These ultra, ultra rare clips — never before released by JazzLegends.com–feature jazz drumming legends that are not often seen on DVD. Highlights include Papa Jo Jones with Ben Webster and Buck Clayton from the late 1950s, a Louie Bellson/Philly Joe Jones/Irv Cottler/Shelly Manne turn on the mid-1960s “Hollywood Palace” tv show, a partial Joe Morello solo with Brubeck from 1964, a partial Max Roach drum solo filmed in Europe in the mid-1960s with Elvin Jones looking on. Seen in their entirety are two, very obscure, “Stars of Jazz” half hour programs from 1958, both hosted by Bobby Troup. The first program stars Shelly Manne and the boys along with jazz singer Mark Murphy. Program two is Paul Horn’s early “new age” renderings, with none other than Mel Lewis on drums.
Archive for the ‘Musicians’ Category
Rare film footage, paying tribute to The Maestro, with Benny Goodman in 1947, Duke Ellington in 1951, Lionel Hampton and Don Lamond in 1957, and with Buddy DeFranco and Don Menza from 1989. Incredible and touching. Click here to Order
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.
Some changes are in the offing for 2009 at JazzLegends.com. My sincere thanks for the hundreds who have taken advantage of our “everything $10″ sale over the past few months. I ask for your understanding and patience. We have been deluged with orders, and are thankful for it, but it will take a few weeks to catch up. Remember, we have no inventory, per se, as every item is custom duplicated. While the $10 sale is over for the moment, we are only raising prices halfway, in that everything will be $15, with shipping remaining free all over the world. Many of you have also noticed that we are now using paper sleeves and no more stick-on CD/DVD labels. The paper sleeves are a cost-saving measure and also eliminate that pesky problem of cracked slimline cases. The stick-on labels were causing quality control problems. We listened to the experts who said that the labels, by and large, were at fault for problems in CDs and DVDs playing. We now think we’ve got it licked.
I had the chance to see and to review alto saxophonist David Sanborn here in Naples. I was most impressed and very pleasantly surprised. Here is a link to the review that appeared in the Naples Daily News.
Anyone with even a slight interest in drums and percussion should, without doubt, log on to www.DrumChannel.com. Now just out of the Beta testing phase, this superb site is developing and evolving into something almost indescribable. Ultimately, visitors will be able to access vintage film footage, interviews, master classes, lessons, access a vast library of biographies and discographies, and share ideas with other players all over the world, 24 hours per day.
The jazz and popular music worlds lost an extraordinary amount of great ones in 2008. They will never be replaced. May they rest in peace.
Lew Spence, 87; composed “Nice ‘n’ Easy,” the Grammy-nominated Frank Sinatra song (Jan. 9)
Pete Candoli, 84; leading high-register jazz trumpet player, long-time “Tonight Show” band member, who often appeared in jazz contexts with his brother, Conte (Jan. 11)
Teo Macero, 82; forward-thinking reedman and controversial producer of jazz albums for Miles Davis and other leading artists in the 1960s and ’70s (Feb. 19)
Buddy Miles, 60; rock and R&B drummer and singer whose eclectic career included stints working as a sideman for Jimi Hendrix (Feb. 26)
Israel “Cachao” Lopez, 89; Cuban bassist and composer credited with pioneering the mambo style of music (March 22)
William F. Ludwig II, 91; son of the founder of Ludwig Drum Co. and a percussion industry pioneer in his own right. (March 22)
Gene Puerling, 78; leader of the innovative vocal quartet the Hi-Lo’s and a noted vocal arranger whose work influenced the sound of pop groups, including the Beach Boys (March 25)
Cedella Booker, 81; mother of Bob Marley who wrote two biographies of him and recorded two albums (April)
Jimmy Giuffre, 86; saxophonist, clarinetist and composer whose career included big bands (Woody, etc.) and minimalist trios. Perhaps the true father of “new age” music (April 24)
Humphrey Lyttelton, 86; jazz trumpeter who hosted the BBC radio game show “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.” Among the most popular figures in British jazz. (April 25)
Bob Florence, 75; bandleader and composer won Grammys and Emmys and almost single-handedly helped keep the big band genre alive. (May 15)
Bo Diddley, 79; a primal rock and blues musician who helped cast the sonic template of rock more than 50 years ago with a signature syncopated rhythm that became universally recognized as “the Bo Diddley beat” (June 2)
Bill Finegan, 91; an architect of the big band sounds of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller who later traded in commercial success to co-create the innovative Sauter-Finegan Orchestra (June 4)
Gerald Wiggins, 86; jazz pianist played with his trio and accompanied many great singers (July 13)
Jo Stafford, 90; a singer who was a favorite of soldiers during World War II (with Dorsey and singly) and whose recordings made the pop music charts dozens of times in the 1950s (July 16)
Joe Beck, 62; jazz guitarist who played with Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and James Brown (July 22)
Johnny Griffin, 80; “the little giant,” who was once billed as the “world’s fastest saxophonist” (July 25)
Lee Young, 94; brother of Lester, a wonderful jazz drummer who played with Nat King Cole and was one of the first African Americans to integrate a studio orchestra (July 31)
Lou Teicher, 83; half of the popular piano duo Ferrante & Teicher who scored four Top 10 hits in the 1960s (Aug. 3)
Isaac Hayes, 65; seminal figure in R & B and soul music who wrote theme from “Shaft” (Aug. 10)
Jerry Wexler, 91; who coined the term “rhythm and blues,” discovered Aretha Franklin and helped bring African American music to a wide audience as a key executive of Atlantic Records (Aug. 15)
Johnny Moore, 70; a trumpeter and founding member of the Jamaican ska and reggae band the Skatalites (Aug. 16)
Buddy Harmon, 79; popular Nashville session drummer played on more than 18,000 recordings (Aug. 21)
Ralph Young, 90; vocalist was half of Sandler & Young singing team popular in the 1960s to the 1980s (Aug. 22)
Connie Haines, 87; big band singer who performed with Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the 1940s (Sept. 22)
Earl Palmer, 83; legendary session drummer (who started out playing jazz) played on dozens of rock classics including “Tutti Frutti” and “La Bamba” (Sept. 19)
Neal Hefti, 85; a former trumpeter, later arranger and composer for Woody, Basie, et. al. who wrote the memorable themes for “The Odd Couple” and ” Batman” (Oct. 11)
Levi Stubbs, 72; Four Tops frontman whose dynamic and emotive voice drove such Motown classics as “Reach Out [I’ll Be There]” and “Baby I Need Your Loving” (Oct. 17)
Dee Dee Warwick, 63; R & B singer who recorded hits in the 1960s and was a supporting singer for her sister Dionne Warwick (Oct. 18)
Dave McKenna, 78; a master jazz pianist, with Charlie Ventura, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman and as a soloist, who embraced the music of the Great American Songbook (Oct. 18)
Ray Ellis, 85; a versatile pop music arranger who wrote the charts for hits by the Four Lads, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Doris Day and Johnny Mathis (Oct. 27)
Mae Mercer, 76; a deep-voiced blues singer who spent much of the 1960s performing at a blues bar in Paris (Oct. 29)
Jimmy Carl Black, 70; original drummer for Frank Zappa’s band Mothers of Invention (Nov. 1)
Rosetta Reitz, 84; ardent feminist started record label for women in jazz and blues (Nov. 1)
Mitch Mitchell, 61; drummer for the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 1960s, and one of the most influential rock drummers of all time. (Nov. 12)
Charles Ottaviano, 66; his intimate Van Nuys nightclub Charlie O’s developed a loyal following of jazz enthusiasts (Nov. 17)
Robert Lucas, 46; blues singer and former frontman for the ground-breaking, blues band, Canned Heat (Nov. 23)
Odetta Holmes, 77; folk singer was a voice of the civil rights movement and championed black history (Dec. 2)
Elmer Valentine, 85; co-founder Whiskey a Go Go, the legendary West Hollywood night club (Dec. 3)
Page Cavanaugh, 86; a pianist-singer whose trio was a popular nightclub and recording group, and a coach for dozens of singers (Dec. 19)
Eartha Kitt, 81; ageless, internationally famed, sultry song stylist (Dec. 25)
Freddie Hubbard, 70; one of the most influential trumpet players of all time (Dec. 29)
If you don’t have this one, you should, and this is the version to have, as it’s been digitally restored from the flat versions that been floating around for years. Tommy and Jimmy, of course, play themselves in this 1947 opus, looking not a day older or younger then they actually were. Look for a plethora of guests, including Helen O’ Connell, Bob Eberle, Abe Most, Ziggy Elman, Ray Bauduc, Paul Whiteman, Charlie Barnet, and a very rare filmed appearance by Art Tatum. Drumming superbly for the Dorsey band is Alvin Stoller.
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.
Thankfully, the presidential election is over. And thankfully, someone else will be the President of the United States as of January 20, 2009. I have no quarrel with the character or intellect of John McCain, though I have been questioning the latter via his interesting choice of Sarah Pallin as Vice President. President Elect Barack Obama deserves our respect and support. Yes, he may be a bit short on the experience side–which is why his choice of Joe Biden as VP was such a good one–but above all, Obama is, quite simply, an inspiring presence on a scene that really needs some inspiration.
But let’s get our priorities in place. Sure, the economy is in shambles as is just about every other area of our society, and sure, we’re at war. But we all know what the most important issue is here at the site: Jazz.
With that in mind, our crack team of investigative reporters has discovered the President Elect’s history with jazz and his true feelings about it.
According to a February 8, 2007 profile in the Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper by B.J. Reyes, which covered Obama’s time spent at a Honolulu prep school, “Barry” Obama started listening to jazz in earnest while he was in junior high school. “Barry was into things that other kids our age weren’t into,” said a one-time Obama school mate Dean Ando. “I remember when we went into a record store just to browse. He went through the entire jazz section while we were there. That affects me to this day. He’s the one who introduced me to jazz. When everyone else was into rock, Obama was into jazz.”
In terms of his favorites, those in the know claim that Obama is a big fan of Miles and Coltrane. And Herbie Hancock made an appearance in one of Obama’s television commercials. No word yet about the President Elect’s feelings about Eddie Shu.
There’s a new book out on Sammy Davis, Jr., entitled “Deconstructing Sammy,” written by a newspaper and magazine investigative reporter named Matt Birkbeck. My recommendation? Pass it by.
Whatever your feelings about Davis, there is no denying that he was among the most versatile and energetic of performers. No one has come along before or since who had the range of talents he had, which included singing, dancing, comedy and some swinging instincts as a multi-instrumentalist on drums, vibes and trumpet. His knowledge of jazz was encyclopedic, and in terms of breaking down racial barriers in the entertainment industry, Davis was a maverick. . Until he sadly became a caricature of himself in later years, he was something to see, and I was fortunate to have seen him many times. I spent some time with him at Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino shortly after he had hip replacement surgery in 1985. I was struck by the fact that he didn’t seem to be a happy fellow until he hit the stage. Remembering that he was responsible for engineering only one of two filmed appearances (that we know of) of Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich together (available on “Buddy Rich Jazz Legend” and “Gene Krupa: The Champ” on this site), and recalling that drumming was once a part of his stage act, I asked if he was still playing. “I put the drums Buddy gave me in storage,” he said. “The more I listened to Buddy the more I realized I could just never, ever be that good. No one could. So I gave them up.”
Unfortunately, Sammy Davis is best known today, if he is known at all, for things other than his music. And that’s what this book is about. It focuses on his alleged mob ties, admittedly legendary tangles with the Internal Revenue Service, the suffering and illness of his widow, and other juicy tidbits that have nothing whatsoever to do with why Sammy Davis, Jr. was famous during his lifetime. And presumably, it was Davis’ fame as an entertainer that made the publication of this book possible, but author Birkbeck all but ignores his talents, capabilities and contributions as an artist. “Deconstructing Sammy” has my vote for the most depressing book of the year. It’s like watching an autopsy. If that’s your taste…solid. Go out and buy one of Sam’s records or DVDs instead.
The 100th birthday of the man who made the drums a solo instrument, Gene Krupa, will be upon us on January 15, 1909. Modern Drummer magazine plans a tribute of sorts, and in the newest issue of Down Beat magazine, one of my favorite human beings, John McDonough, has a good piece on Gene and several other drumming legends, including Sid Catlett, etc. McDonough, of course, continues to refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Krupa or “Legends of Jazz Drumming” DVDs, but that’s not going to change. There is serious talk of a few major, major events that will celebrate Gene’s 100th, so watch this space. Carefully.
We often get emails about the availability of Krupa big band charts. There are several sources out there, but one of the very good ones is EJazzlines.com, who also offer just about every commercially -issued DVD and CD in the universe. Charts include “Disc Jockey Jump,” “Boogie Blues,” “Opus One,” “Leave Us Leap” and several others. On some of the Krupa charts I’ve obtained through the years, the orchestrations were about 89 percent faithful to the originals. There were some wholesale changes made here and there, for reasons that I still cannot figure. I hope the ones out there today are a bit closer to the originals. The only way to ensure complete accuracy is to go to the expense of having someone transcribe the charts right off the record.
Our good colleagues at www.DrumChannel.com are now in the Beta testing phase of what is certain to be an incredible, 24-hour internet drum channel. Even at this early testing stage, DrumChannel is incredible. Log on and join up to read incisive bios, get lessons, trade information, view vintage footage (check out the promos of the legendary Buddy Rich show from the Statler Hilton hotel) and much more.
We continue to do our bit for the economy by offering everything we’ve got for $10 per. But again, we do ask that you please seriously consider buying more than one item at a time so that we can continue to provide free shipping all over the world. Until then, keep swingin’
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. JazzLegends.com 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.
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 www.JazzLegends.com, 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, JazzLegends.com 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 JazzLegends.com, 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. JazzLegends.com 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, TheDrumChannel.com 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 TheDrumChannel.com, 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 DrumAlive@aol.com.
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. JazzLegend.com 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 JazzLegends.com 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 JazzLegends.com, 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 DrumChannel.com, 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.