Posts Tagged ‘krupa’

New on CD: GENE KRUPA: 1944 and 1946

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
GENE KRUPA: 1944  and 1946
The tracks on this CD, first issued more than 16 years ago on the Hindsight label, are comprised of several sessions. Tracks one, three and 12 present "The Band that Swings with Strings," recorded in December of 1944 for Armed Forces Radio Service and not listed in many Krupa discographies. The Hindsight issue notes also state that track number three, "Stardust," was recorded at that session as a feature for trumpeter Don Fagerquist. That's in error, as Stardust was recorded for a January, 1946 Capital Records transcription session that featured Charlie Ventura and Red Rodney. The remainder of the 16 tracks here are indeed from three, separate sessions recorded for Capital in 1946, issued 10 years ago--and unlikely to be reissued-- on the pricey and long-out-of-print Mosaic Boxed set that also featured Harry James. There are four great trio dates--"Idaho," "Sweet Lorraine" and "How High the Noon" that were never again featured in this form, by this version of the Jazz Trio, again. All in all, these sets have superb facility throughout, and it's easy to hear how easy Gene was making the transition from swing drummer to something more modern.




New On DVD:

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

In response to dozens of request about Goodman and Krupa stuff on YouTube, we have gone to untold time and expense to figure out a way to get this stuff on DVD.  Here it is:  “” includes the newsreel footage from JATP/Helsinki/1953, “Avalon” and “I Got Rhythm” with the Goodman Trio from the Peggy Lee tv special of the late 1950s, a couple of bonus tracks from the other “Swing Into Spring” tv special with Benny and Red Norvo in a small group, and the original theatrical trailer to “The Benny Goodman Story.”  They said this couldn’t be done.  But we did. benny-tube-dot-com


Friday, July 11th, 2008

You would think that Gene Krupa would have an FBI file that measures three feet in thickness, if only because of the unfortunate drug incident of 1943 and the reams of press surrounding it. Surprisingly, that is not the case. Some months ago, under the Freedom of Information Act, I petitioned the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to release any records in their files related to Gene.

There are 14 pages in Gene Krupa’s file. Twelve were released to me. The two pages not released had to do with medical records which would constitute an invasion of privacy, and some info that may or may not have disclosed a confidential FBI source.

The majority of the papers carry a date of February, 1949, specifically February 12, 14, 16, 18, 21 and 23. These records are pretty difficult for the lay person to decipher, but it appears that on or about February 12, 1949, the office of Canadian Immigration contacted the FBI for a background check on Gene. The “FBI Radiogram” from that date reads, “Gena (sic) Krupa…please advise by radio if any criminal record at Bureau. Subject described as well-known dance band leader, age 39, native of Chicago, present residence 10 Ritchie Drive, Yonkers. Report received subject possibly was charged in California with contributing to delinquency of a minor. No further particulars available.”

(In all probability, Gene was playing at a venue called the “Armories” in Brockville, Ontario, which opened for business in 1948 The “rat” could have been someone at the Liquor Control Board there, in that liquor laws had been substantially relaxed in that year and there could have been concerned about having a wild-eyed “hophead,” i.e. Krupa–performing in a liquor-serving establishment. Just speculation.)

The rest of the documents relating to this incident, which must have had to do with a gig in Canada with or without the whole band, detail the sad events of Gene’s January 19, 1943, the actual charges against him, his time in jail, fines paid, and just what charges were overturned.

For those interested in such things, the actual fine for the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor was $500. On May 18, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail but got out a few days early because of good behavior. However, on June 30, a jury found him guilty of a felony charge, “hiring and employing a minor to transport narcotics; marihuana cigarettes (sic).” He was sentenced to an unspecified term in San Quentin prison. Out on $5,000 during the appeal process, the felony charge was reversed by the California District Court of Appeals on June 30, 1944, because of double jeopardy.

On September 24, 1953, it again appears that Canada was suspicious of Gene, as a “Liaison Representative” from Ottawa, Ontario, seems to have asked the FBI for up-to-date dirt on the drummer. The reply, from none other than Ms. J. Edgar Hoover, reads, “Records of the FBI Identification Division reflect no reported arrests for Krupa since 1943.” Someone in Ottawa must have really had it in for Gene, as almost two years to the day later, the “Liaison Representative” asked about the dates and availability of fingerprint files within the FBI offices. The Bureau replied that there were no fingerprints taken after the 1943 incident.

Maybe this Canadian guy didn’t like be-bop. Or drum solos.

More interesting than the files themselves is what is not included. After all, in 1952, Krupa was the first American jazz performer to visit Japan, and during his during his Jazz at the Philharmonic days, he was all over Europe and points north and south. In the late 1950s, under Norman Granz’ aegis, he again toured Europe, and in the 1960s, went to South America and Israel, among other locations. And presumably, he was an annual visitor to the Frankfurt Music Fair, representing the Slingerland Drum Company, until he was too ill to travel around 1972.

Of all the cities and countries Gene visited in the world, only Canada caused a problem. Maybe someone knows the reason why.

There have been a few stories written in recent years, notably in Gene Lees’ “Jazzletter,” that suggest Gene was hounded by law enforcement officials, particularly during his Las Vegas tenures in the 1950s at the Frontier Hotel. Let the record finally show, that at least according to the FBI, he was not.

When I first went through all this paperwork and saw most of it dated 1949, my first thought was that some or all of this may have had to do with a messy drug situation that occurred within Gene’s big band in that year.

However, that incident happened in late July, five months after the Canadian nonsense. Although it was widely reported in the press at the time, and Gene was said to be very, very angry about it, what happened in Detroit on or about July 26, 1949, hasn’t been discussed for years. Since we’re on the subject of file openings, here’s what happened, courtesy of a Chicago Tribune article dated July 27, 1949.

It seems that three members of the Krupa band–guitarist Ralph Blaze, trombonist Herb Randel and trumpet John Bellow–were accused of possessing marijuana and later arrested at a downtown Detroit hotel. Presumably, the band was playing a theater or club in Detroit at the time. Police found Blaze in possession of two reefers and a pipe. The two members of the brass section were in for bigger trouble. They were found with cocaine, in addition to the pot, and ultimately pleaded guilty to violating federal narcotics regulations and were released on $1,000 bail pending sentencing. I don’t think Bellow or Randel did any actual time.

In addition to the drugs, Detroit police found three, 18-year-old girls in the hotel room. Two were from out of town and said they flew in to visit Randel and Bellow. The third was a home town girl who said she met Ralph Blaze “a week ago.” Blaze and the ladies were not charged with anything.

After leaving Krupa, Ralph Blaze had a long and successful career with Stan Kenton and many other west coast groups, and also established himself as a respected sculptor. He was active in the recording studio and in live performance into the early 1990s.

Herb Randel, a reliable section man, spent some seasons in Woody Herman’s 1950 to 1951 “Third Herd” after being relieved of duty by Gene (Woody had more tolerance for bad boys back then). Randel seems to have fallen off the radar screen after 1951,

John Bellow showed up in the trumpet section of a 1958 Charlie Barnet band and in a Quincy Jones-led studio group that backed Billy Eckstine in 1961. Tom Lord’s incisive discography, which lists Bellow as “Bello,” says he participated in 63 recording sessions from 1946 to 1964. After that, nothing.

Some good things happened in 1949, including some nice recordings for Columbia and Roy Eldridge’s happy return to the band, which lasted from February to October. I get the idea, however, that the Detroit incident, coupled with sad state of the band business in 1949, really helped sour Gene on the idea of keeping the large group together much longer.

The decision was almost made for him. In 1950, he lost his long-time Columbia Records contract and his switch to the RCA label was brief and not very productive. In the beginning of 1951, he cut down to a 12-piece crew. They sounded awful. Check out the CD entitled “Gene Krupa: London House 1964 and Cavalcade of Bands 1951” for an example.

In retrospect, it is simply incredible that Gene Krupa was able to keep a big band of any kind together until almost 1952. Benny, Woody, Les Brown, Dorsey and Basie gave up in 1950 (although all but Benny would ultimately re-form) and Ellington was barely hanging in there.

Gene would play, and play very well, in big bands again, on record and in person, but only for record sessions, special concerts or television shows. From 1952 until his death in 1973–21 years–this big band icon was a small group drummer.

Update and correction:

Our good colleague Mike Berkowitz, the marvelous drummer, conductor and leader of the wonderful “New” Gene Krupa Orchestra, has been kind enough to update us as to the whereabouts of trumpeter John Bello, who played on the 1949 Krupa band. Earlier in this column, I said I could find nothing on Bello beyond a 1964 record date.

This demonstrates the current limitations of the web as a research tool–and in this case, the current limitations of the researcher as well–especially when it applies to jazz.

As incredible as Tom Lord’s “Jazz Discography” is, how can researchers track a musician who played and recorded a whole lot of music that might have not been jazz?

Bello, by the way, is the correct spelling of his name, which has sometimes been listed as “Bellow.” He lived, according to Mike Berkowitz, in the Philadelphia/Atlantic City area for many years, and Mike actually used him on some band dates there. In earlier years, he also worked extensively with Maynard, Quincy Jones, in a number of Broadway pit bands, etc.

What is particularly astounding is that Bello was, for some years, Judy Garland’s lead trumpeter, having appeared on dates under the baton of Mort Lindsey, Bill LaVorgna and Howard Hirsch. Every Garland fan certainly has a copy of the famed, Carnegie Hall concert recordings. Lead trumpet player on that date: John Bello.

Our apologies to Bello, who lives in Florida and still plays with rehearsal bands here. And our thanks to Mike Berkowitz, who is, indeed, “extraordinaire.”

Jazz Column: May 2008

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

The International Association of Jazz Educators, the voice of jazz education in more than 42 countries since 1968, has declared bankruptcy. With over 10,000 members, a thriving annual convention, plenty of local chapters and a number of still-impressive publications, this news was shocking.

The term I’m hearing used most often by those in IAJE is “blind sided,” meaning that even many close to the organization did not realize that massive amount of debt amassed. There are, of course, allegations of IAJE Board mismanagement and other accusations and instances of finger-pointing. Those things go with any Chapter Seven territory.

I have little knowledge of the IAJE management skills past and present. I resigned as an active member a few years ago, as I became frustrated and insulted by the fact that IAJE never mentioned word one about any of our videos, books, DVDs, CDs, or anything else, for that matter

Perhaps this was a part of their problem. It seemed to me that IAJE had the same advertisers, sponsors and supporters year after year after year, and nothing was seemingly ever done to court newer companies, which would include outfits like Hudson Music, Alfred Publishing, EJazzLines, and yes, IAJE chose to believe we just didn’t exist.

Then there is the issue of just how many music-themed conferences can be supported annually, as a big part of the IAJE revenue picture was its big, annual get-together. There are two NAMM (Music Merchandiser) confabs, the Frankfurt Music Fair, the Percussive Arts Convention, and Lord knows what else during the course of 12 months. Just how many of these can be viable in today’s economy? Jazz Improv Magazine has also entered the fray with a convention, and they reportedly did very, very well with it this year in New York city. There is even talk that Jazz Improv may take up some of the IAJE slack in terms of publishing and a convention. Just how that would work or if it would work are questions.

Jazz Improv, as everyone in the industry knows, is almost totally advertising driven, meaning that anything mentioned editorially, by and large, is directly connected to paid ads. This concept has been a mainstay of weekly “shopper”-type newspapers across the country for years. The fact that it’s being applied to jazz, presumably successfully at that, really says something for the publisher. Editorially, though, outside of a column or two, the publication is barely readable, rife with inaccuracies and laughably amateurish.

Everything, seemingly, is for sale at Jazz Improv. Can you imagine a large and lengthy issue devoted to Buddy Rich without even mentioning any of the Buddy Rich DVDs on the market…including the only official DVD of his life story? The point is, if a publication has little or no credibility, how seriously can any of its endeavors be taken?


The coming months are going to revitalize and revolutionize the worldwide percussion community. Both Hudson Music and Drum Workshop are launching two, separate, 24-hour, internet drum channels. Hudson’s is DW’s is Exact details will not be forthcoming until the formal launching of these projects–Hudson’s is set to start in June–but both will feature interviews, lessons, blogs, vintage and contemporary clips, interactive features, etc.

With DW, I will be involved in producing some of their impressive, stand alone DVD product, including the commercial release of the Gene Krupa/Dukes of Dixieland project “Championship Jazz” coupled with the famed Harry James/Buddy Rich outing from Chicago in 1965. I am also looking forward to writing narration for a most significant DW discovery, that being the “thought to be long lost” television specials filmed by Buddy Rich in 1982. Filmed live at the Statler Hiton Hotel in New York city in February of 1982, these three, never-aired television specials featured BR and the band, along with guests such as Anita O’Day, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme’, Ray Charles, Stan Getz, Woody Herman and Cathy Rich. Throught the years, especially when I was heavilly involved in Buddy Rich material, someone came to me almost every six months with the claim that they had these tapes. They never did. Leave it to Don Lombardi at DW. He’s got them.

By way of, I will be contributing weekly blogs, clips, commentary, etc., most of the vintage variety. I am looking forward to truly having an international forum, much like I do in this space, that will grant exposure to the unsung giants of the drums–new and old–as well as rare material of those we know and love.

These internet drum channels are coming at a good time. WIth sites like YouTube and MySpace running rampant with unauthorized and unorganized material, anyone interested in percussion or drum history can now log on to or to find out absolutely everything they wanted to know about drums…all in one (rather, two) places.



Our German colleague, Arthor Von Blomberg, has reported that several appearances by his Krupa orchestra did very, very well at some dates in London, including the prestigious Ronnie Scott’s club. Arthor is still angling for some U.S. festival dates…

Though we haven’t yet seen it, bassist Milt Hinton’s new book, chock full of his great photos, of course, is now on the market…

On the maket is a new CD by Naples, Florida’s finest–a guy you’ve read about in this space many times–trumpeter Bob Zottola. In two words? “Buy it.” For more info, log on to Bob’s great site at, where you can also sign up for his great newsletter that lets fans know everything happening, jazz-wise, in Naples…

More Krupa discoveries are on the way, courtesy, once again, of the hard work of our man in Las Vegas, Paul Testa. All we can say at this juncture is that part of this DVD will feature every network obituary ever aired about Gene’s death…

If those of you who run into me personally within the coming weeks seem to think I look like Claude Rains in “The Invisible Man” (all bandages), don’t think I’m auditioning for a film part. On May 5th, two days after my birthday, I had a “larger-than-a-silver-dollar” sized malignant melonoma removed from under my right eye. It was caught–all of it–very early in quite in time, but do to the size involved, a number of skin grafts had to be performed. This will take some time, but the experts who know about such things claim I’ll be looking just like Frank Jr. again in no time at all. Guess my days of using no sunscreen are over…

Drummers, by nature, are not political animals, maybe because most of them are just animals. I’m no different, but I will answer finally answer the question that all wanted to know, in line with who I’m endorsing for president. Answer: I was, am and always will be a confirmed supporter of Harold Stassen.

Keep swingin and God bless,

Bruce Klauber
May, 2008


Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

There is virtually nothing that the Berlin-based Arthor Von Blomberg has not done in the entertainment industry. His experience includes stints as record producer, recording engineer, recording artist, author, jazz drummer, actor and band leader. I received a telephone call some weeks back from Arthor, who wanted to enlist some of my services in line with an upcoming project about Gene Krupa. The project? “The Gene Krupa Story,” a Broadway musical based on the life and music of that ace drummer man. At first, I was skeptical about the concept, but upon hearing further details about it and looking into Arthor’s extensive resume’, I concluded that this was, indeed, “the real thing.” Though still in the early stages, Arthor and his colleagues (and I proud to be one) are moving forward with plans for a national promotional tour with a big band that will include some pretty big-name players (like the great altoist Richie Cole), casting, discussions about merchandising, various presentations to potential backers, etc. Arthor Von Blomberg’s passion and knowledge of Gene and jazz is extraordinary, and if anyone can do something like this and do it well, it is Arthor. Gene Krupa led a life filled with superb, innovative music and a good deal of singular drama. Could there be any better material than this for a Broadway show? Anyone interested in being a part of “The Gene Krupa Story” should contact me directly at We will keep all of our JazzLegends visitors updated on the progress of the show and the tour.

As if everyone did not already know, the Krupa model drumstick from Bopworks are here and are currently available at We’ve received nice write-ups in several percussion publications and will be amply represented at various international drum shows, including the upcoming Vintage Drum Show in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Bopworks, by the way, also makes Mel Lewis and Shelly Manne models that are exact duplicates of the fondly-remembered originals.

In the merchandising area, we are still in discussions with a cymbal company–sadly, not the one known as “the only serious choice–about a Krupa model cymbal or cymbals. Right now, we are zeroing in on a few possibilities, mainly a 24-inch heavy ride that Gene used through the 1950s and early 1960s, and his unbelievable swish cymbal. Gene’s cymbal sounds and cymbal models were as individual as his drumming.

I used to love PBS, the Public Broadcasting System. Upon release of my first video in 1993, “Gene Krupa Jazz Legend,” I was anxious to hook up with the Philadelphia PBS affiliate, in hopes that they would air the program. Talks with them did not go well, and as I recall, the only deal they offered was structured so I would be paying them instead of vice versa. Several years later, during the production of “Buddy Rich Jazz Legend,” I tried obtaining a screener of Buddy on a program called “The Mark of Jazz,” aired by the same, PBS Philadelphia affiliate. I’ve had easier times running marathons. And I don’t even run marathons. I did have permission to screen and use the footage from the actual producer, Sid Mark, but PBS demanded that I provide proof that Mark was the producer. The only way I could provide that proof was to get a screener of the footage which would clearly show on the credits that the program was “Produced by Sid Mark.” They said that they couldn’t give me a screener without proof that Sid Mark was the producer. Get it? We did get the footage in the end, but the whole situation was simply not pleasant. We tried getting clearance to use Buddy’s famed appearance with the Boston Pops Orchestra from the Boston PBS affiliate, WGBH. Their terms? We could use only two minutes of film, maximum, and that would cost $60,000. I told them that no one would pay that price and that we were the only people likely to ever produce anything like what we were producing on Buddy Rich. No go. I asked them, “If no one ever buys this film at this price, does that mean the video will eventually disintegrate and turn to dust?” Their answer? “Yes.” Several months ago, I received a phone call from WNET, the New York city PBS outlet. They were producing a documentary about New York city during World War II and were interested in obtaining footage of Gene, Glenn Miller, Count, Duke and Tommy Dorsey. I quoted them a fee and they turned it down. I cut the fee in half and they turned it down. Finally, feeling that maybe I should do something good for the PBS “cause,” I took several, full work days and assembled more than enough great footage for them. I sent it to the producers and told them that if they wanted to use any of it, they could pay me whatever they thought it was worth or whatever they could afford. Ultimately, I was told that they did use some of the clips, and that they would send me a dub of the program and what I judged as a reasonable fee or “honorarium.” This was over a month ago and I have yet to receive the fee or the dub. The last thing I heard–after bombarding the producer with emails and phone calls– was that the powers that be did not realize that I had to file a W-9 tax form. This was ten days ago, and still nothing. Based on my experience with PBS, little has changed with them in 25 years. They remain arrogant and haughty and continue to have the attitude of “being entitled.” The difference in 2007 is that there really is no need for PBS, their attitude and their beg-a-thons. Everything PBS does and a lot more, with the possible exception of the initial showings of Kenny Burns’ documentaries, is available on cable. Unless PBS changes their tune and offers innovative programming that cannot be seen elsewhere, they will go the way of the Dumont Television Network.

Robbie Cavolina and his talented colleagues have finished production on the documentary DVD, “Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer.” The project is absolutely marvelous in every way, and in my opinion, it is destined to be an award winner and thought of as a classic, alongside “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” and “Great Day in Harlem.” In addition to very rare performance and interview footage of Anita, including film from the TImex television special we don’t have, there are on camera talks with BIll Holman, Billy Taylor, Gerald Wilson, Maynard Sloate and many others. It is a gem. I am doing whatever I can to assist in getting this the proper, international home video distribution that it deserves. Hopefully, by that point, we will be able to offer it here as well.

Call this one–a DVD on the life and music of legendary cornetist, Wild Bill Davison–a discovery. This 100-minute project was actually a privately but very professionally produced video that was released, also privately, in 1991. When it sold out its run that year, it disappeared. It’s a wonderful document, based on extensive interviews with Bill, performance footage from the Sacramento Jazz Festival, rare film of Bill with Eddie Condon and more. This, too, deserves proper home video distribution, and we’re working on that as well. There have been rumors circulating for years about film taken during the famed “Jazz at the New School” concert with Gene, Wild Bill and Condon. If such film does exist, this would be the perfect place for it.

A good friend and a great supporter of music through the years (remember, we have to have listeners, too) has started an innovative, new business called “The Balloon Store on Wheels.” Serving the Greater Delaware Valley (areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) the Balloon Store comes to your location and offers wonderful balloon arrangements for birthdays and just about every kind of private party or corporate event. Additionally, they design and offer one-of-a-kind gift baskets for all occasions, their special “Party in a Box” (containing everything from plates and utensils to invitations and table covers), as well as personally designed, take home “goodie bags.” We know that JazzLegends visitors are party people, so if you are having one and live in the Greater Delaware Valley, log onto and start partying as soon as possible. Until next time, keep swingin’.

Bruce Klauber, October, 2007


Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

At long last, Chris Bennett of the Bopworks drum stick company, the Gene Krupa Estate and yours truly are able to announce the pending availability of the first, officially sanctioned Krupa stick to hit the market since 1972. Those of you who follow this column and have asked about the sticks’ release are well aware of the time it’s taken to get this deal together. There were times, quite frankly, when Chris Bennett and I were about to throw in the towel, and it is a testament to his patience and dedication that this has finally happened. I can tell you that the stick is well worth waiting for. Bopworks puts out, in my estimation, the finest product on the market, and their Mel Lewis and Shelly Manne models are prime examples of the company’s integrity and dedication to quality and authenticity. expects to have the sticks available in the coming weeks, though the first ones to likely have them will be and the retailers they currently service. It is my goal to, at some point, have the Krupa model stick available everywhere drum sticks are available, including mega retailers like Guitar Center, Sam Ash and maybe even Target, to say nothing of web giants like Musicians Friend, Interstate Music, etc. If any of the visitors and supporters are retailers–or know of one–get in touch with Chris Bennett directly at: or visit the Bopworks web site. We may have mentioned that our good friend Michael Berkowitz, who leads the “New Gene Krupa Orchestra” (officially sanctioned by the Estate), is our first endorser, and it’s an honor to have him. There are none better and make sure you get his CDs. In many of the recreations I’ve heard through the years, either the band has been great and the drummer mediocre, or vice versa. In this case, both Berkowitz and the group are fabulous.

Because of our constant shuttling back and forth from Philadelphia to Florida, we are changing our mailing address in order to better serve our long-standing mail-order customers. Though the thought did occur to do away with mail order totally, it is certainly understandable that there are some supporters out there who would prefer not to order via the web and/or may not have web capability. The new mail-order address is: c/o Bruce Klauber, 450 Domino Lane #D-5, Philadelphia, PA 19128. Don’t forget to include the “D-5.” From time to time, we still get phone calls asking if we accept credit cards by telephone. No, credit card orders are strictly done on the web site with PayPal.

We are still discussing –with the greatest webmaster who ever webmastered –the possibility of making downloads available on some of our CDs and DVDs. I’m told that it’s quite an involved and possibly costly process, and we are thinking seriously about the pros and the cons. Bear in mind that such things would be available on a tune-by-tune basis for a cost of around $5.00, perhaps less. One idea that someone floated was to make “preview” downloads available, i.e., 30-to-50 second samples that would help a buyer decide what to buy. When first started back in the prehistoric days, we had Real Audio samples on the site, but there was really no way to track just how many folks took advantage of that feature. Feel free to mull this over in the Forum. will abide by your decision.

We are again urging you to support the Fresh Sound record label out of Barcelona. As the company who released our JATP in Hamburg package, Fresh Sound is doing things that absolutely no one else in the industry is doing. If this release does well, there is always the possibility that the company would release other JATP programs, with and without Gene. Remember that their product is available via,, and the Fresh Sound web site.

Also in the “urging” arena, we are constantly attempting to broaden our scope and our variety of selections. The name of the site, after all, is “Jazz Legends.” so we’re happy to have added artists like Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Blakey, Coleman Hawkins, Boots Randolph, Kenny Clarke and many others during the past several months. Take advantage of what we have, and ask for the artists and/or CD or DVDs you seek. We’ll do our best to make them available. There is life beyond Gene!

We have reached the serious negotiating phase for the wide, commercial release of our “Jazz Legends on Television” DVD, a 90-minute, “best-of” compilation of the great, jazz-oriented TV specials of 1957 to 1962. Though we offer it on our site, this is one of those projects, like the JATP in Hamburg concert, that cries out for worldwide retail and international web release. For some reason, it’s been a tough sell, but something is up in the marketplace. The good folks at Jazz Icons did so well with their first spate of DVD releases, that a half-dozen more new discoveries are now set for release. These include titles by Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Dexter Gordon and something that we cannot wait to view: John Coltrane and Stan Getz in concert, together! Though these giants were poles apart stylistically, they did have a great, great deal of respect for each other. When a jazz writer once asked Trane his thoughts about Stan Getz, Coltrane replied, “Let’s face it…wouldn’t we all want to sound like Stan?”

Now in the final editing stage is the long-in-preparation “Classic Rock Drum Solos” DVD from Hudson Music. This has taken all of us over two years to put together, and we all eagerly anticipate the final result. Whatever your feeling about rock and rock drumming, there is no question that all of these players are technically astounding in their own way. Just to refresh your memory about the stellar line up of soloists, they include Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson, tributes to Lionel Hampton and Krupa, Bill Haley’s Ralph Jones, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, Sandy Nelson, Ginger Baker, Carl Palmer, Ron Bushey, Ian Paice, Michael Shrieve, Clive Bunker, Carmine Appice (who also hosts) Cozy Powell, Don Brewer, Keith Moon, Neil Peart and Steve Smith. We only await permission from the family of John Bonham in order to complete this DVD. Watch this space and for release dates.

Finally, Joy Adams joins me in thanking all of you who attended our recent show in the Philadelphia area. As they say in the vernacular, “the joint was mobbed,” and we hope to do something like this several times per year.

God bless and keep swingin… Bruce Klauber, July, 2007


Monday, February 19th, 2007 is proud to welcome our newest supporter, Dave Bedrock’s American Drum School. You’ll find his advert on our CD page, and it is, without doubt, worth more than a click or two. Dave has been in the drum world for ages, with expertise in just about every type of music. Like my colleagues at Hudson Music, and DCI Music Video before that, Dave saw the possibilities for drum tutoring via video at the dawn of the video age. He is a pioneer, and his concept of online lessons–as well as plenty of more great goodies–is a superb one. His site was and is among the best drum-related sites on the web.

The manager of the late Anita O’Day, Robbie Cavolina, checked in with us after reading our column on Ms. O’Day. To say that he was not happy is an understatement, stating that I knew nothing whatsoever about the nature of their association, that it was Ms. O’Day herself who wanted to continue performing, etc., etc. I offered to open up our web pages for Mr. Cavolina to reply to my criticisms, at any length whatsoever and with no editing involved. I have never heard from him again, but the offer still stands.

Too many folks in the jazz world seem to be checking out these days, including fellow Philadelphian Michael Brecker, jazz and blues legend Jay McShann, reedman Kenny Davern and a really great writer by the name of Whitney Balliet. Balliet, to many of us aspiring jazz writers growing up, idolized him, as well as Martin Williams, Leonard Feather and various others. My brother, the musicologist Joel Klauber, gave Whitney the monicker of “the poet laureate of jazz,” and we’re happy that it stuck.

We are, hopefully, “this close” to signing a deal with Alfred Publishing for the book, “The Great American Drum Catalogs: The 1950s.” We will keep you updated. We are also told that our 1956 “JATP in Hamburg” discovery will be released shortly in a deluxe edition by Fresh Sound Records in Barcelona, Spain. The folks at Fresh Sound are really, really fabulous, and it continues to be interesting to consider the fact that we had to go to Barcelona to get this released properly. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t jazz “born” in the United States?

The Bopworks drum stick manufacturing company out of Austin, Texas, specializes in making sticks that have the look and feel of those great sticks from the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, they are shortly coming out with a Mel Lewis model based, I believe, on Mel’s famed Gretsch stick. The big news, however, is that yours truly, Bopworks and the Estate of Gene Krupa are about to sign agreements for the issue of an “officially sanctioned” Krupa stick, the first on the market since Slingerland ceased producing them in 1972. The stick will be an exact duplicate of the Slingerland, late 1940s model, and will carry a reproduction of Gene’s actual signature. Though Bopworks may be a relatively small operation right now, it won’t be for long. We will let you know when the exact issue date is, and in the meantime, please visit the Bopworks web site at

While visiting Naples, Florida, recently, I noticed that Steve March Torme’ was booked at the Naples Philharmonic to perform what was called “Torme’ Sings Torme’. While I was aware that Mel’s son was a singer, I had only heard him doing pop-type stuff, and I wondered how anyone could do a vocal and musical tribute to one of the certifiable geniuses of music. And yes, Mel was friend of mine. He wrote the introduction to my first book on Gene Krupa and narrated our famed, “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend” videos. To my surprise, Steve March Torme’ was just fabulous. I was so moved by the show, that I wrote a review of it for the Naples Sun Times newspaper. This is the review as it appeared in the paper:

Steve March Torme”s recent, sold-out performance at The Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts was, quite simply, an extraordinary musical event. Steve March Torme’ is the son of the late, legedary and multi-talented Mel Torme’, and in this multi-media program, entitled “Torme’ Sings Torme’, Steve March pays vocal and verbal tribute to his father. Filling dad’s shoes–especially when dad was an absolute genius as a composer, singer, drummer, pianist and author–is virtually impossible. Mel Torme’ just cannot be imitated. Wisely, Steve March Torme’ doesn’t even try, though if anyone could do it, he could. There are, in fact, a few moments where the vocal resemblance is erie.

Certainly, the musical influence is present–how could it not be?–but Steve March Torme’ is very, very much his own man and it is obvious that this tribute to his father is nothing less than sincere and heartfelt. The program he chose to present focused on songs made famous by Mel, including “Mountain Greenery,” “Lulu’s Back in Town,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Stardust,” “Ridin’ High,” and of course, as an encore, “The Christmas Song.” The stellar, 12-piece big band, under the musical direction of pianist Steve Rawlins, tackled the most difficult arrangements in the Torme’ cannon, those being the famed orchestrations written for Torme’ in the mid-1950s by the great Marty Paich. Vocally, these charts are not easy to navigate, as they are filled with key changes, tempo changes and interludes of scat singing. Torme”s interpretations, without exception, are swinging, joyous and effortless, with all of the sense of perfection that was a hallmark of his father’s. More importantly, Steve March Torme’ draws no attention to the fact these pieces are difficult. One can only imagine how much rehearsal went into this. But then again, the younger Torme’ did grow up with this music.

He is quite candid, onstage and off, about his relationship with his father. Mel Torme’ and Steve’s mother, Candy Tockstein, divorced when Steve was 2 1/2 years old. Tockstein subsequently married Hal March, best known as the host of televison’s “The $64,000 Question.” By the age of 12, Steve had already made up his mind that he wanted to be a performer and had his own band a year later. After the death of Hal March, he established a relationship with his father, and both realized they had much in common. He had his father’s support as well. In one, telling segment of this program, Steve shows a vintage piece of video which shows the elder Torme’ sitting in with his son’s band at what appeared to be a rock club in Los Angeles. And, yes, Steve was scatting pretty well even then.

In the late 1970s, he recorded something called “Lucky,” for United Artists records, and later produced and sang on Liza Minnelli’s “Tropical Nights,” a Columbia records release. Through the years, he’s also done various acting jobs in films and television. Legendary arranger Quincy Jones was always impressed with Steve’s talent, and tapped him to be one of three siners for the famed vocal group, “Full Swing,” which toured the world and recorded for Planet Records. Since then, he has concentrated on a solo career, and has made more than a smooth transition to jazz. This current tour is in support of his new CD, “The Essence of Love,” which includes a duet with famed jazz vocalist Diane Schurr.

The entertainment industry is not an easy business as it is, and growing up in the business had to have been difficult. In this case, however, you’d never know it. Steve March Torme’ is funny, self-effacing and generally just a nice guy. After what must have been an exhausting, two-hour show, which also included a few turns at the piano, guitar and a surprisingly agile tap-dancing segment, he sat in The Phil’s lobby for hours afterward, signing CDs and photos, telling stories and listening to more than one tale from those who knew and/or saw his dad perform. And by the way, he does the darndest, verbal impression of Mel Torme’ that anyone has ever heard.

Steve March Torme’ is not the first, and likely will not be the last, child of a major performer to follow in mom or dad’s footsteps. Currently on the road, just to name two, are Frank Sinatra, Jr., who is paying tribute to his father and Deena Martin, doing the same. But ultimately, an artist with the talent of Steve March Torme’ will go his own way musically, as it is already clear that he was and is very much his own man. I can’t wait to hear what the future will bring. In the program notes, Steve March Torme’ thanks his father “for showing me how important professionalism is.” Believe me, it shows.

Dr. Bruce H. Klauber is the biographer of drum great Gene Krupa, producer/creator of the Warner Brothers and Hudson Music “Jazz Legends” DVD series, and a jazz drummer and recording artist since childhood. Mel Torme’ wrote the introduction to Klauber’s “World of Gene Krupa” book and narrated his two-part DVD, “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend.” Visit him on the web at

Finally, friends, we have some exciting discoveries on the way. Please note that we have already released “Gene Krupa: 1966” on CD, which contains about 17 minutes of very rare material of the Jazz Quartet with Carmen Leggio, recorded in Detroit in 1966. Upcoming, from the same year is an unbelievable Krupa concert, with Eddie Shu, Wellstood, etc., that was likely recorded at a state fair some where in the midwest. This features state-of-the-art recording and some of the best Krupa playing ever captured on tape.

Stay tuned, God bless and keep swingin’.

Bruce Klauber February, 2007


Wednesday, August 17th, 2005

One of the first records I ever heard was the original “Perdido” from Jazz at the Philharmonic, with tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips playing his soon-to-be-legendary solo, battling it out with Illinois Jacquet, and backed up beautifully by Jo Jones on drums. If memory serves, that JATP recording was made in 1947 at Carnegie Hall, and the music writers say Flip was “forced” to repeat his set-in-stone solo, almost note-for-note, until the JATP ride ended around 1957. I was hooked from day one. I always believed that jazz should be exciting. 

Norman Granz, founder and JATP instigator, was a singular human being. He insisted that all the members of his troupe traveled first class and were treated on a first class basis all the way. He kept mainstreamers like Roy Eldridge, Lester Young and yes, Gene Krupa, in the limelight by making them stars of his tours. He mixed and matched players from different eras. As an example, a JATP front line might have included Prez, Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins, backed up by a rhythm section that included Oscar Peterson and Gene Krupa. I’ll never figure out why this isn’t being done today. Why isn’t there a recording, just as an example, of vibist Terry Gibbs and Gary Burton playing together? I could venture a guess, given the personality of Mr. Gary Burton, but it still should be done. 

This is why the “discovery” of our Hamburg, Germany, concert of 1956 is so important. Here, on the same stage for one of the few times in history, were Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and Ella Fitzgerald. Backing all of them up from the drums? Gene Krupa. 

Gene was musically a generation behind artists like Ella and Dizzy, but he backed them up so sensitively, so thoughtfully and so happily, that the more than two hours of music presented at this show is simply a total joy to hear. Though it could be my ears playing tricks on me, I swear that Dizzy and Ella never swung harder, and never sounded as happy as they do on these tracks. An added plus, of course, is the wonderful fidelity of these shows, which likely came from a German radio broadcast. 

This is one of the few instances where I fervently believe that these programs should be released by a “major” record company. People need to hear this. If only out of loyalty (Verve did put out most of the original JATP recordings), these tracks were sent to Verve Records, where they are under consideration for future release. But as they say on T.V., “Wait…there’s more.” 

After Norman Granz sold his Verve/Clef/Norgran catalog (and what a catalog it is) to MGM in 1961, he was effectively out of the record business. He came back in a big way in 1973 with his famed Pablo label, and again started putting together all kinds of players from all kinds of eras, on record (Oscar Peterson with Count Basie, Duke Ellington with Joe Pass, et al.). The Pablo imprint, as well as Fantasy Records and several other well-known jazz record labels, is now owned by Concord Jazz. I spoke to the good people at Concord recently about our “newly discovered” JATP release. 

The good news? According to the folks in the archival department at Concord/Fantasy, there are “hundreds” of tapes of JATP concerts–both European and stateside–that sit in the vaults. This may even include the concert at hand, the Hamburg, Germany concert of February, 1956. And more good news is that this archival material may include more unreleased drum battles between Krupa and Rich, Krupa and Bellson, Bellson and Rich, J.C. Heard and Krupa, Jo Jones and Rich, and who knows what else. 

The bad news? We were told, in no uncertain terms, that most of this material will remain unreleased, due to the costs involved of clearing the rights with the surviving artists, the estates of the artists, etc. Concord/Fantasy/Pablo will put one of these things out from time to time (their most recent release being an “unknown” JATP concert that featured Fats Navarro and Shelly Manne), but we were told, point blank, that “it’s just not worth the expense and the trouble.” 

We did, however, get a promise that we would be informed of all of the undocumented JATP drum battles. At least that’s something. 

If I had to pick two “must haves” from, it would have to be the “Championship Jazz” DVD of Gene, and these JATP shows. I urge you to get them. I don’t know how long we will be able to carry them. 

And in terms of “special” and “singular,” stay tuned for more news about The Gene Krupa Jazz Trio’s television performance on the “Georgie Jessell Show” of 1954. Certainly, this will be something. 

Finally, my thanks to all of you for your good wishes, thoughts and prayers about my mother, Frances Klauber. She is hanging in there, and just sang the other day with a visiting pianist who was entertaining at the Bryn Mawr Terrace Convalescent Home. She called me the next day complaining about his time. 

We should all live so long…and have good time!!! 

God bless and keep swingin’ 

Bruce Klauber