Archive for the ‘Musicians’ Category


Friday, August 25th, 2006

We somehow knew that Maynard Ferguson’s appearance last month at the Philadelphia jazz club, Zanzibar Blue, would represent the last time we would see and hear this giant. Sadly, we didn’t make it there, and word has now come that Maynard Ferguson has passed away at the age of 78 of kidney and liver failure resulting from an abdominal infection. 

He was the last one. The last of a breed. The last, big-band bus road warrior, constantly traveling the highways to perform at high schools, colleges, clinics, clubs and jazz festivals. The big band era, such as it was, is now officially over. 

Maynard was among the very, very few who played this music called jazz who managed to appeal to those who may not have liked jazz before or since. The list, which will not include artists of the Kenny G. era, is a short one, and includes Krupa, Rich, Ramsey Lewis, Brubeck, Cannonball, Eddie Harris, Kenton and Goodman. In many cases, jazz critics past and present never forgave many of these artists for having hit records or for having appeal beyond three record reviewers who sit in a dark room. 

His 1978 hit recording of the theme from the movie, “Rocky,” entitled “Gonna Fly Now,” was a top ten seller and a Grammy nominee in 1978. It also represented the end of any serious, critical claim Maynard ever received. Then again, the critics never liked him, even in the days when his double high C’s dominated the Stan Kenton band of over 50 years ago. Critical comment through the years, which also applied to Maynard’s wonderful band of the late 1950s and early 1960s, included statements like: “He’s not playing jazz.” “He can’t play jazz.” He’s too loud.” “The band plays too loud.” “The band plays too fast.” “He’s just a modern day Harry James.” “He’s just a modern day Al Hirt.” “He’s just a modern day Doc Severinson.” “He plays too much rock.” “What is this electric nonsense?” 

For the past several years, he has been virtually ignored by the polls, and the jazz and music press, despite his substantial contributions to jazz education and that he was the last big band leader to be on the road regularly. Also not acknowledged was the fact that Ferguson’s bands through the years served as an undergraduate university and training ground for dozens of future jazz stars. This list, starting from the old days, includes players like Willie Maiden, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Ford, Lanny Morgan, Rufus Jones, Don Sebesky, Joe Zawinul, Jaki Byard, Don Menza, Frankie Dunlop, Carmen Leggio, Bill Watrous, Chick Corea (who subbed for Jaki Byard at Birdland!), Mike Abene, Ronnie McClure, Peter Erskine, Greg Bisonnette, Dennis DiBlasio and countless others. 

I was lucky enough to see the famed late 1950s/early 1960s band at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music in 1961. I learned to play drums by playing along to “At the Sound of the Trumpet” and “Frame For the Blues,” two Maynard tunes regularly played by Philadelphia radio personality and Ferguson booster Sid Mark. I saw the English band, the rock bands, and the bop band. Maynard was always moving, always inspiring, always the focal point of whatever was going on, no matter what musical style was being played. His playing, particularly his high note leads, made me feel as if I were on a roller-coaster, going down the first hill. I’m told he still had “it,” even at the age of 78. 

Maynard’s long time manager, Steve Schankman, could only say, “Someone just said, ‘Gabriel, over to second trumpet.’” Cornball? Maybe. But true. Kenton knew that Maynard had “it,” very early on. “Maynard,” he said. “Someday you’ll be king.” 

He was. And for much more than a day. 

In another recent and probable passing, this one corporate, word has come that Tower Records has declared bankruptcy. This comes as no surprise to those of us who have visited Tower in recent months and saw the chain’s once mighty stock dwindle and dwindle to no more than that of a rack jobbers’ at K-Mart. At its height, Tower had a superb selection of domestic and imported jazz CDs, a wonderful magazine section, and a great stock of jazz-oriented videos and DVDs. 

Certainly, most buying has moved online these days, but there was just something about having the chance to peruse, to relax, to browse through the selections, and to perhaps read some of the linear notes, that is missing from the online experience. However, no retailer could compete, in terms of stock, with an online retailer. It is indeed possible, sad to say, that the days of “record stores” of any size may be numbered. 

Potential buyers who haven’t visited great, great sites like and even, in a pinch,, will be very pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer and their superb service. 

As the newsreel said, “Time…marches on.” But why didn’t they ask me first?


Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Philadelphia is lucky in some ways. We have three clubs that regularly book name or semi-name jazz attractions. Chris’ Cafe’, Ortleibs Jazz House and Zanzibar Blue are to be commended on their policy, their consistency and dedication. The business of jazz, such as it is, just isn’t easy. Zanzibar Blue, in fact, is an instance where a venue has succeeded in spite of itself. Located with in the basement of one of Philadelphia’s grandest hotels, the former Bellevue-Stratford now the Park Hyatt, the club is comfortably appointed and serves really superior cuisine. The name acts are usually reserved for the weekend, and have included attractions like Maynard Ferguson, Little Jimmy Scott, Stacey Kent, Chris Connor, Steve Smith, Abbey Lincoln (who walked out because patrons made too much noise) and hundreds of others. Weekdays are reserved for Philadelphia area artists like drummer Webb Thomas, Barbara Walker and a host of regulars. Zanzibar has a built-in audience of well-heeled tourists who are staying in the hotel proper, as well as a number of dedicated Philadelphia jazz fans. 

The only strange thing about Zanzibar is what could be best described as the “vibe.” There’s an air of rudeness and superiority there, and that just breeds unpleasantness. I think they used to call something like this “feeling a draft.” I’ve felt it everytime I’ve walked in there. On more than one occasion, I talked to their booking folks about putting my group, along with singer Joy Adams, in there on an off-night weeknight. We didn’t even want any money, so this is not a case of sour grapes related to “not getting the gig, rather, we just wanted to perform in a space where our “fans” could hear us in pleasant surroundings. After a dozen calls, I continued to be ignored. I once asked a prominent Philadelphia radio personality why we could never get booked at Zanzibar, or Chris’ or Orliebs. Certainly, we’ve only been around as pretty top attractions for 30 years, to say nothing of the international prominence I’ve received via my books and videos. What was the problem? Said radio personality, who incidently is black, said with some shame in his voice, “Bruce. You’ll never get booked in those places. You don’t get down with the brothers.” 

Okay. Knew I was feeling something. 

Several months ago, our good friend Steve Smiith snared an appearance at Zanzibar with his fusion group, Vital Information. Steve asked me to help out with some advance promo, given that I was centered in Philadelphia. An e-mailing of close to 1,000 press releases went out, extolling the virtues of Steve Smith as a drummer, the Vital Information group, and the wonderful food and ambience of Zanzibar Blue. Some of you may have received that press release several months ago. The night of the performance, I was a bit taken a back that no one from Zanzibar Blue stepped forward to thank me for the work done on behalf of Vital info and Zanzibar. 

I e-mailed them about this several days later. Though they received copies of all the press releases and mailings done for Vital Information, they claimed to know nothing about it. However, I was surprised to hear back from them, saying that they were most grateful for my efforts. They insisted that Joy Adams and I be their guest for dinner and a show of our choosing. We chose July 14, early show, to hear the one and only Maynard Ferguson. In fact, we postponed our trip to Florida in order to hear Maynard. 

Checking to confirm that all was well reservations-wise the day before, II was startled to receive an e-mail from Zanzibar’s “Director of Operations,” claiming there was no reservation in my name. I replied immediately, saying that II was the person who did PR for Steve Smith and Zanzibar, that Zanzibar made me this offer, etc. Starting in the early morning of July 14th, I repeatedly e-mailed the Director of Operations and called about a half-dozen times with no reply whatsoever. Unprofessional doesn’t begin to describe this scenario, and my only thought was, “I’m too old for this nonsense. No way will I subject us to this vibe.” 

I waited until almost 4 p.m. for a return call. If we had actually decided to go, we would have had less than an hour to get ready. We still heard from no one. That’s when I decided to e-mail the Director of Operations and tell her about her gross unprofessionalism, how deeply I had been insulted, just who I was–again– and that I planned to write a column on the web site about this insulting experience. 

Bingo. The old column trick. That usually does it. At 4:25 in the afternoon, I received a phone call from the Director of Operations, who informed me of the following: That the person who made this reservation for me no longer worked there and never put the reservation in the system; that if I told her who I was (which I did after getting her first e-mail) that she would have instantly known that I had a reservation; that she broke her toe this morning; that she doesn’t sit in front of the computer all day. And, contrarary to my assertion about Zanzibar Blue’s legendary rudeness, she said she has never heard a complaint about anything from guests or performers (she has now). I asked her what she wanted me to do at this point. She said, “Come to the show.” I replied that I wouldn’t walk through Zanzibar Blue if it were the last place in the galaxy and Sinatra was appearing, and I don’t mean Frank Junior. She had nothing to say about ignoring my various e-mails and telephone calls made throughout the day, prior to the “I’m going to write a column: e-mail. . Perhaps it was the broken toe. 

Did I take this personally? Perhaps. I felt I was being regarded as a liar and as someone who was after a dinner. They made the offer, and they discovered that there was, indeed, a reservation made on my behalf. It was made through the PR Director, subsequently fired, and supposedly was never entered into the system. In other words, “The dog ate my homework.” You want to go to Zanzibar Blue? Go ahead. Have a ball. I won’t see you there. The only thing I’m sorry about is not seeing Maynard. Close to 80 years old now and still swinging, he’s the last of the old guard to be on the road year-round. He has been virtually ignored by the jazz press for the past several years, which is an absolute disgrace. He has never been forgiven, evidently, for having a hit record (“Gonna Fly Now,” theme from the movie “Rocky”). And owing to Zanzibar Blue’s crack publicity team, not word one–excepting a tiny listing–in terms of a newspaper article appeared about this giant. Still, Philadelphians have always been great Maynard fans, and no doubt the joint will be packed. Maynard, God bless him, always got down with the brothers. 

Through the years, some of the true legends of jazz have called Philadelphia home. There were and are dozens of them. Sadly, we just lost three fine, fine players in rapid succession, and though they were never in the national spotlight, they could and should have been. Singer Clyde Terrell had a taste of the limelight, via his vocal on Earl Bostic’s “September Song.” Mostly, though, he sang locally and always soulfully in a style that combined influences of Johnny Hartman and Arthur Prysock. No one could sing so well so slowly. The two CDs he made, late in life, for the DBK Jazz label were superb and garnered substantial radio play. Joy Adams and I were instrumental in getting Clyde this long overdue recording contract, and we hope and trust it gave him some joy late in life. 

Pianist Eric Spiegel, also known as Eric Shaw, had a tremendous respect for the jazz tradition and was particularly fluent in the language of be-bop. For some years, he was a part of a duo here in Philadelphia, the second half being the great jazz singer, Wendy Simon. They were first called Tuxedo Junction and later, 52nd Street. Their eclectic repertoire included everything from King Pleasure and Eddie Jefferson, to Jackie and Roy, and Lambert Hendricks and Ross. Eric and Wendy were poised to break out on the national scene, but as often happens, it never came to be. Spiegel later had a terrible, terrible auto accident and suffered severe brain injuries. Still, he worked hard in rehab and came back playing better than ever. He will be missed. 

Warren Davis, Jr. was an Episcopal Minister who I’d best describe as “the best preacher who ever preached” and/or “the best minister who ever ministered.” Additionally, he was a superb jazz pianist of the Teddy Wilson school who performed extensively in the Philadelphia, particularly at a number of Jazz Vespers concerts, a form of jazz presentation which he helped invent and popularize. Along with his regular cohorts, bassist Vince Long (who started at “square one” on bass several years ago and is well on his way now to becoming world class) , vocalist Joe Richardson, and often, guitarist Ron Parker, “The Gabriels” brought much joy to all who heard them. Though mainly playing in the swing vein, Warren’s ears were more than open enough to embrace every form of jazz, from be-bop to Ornette.And certainly, he loved the Duke. Had he wanted to, there’s no reason he couldn’t have been a national name. More importantly, he was the kindest and gentlest of men, who was open minded in matters other than music. Having come from a different religious persuasion than Warren, we had many, many discussions about the power and place of faith and religion. We decided–perhaps after a glass of wine or two–that there should be a religion that was similar to jazz. Our contention was that jazz was always open to all races, religions, ages, nationalities, etc., and that there should be a religion much the same as that. Hence, the invention of “The Sign of the Circle,” complete with secret “sign” (the sign was one hand making a circle) and business cards. I guess God needed a player who could play the heck out of “Sweet Lorriane,” without any alternate changes. I can think of no other reason for his absence here. Had Joy Adams not had a terrible slip and fall accident, complete with fractured and cracked ribs, we would have been front and center at the memorial. I’m sure Warren understands. He always did. Joy, your many friends, listeners and fans, and yours truly will miss you more than you may know, although depending on where you are, I’m sure you know!! 

In terms of some odds and ends, we will be travelling to Naples, FL, for a few weeks, beginning Tuesday, July 18th. It’s the birthday of our grand daughter, Niah Sage; and the graduation of the best web master who ever web mastered, Terry McKyton. Terry , by the way is receiving his Master’s Degree from the prestigious Stanton University (seriously, there is no Stanton, but his degree will be granted from one of Florida’s best). For our mail-order customers, from July 18th until further notice, probably about two or three weeks, please send any orders to: Bruce Klauber, 1108 Forrest Lakes Boulevard, Naples, FL, 34105. 

In line with updates, most of you are aware that Gene Krupa appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, ca. 1960, once or twice. We are doing everything possible to get those clips out of the vaults. The Sullivan heirs aren’t easy–read that “really, really, big”–but we’re trying. 

Finally, please feel free to comment on this column, other columns, or anything else you may have on your mind. You’re obviously doing this–fabulously, by the way–in The Forum, but if you’d like to earmark anything for publication in this space or even write a guest column, e-mail me directly at 

God bless our dear, swinging friends, Reverend Warren Davis, Jr., Eric Spiegel and Clyde Terrell. May you keep swingin’ for eternity and beyond. 

Bruce Klauber

Rich Am I

Friday, May 26th, 2006

This will constitute the final public comments on the unfortunate Buddy Rich matter. Though I have apologized to the involved parties personally and on the Buddy Rich web site, I felt it all together fitting proper to make a statement on the web site. 

I was wrong and I was in error. It’s that simple. Many of you supported me during the terrible year I’ve had in line with my mothers’ terminal illness, and the trauma that I went through during this time clouded my judgment in a number of areas. This was one area, and I cannot tell you how sorry I am. 

Certainly, not everyone is in agreement as to how Cathy Rich and Steve Arnold are handling the release of Buddy Rich material. Most of the Buddy fans, to be sure, would just love to see everything in existence out there on the market. But that’s not how things work. You try it! 

It is important to remember that without Cathy Rich and Steve Arnold, there would be no “Wham,” no “No Funny Hats,” no “At the Top,” no “Montreal Jazz Festival,” no “Lost Tapes,” no Pacific Jazz reissues with previously unreleased material, no “Buddy Rich Memorial Scholarship” projects, no “Burnin’ For Buddy,” no “Buddy Rich Jazz Legend” video, no “Buddy’s Buddies” with Steve Smith, and no official Buddy Rich web site. I’ve probably missed a few things here and there, as I’m pretty certain that Cathy and Steve were involved with the recent Verve reissues of “Buddy and Sweets” and “Blues Caravan,” and the superb Mosaic boxed set of wonderful 1950s and 1960s material. 

These items alone constitute a rather large treasure trove of essential material that simply would not be in existence if it were not for Cathy and Steve. 

I would ask all of you who have made negative remarks in line with this hurtful situation to stop. For all of us who continue to appreciate the music of Buddy Rich, it is important to understand that Cathy Rich is the only “conduit,” for lack of a better word, to the man. And therefore it must be nurtured, preserved and appreciated. Cathy Rich and Steve Arnold were not wrong. I was. 

Bruce Klauber


Monday, May 8th, 2006

While there was nothing really great about “the good old days” in the drum world, there were at least four constants one could count on: The names of Ludwig, Gretsch, Rogers and Slingerland. To a lesser extent, there was Camco and Leedy, and in the student market, Kent and Revere. To a fault, these were all-American made drums with superb construction and longevity and each had its own remarkable sound. There was, and thankfully is today, “that great Gretsch sound,” with endorsers like Max Roach, Art Blakey, Mel Lewis and dozens of others. Rogers? Mel Torme’ once remarked that they were “made of cast iron,” and if it was the Buddy or Louis sound one was looking for, Rogers was the brand to get, no matter what the expense. Ludwig, in the jazz sense, always brought to mind the snap of Joe Morello, though that was before Ringo came along and changed Ludwig and the world. Slingerland will forever be identified with Gene Krupa, though they had a stellar roster of dozens of endorsers. With Camco, well, The Beach Boys’ drummer played them, and Leedy seemed to be synonymous with Shelly Mane. Any overseas product that existed back then, and apologies to all involved, was accurately described as “cheap Japanese,” many with a generic or retail store label on them like Stratford or Stewart. Those of us who had sets like that were often laughed at. Tell you what, though. I just got hold of a “cheap Japanese” snare made circa 1963, a Slingerland knock-off complete with a quasi-Zoomatic strainer. This drum sings. But that’s another matter. 

Watching the Independence Day parade on television a few seasons back, I was struck by the incongruity of seeing the marching bands’ bass drums emboldened with logos like Yamaha, Tama and Pearl. This is not a dig at those companies. All of them make fine, fine drums, and that goes for the newer companies like Taye and Peace as well. It is a tribute to all of those firms that they overcame the stigma of the description, “cheap Japanese.” 

It’s also a tribute to some of the newer American companies, like DW, the revitalized Gretsch company, and the many, many “botique-oriented” manufacturers that have made substantial inroads into the percussion marketplace. DW, by the way, has just released their long-awaited “Buddy Rich” kit to market. The DW management was also happy to inform me that they simply cannot keep up with product demand. That’s good news. 

But wither the famed “big four” of yesteryear? 

The stories of the downfall of Leedy and Rogers are well known to those who have read Rob Cook’s superb books on those companies, published by his “Rebeats” publishing company. The tale of Rogers, particularly, remains an absolute disgrace. For a brand name that almost every drummer wanted, at some point, to go down the tubes so quickly and spectacularly is an American business tragedy. 

Likewise with Slingerland, a brand name that had, at one time or another, both Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich as endorsers. Slingerland has tried to come back several times (Gretsch and/or the Gibson Company we believe, now owns the name), but each attempt to bring it back has been misguided and half-hearted. Their ill-conceived attempt to market Krupa and Rich “tribute” kits was a laugh riot. Slingerland counted on outside marketing people who knew absolutely nothing, and if you remember their ads for the kit, they couldn’t even come up with a decent photo of Gene. I was called in at the 11th hour to help, but it was too late. The damage was done. As an example of how disinterested they continue to be today is their refusal to even acknowledge my new book on Krupa, “Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend.” The Slingerland name appears on virtually every page either in text or a photo. Is this free advertising for Slingerland? You bet! The company has been approached dozens of times about getting t involved with this book in promotional terms, erhaps as a give away to boost sales of their sets and expand their educational market, but they refuse to even acknowledge e-mails. Do the folks who own and operate Slingerland today want it fail? If so, they’re succeeding. And yes, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to sell books. But to be ignored by a company who is presented with an opportunity–and needs any opportunity it can get–is ignorant and appalling. 

It appears that Ludwig continues to do steady business. They’ve added several new lines in the student and pro areas and have brought back the classic Ringo kit, the see-through Vistalites and even a John Bonham “tribute” kit. Their range of endorsers, however, is nothing what it was. The great Ed Shaughnessy and Butch Miles seem to be the only artists popping up in ads lately. Ludwig’s involvement in promotion, clinics, etc., also seems to be a bit limited, although news has come that the Ludwig Company has purchased the famed “Not So Modern Drummer” Magazine, which would put Ludwig back in the publishing business for the first time in decades. 

Still, they’ve missed the boat several times in line with possible promotional opportunities. As one example, Ludwig was approached to become involved with the recently-released DVD, “Lionel Hampton: King of the Vibes.” After all, Hampton used the Musser vibraphone, owned and sold by Ludwig, for most of his seven-decade career. A tie-in, to promote both the Musser line and the DVD, appeared to be just perfect for all involved. Ed Shaughnessy even interceded and tried to get things going. As an example, wouldn’t it have been perfect for Musser to produce a DVD “extra” about Musser’s history and their current line? Ludwig’s answer: “We have no money for such things.” Perhaps they just don’t want to sell vibes, but if that’s the case, why is Ludwig still manufacturing them? 

Drummers today, of every age and style, have more equipment choices than ever before. Once there was A. Zildjian, K. Zildjian or spun brass. Now there are dozens and dozens of cymbal makers. The same goes for sticks, hardware, drums, cases, electronics, heads, and just about everything else. And everything old is, in fact, new again. Flat base stands are back, and almost every drum manufacturer is offering a version of the classic, white marine pearl covering. But, and call us old-fashioned, I’d sure like to see the Slingerland logo on that bass drum at the Independence Day Parade. And by the way, if anyone ever runs into a set of Revere, let me know.


Sunday, January 8th, 2006

Lou Rawls, who died today at the age of 72, was a wonderful artist and a great human being. Though never a jazz singer, per se, though he recorded with a number of giants through the years, and helped introduce millions of people to jazz who might not have listened to it otherwise. The presumption is that if folks felt that “Lou Rawls was a jazz singer” then jazz “has to be good.” He opened the doors for singers and instrumentalists like George Benson and dozens of others, never misrepresented his talents, and while he did experience the hit records, “You’ll Never Find” among them, I don’t believe he ever subverted his talent for the sake of sales. 

His work on behalf of the United Negro College Fund was legendary, and if memory serves, only Lou Rawls was able to get a certain Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra to appear on the then fledgling UNCF telethon, only a struggling syndicated operation at that point. Such was the charm and the talent of Lou Rawls. 

He had almost a reassuring voice, some would say maybe an outgrowth of King Cole and Billy Eckstine, with none of the excesses that we hear—okay, I hear—of today’s alleged, jazz and jazz oriented singers, male and female. 

Lou Rawls, to his credit, was pretty much free from scandal and the gossip column and tabloid mongers through the years. He must be one of the few. On a personal basis, and that’s the only way I’m able to measure a man accurately, I can report that Lou Rawls was quite special. 

He was performing in the main room of Atlantic City’s famed Golden Nugget, circa 1984. This was during the “golden age, “ at least entertainment-wise, of Atlantic City. It’s difficult today to realize that it existed. Think of it: the main stages were populated by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, Steve and Eydie, Vic Damone, Eddie Fisher, Diana Ross, Al Martino, George Carlin, Alan King, Shecky Greene, and yes, Lou Rawls. But the real action, for those “in the know,” was in the lounges. It was unbelievable , as this “free” lounge entertainment included talents like Keely Smith, Chris Connor, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Red Norvo, Buddy Greco, Billy Eckstine, Billy Daniels, Joanie Sommers, Sam Butera and The Wildest, Dakota Staton, Frankie Randall (also the Nugget’s Entertainment Directoror) and dozens of others. Incredible. You should have been there. 

I had a wonderful association with Atlantic City back then, both playing in the lounges with the likes of vocalists Connie Lesem, Sonny Averona, Joy Adams and my own combinations; as well as writing a regular column for Atlantic City Magazine, entitled “Backstage.” What a time. 

At this particular time, I had become enamored, and there is no better word, of one of the female singers working the Golden Nugget Lounge. Trying to make an impression and win her over, I became something of her gopher/messenger/pr person/major domo, be it carrying her music, rehearsing the band, running interference with the front office, etc. I had no idea of how much I was embarrassing myself. 

That’s when Lou Rawls stepped in. One fine evening at the conclusion of all the Golden Nugget Lounge show, circa 2 a.m., yours truly was waiting, outside the lounge with hat in hand, truly dejected, and with said singers’ music in my other hand. It appeared, literally and figuratively, that I had been left holding the proverbial bag while Ms. Big Time Lounge Singer was off to party with the big wigs. And who should appear out of thin air at that moment? Lou Rawls. 

“You don’t need this, kid,” Lou said to me. “You’re a talent in your own right; playing here, writing your column. I’m telling you not to do this. You’re bringing yourself down. Get rid of her, man.” 

“How did you know what’s going down?” I asked Lou. 

“Everyone can see it,” he replied, “and Frankie Randall asked me to talk to you.” 

Things changed after that. Atlantic City has never been the same. Nor have I. It was a magic time. People cared about entertainment then. People cared about people then. Lou Rawls took the time to talk to a sad, lovesick youngster and set him straight. 

And Lou, it worked. May you rest—and keep swinging soulfully—in peace. 

In other assorted matters, on behalf of Joy, Judy, my brother Joel and yours truly, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the condolences and good wishes we’ve received from all over world on behalf of the late, great, Frances Klauber. She was and will always will be a one of a kind. 

The good people from one of this world’s most stellar record labels, Mosaic, have released an astounding boxed set of Buddy Rich’s small group work for Verve and Argo from the early 1950s through the early 1960s. We will be writing about this in detail shortly, but let it be said that this among Buddy Rich’s most important and inventive work. Though he was known at the quintessential big band drummer, BR’s work with small groups–especially his own–has been overlooked for years. This is a must have. 

Bruce Klauber


Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Frances Klauber, singer, dancer, recording artist and ASCAP executive, lost the long fight against pancreatic cancer two weeks ago, Sunday. Her last days were spent singing and jamming with her sons, Bruce and Joel, and daughters-in-law, Joy Adams and Judith Ross, at the Bryn Mawr Terrace nursing home. We thank each and every one of you for your prayers and good wishes through these difficult months. Please be aware that each and every order–and we hope there are thousands more–will be fulfilled in due time, one by one. Your support, kind words, encouragement, understanding and compassion were and are most sincerely appreciated. We will never forget it. 

Bruce Klauber

IT’S HERE! Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

The Alfred Publishing Company and Bruce Klauber are proud to announce the publication of “Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend.” This eagerly-awaited book is a photographic presentation of the life, times and music of “that ace drummer man.” With over 200 photos that span six decades of jazz history, this most visual of performers, the man who made the drums a solo instrument, comes alive like never before. 

Contributing their own singular and often heartfelt insights about Gene are the finest drummers in music today, including Phil Collins, Tommy Aldridge, John Blackwell, Peter Erskine, Ed Shaughnessy, Peter Criss, Kenny Aronoff, Alphonse Mouzon, Carl Palmer, David Garibaldi, Carmine Appice, Alex Acuna, Neal Peart and Steve Smith. 

Incisive commentary from noted percussionist and video producer Dr. Bruce H. Klauber provides a definitive retrospective about Gene’s music, drumming, drum setup, and important contributions to the evolution of the drum kit. The companion CD includes previously unreleased tracks covering five decades of Krupa’s unmistakable drumming. The touching introduction was written by the late Bobby Scott, Gene’s good friend and pianist in the mid-1950s, from a never-published memoir. 

“Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend” is a must-read for fans of Gene Krupa, the swing era, jazz, drums, and drumming. 

A special thanks to the many dear friends of Your support and encouragement helped make this possible. God bless, keep swingin’, and above all, buy early and often. 

“Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend”
Alfred Publishing Company
Soft cover with accompanying CD
176 pages
ISBN 0-7390-3858-3


Sunday, September 25th, 2005

JATP: Our Jazz at the Philharmonic discovery from Germany in 1956 is getting great comments–deservedly–from everyone who’s heard it. That includes the A & R department of Verve Records, by the way, even though they declined to acquire it for release. “It wouldn’t sell very well,” was their comment. We disagree and are in the midst of approaching several other outfits about it. At this moment, though, we’re the only place making it available. 

GENE AND GEORGIE: The Krupa Jazz Trio’s appearance on “The George Jessel Show” of 1954 has been mentioned several times in this space. Progress is being made on it. The first order of business is that the Library of Congress has to do a copyright search to see who–if anyone–owns this. That’s what’s happening now, and once that is finalized, it should only be a matter of weeks before we get our hands on it. 

GINGER BAKER: Many of the drummers out there are well aware that the famed rock group, The Cream,” has reformed for a reunion tour. Their three-night appearance at Madison Square Garden in New York City is eagerly anticipated by those who fondly remember Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and drummer Baker. Baker, of course, is famed for his extended workout on Cream’s recording of “Toad,” which many percussionists believe owed a large debt to Gene Krupa. The good people at Hudson Music and yours truly have been working on a DVD project for some time, entitled “Classic Rock and Roll Drum Solos.” Obviously, Baker would have to be a part of it. We tracked down a great film of Baker doing his solo, then tracked down Baker himself. We asked his permission to use this clip in our DVD and told him how much his participation would mean to us. His reply was quite interesting. He told us he considers himself a jazz drummer and not a rock drummer, and also commented that Gene Krupa got most of his style from Baby Dodds. Baker didn’t hesitate to state that he didn’t think much of the other rock drummers who were being considered for inclusion in our DVD, and we’re talking about giants like Carl Palmer, Neil Peart, Steve Smith, Mitch Mitchell and many others. These were some of the milder comments he made. However, he did let us know about two films that were made in Europe in the early 1970s that show his jazz side: One is with Art Blakey and the other is with Elvin Jones. We’re trying to track these things down. He never did battle Buddy, though. Wonder why. 

DAVID GARIBALDI: Our friend David is one of the great innovators of “funk drumming” on the planet, known universally for his superb work with the groundbreaking group, Tower of Power. David has also been involved in percussion education for many years as a teacher at The Drummer’s Collective and Dick Grove schools, as an international clinician, and as an author of any number of award-winning drum books and instructional DVDs. He has a wonderful new book coming out courtesy of the good folks at Hudson Music, entitled “The Code of Funk.” Those interested in such things should check this out at David, by the way, is one of the contributors to our upcoming Gene Krupa book, and wrote some lovely comments about what Gene meant to him. 

“Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend”: The release date of this book has been pushed back a few weeks, due to some technical problems that had to do with the Alfred Publishing Company’s takeover of Warner Bros. Publications. We have been assured by the Alfred Publishing Company that the release will be in late October. 

JazzLegends Forum: Our webmaster and resident genius, Terry McKyton, thought that the concept of a “Forum” would be a valuable edition to the web site. As usual, he was correct, and we’re happy to see that more and more of you are taking advantage of it. Please do! 

Kind words: My sincere thanks for all your kind words about my mother’s health. It means the world to me. She continues to hang on–much longer and much healthier than anyone predicted– and wants very, very much to leave the convalescent home and go back to her residence. We’re working on it. God bless and keep swingin’ until next time… 

Bruce Klauber

FRANCES KLAUBER: From Gene and Buddy to Frank and Dean to Moe and Larry

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

Some may deem this to be a bit inappropriate, but it’s my web site and I can say and do what I want! And if that sounds like shades of “it’s my ball, so it’s my game,” so be it. Seriously, and forgive me if I’m a little sentimental at this time, so many of you–from all over the world–seem like family to me. I’ve never felt like anyone who ever visited was a “customer.” A supporter? Yes. A friend? Yes. Perhaps it’s because we all have one thing in common, no matter where we live and what our backgrounds may be. That’s the love of jazz, generally, and the music of Gene Krupa, to be more specific. 

Those of you who have been receiving periodic, personal updates from me are aware that my mother, Frances, has pancreatic cancer. She just celebrated her 92nd birthday last month and she is as feisty as ever, but what she has just cannot be stopped and we’re told that time is relatively short. She is quite, quite comfortable in a convalescent home outside of Philadelphia, though she detests the food and is less than thrilled with the rotten chord changes of the pianist who comes into the dining hall to entertain a few times a week. 

Frances knows changes and she knows tempos. She grew up in the vaudeville era, and from what I’ve been told, was an active participant in it as a singer and dancer in amateur shows all over the Philadelphia area. Indeed, the story goes that one or both of her brothers, Mitchell and Jack, used to go with her to gigs for the sole purpose of collecting the money thrown at Frances on the stage! The “take,” I’m told, could really add up for those days. I also understand from various sources through the years that my mother was asked to go on the road by some rather well-known vaudevillians. However, given the reputation of show business folk at the time (they were, of course, all drug addicts and drunks), Frances’ family absolutely and unequivocally forbid it. She could have made it. Her test recording of “Apple Blossom Time” came about seven years before The Andrews Sisters had the hit on it. Coincidentally, and we all know show business is bizzare, I went throught the same thing in 1978 with my recording of “Just a Gigolo” (David Lee Roth eventually had the hit on that one). Mom was the few who understood. 

The business, though, was always in her blood. She played piano, by ear and in the key of G, at home constantly, and at family gatherings, she always entertained, many times with her brothers. She pushed me into taking music lessons at the age of six, first on accordion and later on flute. I hated both instruments, although I love them today. It wasn’t until my older brother, Joel (who many of you know as the renowned musicologist who studied with the legendary writer, Martin Williams), joined a band that I found the instrument I wanted to play. Joel was kind enough to bring me to one of the bands’ rehearsals, and in the corner of the room, there they were: a gold sparkle set of “Revere” drums (for the collectors out there, I believe Revere may have been an offshoot of “Kent”). I was hooked, and as most of you know, I still am. 

Like a lot of youngsters in the early 1960s, I wanted to take drum lessons. Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich were getting much television exposure, Joe Morello was the hippest guy out there, Art Blakey and the whole hard bop movement was helping to change the course of jazz, Maynard Ferguson’s band was swinging down the house, Sonny Payne was doing his stick-flipping bit with Basie, Cozy Cole was on the road as a result of his freak hit of “Topsy Part Two,” and even a guy named Sandy Nelson was hitting the pop charts with something called “Let There Be Drums.” My mother found me a good drum teacher, and I studied. And studied. There were a lot of teachers. And a lot of drums in our house. 

Frances, who never drove an automobile, somehow managed to attend every performance of mine throughout the years — and there were many of them — at Cynwyd Elementary School, Bala-Cynwyd Junior High School, and Lower Merion High School. Over the years, and I know this was at Frances’ insistence, my brother and I where schlepped along at famed Philadelphia venues like The Latin Casino, The Celebrity Room and just about every place in the Catskill Mountains that featured live entertainment. Just as a sampling, we saw–more than once–Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Shecky Greene and Bobby Darin, to say nothing of the jazz greats our father took us to see, including Harry James with Buddy Rich, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt, Erskine Hawkins, Shirley Scott, Basie, Duke, Maynard, Lockjaw Davis, Woody, Duke, and of course, Gene Krupa. You would have had to have been there. There will never be another time like it, and I believe that if it were not for my mother, not only would I have never seen these legends, but I would not be doing what I’m doing or be who I am. When Gene was on the Mike Douglas Show in Philly, my mother made sure I was there. 

Charlie Ventura called my mother at home one afternoon to ask for her permission: Could I sub for drummer Tony DeNicola for a few nights at The Saxony East club in Philadelphia? I was about 16. Not only did she give Charlie permission, but Frances organized a table of ten, front and center that very night, at The Saxony East to lend support. Charlie thanked her, in fluent Yiddish, believe it or not, that night. 

My mother was often overshadowed by my more flamboyant father, but in her day, she was the one who got the things done that had to be done. In 1959, a local, children’s television host by the name of Sally Starr announced on her program that The Three Stooges were coming to Philadelphia at a club called The Latin Casino, then located at 13th and Walnut Street in center city. Non-Stooges fans may not understand, but I had to be there. I cannot imagine how distasteful this must have been for Frances and Charlie (I recall my father saying that The Stooges were corny when he was a boy), but we got there, and I guess I’m among the chosen few who can, today, say that “I saw The Three Stooges.” My mother got me there. 

We have had our differences over the years and still do, but at times like this, one begins editing out the negative stuff. And that’s a good thing. After all, how many kids can say that their mom got them in to see The Three Stooges. That’s love. And I won’t forget it. Here’s hoping she’ll be bitching about bad chord changes for some time to come. 

In “other business,” there is, we believe, an astounding new discovery on its way to We have heard a song or two over the years from a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert from Hamburg, Germany, from 1956. Some of you have heard the JATP ensemble introduce Krupa’s solo on “Drum Boogie,” and one of the versions of Gene backing Dizzy Gillespie on “My Man.” We understand that the entire concert, if not more, is available, with Gene as the only drummer of the evening, backing everyone from Dizzy to Ella Fitzgerald. Watch this space! 

My sincere thanks to all of you, my friends, for allowing me this forum. God bless and keep swingin… 

Bruce Klauber

GENE KRUPA: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend Update

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

In response to the many e-mails, cards, letters, faxes and telephone calls I’ve received about the status of “Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend,” we offer the following update: 

Warner Bros. Publications, the company that first released the DCI Music Videos on Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and the Legends of Jazz Drumming series, has been acquired by the Alfred Publishing Company. The sale was first announced December 16 of last year. 

These things happen in the book business, and in the music business, and in any business. Who was that philosopher who once said, “The only thing constant is change?” 

While I am indeed disappointed that my great friends at Warners are no longer with the company, I can tell you unequivocally that I have been welcomed by the “new regime” with open arms. “Link” Harnsberger and Dave Black have been wonderful during this confusing and complex time. They’ve welcomed my input and opinions and appear to be interested in pursuing my various ideas for new DVDs and books. Number one in that regard is the pursuit of the wide, commercial release of our”Championship Jazz” project (the un-aired television pilot that pitted the Gene Krupa Jazz Quartet versus The Dukes of Dixieland in 1962). The idea is to issue this rare program, along with another half-hour of vintage Krupa footage and/or another half-hour of never-issued film from some other drumming legends. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Alfred Publishing, they are no young upstart. This singular company has been around for more than 80 years, with offices worldwide, with artists and clinicians on a stellar roster that includes Louis Bellson, Peter Erskine, David Garibaldi, Steve Houghton, and arranger Don Sebesky. And that’s just a small sampling. Their instructional materials for percussion, band, keyboards, woodwinds, choir, brass, etc., are unparalled in this industry. I seriously urge all of our friends to visit on the web and take a look at their essential product line. 

While “Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend” represents something of a departure for Alfred, the principals are excited about it, and they do assure me that there will, in fact, “be a book.” And to tell you the truth, that’s all I need to know! 

God bless and keep swingin! We’ll keep you updated. 

Dr. Bruce H. Klauber