Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Holiday Sale – All Digital Albums now only $5

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Click here to see all of our digital download albums

New Digital Album: Live at the Madhattan, 1937

Friday, September 9th, 2011


Arguably Goodman’s best band, these broadcasts–comprising almost an hour in surprising fidelity–feature BG and the boys, along with the Trio, Quartet, Harry James, Krupa and Martha Tilton, at their absolute height. Not listed on the site and exclusive to the MP3 store.

Track List:

Track 1) Lets Dance
Track 2) Big Johns Special
Track 3) You Took the Words Right Out of my Heart
Track 4) If Dreams Come True
Track 5) Bei Mir Bist Duo Schon
Track 6) Where or When Trio
Track 7) Darktown Strutters Ball
Track 8) I’ve Hitched my Wagon to a Star
Track 9) Dinah Quartet
Track 10) I Want to be in Winchells Column
Track 11) All of Me
Track 12) Lets Dance
Track 13) Life Goes to a Party
Track 14) Sweet Someone
Track 15) If Dreams Come True
Track 16) Cant Help Lovin That Man Trio
Track 17) Goodbye
Track 18) Alice Blue Gown
Track 19) Josephine
Track 20) Its Wonderful
Track 21) Avalon Quartet
Track 22) Rockin the Town


Head over to the eStore to purchase


Friday, August 26th, 2011

Almost everyone who has an interest in such things knows that Atlantic City is in big financial trouble. Those in the Greater Delaware Valley area who like to gamble, a little or a lot, now need only drive up or down the block in order to play blackjack or the quarter slots. The “in the know” contingent who have been following Atlantic City’s situation since gaming was made legal in 1978 say that the one-time king of resorts needs some kind of shot in the arm—make that a minor miracle—to survive and continue to compete as a year-round tourist destination.

They may have found one. His name is Andy Kahn. He is an entertainer. He plays piano and sings.

One of Atlantic City’s draws, for almost a century, has been its entertainers. In its pre-casino heyday, A.C. played host to virtually every star in the universe who performed live. Where else could one see the Three Stooges, Gene Krupa, Louis Prima, Duke Ellington, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Frank Sinatra in person in one day?

Today, there’s not much room for innovation in the area of booking talent. The legendary big names are gone or retired and the demographics have certainly changed since 1978. So, in terms of entertainment, the Atlantic City casinos only have revue shows, rock bands, the occasional comic and disc jockeys from which to choose.
The rejuvenated Resorts Casino Hotel—the town’s first legal gaming hall—seems poised to move away from the norm in many areas and take some chances. In the booking of performer Andy Kahn, Resorts’ bet paid off. His one-nighter was a resounding success.

Over 100 people of all ages seemingly came out to hear Kahn sing and play recently, within Resorts’ Starlight Room, which moonlights as comic Joe Piscopo’s popular club on weekends. On this night, the audience did not hear a disc jockey or rock music–not that there’s anything wrong with that. What they did hear was over 90 minutes of the ageless and timeless music of the great American composers, i.e., Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer and the like, performed by a multi-talented pianist/singer, who proved to be an affable and enthusiastic performer with obvious star quality.

Other artists through the seasons, notably the late Bobby Short and today’s Michael Feinstein, have used a similar, “Great American Songbook” repertoire as the basis of their programs, but Andy Kahn approaches things in a different way. Interwoven between tunes are anecdotes about the composers and their lives and times, all held together by heartfelt singing and jazz piano chops that Short and Feinstein could only dream of. His jazz rendition of “I Love Paris” was a standout.

It all works, and the Resorts audience couldn’t get enough.

Kahn has extensive experience, since childhood, in virtually every area of the entertainment industry. He’s worked as an actor, jazz pianist, cabaret performer, author, composer, recording studio executive, producer, engineer and talent scout. He was at the forefront of the disco movement via, among many other things, his production of the number one disco record of 1978, “Hot Shot,” as performed by Karen Young.

But in following Kahn’s career for almost 50 years, I’d have to report with some accuracy that singing and playing the great tunes, as he did at Resorts, remains his first love. Even if he were booked doing this 300 nights of the year, I doubt if he’d ever look upon it as “a job.” And there’s no chance for boredom, either. As the legendary Sam Butera used to say about his own shows at Resorts, “Each show is entirely different.” So are Kahn’s.

The management at Resorts is to be congratulated for taking a chance on something new. Their gamble paid off, proving that it’s virtually impossible to fail with the timeless and ageless elements that constitute the elegant repertoire of Andy Kahn. It’s important to remember that Kahn is not peddling nostalgia. He’s selling quality, and it’s because of quality that these compositions remain fresh, and have lived on, in some cases for nearly 100 years.

I’d bet that Atlantic City audiences can’t wait for Kahn’s next show. I’ll be at the head of the line.

New Digital Download albums available on the Jazz Legends eStore

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Last month Jazz Legends introduced a new way to order rare Gene Krupa Albums by launching the Jazz Legends eStore. The eStore allows customers to purchase their album and download the digital music in mp3 format. It’s convenient and you get your music immediately. Over the last week we have added a few new digital download albums including:








Head over to to order and download your copy.



Summer in the City: July with Pops, The King and More

Monday, July 18th, 2011

My sincerest thanks go out to all those who offered good wishes during my recent, two-week sojourn at Chestnut Hill Hospital, including “Big Jim” Dofton, Gia Maione Prima, Andy Kahn and many others. The doctors, nurses and various staff members at Chestnut Hill personify the words “care” and compassion. And they laughed at my jokes, as well, which couldn’t have been easy for them (I asked another doctor for a second opinion about my condition and he said, “Okay, you’re ugly, too!”) Other facilities, I’m told, want patients out of the hospital asap. Chestnut Hill is the opposite. No one goes home until they — all of them – say you’re ready. Though I’ll be pitching knuckleballs instead of fastballs for the next few weeks, I’ll be 100 percent shortly, whether you like it or not.

My good colleague of almost 50 years, the pianist/singer Andy Kahn, has been mentioned in this space previously in line with some Philadelphia-based appearances at the Palm and Hedgerow Theatre. Even in late summer, when gigs are tough to get anywhere, Kahn has a slew of appearances lined up, including a return engagement at Hedgerow, and shows at Resorts International Hotel and Casino and the Ocean Club in Atlantic City. Andy’s return to what seems to be leading to steady performing is welcomed. His superior talents as a pianist and singer via his essential, “Music by Intention” program, need to be heard. For dates and great video and audio of Andy, log on to and click on “Music by Intention.”

Andy Kahn’s Atlantic City shows constitute the good news about the locale musicians used to call “Beirut by the Sea.” Because of more and more competition from Philadelphia-area casinos, A.C.’s business is, and has been, off. “Way off,” as Cosmo Kramer might have said it. While it’s sad, it’s no surprise that ads in recent real estate listings have listed Atlantic City’s venerable Steel Pier as up for sale at a bargain rate of—unless I’m reading it wrong–$2.5 million dollars. There were high hopes for the Pier, built in 1898, when casino gaming was legalized in A.C. in 1976, especially when Donald Trump took over ownership in tandem with The Taj Mahal, but nothing much ever came of it, just like Donald, beyond installation of seasonal, second-rate, kiddie rides. What a shame. I saw Krupa there in 1967 as well as Maynard, Count and Duke. Mark my words: the Pier will eventually deteriorate on its own and fall into the sea. Just like the diving bell.

In an industry that so-called experts say is dead or dying – the publishing business – you sure wouldn’t know it by the slew of great titles published over the past several months, including a number of jazz works. One of the best books on jazz I’ve read in recent years is called “What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years,” written by lecturer, jazz pianist and Louis Armstrong House Museum Project Archivist Ricky Riccardi.

Pops’s later years, from 1947 on, have been given less than short shrift over the years, particularly by biographer James Lincoln Collier (what ever happened to him?) even though Armstrong’s contributions as a player, singer, recording artist, ambassador and trumpeter were more than substantial. Riccardi, who had access to a bunch of never-released tapes and manuscripts, tells never-before-heard tales. Of particular interest to Gene Krupa and percussion fans are sections on Eddie Shu, Marty Napoleon, the shenanigans that went on during the filming of “The Glenn Miller Story,” the story of the ill-fated drummer Kenny John, the “real” take behind the aborted Armstrong/Benny Goodman tour of 1953, and much, much more. If, by the way, you didn’t like Benny Goodman personally thus far, Riccardi’s info will like him even less. Let’s put it this way: Goodman was a rotten son of a bitch, and Ol’ Satch let “The King” know about it, and more. The author presents, for the first time, the “real” Satch, who was certainly not the grinning and mugging fellow of television. Pops, by the way, was particularly hard on several of his great drummers, including Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole and Barrett Deems. He wouldn’t have anything to do with Zutty Singleton. Above all, Pops seemed to prize consistency over all. Drummer Danny Barcelona stayed in the All-Stars for 13 years, more than any of them.

Congratulations on Riccardi and on Pantheon Books for publishing this essential work.

Goodman, along with a slew of other jazz players, is proof that one doesn’t have to be a great guy to be a great player. In line with that, our friend, supporter and colleague Chuck Slate has come up with a piece of material that most of us knew existed, but could ever put our hands on…until now.

The legendary Carnegie Hall concert of the original Goodman Quartet, along with Slam Stewart on bass, of June 29, 1973, was the show where Gene Krupa, very ill at the time and so spent by his solo on “Sing Sing Sing,” could not rise from the drums. Chuck assures me the fidelity is superb and hopefully, will be making this available soon.

By the way, a long overdue correction is in order, in line with Chuck’s “Gene Krupa Live at the Chester Inn.” Contrary to what’s listed on the JazzLegends site, Larry Weiss plays cornet and Marv Ross plays clarinet. We stand corrected.

See you, in good health, next time.


Sunday, June 26th, 2011

It’s been a while since my last column which erroneously may have led some to believe that is dormant, slowing down, etc. Not so! We are alive, well and fulfilling orders as soon as we get them. There are, however, so very, very many folks I’ve not heard from in ages, so I just wanted to let you know that everything is running like clockwork here, no matter how hot it is!

I’ve recently relocated to a lovely area outside of Philadelphia, which, strange as it seems, is the first place I’ve had of my own in several years! It can’t be beat.

So, please bear in mind that I’m here, and remain on the look out for new and undiscovered stuff.

A word about some orders: Due to age or whatever, some of our masters have become damaged over time, often with no rhyme or reason. As an example, we had a recent order for out Wild Bill Davison DVD, and when I started the duplication process, realized that the master had somehow been stripped of the audio portion. How this happened, I couldn’t tell you, but it involved getting a copy of the video (it’s never been released on DVD) and remastering it.

In other cases, we’re not so lucky, so in the event that a master is damaged, I’ve tried to include at least TWO related titles to make up for it. So far, by and large, most folks seem to be happy with this, and I am working on replacing what’s damaged (if anyone has a good copy of Tony Williams in France on DVD, let me know).

Some of you may have heard that I have hooked up with the widow of Louis Prima, Gia Prima, to write Louis biography. This is quite an undertaking. Louis led a remarkable life, and Gia is simply a one-of-a-kind. She almost single-handedly spearheaded the renewed interest in the life and music of Prima, and what interest there is! Stay tuned.

In other book news, well, it finally had to happen. The final Mrs. Frank Sinatra, Barbara Sinatra, has written a book. Mrs. S. does a fine job in speaking of parties, drinking, jewelry, charitable galas, the care and feeding of Frank Sinatra, and their various fights (though Mrs. S. can’t seem to recall the root of the fighting).

On the other hand, and this is the kicker: Some years back, the very astute business person that is Tina Sinatra wrote a scathing account of Barbara Sinatra, how she tried to distance him from his children, financial and business double-dealings, greed, and general cruelty. Tina’s book cried out for a reply. This isn’t it. Mrs. Sinatra’s solution? Do not even mention Tina or Nancy. In that way, of course, they don’t exist. IN doing this, sadly, Mrs. Sinatra proved that she was and is as petty as Tina claimed.

It’s also riddled with inaccuracies (was it Mrs. Sinatra who convinced Mr. S. to sing “New York, New York”? I think not). And the fact that she says she had “no idea” who came up with the concept of “Duets” is just plain ridiculous. There were several books devoted to how that project got off the ground and ultimately progressed.

Is there an editor out there somewhere? I guess ghostwriter Wendy Holden, who doesn’t merit cover credit, by the way, didn’t think enough to visit the local library.

But in these days of Lady Gaga, who cares about the truth anyway?

As always, friends, if there’s anything at all you’re looking for on DVD or audio, please contact me at I’m here and I’m ready to “keep swingin’.”

Bruce Klauber

Joe Morello: 1928 – 2011

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Joe Morello, one of the greatest and most famous drummers of his time, died on March 12. He was 82.

On purely a technical basis, he was the equal of Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. In terms of fame, he was a member of what could have been described, at the time, as the jazz equivalent of The Beatles: The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Morello was with Brubeck from 1956 until 1967. Dave Brubeck’s group was among the most famous in jazz, even
appealing to those who might have not liked jazz before or since.

Much of this was due to Morello. It was Paul Desmond’s composition, “Take Five,” featuring Morello’s soloing, that was said to be the first, million-selling record in jazz history. And he won the prestigious Down Beat magazine poll as “Number One Drummer” in 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1928, he first played violin before switching to percussion. He played in the New England area with the likes of Phil Woods, Sal Salvador, and in 1950, the big band of Glen Gray. Morello moved to New York City in 1952, making a name for himself in jazz circles with the groups of Johnny Smith, Gil Melle, and briefly with Stan Kenton. His three years with pianist Marian McPartland’s trio, a group based at the Hickory House in New York City, from 1954 to 1956, really put him on the map. In 1956, he joined Brubeck.

From the start, Morello didn’t have it easy. Though reports vary, it has been said that he was close to being blind for years. He lost whatever limited sight he had in 1976.

Things with Brubeck also were not always easy. He clashed with alto saxophonist Desmond initially. Morello and his solos quickly became audience favorites, which did not thrill Desmond at all. Musically, Brubeck, bless his heart, had a tendency to rush, and it was up to Morello and bassist Gene Wright, who “locked in” no matter what was happening, to keep Brubeck in tow.

Though Morello easily adapted to Brubeck’s use of odd time signatures, the fact was, when the tune called for it, Joe could swing that band into bad health. Listen to “Pennies from Heaven” on the Quartet’s 1963 album recorded live at Carnegie Hall. You could swear it was Buddy Rich back there.

Joe Morello was probably the most famous teacher in drumming history. He toured extensively as a clinician for the Ludwig Drum Company, and Ludwig published many of Joe’s method books. How Ludwig let him go is beyond me. In the 1960s, two drummers were responsible for selling thousands of Ludwig sets: Ringo to the would-be rockers, and Joe Morello to the jazz students.

He was one of the prime exponents of the controversial concept of “finger control”—whereby the movement and velocity of sticking is controlled by the fingers—and his many, many students swore by him. The great Danny Gottleib, possibly Joe’s most famous student, idolized him. When I caught up with Dan in Philadelphia about ten years ago—he was backing the great jazz singer, Chris Connor—all he could talk about was Joe. He even offered to sponsor me if I studied with Morello.

Despite his blindness, he remained very, very active in the post-Brubeck years. There were a few reunions with Brubeck, Marian McPartland and Sal Salvador, the participation in one of the first “Burnin’ for Buddy” tribute recordings, a bunch of local gigs in the northern New Jersey area, and a very busy teaching practice.

Joe Morello was interviewed many times through the years in jazz and percussion journals, and always came off as a modest, self-effacing artist, though aware of his influence and place in history. He knew that the problems with his sight may have limited the scope of his career—if only because he couldn’t take heavy reading gigs—but he was never bitter.

For those not familiar with his playing, I urge you to check out his work with Brubeck, and on film and video via “Legends of Jazz Drumming,” “Classic Drum Solos and Drum Battles,” and “Jo Jones and the Drum Stars.” All are available here.

If anyone personified the title, “Legend of Jazz Drumming,” it was Joe Morello. He was one of the great ones.

Book Beat and Drum Beatings: March, 2011

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

In between snow storms and my contributions to Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, Fresh Sound Records and, I’ve spent a good part of the winter reading just about every new celebrity biography and autobiography published in recent months.

It is heartening to realize that, despite reports to the contrary and the problem with the Borders book chain, that the publishing business is alive and well, though I continue to register disappointment that Gunter Schuller’s follow-up to The Swing Era, Gary Giddins’ Bing Crosby Volume Two, and an in-print version of The Encyclopedia of Jazz have yet to see the light of day.

Jazz-wise, as always, the pickings have been rather slim book-wise. Last year, there was an under-publicized, semi-privately published work on Maynard Ferguson that almost no one heard of. This season, there is yet another work—and it’s superb– on the still-controversial Stan Kenton; a very disappointing tome on Louis Prima and Keely Smith that relies mainly on previously published material; a landmark “encyclopedia” on jazz and pop singers written by the prolific Will Friedwald; and a hilarious and informative autobio by percussion industry giant Lennie DiMuzio.

In the celebrity sector, it appears that anyone who is—or was—anyone, has written a book or has had a book written about them. Some of those names include Gypsy Rose Lee, Dionne Warwick, Michael Caine, Karen Carpenter, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, Kitty (“The Parasite”) Kelly’s expected hatchet job on Oprah Winfrey, Sal Mineo, Natalie Cole, Pat Cooper (!), Marlo Thomas, Dick Cavett, and two, absolutely ridiculous works on Humphrey Bogart and Merv Griffin that focus more on the principals’ genital size than fact.

I probably missed a few, but I always maintained that the publishing business would enter the realm of the certifiable absurdity when John (“Roland”) Zacherly, Soupy Sales and Joey Bishop had books written about them. Well, check Zacherly, Sales and Bishop, as well as such luminaries as Arthur Godfrey and Jack Webb all have books in release with their names on the cover. At least Webb was a big jazz fan. Actually, so was Soupy, rest his soul.

The legendary Lennie Tristano wrote a letter to Down Beat magazine in the late 1960s, saying, in effect, that he thought Diana Ross was the greatest jazz singer who ever lived. Presumably, he was quite taken with her vocalizing in the ludicrous film based on the life of Billie Holiday, titled “Lady Sings the Blues.” Whatever Tristano played and/or said should never be taken lightly, though it’s sad that Ross never realized her potential as a jazz singer.

To these ears, another vocalist who, tragically, never got the chance to realize her potential was the late Karen Carpenter, subject of one of this year’s most incisive bios. Carpenter, I believe, had it all, and had she lived and gotten away from recording the bubble gum dreck that made her famous, I think she could have been one of the great ones. After all, if Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand have recorded what the press describes as “jazz albums,” there’s no reason why Carpenter could not have as well.

There is also yet another bio out on one Frank Sinatra. I’ve only read bits and pieces of it and some reviews. But according to those who have read it, there’s really nothing new to be learned about the man. I don’t know what kinds of dirt these folks are after. It’s all been said before, anyway. As Mr. S. himself once said, “Hell hath no fury like a hustler with a literary agent.

The problem with the Borders book chain is unfortunate but not unexpected. Like Tower Records and several video chains that appear to be on the way out, storefront retails just can’t compete with an internet giant like It’s a matter of retail space. Borders, Tower or Blockbuster cannot stock thousands and thousands of new and used titles. Amazon has, with rare exception, what appears to be virtually every book written in the past 25 years, and practically every CD ever recorded. And the products are delivered to the customers’ door within days. Believe me, Amazon’s shipping charge is much less than what we’re being asked to pay for gas these days.

Certainly, browsing at the book store, record store or video store was and in some cases still is a pleasant pastime, and nothing compares to being able to actually hold the product before it’s purchased. But look how we get a good deal of our information today and look how we communicate with each other today. It is no longer 1995 out there, and it is all together fitting and proper that the way we buy almost everything these days has also changed.

While Amazon’s selection of jazz materials is admirable—and potential buyers often have the opportunity to get a used copy of a book, DVD or CD at a reduced price—few internet retailers can beat the inventory carried by I’ve mentioned them before, but what they have available, whether books, orchestrations, instructional materials, CDs and DVDs is just remarkable. And if you’re seeking stellar, first-class reissues of the great jazz recordings of the 1950s and 1960s, on labels ranging from Verve to Contemporary, a visit to is a must.

In another media event, it has been impossible to ignore the hype surrounding the fact that this is talk show host Oprah Winfrey’s final season. Of course, she won’t be off the scene at all, and has recently launched her own cable television network.

What Winfrey has done for broadcasting, for women and for all types of charitable causes has been nothing short of remarkable. And the skewering she received from author Kitty Kelly is unforgivable. In that realm, at least Winfrey is in good company.

However, those of us in the jazz community would be remiss if we didn’t comment on Winfrey’s relationship to jazz. There is none.
Fawning over Streisand and a bunch of other popsters is great, but couldn’t Winfrey spare a couple of minutes to Wynton Marsalis or any one of thousands of lesser known jazz artists? The only guest on Winfrey’s program through the years who was even remotely associated with jazz was Quincy Jones, and he abandoned his jazz roots years ago.

Incidentally, if Oprah Winfrey has played host to jazz musicians through the years, I must have missed those programs and I stand respectfully corrected. If anyone has such a list, you know how to contact me.

Talk shows haven’t been particularly kind to jazz though the years—let’s face it, jazz has rarely been a television ratings bonanza—but even hosts like Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Dick Cavett, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas regularly booked jazz musicians as guests. Some of those players, through the years, included names like Miles Davis, Buddy Rich, Joe Williams, Gene Krupa, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Max Roach Louie Bellson, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Benny Goodman and many more. Bill Cosby regularly had jazz musicians as guests on his various programs.

Maybe we need an organization today akin to the famed, “Jazz and the People’s Movement,” founded decades ago by the likes of Roland Kirk and Charles Mingus. Remember when they stormed various talk shows—and even The Ed Sullivan Show—demanding exposure for jazz?

I cannot tell you how pleased I am to be associated with Modern Drummer, albeit on a limited basis right now. I think I’m one of the few writers who have contributed to MD since its inception, in my case, from their second issue. Look for my pieces this spring and summer on drumming legends Rufus Jones and Nick Fatool, among others.

Andy Kahn has been a producer and composer of hit records—remember “Hot Shot” from 1978?– recording studio owner and engineer, discoverer of new talent, entrepreneur, philanthropist, recording artist and first-rate jazz pianist, among other things. Above all, we have been friends for close to 50 years. Andy has been working on his memoirs this winter, and it hasn’t surprised me that he’s also quite the writer. I am touched and honored that he has asked me to contribute some of my editing talents to this work. Though still not totally complete—watch this space for updates—I can tell you first-hand that this book will be, like it’s subject, a remarkable work and will be a must-read for anyone interested in the entertainment business and the human spirit.

As always, I invite you to contact me directly at Thank you for your continued support, encouraging words and understanding. Above all, keep swingin! — Bruce Klauber

Hoping for a Happy 2011!

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Many of you know that the past few years have not been great ones personally or professionally. Things are starting to improve on all fronts slightly. I am doing a good bit of writing for Jazz Times (be sure to log on the and go to the “community articles” section to see a bunch of neat stuff), Modern Drummer magazine (we’re talking about doing profiles of Marty Morrell and Nick Fatool as among my 2011 projects), and have another new CD release out with the marvelous Fresh Sound Records.

The Fresh Sound release is the “entire” Jazz at the Philharmonic concert of September, 1952, that highlighted by the legendary Krupa/Rich drum battle. It has been issued in bits and pieces though the years on LP and CD, but this is the whole show. Completely remastered with comprehensive notes, the original program and actual, 1952 reviews of the show, the CD also has bonus tracks by Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich and another unissued JATP program featuring Max Roach, Flip Phillips and the gang. If it were not for Jordi Pujol and his colleagues at Fresh Sound, thousands of hours of incomparable music would be lost. I urge everyone to visit them on the web at You won’t believe what you’ll find there.

In line with the difficulties of the past year or two, there was a point where was close to being history. But, due to your patience, support and understanding, we are now more than afloat. I am filling orders, depending on size, the day they come in, and those of you who have ordered recently know that if something isn’t right, I’ll make it right, with replacement copies and some gratis product included as a way of thanks. In line with “new” recordings here—though it won’t be officially posted for a while—courtesy of Paul Testa we have a great audio recording of Krupa on the “Dave Garroway at Large” radio program of the 1950s. There’s some comedy, some drum instruction, and as Paul has said, is likely the only example we have of Gene playing on a practice pad. To order, just other anything else we have, and in the messages section, type in “Garroway.”

As hard as I try, it is impossible to satisfy all of the people all of the time. Although complaints have been few and far between in the 10 or so years JazzLegends has been on the air, one of the things I hear from time to time is that some customers have expected a factory sealed, commercial issue of a CD or a DVD complete with artwork and booklet. Let me stress this again: Nothing we have is available commercially. If a CD or DVD that we carry is newly issued commercially and domestically—and I don’t see that happening soon—I immediately pull it from the site. Our material, some of it going back to the 1920s, is, by and large, either non-commercial, private footage from concerts, television and films; or is in the public domain, long out-of-print or out-of-copyright. Much of the material comes from overseas. The DVDs and CDs are packaged in a white, paper sleeve, with the title hand-printed on the CD. I found out long ago that those stick-on labels I used for so long caused a lot of problems in the playback process. CDs come with art. DVDs do not. In that we have, and will continue to offer, free shipping all over the world, no matter how large or small the order, and that tracking down this vintage stuff has not happened cheaply, “bells and whistles” packaging is not an option. If that’s what you’re after, go to Tower Records. Oops. There is no more Tower Records. I hope this makes things clear.

Some tidbits since the last time we spoke: As far as I know, the famed, Academy Award-winning documentary on Artie Shaw is still not available commercially. The one on Anita O’Day is, but because of lack of funds and support, almost no one knows about it, which is terribly sad but not surprising. I wish someone like Hudson Music, Alfred Publishing or V.I.E.W. Video would pick it up to distribute it properly. You may want to check about its availability.

There is a great new book out for anyone interested in drums or drumming. The legendary Lennie DiMuzio, the go-to artist relations guy at Zildjian for years who now serves in a similar capacity at Sabian, has written a funny, touching, eye-opening and comprehensive book about his life in the industry: “Tales from the Cymbal Bag,” published by Jump Back Baby Productions, is the title, and it’s a must have. For details, check out the review on “Tales from the Cymbal Bag” is available at dozens of web sites worldwide.

Finally, and this isn’t big news to anyone, but the “officially sanctioned” Gene Krupa model drumsticks are out of production. At times, the process of getting this off the ground was simultaneously joyous and frustrating, but the bottom line is, that unless a company has the wherewithal to spend mega-bucks in advertising, promotion and PR, success will be difficult. Like everything Chris Bennett did and does at Bopworks—and Chris really did all the work—the product was superior. But, as someone once said, “Maybe it ain’t over yet.”

Also reviewed on is a new book about Louis Prima, Keely Smith and the heyday of Las Vegas, written by Tom Clavin and called “Louis Prima, Keely Smith and the Golden Age of Las Vegas” (Chicago Review Press). It’s received a lot of ink lately, and I don’t know why. It relies, for the most part on material that was previously published, with the only really original stuff coming from the likes of Connie Stevens, Shecky Greene, Debbie Reynolds, and one or two others who hardly knew Louis or Keely. The story that the self-serving Reynolds tells about “impersonating” Keely for a week because Smith was ill—and that know one ever knew about it—is beyond ridiculous. And more inaccuracies abound.

The great Gia Maione, the final Mrs. Prima, and most dedicted to his legacy—she is the keeper of the Louis Prima flame via the website and other activities–should have been a journalist. She’s getting there! Like a precious few in the business, she will not tolerate false information, inaccuracy and/or those who lack integrity, whatever their field. For a number of reasons, Gia is deservedly not happy with this work, and some of her comments, I hope, show up in the print version of Jazz Times and/or on the web site.

If you want to read about Louis Prima, try and get a copy of the book written by Garry Boulard in 1986. Another edition came out in 2002. The official title is “Just a Gigolo: The Life and Times of Louis Prima. The original publisher was The Center for Louisiana Studies, a relatively small outfit, which is possibly the reason that few have heard of this essential work. Boulard conducted a bunch of first-person interviews with people who were essential to the lives and careers of Louis, Keely, and Gia as well. Better yet, go to the site. It’s no surprise that Clavin’s new book cribs liberally from Boulard’s work. It’s a cut-and-paste job from top to bottom, but if it inspires more interest in the music of the principals, then it has served some valuable purpose.

You won’t find a lot of quotes in any book, or in the documentary films on Louis, from the man himself. From what little I know, his personal thoughts and feelings were not for broadcast or publication. That is how gentlemen used to behave, and had there been an “Oprah Winfrey Show” on television during the lifetime of Louis Prima, I doubt whether he would ever consent to appear as a guest. I think that only two things were really important to him: family and music. And that’s how it should have been.

I had, at one-time, a vested interest in the music of Louis, Keely and Gia, too. I sang and played his music in clubs for years, with varying results. In 1978, I recorded a note-for-note remake of Louis’ legendary “Just a Gigolo,” which was going to be released on the record label owned by Robert Stigwood of “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever” fame. The timeless Sam Butera arrangement was produced for me by industry hit-maker Andy Kahn, best known for composing, producing and engineering the number one disco record of 1978, “Hot Shot.” Due to the almost overnight bust of the disco bubble, my version was never released. Rocker David Lee Roth did it six years later and sold millions. Those in the business tell me he didn’t copy from Louis’ version, but from ours! Believe me, had he heard the original, his version would have been much better.

Keely Smith, as of this writing, is said to be still recording and making public appearances from time to time. I wish Gia Maione would do the same.

The loss of drummer Jake Hanna was a blow to the world of percussion. If you want to hear how drums should be played in a big band, listen to Hanna’s work with the early 1960s Woody Herman Herd. No one played like him, and as the story goes, other than Dave Tough, Hanna was the only drummer in Herman history to be accorded complete freedom—to play in any way he saw fit—by the leader himself. And talk about a character! There was only one, and I do owe him a debt of thanks for introducing me to drinking a “Black and Tan” at The Irish Pub in Atlantic City, at 6 a.m., circa 1986.

We’ve lost a host of others recently as well, including the irreplaceable James Moody, Philadelphia piano icon Sid Simmons and organist/pianist Trudy Pitts. Trudy was a friend—she was friends to dozens of us here in Philadelphia—and she never really got the credit she deserved. Guitarist Pat Martino, among others, started his recording career with her, and her sidemen on some early dates included names like Roland Kirk and John Coltrane. Ultimately, family was more important to her, and she gave up the road life. Fortunately, she had a bunch of long-running playing and teaching gigs locally, and was always supported by her loving husband and drummer “Mr. C.”, aka Bill Carney. An essential part of the Philadelphia music scene is now gone. Trudy Pitts was loved by all of us.

My dear colleague from the UK, Peter Brightman, who has been so helpful and encouraging to me through the years—and by way of his is encouragement, has helped keep afloat– came up with a nifty and rather generous idea some months ago. If you visit our “Community” pages, and I hope you do, Peter has helped institute a “Donations” icon, whereby those who click on it can donate to the cause.

As far as I can determine, everyone—in some way, shape or form—has felt the effect of the economic downturn. Even the wealthy have lost tons of bread, though I don’t stay up nights worrying about them. In times like this, music and almost everything entertainment-related are the first jobs to get cut. Advertising dollars have been slashed to the minimum, resulting in magazines and newspapers fighting for survival. All the free stuff on the net has taken a bite out of those who play music, record music or write and produce DVDs. Six-piece bands have been cut to duos. Duos have been replaced by disc jockeys. In Philadelphia, we now have only one, full-time jazz club, with the decades-old Ortleib’s closing last year and Zanzibar Blue the year before. I cannot tell you the number of people I know in the industry who have been laid off or simply let go.

Human beings, however, have proven to be remarkably adaptable and resilient people. That’s why we’re still here. I’m still here as well and I intend in continue in my attempt to make a contribution to music history and jazz scholarship with and other projects.

Keep swingin’
Bruce Klauber


Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

There are a number of you who haven’t received orders that date back weeks. First, you have my sincere apologies and my pledge that everyone will get everything they ordered.

Second, an explanation: Many of you are aware of my health problems and the financial hardships it’s caused.

It has recently gotten worse, in that I have had to leave my home after 15 years and move in with my brother and his friend in a small neighborhood in Philadelphia. I am sleeping on the couch, and believe me, I am grateful for it.

A good deal of these problems were of my own making, so I don’t ask for sympathy…just patience and understanding.

I am in the process of relocating my duplication equipment to a suitable workspace so I may resume fulfulling each and every order I received.

I am asking you, from the bottom of my heart, not to report me to the Better Business Bureau or to PayPal.

Most of you know that I am as honest as the day is long, and though it is embarrassing for me to share this rather personal information on a public basis, I believe I do owe it to each and every one of you.

Again, I beg for your patience and understanding. I will make good on everything, and that’s a promise.

God bless and keep swingin’

Bruce Klauber