Archive for the ‘Musicians’ Category

Jazz Legends Update

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

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


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


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


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


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


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

Keep swingin’
Bruce Klauber
July, 2008

Gigs and Gas

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

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 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.


BOBBY DURHAM: 1937-2008

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Drummer Bobby Durham, one most versatile and technically able players in the world of jazz percussion,  died at the age of 71. 

Durham, who never really received the attention he deserved, was a rarity in jazz:  He was equally at home driving a big band (his five years with Duke Ellington being a great example), in a trio setting (his work with the Oscar Peterson Trio was legendary), and backing a jazz singer, via his 10-year tenure with Ella Fitzgerald.

He was born in Philadelphia, learning drums there at a young age.  At 16, he was good enough to be a part of the band backing R & B pioneers, The Orioles.  When discharged from the Army in 1959, after three years in the Army band, he continued his work in the R & B area, most notably with King James and later with Lloyd Price.  He ultimately joined Lionel Hampton’s band, which was a natural extension of his R & B roots, before moving over totally to jazz with players like Basie, Ellington, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Grant Green, Shirley Scott and many others.

In the mid-1970s, he formed an alliance with trombonist Al Grey, whom he met on the Basie band.  For several years, they both headquartered in Philadelphia, performing frequently at a club fronted by Grey called “Just Jazz.”

The club was actually owned by a veteran tap room owner named Jack Manoff, who was a distant cousin of mine.  That, coupled with the fact that I was reasonably active on the Philadelphia jazz scene at the time, meant that I was given virtual run of the place.  Guitarist Jimmy Bruno and I often sat in with the Just Jazz house band that featured Grey and Durham.  On one fateful night, reedman Sonny Stitt was the headliner, and the fearless Bruno and Klauber ended up on the bandstand playing “Cherokee” at a ridiculous tempo and in a ridiculous key (Sonny could be that way with those he perceived as amateurs).

We got through it somehow. 

I spent much good time with Bobby Durham that night and on other evenings at “Just Jazz.”  He was especially proud of being one of the first  endorsers of Fibes drums, and loved to show off his shiny, fiberglass-covered-with-chrome kit (I got my first Fibes set because Bob got one!). New drums aside, I was specifically interested in how he was able to keep those mile-a-minute tempos going without rushing, without dragging but always swinging. 

He always maintained that relaxation was the key, and that problems will only present themselves when a player would push or tense up.  I remember saying, “Yeah…that’s because you can do it.”  He could only say, “You can do it, too.”

In terms of his solos, he was more influenced by Buddy and Louie than anyone realized, and while he enjoyed the spotlight, he insisted that soloing was just something he was asked to do.

He never led a record date of his own and as time went on, he more or less accepted the fact that he wasn’t going to become a household name. That’s a shame.  He should have been.

Still, he played and swung with the best of them. Up until yesterday, only three living drummers could say they played with Basie, Ellington, Ella and Oscar.  They were Ed Shaughnessy, Louie Bellson and Bobby Durham.  Now there are two.

God bless them all.

Dr. Bruce H. Klauber


Monday, June 16th, 2008

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



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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Until then, keep swingin’
Bruce Klauber
June, 1008

Jazz Column: May 2008

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

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, 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 DW’s is 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, 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 or 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, 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,

Bruce Klauber
May, 2008 visitors may have heard this story before, but it bears re-telling:

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 visitors may have heard this story before, but it bears re-telling:

Some seasons ago, we pulled the famed “The Drums By Jones” CD from our list of available products. Hudson Music and I had been in negotiations with the original producers of the project to issue it worldwide in a deluxe edition. Sadly, the folks who claimed to have the rights to the material were asking for more money for the rights than we would have recouped in a lifetime, so the deal fell through.

Shortly after, we received a strongly-worded document from those who said they were legally representing the owners of the material. We were asked, among other things, and in no uncertain terms, to remove “The Drums By Jo Jones” from our website. We did.

Since that time, we have heard absolutely nothing about what was supposed to be planned as a deluxe–there’s that word again–two CD set with booklet, unreleased photographs, and more. Try as we might, we cannot find any existence of this by the company who said they were releasing it (there is an English outfit by the name of Carter International who may or not be offering this, but we have little or no information about the company or the product).

In our quest to make these essential pieces of history available to our visitors, we are again offering “The Drums By Jo Jones” on CD…until we are told to do otherwise. It is essential and a must-have.

Presumably, everyone has already noticed that we have the entire 1948 film, “Smart Politics” available. Thanks to Robert Bierman to letting us offer this gem that features Gene and the crew in “Young Man with a Beat,” sung by the inimitable Freddie Stewart.


Look for two, upcoming magazine features of interest–I hope–by yours truly. One, in the next issue of the eagerly-awaited “Traps” magazine is a piece of major-league length on the history of the drum battles, complete with some graphics that you probably have never seen. We are told that this should be on the news stands on or about April 21st. This, as far as can be determined, is the only feature piece dedicated to the guilty pleasure of percussionists near and far, the drum battle. For subscription info, log onto

“Classic Drummer Magazine” bills itself as “the fastest growing drum magazine on the planet.” It may be, and since their inception, they have devoted themselves to covering players and subjects that the other publications don’t. As just one example, they have recently done a feature on the one and only Donny Osborne, perhaps the only real “Buddy Rich protege who ever existed. I was interviewed recently and extensively about my participation in the “Classic Rock Drum Solos” DVD. Writer Bob Girouard was incredibly knowledgeable about the DVD, about my work, and about the world of rare and vintage film in general, and that’s rare. For more info on this fine publication and for details on how to subscribe, visit


Even those of you who know me personally may not be aware that I’ve been a fan of Frank Sinatra, Jr. since 1967, when I first became aware that there was a Frank Sinatra, Jr. Those who continually try to compare Frankie to anyone are in the wrong ballpark. The fact is, Frankie is out there with a crack, 20-piece orchestra, singing songs and presenting orchestrations that are timeless. I had the great opportunity to interview Frank Sinatra, Jr.–and later review the show–for the “Naples Daily News” (a Scripps-Howard publication). We are reprinting it in its entirety and urge everyone to see Frank, Jr.’s show whenever he’s booked in your area.



Frank Sinatra Jr. could have taken the easy way out and chosen not to sing for a living.
But comparisons to his illustrious father have never stood in the way of his passion for the music of America’s finest composers and orchestrators and his quest to have it heard.
Singing the 45 years before youngsters like Harry Connick and Michael Bublé offered their take on his father, Sinatra Jr. has worked harder than most to carve out a solid career as a vocalist, bandleader, conductor, composer and actor.

(Sinatra played the Philharmonic Center for the Arts on Monday, March 31).
No, there haven’t been any hit records, television or stage shows, but he works quite a bit, even though his “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” show is an expensive one to mount.
Frank Sinatra, Jr., born in 1944, is the middle child of of three and the only boy. Nancy was in the limelight as a hit-making recording artist and film star, “ and Tina did well as a film producer and managing products with the Sinatra name. The younger Sinatra is the only sibling who maintains a constant stage presence. He was married for a while, is single now. A son, Mike, from another relationship, is a student at University of Califorina.

The music seemed to consume him from an early age.

“When I started as a kid I wanted to be a piano player and a songwriter, “ he told Will Haygood of the Washington Post. “I only became a singer by accident. I was in college, playing in a little band. The lead singer got tanked one night. A guy in the band pointed at me and said, ‘You sing.’ I said, ‘Me? Why me?’ He said, ‘You’re a Sinatra aren’t you? Sing!’”
As for his father, he also told the Post, “He was unreachable. He was traveling, or off making some movie. When I began in this business, with Sam Donahue’s band in 1963, “it was only on rare occasions when we saw each other.”

That would change decades later.

It’s taken years, though, for Sinatra to finally be satisfied with the sound of his own voice, he said in a phone interview
“I have become a better singer,” he said, “in the sense that I have gotten closer to the sound that I always wanted to hear my voice make inside my head. … I am now so much more comfortable working. It’s taken a lot of years for me to finally arrive at that attitude, vocally.”

The younger Sinatra studied his father’s style carefully through the years and when and if he wants to, he can sound eerily and uncannily like his dad. A good example of this can be heard on the 1996 album “As I Remember It,” a heartfelt musical and spoken tribute to Frank Sinatra.
“Yes,” he says a bit reluctantly, “that was a good record.”

That recording and his “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” program, where he sings many of the songs made famous by his father, stand as the exceptions through the years. After his father’s death, he says, “the audience wants me to sing those songs.”

Frank Jr. has long had his own eclectic repertoire (some recorded for his recent Reprise release, “That Face”), which dates back to one of his first studio efforts, “Spice.” The title song and a dark number called “Black Night” were written by the younger Sinatra.

“Nelson Riddle knew exactly what he wanted to do with the song ‘Black Night,’ ” Sinatra explained. “On the night that was recorded, that was March 29, 1971 — it was my first album with Nelson Riddle — something very, very difficult happened. We were in the recording studio here in Los Angeles, and Sinatra came walking in, because he heard I was recording that night. He came into the studio that night and he sat there and said, ‘What an arrangement!’ Nelson just blew him away. It was a very exciting evening.”

As hard as it may sometimes have been for the singer to carve out a niche for himself as a performer on his own terms, there have been many, many moments through the decades that he fondly remembers.
“I was the opening act in Vegas for three years for comic Phil Harris and the legendary bandleader trumpeter Harry James,” said Sinatra. “Phil Harris was one of the funniest people I ever knew. He could do more with less than anyone. He was incredible, the consummate stage performer who was also one hell of a musician. He was just brilliant.” (Contemporary audiences will know Harris as the voice of Baloo in the 1967 Walt Disney film, “The Jungle Book.”)

A thoroughly studied musician, Sinatra continues to be fascinated by the orchestrations — many featured in the “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” program — that made the music of Frank Sinatra timeless.
How is it that those arrangements — by craftsmen like Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Billy May, Don Costa, Billy Byers and the rest — sound as if they were written yesterday?
Sinatra’s explanation is that “they knew how to orchestrate. They knew how to make best use of the musical instruments. They knew how to write counterpoint in music. They knew how to make the instruments sound as they wanted them to sound.”

Listeners at the Phil will hear many of these songs and arrangements as the arrangers wanted them to sound, played by a 20-piece orchestra under the direction of Terry Woodson. And this orchestra is as fine as any group of its kind, past or present.

In 1988, while leading, conducting and singing with his own band at downtown Las Vegas’ Four Queens Casino and Hotel, Frank Sinatra Jr. received a telephone call that would put his years of study, listening, learning and performing to the ultimate test.

“I had been conducting for myself,” he explained. “And the reason why I had been doing that is because we were working on such a small stage that there was no room for a conductor. So I ended up conducting for myself. When Sinatra came in one night, he said, ‘My God, the kid conducts!’ In his eyes, all of a sudden I was Eugene Ormandy, you know what I mean?
“He called me in early 1988. I was in my hotel room in Atlantic City and I was discussing the show that we were doing with my trumpeter, Buddy Childers, and my drummer, Bob Chmel. The phone rang and my father was on the phone, which surprised me, and he said to me, ‘Why don’t you come out and conduct for me?’

“So when my friends revived me with the smelling salts, I said, ‘What in the world is going on?’ He said, ‘I need somebody to conduct for me.’ I said, ‘What’s the matter with the guy you’ve got?’ Then I had to hold the phone away because he was yelling. He said, ‘These people don’t have the slightest idea of what I’m doing!’ Then he said to me, ‘Maybe another singer would understand what a singer is trying to do.’ And that was a pretty revolutionary thing to do. You never go to a show to hear a singer and see that the show is being conducted by another singer.

“He brought me in, and I began to learn him. I knew the music. I had to learn him. I was with him the last seven years that he worked. It was a wonderful experience and I miss it like you can’t imagine. It was a learning experience, and it was probably the greatest compliment that he ever gave me. And he didn’t give out compliments easily.”

After his father’s death in 1998, Frank Sinatra Jr. again hit the road with his own band. And one of the key members of the band was the pianist and sometimes conductor of his father’s orchestra, Bill Miller.
Miller, best known for being the pianist on the elder Sinatra’s famed “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” was the original lounge pianist at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas in 1951.

“My father was playing at the Desert Inn that year,” Sinatra recalled, “and I believe it was the first year that he ever played Las Vegas. “He met Bill Miller and loved his touch and the way he played. Bill Miller joined Sinatra in 1951. In 1951, I was seven. Bill would come to our home and rehearse with my father. I was taking piano lessons already, but I listened to a professional, and I tried to get the touch on the piano that Bill Miller had.
“As the years went by, whenever there was a Sinatra recording session and I could go to it, I would make it my business to be there and listen to the arrangements. But I would always find myself standing by the piano, listening to what Bill Miller was doing. Without knowing it, he was my teacher.

“Bill was with my father for almost 45 years. After my father died, Bill had been in retirement. In October of 1998, I went to Atlantic City to work and I was surprised to learn that the hotel who had booked us was the final hotel Sinatra performed in when he was still working. So I got an idea in my head.

“I told my people I wanted the big orchestra and that I was going to call Bill Miller to see I could convince him to come out of retirement. Bill Miller came to Atlantic City, and with very low, ethereal music playing, he was sneaked onto the stage and started to play his famous ‘One More For my Baby.’ And when the lights came up on him, people recognized him and they gasped.

“I was sitting there in the darkness, and the older I get, the more I look like Sinatra. When I was sitting there in a dark blue light, in my tuxedo, the resemblance was a little striking. The people were dead silent, and it really moved them, so much so, that they had tears in their eyes. Bill Miller worked with me until July, 2006, when he had a heart attack and died. He played right up until the end. His daughter came up to me after his death, telling me, ‘You gave my father another eight years of life.’ But Bill died never knowing what he taught me about music. I miss him every day.”

Of the new breed of singers who have followed in his father’s footsteps, Sinatra is “just glad they’re doing better music. That also goes for Rod Stewart and Michael Bolton, who are both friends of mine. The fact that they’re singing better music pleases me a great deal. They’re going to educate a generation.”

As for the future, Sinatra will continue to take work, when the gig is right, with nothing less than a full orchestra, playing the great songs and the great arrangements. There may be more film and television roles down the line per his guest spots on “The Sopranos,” and he has just completed a second appearance on “The Family Guy.”

Musically? In a 2001 essay entitled “Frank Sinatra is Alive and Well and Singing in Europe,” poet and Sinatra family friend Rod McKuen, hit the nail on the head when he commented, “Frank Sinatra Jr. is his own man, and while he’s proud to be ‘the keeper of the flame’ at this point in time, there is absolutely no doubt that he will be creating his own standards as a singer and writer in the near — not distant — future.” Or, as no less than the Washington Post put it in 2006, Frank Sinatra Jr. is “uniquely gifted in his own right.”


The following week, Tony Bennett was in town at the same venue, and he absolutely killed. The 82-year-old legend was onstage for an astounding 90 minutes and sounded better than he did 40 years ago. Special credit must be given to pianist Lee Musiker and drummer Harold Jones. Jones, playing a wonderfully sounding DW set of drums, demonstrated why he was, as Bennett said, “Count Basie’s favorite drummer.”


There should be, we hope, some major announcements on the DVD and CD fronts, in terms of getting things out commercially, properly and internationally. Stay tuned.


We are headed up north for a series of shows, but will return to Naples, FL in early June. Not only am I playing at least three nights down here, I am contributing regularly to The “Naples Daily News,” “Naples Sun Times” and “ETC.” I am in the fortunate position of covering the great jazz scene regularly…while getting to–literally–play a part in it as well.

God bless and keep swingin’

— Bruce Klauber, April, 2008.


Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

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 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 Herewith is the feature on 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


In many of the early 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


Sunday, February 10th, 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 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

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.
****** 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 5th

Sunday, 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 For information on Joy Adams or Bruce Klauber, call 215-620-5227, or email


Saturday, January 5th, 2008

The death of Oscar Peterson is a major blow to the jazz world. Like Buddy Rich, OP was so professionally and personally powerful that you got the sense he would always be around.

Like others who have received the rarity of popular success in this business — think Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, Maynard Fergusion, Eddie Harris, Louis Armstrong and many more– Peterson got more than his share of criticism in the press. For his time, he was likely second only to Art Tatum in terms of technique, and negative comments usually had to do with his over-abundance of chops. The critics said the same thing about Buddy Rich, so the important factors in jazz, according to the scribes are: Don’t be too popular and don’t have too much technique. And, darn it, don’t swing too much.

The various Oscar Peterson trios were legendary and super-charged, and no one could out-swing them. Many of learned the vocabulary of jazz from Oscar, Ray Brown and Herb Ellis, and many of us learned taste from the drumming of Ed Thigpen. It has been said more than once that, if there is anything close to a “perfect” piano/bass/drums recording, it would have to be the Oscar Peterson Trio’s version of “West Side Story.” There were more classics as well, including the original “Very Tall” with Milt Jackson and the exquisite solo sides he made for the BASF/Saba labels in Europe.

The late Norman Granz, who brought Peterson to the United States from Canada and served as his personal manager from the early 1950s, loved the man and his playing and just could not record enough of him on his Clef, Norgran and Verve labels in the 1950s and early 1960s, and on his Pablo label in the 1970s and 1980s. There were those who also said Peterson was over-recorded. Bet they’re not saying it now.

There were jazz pianists and there were jazz pianists, and perhaps some of them had Oscar’s technique, most notably the late and troubled Phineas Newborn, Jr. But they were not Oscar Peterson.


While we’re on the subject of the jazz press, it is important to remember that there are three monthly publications devoted to covering jazz in this country. They are, of course, Jazz Times, Down Beat, and a rather under-rated publication called Jazziz. My brother, the musicologist Joel Klauber, along with yours truly, were regular contributors to Jazziz when the publication was relatively new (it is now close to 25 years old, I believe). Like the others, Jazziz has its areas of specialization, mainly in the area of what is known as “smooth jazz.” Maybe Jazziz has not been taken seriously enough because smooth jazz has not been taken seriously enough. No matter. Things are changing, and the early results are impressive. New Executive Editor Fernando Gonzalez has a great piece devoted to Nat Cole in the December issue, and I urge all of you to check it out, and/or visit them on the web at I have recently contacted my old colleague there, founder/editor/publisher Michael Fagien, about returning to the Jazziz fold as columnist. Stay tuned.

Super-drummer Steve Smith has just finished work on another Hudson Music DVD, entitled “Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy.” That’s also the name of Steve’s band, which is an outgrowth of his Buddy Rich tribute group, “Buddy’s Buddies.” The Legacy grouping gives Smith and his band the flexibility to highlight compositions by other great drummers, and songs that great drummers made famous. This upcoming Hudson release features the Jazz Legacy in performance, paying tribute to artists like Max Roach, Joe Dukes, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones, breaking down the elements of their drumming technique, explaining his own philosophy about just how he is paying tribute to these percussive giants, and much, much more. I cannot say enough about this project, or about Steve Smith. As a drummer and as a tireless and incisive educator, there is no better. Currently in release and just as essential is Hudson’s “The Art of Playing Brushes,” presented by Steve and Adam Nussbaum and featuring Charli Persip, Joe Morello, Eddie Locke, Billy Hart and Ben Riley. This project represents essential viewing for anyone who ever picked up a pair of brushes…or wanted to. The amount of work that goes into these productions is absolutely staggering, and believe me, I know. What is so wonderful about these titles is that the “work,” if you want to call it that, is evident on the screen. Both projects, by the way, have plenty of clips and photos of the vintage variety, including newly-discovered film of Philly Joe Jones. My good friends Rob Wallis, Paul Siegel and editor Phil Fallo deserve all the kudos all of us can muster for these titles. For more information, visit


For reasons of time and scheduling, I have had to drop out of consulting for the proposed Gene Krupa “Broadway” show and possible band tour. Watch this space for updates, which will be printed as we get them from Arthor Von Blomberg and his very talented group of associates. As previously mentioned, if anyone can get something like this off the ground, it would be Arthor.


We are getting some great, great comments and feedback on the new design of the site. Keep the comments and suggestions coming in, and watch for more web site evolution.


Writer Burt Korall, author of the definitive books on drummers of the swing and bop era and good friend of Gene, Buddy and many others, passed away not too long ago. On a topic detailed here previously, Korall was among several writers and critics who, for whatever reason, refused to acknowledge my work and my existence. To this day, I have never figured this out. Believe me, I am not in this business–if this is a business at all–for credit, money or good reviews. I only continue to try to contribute something to jazz scholarship and education. But for a guy like Korall to go out of his way to NOT include any mention of the existence of “Gene Krupa: Jazz Legend,” “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend,” “Legends of Jazz Drumming,” etc., in books that COVERED these things, was and is an absolute disgrace. That’s why there are supposed to be editors, but the editors missed the boat on this as well. I often wonder what someone like Korall got — or John McDonough gets — out of behavior like this. Is it jealousy? A sense of power? The jazz community is small enough as it is for us to be criticizing or panning or ignoring our fellow artists. Saxophonist Sam Butera, long-time leader of Louis Prima’s back-up group, The Witnesses, used to end his own shows with the following: “Remember,” he would say to the audience, it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

Corny? Maybe, but how about resolving to live that, and live up to it, for the year 2008 and beyond.

Bruce Klauber, January, 2008.