Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

Spammers Beware

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

We are doing everything possible to delete these offensive spammers as quickly as possible. It is becoming a full time job, and it would be a terrible thing to close down the community pages, which have been so valuable to so many for so long.


Friday, April 26th, 2013

1. The Community Pages are important to We need your donations to continue it and to continue to welcome members like Evan Shulman, son of Eddie Shu. I am spending at least one hour per day, seven days per week, deleting the spammers that seem to find the site attractive, in order to make it easier for members to use.

2. Postage has gone up. Overseas postage has more than doubled. We want to keep going at the site, and I am urging–overseas visitors especially–to order more than one item. Otherwise, I end up losing money on every order. This can only continue for so long.

3. What you get at From time to time, we still get a complaint that says something like: “I thought such-and-such a title was a commercial issue, with full-color art, detailed notes and state-of-the-art sound.” If that’s what you want, look elsewhere. Nothing we have, with the exception of long-deleted LPs that have never been issued on CD, was ever commercially issued. And if you’re concerned that some of the film footage on our DVDs looks as if it’s 75 years old, that’s because it is.

4. I continue in my pledge to find those rarities and new discoveries that no one thought existed. Help me out, will you? Order stuff, make a donation or both.

Have a swingin’ spring and beyond,
Bruce Klauber

BUDDY RICH TRIVIA: You won’t believe who he’s played with!

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Those who remember the firery, hard-swinging, uncompromising, perfectionist known as “the world’s greatest drummer” may be in for a surprise after perusing the following.

Before moving on, however, bear in mind that Buddy Rich was, for a good part of his career, as much a part of show business as he was a part of jazz. As a sideman with the orchestras of Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Harry James, part of his job description was playing shows, backing star singers and dancers, drumming for floor shows, etc. All of that was just part of the gig, plain and simple. Even a glance at a detailed Coltrane itinerary shows that, in the course of a nightclub gig, the tenor genius had to play for a floor show.

How times have changed, and I don’t know if it’s for the better. Cutting shows, as it used to be called, was a marvelous learning experience for all players. Presumably, that just no longer applies today.

The following list does not claim to be complete, only representative of some real showbiz greats and near-greats who you never would think of as on the same bandstand–or in the same radio studio– as Buddy Rich.

These were before the days when another drummer was brought in to play for the “name.” In those days, Buddy played for one and all.

Unless otherwise noted, the following are Tommy Dorsey radio broadcasts featuring Buddy Rich at the drums:

WIth Red Skelton in the film “Ship Ahoy”: 12/41
With Dinah Shore:9/29/42
With Spike Jones: 9/29/42
With Lucille Ball: 11/42 and 9/10/45, the latter in the film “Dubarry Was a Lady.”
With Gene Kelly: As above.
With Bing Crosby: 6/18/44
With Gracie Fields: 9/25/44
With Rudy Vallee: 7/10/44
With Al Jolson: 7/23/44
With Jose Iturbi: 7/30/44
With Sophie Tucker: 8/6/44
WIth Phil Harris: 8/20/44
With Martha Raye: 9/10/44
WIth Eddie Cantor: 9/24/44
With DIck Powell: 10/8/44
With Paulette Goddard: 6/24/45
Janet Blair: 7/22/45
Shirley Booth: 9/2/45

Buddy Rich backed the following on the “Stage Show” television program that featured the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra:

With Johnnie Ray: 1/1/55
With Duke Ellington: As above
With Patti Page: 1/8/55
WIth Kate Smith: 3/12/55
WIth the McGuire Sisters: As above

On Eddie Condon’s “Floor Show” TV series:
With Sidney Bechet: 3/19/49

More trivia:
The history books have always read that Buddy Rich’s “bass drum experiment” was a “one time only” situation which took place at the Paramount Theater on February 22, 1949, when the Rich crew was on the bill with Mel Torme’. In fact, Buddy reprised his two bass drum feature on the Condon television program two more times: Playing “Old Man River” as he did at the Paramount on March 3, 1949; and on the tune “Heat Wave” on April 2, 1949.

And finally, though many, would-be future jazz greats got their starts in Buddy’s big bands from 1966 through 1986, perhaps none became a bigger star than trumpter Chris Botti, who sat in the Rich trumpet section from December of 1984 through March of the following year.

I look forward to receiving your questions, comments and additions to this list.


Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Mr. Sinatra had the concert stage. Huffington has the “Post.” Editors have the editorial page. These were and are their forums. Though also used for news and reviews, this space is my forum. And I intend to use it.

I will never criticize the playing or performance of a musician. The jazz community is too small for us to be knocking each other, and to my ears, everyone’s got something to say, from RIngo to Paul Motian. What I will point out is what I consider to be unprofessional or insensitive behavior from those in the business — on or off stage — who should know better, and those I know who can do better. And unless they’re dead and/or internationally renowned, I will not name names. If I’m bugged, it’s the behavior I’m bugged at, not the individual.

My word is not law or the “be all” or “end all.” If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it, loudly, clearly and in large font headlines. If you disagree with my opinions or what I perceive as fact, tell me so. This is an open forum and it’s open to one and all. There are plenty of places for you to comment on the site, including our community pages and on the articles pages. And I have no qualms about putting any of your comments on the home page, if that’s where you’d like them.

Here’s a case in point: Several months ago, I wrote a pretty angry piece about a new club’s jam session that was booked on the same night as another jam session that had been running for nearly 24 years. I couldn’t understand why the “new” place couldn’t book their jam on another night, in that the audience(s) for these things is small enough as it is. In other words, why not share rather than compete?

Those I “fingered” in this piece were understandably and deservedly not too happy with what I wrote, and, I guess, how I wrote it. And I’ve been informed that said facility actually had “dibs” on the Tuesday night jam session idea at least a year before the other joint. I stand corrected on that, but I disagree with the idea that a club or a club owner can “own” a night.

In any case, both places are doing well and I hope, pray and trust that they will continue to do so. If everything has to be on a Tuesday night, so be it.

I’m expecting that this matter will be considered closed, if only so that we can move on to more important matters, like, what are we going to do about that lousy pizza at Papa John’s?


Monday, July 16th, 2012

With the exception of the moonlight-serenading Glenn Miller ghosters, there are no longer any big bands on the road these days. The young crew led by Maynard Ferguson was the last of its kind. MF’s death in 2006 represented, once and for all, the end of the traveling bands.

But the big band genre’ is hardly extinct. Certainly, there are the superb college and high school jazz bands, but in the professional sector, big bands abound for recording purposes, rehearsals and local gigs. An exception of sorts to the traveling rule is the case of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, which does tour from time to time on a limited basis.

In the “local sector”—and “local” is not to be taken as a negative term—there is the Zeropoint Big Band based in central Pennsylvania. This talented crew has just recorded a CD, “James Witherite + 17,” featuring the arrangements, six of the nine compositions recorded, and the flugelhorn solos of Mr. Witherite himself.

You’ve got to love this guy. He’s a superb improviser—who swings like the dickens–an inventive composer and arranger, and, get this, a horse racing announcer who has breathlessly described thoroughbred and harness races at more than 50 tracks throughout north America. A renaissance man, indeed.

He’s been at the jazz game since childhood, studied formally at Duquesne, released his first CD as a leader, “West by Northwest,” in 2006; followed by “Live in Pittsburgh,” recorded a year later with the Duquesne University Jazz Ensemble.

The new CD is just marvelous in terms of ensemble tightness, intonation and sense of swing. There are, maybe, one or two ragged edges in the brass section on a selection or two, but that only adds to the excitement and makes these guys seem human! The rhythm section, booted by drummer Kevin Lowe, is loose enough to cook but precise enough to drive the rather complex shout choruses.

The short title cut, “0.67;” “Father John;” the standard “My One and Only Love” (featuring the Arthur Prysock-inspired vocals of Michael Andrews); and Duke’s “Love You Madly” (with a fine, fine vocal by Carolyn Perteete) are personal favorites. All the titles, however, are worth listening to again and again, as there’s something new to be heard on each go-round.

On a personal basis, I’ve heard James Witherite several times—on piano as well as flugelhorn—and I’ll only repeat what I told him. “Whenever I get a band together,” I said to him: YOU’RE HIRED.

And about the band? Take the plunge. Go on the road.

For more information on James Witherite, the Zeropoint Big Band, and the CDs availability, log on to and/or


Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Perhaps Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Ringo Starr were more famous, but no drummer in music history was more visible than Ed Shaughnessy. With rare exception, he appeared on network television five nights per week for an astounding 29 years, as the drummer in the big band led by Carl “Doc” Severinsen for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

In his new autobiography, “Lucky Drummer: From NYC Jazz to Johnny Carson,” written with Robyn Flans, Shaugnessy tells of his decades with Doc, the jazz years that led up to that fabled gig, of the stars of jazz and jazz drumming with whom he’s worked, and of a personal life that, in some cases, just wasn’t easy.

The book, like its author, is a charmer. “Lucky Drummer” is touching, funny, informative and educational, honest though not brutally so, and at times heartbreaking. “Lucky Drummer” also serves as a guidebook for anyone who plays, or has wanted to play, drums professionally.

Though he claims he wasn’t really a percussion innovator or ground-breaker, the fact is, the pre-“Tonight Show” Shaughnessy backed some of the most progressive players in jazz. Those included vibist Teddy Charles, the larger-than-life bassist/composer Charles Mingus, tenor saxophonist-turned-Miles Davis-producer Teo Macero, odd time signature master Don Ellis, sitar player Ravi Shankar and tabla artist Alla Rakha, and the entire Marsalis Family.

On the more traditional end of the spectrum, the author played and recorded with Basie, Ellington, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, JImmy Smith, Quincy Jones, Billie Holiday and dozens of others. What a resume! The names on these lists, by the way, do not include the hundreds of players and singers he accompanied during his tenure on “The Tonight Show.”

Those in the the business, as well as the hundreds of students he’s taught and mentored, can attest that, along with his friend Louie Bellson, Ed Shaughnessy remains one of the nicest people out there, in any field.

Naturally, he shares plenty of stories about “the cats.” And he could have easily been negative about several of them, but as always, he’s taken the high road. His yarns about Anita O’Day, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, Jimi Hendrix, Mingus and Miles are often hilarious. The author could have been a lot more harsh when writing about how he was treated by a nasty Ray Charles. As is his wont, Shaughnessy goes relatively easy on “the genius.”

Especially gratifying is the space he gives to saxophonist/bandleader Charlie Ventura, Shaughnessy’s first “big name” employer. Ventura, almost forgotten now, was one of the biggest stars in jazz from the mid-1940s through the latter 1950s. This is the first book that deservedly addresses Ventura’s talents and contributions.

As of this writing, Ed Shaughnessy is 83 years old and is still out there playing, and playing very well. And after all these years, as he says, “The door is open, any time you see me and would like to talk. I’ve always been that way, and I will always be that way. I really love to talk with–and help, if I can–any younger musicians who come my way. I never forget that everybody did it for me.”

Due credit must be given Rob Cook of Rebeats for publishing an essential, must-read work.


Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Musicians, fans and others have been voicing their opinions about the recent column that focused on playing for free.

There are those who strongly disagree with the practice and its possible ramifications.

Then there are those who believe that, particularly in the instance I outlined and particularly in the instance of jam sessions, not accepting or asking for compensation for those who run such events is “the best thing that ever happened to jazz.”

Although I’ve been called, on more than one occasion, a “Pompous Pontificator” and more recently, “a windbag,” let the record show that I “ordain” nothing, that I’m open to hearing and seriously considering all points of view, and that I’m more than able and willing to bend and to learn.

The best of our pompous pontificators and windbags are like that.

Those who have no problem with the “no money” issue maintain that a wonderful, educational and most valuable service is being rendered in the jam session setting. The fact is, those who run these sessions are providing a setting for young players to gain invaluable playing experience. And obviously, the young players constitute the future of jazz.

Further, they say, running a jam session is “not really like a job” — in that the whole set-up is informal–and the player or players who run such things aren’t playing an entire night, in that they often yield their chairs to the sitters-in.

I, for one, would hate to see such sessions end for any reason. They are, I agree, our future.

Certainly, things are changing on the playing field on a second-by-second basis, especially when talking about technology and value systems. And maybe I’m a “mouldy fig” when it comes to things like being on time, getting a decent buck for good work, and showing up on the gig with a clean shirt and shined shoes.

But as mentioned, I am open to hearing and to considering all sides, and I again ask that you weigh in on this issue via our community pages, by clicking on the “comment” icon on the articles page, or by emailing me directly at

The truth is, my friends, I have but one concern:


Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Visitors to this space may be familiar with the pieces I’ve written about YouTube and its clones, and how the unauthorized and uncredited postings of jazz film clips have made life difficult for those of us who have produced and financed the actual, video source material.

In response to one of my rantings, I received an email from someone who couldn’t really understand my displeasure, saying, “Music should be free for everyone.”

I mailed him back and asked him what he did for a living.

He replied that he was a brick layer.

I answered him and said that I had always believed that “brick laying should be free for everyone.”

In line with this whole unpleasant business is a development that is not particularly new. Let’s just say it’s recently hit close to home in these quarters.

Names will not be mentioned, but you know who you are and you know who you’re not.

The issue? Playing jazz for free.

Playing jazz for free has its place(s), whether sitting in at a jam session, auditioning for a gig, recording a CD on spec, lending your talents to charity or shedding with friends in a garage.

It does not–and should not–apply to those individuals and “house rhythm sections” that stand as the back bone to the hundreds of weekly, jazz jam sessions that are taking place all over the country.

The proliferation of jams is great, great news. It’s how young players gain experience, and older players get their rocks off. And in the end, there is always the possibility of a steady gig coming out of it for one and all.

In this area, there is a tremendously talented instrumentalist, who, along with his rhythm section cohorts, is running a weekly jam session and leading the house band, for free.

Some might say, and some are saying just how marvelous this is. “Isn’t it wonderful that the ringleader and his rhythm section are doing this for free? How wonderful!”

The fact is, said ringleader and the boys are doing this week after week at several locations, for a company that not only runs a chain of venues–some serve booze and some don’t –but owns a profitable record company as well.

On top of all of it, the ringleader in question, as good as he is, has a stage presence that is one of utter disdain. He shows up late and makes it clear on the stand that he’s rather be anywhere else than where he is.

Perhaps you get what you pay for.

The bottom line is that he owners of the venue are making all kinds of money from this, the jammers are deservedly happy jamming, and I guess the guys that are doing this for nothing are saying, “Well…we just like to play.”

Why not do it at home?

It does not take a graduate degree to figure out that working for free sets a precedent and makes it difficult, if not almost impossible, for any decent player to get a decent wage from any club or restaurant owner. After all, they can just say, “Well…those guys are doing it for free. Why should we pay?

No further amplification is necessary.

The concert stage was Mr. Sinatra’s forum. This is mine, and I’m using it to say that this practice absolutely must stop, unless your goal is to fully ruin this business.

To the ringleader I can only say: Be a man. Stand up for jazz and for yourself. Insist on being paid, no matter what the amount. Or else, just stop playing.

I welcome and invite any comments to this piece.


Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Given that I am back in the Philadelphia/Greater Delaware Valley area after a long sojourn on Florida’s gorgeous southwest coast, networking—in order to re-establish myself in the musical community—has become a personal requirement.

And I’ve rarely enjoyed something more.

The Philadelphia area is rapidly becoming the jam session center of the Mid-Atlantic states, and although I’ve previously written about my opposition to all of the sessions seemingly being scheduled for Tuesday night, the truth is, the more jam sessions the merrier. Whatever the night.

There are few things more gratifying to me than to witness a young instrumentalist or singer –often jazz students–sitting in with some pros, and hearing the students’ musical evolution week after week. These youngsters, by and large, are learning their lessons very well.

What is not being taught, it seems to me, is something truly essential: professionalism on the bandstand. My contemporaries and I stand as the lucky ones. We were formally and informally mentored by the likes of Al Grey, Charlie Ventura, Bernard Peiffer, Krupa and Rich, Pepper Adams, and a bunch of big name name entertainers too numerous to mention.

They taught us the importance of knowing our keys and tempos, knowing how to dress, knowing how to talk to an audience and project, knowing how to keep an audience entertained and involved, knowing how to pace a set, deal with a club owner, and other “givens” like how a bandleader effectively leads, having your shoes shined, being on time and wearing a clean shirt.

Call me a mouldy fig or whatever else you want to call me, but those very, very necessary qualities seem to have all but vanished. And too often, two of those qualities that don’t seem to be there anymore are traits like courtesy and common sense.

Three recent jam session examples:
A singer is invited on stage to do a couple of numbers. Said singer has no idea what he wants to sing, what his key is or what the tempo should be. After a good, 10-minute consultation with every player on stage but the drummer, he finally goes into a tune, after losing most of the audience. This behavior was repeated for two more songs. In my estimation, not only was the drummer shown little respect, but the audience was disrespected as well. In this instance, I became so frustrated; I told the singer that if he wanted to talk, he should go see a priest.

Instance two: Another singer, not without talent, simply takes to the stage, and begins singing, without telling anyone the key, the tempo or the song’s title. It is up to us lackeys to find our way, with the result often being either a train wreck or ending up in the key of D. Or both.

Instance three: A pianist, clearly of the amateur variety, is asked to sit in at a jam session with some seasoned pros. First, he hands out charts to all on stage—a jam session no-no for a number of reasons—then, without counting off a tempo or asking the drummer to do same, simply starts playing, presuming that everyone else on the stand will just fall in perfectly. Needless to say, the drummer isn’t even told the song title. Deservedly, everything fell apart.

Instance three, and you can term this “off the bandstand professionalism,” and I will not name names: A well-known, world-class pianist from a foreign country is “sponsored” by a small-time, U.S. entrepreneur who brings said artist to the U.S. for the first time. As the pianist’s first stop after deplaning from his European home, the “sponsor” decides that the pianist’s United States debut will be at a club where a jam session is held weekly. On Tuesdays, of course. Bear in mind that the visitor to these shores is a world-class, jazz pianist. The sponsor conveniently ignores or forgets that the club’s piano is in terrible shape, and ultimately does nothing to improve the quality of the instrument. Said pianist, thankfully, made no, on-stage comment that the piano was not in great condition and that something should been done about it. That’s because, unlike his “sponsor,” the pianist was a pro.

My good and long-time colleague, bassist Bruce Kaminsky, has done what he could over the years to teach what I’ll call “Professionalism 101” at several area colleges. But we need much, much more of this type of teaching to get the point across.

In the end, professionalism on or off the bandstand isn’t brain surgery. Much of it is common sense.


Friday, May 25th, 2012

My sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to the Suzanne Cloud and the other movers and shakers behind Philadelphia’s Jazz Bridge, a non-profit organization devoted to helping jazz musicians in need. In addition to being a marvelous singer, Ms. Cloud is one heck of a human being. She–and Jazz Bridge–have helped me personally and professionally. I look forward to helping get the word out about this marvelous organization in the future. I was so moved by what they did for me–and what they do–that I wrote The President. Whatever you may think of the man, he has the good sense to stay away from the tenor sax, which could not be said for another recent President.

This area has recently lost two, great jazz pianists, George Mesterhazy and Don Wilson. Both were players and human beings of the highest order. George could swing and improvise like the wind. Everything he played was joyous. Wilson was quite an individual stylist. Singers, and everyone else, loved him. He was particularly effective at very slow tempos, a quality that few could duplicate, though Trudy Pitts, Shirley Horn and singer Joy Adams came close. The scene here will never be the same without George and Don.

Wilson had a regular Thursday night gig at one of Philadelphia’s premiere restaurants, The Prime Rib, which is also THE place to hear piano greats like Tom Lawton. Taking over the Thursday spot is my friend Andy Kahn.

Andy, by the way, will be involved in a very, very special promotion for Jacob’s Music, which concerns the piano owned and played by one Vladimir Horowitz. Andy Kahn, who also does some work for Jacobs, will be interviewed by Temple University’s WRTI radio about the Maestro and the instrument, and plans to play a few numbers as well. I plan on being there when the interview takes place at Jacobs, and will report to you thusly.

As you likely already know, has reduced the price of everything we have to $10, with shipping free worldwide. I urge you to take advantage of this.

I also look forward to reporting my musical encounter in late June with pianist Peter Beets, who will be visiting these parts shortly.

Atlantic City, a.k.a. “Beirut by the Sea,” continues to get battered by the economy, other gambling outlets, and the sheer fact that A.C. does not yet have it together. A front page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer alleged that mental health organizations and similar organizations in New Jersey and surrounding areas are “dumping” patients and others in terrible need–where else?–A.C. Not surprising, nor is the fact that in the list of top 10 beaches in New Jersey, Atlantic City didn’t make the cut.