the thought did occur to do away with mail order totally, it is certainly understandable that there are some supporters out there who would prefer not to order via the web and/or may not have web capability. The new mail-order address is: JazzLegends.com c/o Bruce Klauber, 450 Domino Lane #D-5, Philadelphia, PA 19128. Don’t forget to include the “D-5.” From time to time, we still get phone calls asking if we accept credit cards by telephone. No, credit card orders are strictly done on the web site with PayPal.
We are still discussing –with the greatest webmaster who ever webmastered –the possibility of making downloads available on some of our CDs and DVDs. I’m told that it’s quite an involved and possibly costly process, and we are thinking seriously about the pros and the cons. Bear in mind that such things would be available on a tune-by-tune basis for a cost of around $5.00, perhaps less. One idea that someone floated was to make “preview” downloads available, i.e., 30-to-50 second samples that would help a buyer decide what to buy. When JazzLegends.com first started back in the prehistoric days, we had Real Audio samples on the site, but there was really no way to track just how many folks took advantage of that feature. Feel free to mull this over in the Forum. JazzLegends.com will abide by your decision.
We are again urging you to support the Fresh Sound record label out of Barcelona. As the company who released our JATP in Hamburg package, Fresh Sound is doing things that absolutely no one else in the industry is doing. If this release does well, there is always the possibility that the company would release other JATP programs, with and without Gene. Remember that their product is available via WorldsRecords.com, Ejazzlines.com, and the Fresh Sound web site.
Also in the “urging” arena, we are constantly attempting to broaden our scope and our variety of selections. The name of the site, after all, is “Jazz Legends.” so we’re happy to have added artists like Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Blakey, Coleman Hawkins, Boots Randolph, Kenny Clarke and many others during the past several months. Take advantage of what we have, and ask for the artists and/or CD or DVDs you seek. We’ll do our best to make them available. There is life beyond Gene!
We have reached the serious negotiating phase for the wide, commercial release of our “Jazz Legends on Television” DVD, a 90-minute, “best-of” compilation of the great, jazz-oriented TV specials of 1957 to 1962. Though we offer it on our site, this is one of those projects, like the JATP in Hamburg concert, that cries out for worldwide retail and international web release. For some reason, it’s been a tough sell, but something is up in the marketplace. The good folks at Jazz Icons did so well with their first spate of DVD releases, that a half-dozen more new discoveries are now set for release. These include titles by Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Dexter Gordon and something that we cannot wait to view: John Coltrane and Stan Getz in concert, together! Though these giants were poles apart stylistically, they did have a great, great deal of respect for each other. When a jazz writer once asked Trane his thoughts about Stan Getz, Coltrane replied, “Let’s face it…wouldn’t we all want to sound like Stan?”
Now in the final editing stage is the long-in-preparation “Classic Rock Drum Solos” DVD from Hudson Music. This has taken all of us over two years to put together, and we all eagerly anticipate the final result. Whatever your feeling about rock and rock drumming, there is no question that all of these players are technically astounding in their own way. Just to refresh your memory about the stellar line up of soloists, they include Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson, tributes to Lionel Hampton and Krupa, Bill Haley’s Ralph Jones, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, Sandy Nelson, Ginger Baker, Carl Palmer, Ron Bushey, Ian Paice, Michael Shrieve, Clive Bunker, Carmine Appice (who also hosts) Cozy Powell, Don Brewer, Keith Moon, Neil Peart and Steve Smith. We only await permission from the family of John Bonham in order to complete this DVD. Watch this space and HudsonMusic.com for release dates.
Finally, Joy Adams joins me in thanking all of you who attended our recent show in the Philadelphia area. As they say in the vernacular, “the joint was mobbed,” and we hope to do something like this several times per year.
God bless and keep swingin… Bruce Klauber, July, 2007