Archive for the ‘Musicians’ Category


Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Major, major improvements and renovations have come to the site, courtesy of our resident, genius of a webmaster, Terry McKyton. Improvement highlights include a wider design to match the standard users’ screen, a cleaner and less cluttered design, better layout of DVDs and CDs that will allow for track lists and a download/preview area, and banners that will point to new products on the site, holiday specials, etc.

Yes, I did mention “downloads,” and that feature will be instituted shortly. We are going to start with three of our most popular CDs, “Gene Krupa: The Great Concert,” “Gene Krupa Quartet at JATP: 1955,” and the famed “Benny Goodman/Gene Krupa Performance Recordings: 1937-1938.” Rest assured that the download process will be easy to use (there will even be short previews of songs that will help you to decide whether or not to buy) and at more-than-reasonable prices. If the response to this is positive, as it should be, we will be adding more CDs available for download each week.

One of the most obvious changes to the site in terms of visuals is the absence of the Google ads. Terry and I agree that, for whatever the minimal dollar value to, the ads were not attractive . They didn’t add much in terms of information, and they just took away from what we try to do on the site.

We have been rushing to come up with a real “special” in time for the holiday season, and along with the gift certificate, we think we have it. This is a boxed set of four CDs, chosen by yours truly–“The Great Concert,” “Gene Krupa: 1943,” “Rare and Live: 1941-1942,” and “Steve Allen Tonight Shows 1954 and 1955”–plus a copy of the increasingly rare book, “World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin’ Man.” This $75 value is yours, in a gift box with free shipping worldwide, for $69.95. Ho, ho, and another ho.

I have not mentioned the name of Buddy Rich in this space for some time. However, if the name of our site is “JazzLegends,” then the world’s greatest drummer cannot be ignored. I want to go on record as saying that Buddy’s daughter, Cathy, continues to be tirelessly devoted to perpetuating all that was and is good about Buddy. Most of you have heard about the “Buddy Rich Drum Company,” which has been garnering nice notices in and out of the industry and is a part of some really neat promotions, including one in Modern Drummer’s special publication, Drum Gods, in the trades. For more information on these fine drums, visit There is also a new Buddy CD out, culled from the famed, mid-1970s live tapes recorded by bandsman Alan Gauvin, with Buddy’s blessings. The CD is entitled “Time Out,” and it’s one of the best Buddy Rich recordings, from any decade, to be released in years. One listen to any cut at all will make us all realize why he was and is Buddy Rich, and why there will never, ever, ever be another. Products like these are not easy to get out to the marketplace, whether one is related to Buddy Rich or not. Cathy Rich deserves recognition and our thanks for getting these fabulous items out there properly.

In terms of other gift items, don’t forget the Bopworks, Gene Krupa model drum sticks, or the great new DVD from Hudson Music, “Classic Rock Drum Solos.” Set aside the labels of jazz and rock for a moment. This DVD is for drum fans, no matter what the style of music. I guarantee that you will be astounded by the technical virtuosity of Carl Palmer. Michael Shrieve, host Carmine Appice, Clive Bunker, Ginger Baker, Steve Smith, Cozy Powell, Neil Peart and various others. Additionally, there is an entire section devoted to the origin of rock solo drumming that features Krupa (with Carmine Appice doing a great impression of him), Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson. the Lionel Hampton band, Bill Haley’s Ralph Jones, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, and the only film in existence of the first rock drum star, Sandy “Let There Be Drums” Nelson. We will probably be making this available on our site shortly, but right now, log on to for further information.

Joy Adams and I are in Naples, Florida, until the early spring, enjoying the kids and the grand kids. As mentioned in this site several times over the years, the music scene is fabulous in Naples, and we are playing and singing–individually and collectively–at least twice a week. After hearing the new Buddy CD, I may have to cut it down to once a week!

God bless, keep swingin’, and all good wishes for the holiday and beyond,

Bruce Klauber November, 2007.


Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Those of us who are concerned about such things continue to be confused and disappointed about what the Gibson guitar company has done to the name of Slingerland and to the Slingerland line. To think that the drums– endorsed by Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and dozens of other drum stars through the years–has virtually disappeared, is simply a disgrace. The situation is beyond understanding, especially given the news that Yamaha is bringing out a Rogers drum line, even though the drums are nothing like the original or classic Rogers line. What counts in that case is the name.

A number of us– including Arthor Von Blomberg, the mastermind behind the upcoming 100th birthday celebration for Gene and the future Broadway musical play based on Gene’s life and music–have contacted Gibson about buying the Slingerland name. Our point is that Gibson is doing nothing with it and at the very least, our consortium would keep the name alive. After contacting the Gibson offices in the United States, Europe, Asia, Japan and China about this, we have not heard word one about any of this, which is hardly unexpected. There is no information on whether any Slingerland inventory exists, and Slingerland drums are not offered in any national catalog or the Modern Drummer Drum Buyer’s Guide.

Slingerland might not have been the General Motors of the drum industry, but they were among the “big four” of drum manufacturers, with the other three being Gretsch, Ludwig and Rogers. All but Slingerland are still with us, and that is a disgrace to the industry and to America.

The big question, and feel free to address this in the forum, is: “If Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich were alive today, what brand of drums would they be playing?”

From what little I know, I am pretty sure that these giants would have played drums made in America, and I’m pretty sure the brand would have been Drum Workshop, a.k.a. DW. Indeed, DW did offer a Buddy kit at one time.,

The last time I spoke to anyone within the company, I was told that they cannot manufacture their fine product quickly enough to supply retailers and players. Their story, indeed, is a singular one. Herewith is some background info, courtesy of DW founder Don Lombardi and the DW web site:

Their slogan is, “The Drummer’s Choice® ” and Lombardi maintains that it’s more than a slogan, “it’s a fact.” Shades of Buddy Rich!

“It’s remarkable that in our 31st year, the excitement level of coming to work is every bit as much now as when we started,” he says.

It all began in 1972 when Don, at age 26, opened a small teaching studio in Santa Monica, Calif. He called the studio Drum Workshop, offering both private lessons and monthly workshops.

“My fascination with drums started at 12 with a neighborhood teacher at a local music store,” Don recalls. “Over the years, I had such great experiences with renowned teachers that as my love for playing drums grew, so did my love for learning and teaching about drums. The day I got my driver’s license, I started driving to teach at a local music store where I had taken lessons.”

Seeing an ad for Drum Workshop in the Yellow Pages, John Good, now DW’s Vice President, signed up for lessons at age 17 to improve his drumming and reverse what he refers to as “bad drumming habits.”

“After three months of lessons, Don approached me and said, ‘You know, I’ve had lots of successful students. I don’t think you’re going to be one of them’,” John says laughing. “So I said, ‘Great…now what are we going to do?’”

The two ultimately hooked up to market the first DW product: Don’s new design for a height-adjustable trap-case seat. Selling about a dozen seats a month, John quit his day job and went to work full-time for Don.

When DW received a purchase order for 100 seats from Camco Drum Company, Don and John realized that they had an innovative product that would sell. Thirty years later, DW is now offering a new version of the trap-case adjustable seat, made out of a lighter weight material, called the 6100 Adjustable Trap-Case Seat.

However, when DW created the original trap case seat, they had the capacity and personnel to create only a dozen seats a month, not 100. Don was still teaching and playing a nightly gig while John built the products. Shortly thereafter, Camco Drum Company owner Tom Beckman approached Don in 1977 with an offer to sell him Camco’s machinery, dies and molds, everything it took to make Camco drums and hardware-everything except the Camco name itself. This gave Don the opportunity to expand his capacity for creating the seats and to expand his product line.

At that point, Don made the decision to accept the offer and change the direction of Drum Workshop from teaching and selling to manufacturing.

(For those who do not remember, the Camco outfit offered a fine and most individual looking line of drums–their round lugs, still a DW design feature today–really made them stand out. Camco was never as big as the “big four,” but they did have some endorsers, including the drummer of The Beach Boys.)

“The idea of failing never really occurred to me,” Don remarks. “Based on our mini-success with the seat, we had learned that if we could offer drummers products that would improve their drumming, we could be successful. Of course, having a desire to go into manufacturing and having the money to do so are two different things.”

Borrowing most of the money from his parents and some from outside investors, Don purchased Camco’s tooling and reintroduced the Camco 5000 nylon strap bass drum pedal under the DW name. The pedal was refined to improve consistency, quietness, smoothness and adjustability of its mechanical operation. As the pedal was rapidly becoming “the drummer’s choice,” Don continued to search for ways to further improve it.

The rest is history. The ever-expanding line of DW drums, kits and hardware is the drum industry standard. Specifically, with their “Classics Series,” “Jazz Series” and 6000 Series of ultra-light stands, DW has successfully brought a legacy of percussion tradition to the year 2007. Call them “traditionally innovative,” if you will, or as they deservedly say, “The Drummer’s Choice.”

Would Gene and Buddy be DW artists? You bet.

I urge each and every visitor from around the world to visit DW on the web at

We look forward, at some time in the not-too-distant future, to contact the fine DW folks about becoming involved with, as well as with the Gene Krupa upcoming 100th Birthday celebration and subsequent show based on Gene’s life and music.

It’s not only because I have a vested interest in these titles, but two, brand new DVD projects from Hudson Music constitute essential viewing and study. “The Art of Playing with Brushes,” presented by Adam Nussbaum and Steve Smith, presents the drum and brush masters–Billy Hart, Eddie Locke, Joe Morello, Charli Persip and Ben Riley–in performance and in instructional segments. This incredible, three -DVD set is, as the copy accurately says, “an educational and inspirational resource that will never go out of date and is certainly one that belongs in every drummer’s library.” visitors will also enjoy the vintage clips by the likes of Kenny Clarke, Denzil Best and many more.

And finally, “Classic Rock Drum Solos” is here. Despite the fact that helping to write and produce this incredible DVD took a year off my life–these vintage rock drummers were a handfull–the result is incredible. JazzLegends visitors and guests, though not rock-oriented, will love the clips by Louis Prima’s Jimmy Vincent, Billy Haley’s Ralph Jones, Louis Jordan’s Shadow Wilson, The Ventures’ Mel Taylor, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, host Carmine Appice, and the many clips where the influence of Buddy and Gene are quite obvious. For ordering info, log on to

Finally, our Krupa drumsticks are getting great reviews and seem to be very much in demand. For ordering info, log on to

Keep swingin’

Bruce Klauber


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


Sunday, September 16th, 2007

The world arts community recently lost two major players: Max Roach from the jazz world and Luciano Pavarotti from opera. Though they came from two different places, they both had one thing in common. They swung. For this tribute, we have enlisted the aid of one of the few who knows both worlds of music very well, the musicologist (and my brother) Joel G. Klauber.

Luciano Pavarotti was the most well known tenor since Caruso, and the most widely talked about. The enthusiasm of his singing, combined with a tremendous personality and showmanship, brought opera to the masses. People who didn’t know anything about opera knew about Pavarotti.

He made is Metropolitan opera debut in 1968. Indeed, his last performance at the Met before his illness was in 2005. He was a master of the lyric tenor roles such as “La Boheme” and “Lucia.” In the early 1970s, he took on more dramatic roles, though in the process, he lost a little of of the lyric sweetness that he had back in the 1960s. The roles demanded it.

Of course, he was known for his effortless high C’s. Shades of Louis Armstrong!

His most famous role was in the “Daughter of the Bigamist,” in which he hit nine, tireless high C’s. It was a classic performance and recording.

Pavarotti’s voice was not especially large, but it was beautiful in the mid-range and superbly focused in the upper range. While it may not have been a “brilliant” sound, it was perfectly focused and placed.

There was only one. And for the millions who bought their first opera CD or DVD of “Three Tenors,” the duets with Frank Sinatra, or something similar—and never made such a purchase before—The Maestro is the one to thank.

Max Roach was one of the most consummate artists in jazz, be it as a brilliant drummer and soloist, a challenging leader, and a talented writer. Roach, along with Kenny Clarke, started the bop revolution in drumming. While Clarke was the actual pioneer, Roach really brought the style to fruition and to its peak, with astounding technique and melodic drum solos.

Clarke is credited with influencing percussive timekeeping, by way of transferring the timekeeping element from the snare and bass drums to the ride cymbal, with appropriate accents on the snare and bass drums. Max extended Clarke’s foundation via his snare, tom-tom and bass drum work, with each drum working independently as both sensitive accompanist and melodic soloist. Max Roach was not merely a timekeeper. He virtually invented the concept of communication between drummer and soloist.

Unlike Clarke and Blakey, Roach explored classical percussion, symphony, odd time signatures (way before Dave Brubeck, God bless him), music derived from Broadway musicals, etc. Indeed, he had been a Professor of Music at Amherst for some year.

Roach’s drum solos were among the most melodic—and perhaps the only—drum solos jazz has ever known where one could actually hear the melody of the song. And this was played, most of the time, on four drums.

He always has had the curiosity to move forward stylistically and grow as a musician.

Roach’s recording career spanned fifty years, from the 1940s through the 1990s. His greatest works? With The Charlie Parker Quintet from 1945 to 1947, his own group with Clifford Brown from 1954 to 1956, and his astounding duets in later years with Dizzy Gillespie and avant gardist Anthony Braxton.

In terms of listening suggestions, there are many, but Max Roach expanded the horizons of percussion in such albums as “Jazz in ¾ Time,” “Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet” (featuring the great trumpet of Booker Little), and “It’s Time,” where Roach experimented with the use of voices in the ensemble.

No, you didn’t see Max on the Johnny Carson or Merv Griffin shows (though he was on the David Frost program). But Max Roach, like Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, Sid Catlett, Dave Tough, Chick Webb and Kenny Clarke before him, forever influenced and dictated the way drums were and are played. — Joel Klauber

Note: Most of you are aware that the Krupa drum sticks are now a reality. Everyone who has tried a pair loves them. In order to serve our many visitors more efficiently in terms of supplying these sticks, Bopworks and I thought it best to order directly from Bopworks. They may be reached by logging on to


Monday, May 14th, 2007

Joy Adams and I will shortly be concluding our five-month stay in Naples, FL, to return to our home in Philadelphia. Joy was originally set to have a hip replacement operation in Philadelphia in March, but all involved believed that having the procedure done in Florida would be a great help to her recuperation, due to the climate, etc. She is recovering very, very well and by and large, our time down here has been glorious. We are performing at least twice a week, and I am now writing a biweekly jazz column for the Naples Sun Times newspaper. As I write this, I’ve just been asked by their Assistant Editor to help assemble a comprehensive guide to entertainment in Naples, FL. Opportunities like this, for reasons I cannot figure, just don’t exist for me in Philadelphia. It would seem likely that, over the next few years, we will be spending more and more time here.

We’ve sadly lost a number of great, great jazz and entertainment people of late, including Tom Poston, Tommy Newsome, Bobby Rosengarden, Tony Scott, Andrew White and a very talented, Philadelphia-area jazz and blues singer named Zan Gardner. On the positive end, Ornette Coleman won the Pulitzer Prize in music. Who would have believed that in 1959?

Negotiations with Alfred Publishing for a “Great American Drum Catalogs” book have broken down for the moment, though we were “this close” to a deal, due to concerns they have over expense. Good friend and master drummer Steve Smith was kind enough to write an intro for the work, which we will reprint here in the future. We are also considering making vintage catalog reprints available on What’s your take on this? Regarding an actual book down the road, I will continue to maintain my credo of, “It Ain’t Over Yet.”

Speaking of Steve Smith, I believe that he is the finest drummer working today. He has a new CD out with his great fusion band, Vital Information, entitled “Vitalization.” Like everything Professor Smith does, it’s fabulous. You can order online at or Steve was one of the last, “name” acts at Philadelphia’s venerable jazz club, Zanzibar Blue, within the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Contrary to reports, Zanzibar will continue to exist, though in a different location.

After months of discussions, it will soon be official. There will be an “officially sanctioned” Gene Krupa model drum stick, manufactured by Chris Bennett’s Bopworks company out of Austin, Texas. Bopworks has deservedly garnered some nice press about their fine product of late. Visit Bopworks at for info about when the Krupa stick is released as well as a great, Mel Lewis model. We will also make the sticks available on

Many of you are aware of the noted lyricist and author Gene Lees. Lees has long published a subscription-only newsletter called, and this is the full name, Gene Lees Ad Libitum & Jazzletter. Most know it as the Jazzletter. Published for 24 years, Lees contributes a number of pieces, but has always had guest writers though the years. One of Lees’ favorite people, players and writers was Bobby Scott. Scott, who passed away in 1988, was in the Gene Krupa Jazz Quartet in 1954. Bobby, a good friend of mine, actually posthumously contributed the intro to my new Krupa book. Bobby had given me an unpublished manuscript of his autobiography and asked me to help get him a publishing deal. Sadly, I couldn’t, but at least part of it, the part about Gene, was published as my books’ introduction. Scott was complex and most interesting person, perhaps the most intelligent human being I ever knew. Gene Lees encouraged Bobby Scott’s writing ability, and one of Scott’s first pieces for Lees’ Jazzletter was on Gene Krupa. Lees has now seen fit to reprint the piece in the April, 2007, issue of Jazzletter.

I had never seen the entire piece, and now I wish I had not. Bobby Scott loved Gene and considered him a stepfather and a teacher. But there are things in Scott’s essay that I, for one, did not need or want to know. These were very, very, very personal things that I don’t believe Gene Krupa would have ever wanted anyone to know about. I think, however, that Lees encouraged and encourages that type of writing, but I could never understand what any of those “personal things” had to do with music.

One curious tidbit in the Lees’ new introduction to Bobby Scotts’s essay is Lee’s assertion that he (Lees)regularly receives jazz-oriented screen plays for professional review. One he recently looked at, he says, was another screen treatment by an unnamed Hollywood producer of The Gene Krupa Story. Gene Lees claimed it was “absolutely horrible.”

In conjunction with last months’ reprint of Bobby Scott’s story on Gene, it would have been rather nice of Gene Lees to mention my new book on Gene, and perhaps one or more of my DVDs. But that did not happen. It never did happen and it never will. See, Gene Lees, like Down Beat’s John McDonough and author Burt Korall, have never acknowledged that I exist in any way, shape or form in this universe or beyond. I’ve never understood why. The jazz community is a relatively small one by any standards. We need to stick together and support each other, not criticize, ostracize or ignore. There is one well known writer out there, and this fellow writes a lot, who is a good example of that old-timey, corn ball type of behavior. I may have told this story before, but it deserves another airing. I once sent this fellow a copy of a CD that I produced and played on. The CD was, and is, sort of a semi-private thing, and I asked this guy to please, please just don’t say or write anything if you don’t dig it. He ignored me and panned the heck out of it. He later claimed that he never got my communication about not writing anything. Right.

If these little guys get some feeling of power by panning or ignoring fellow players and writers, let them have a ball with it. But the real people out there–the really good people out there–are more than aware that that type of behavior no longer applies.

And with that in mind, be sure to consider subscribing to Gene Lees’ Jazzletter. For information and subscription rates, write to Box 240, Ojai, CA 93024-0240. Keep swingin, Gene. — Bruce Klauber, May, 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, December 6th, 2006

Jazz lost yet another innovative original, singer Anita O’Day, who passed away at the age of 87 Thursday, November 23rd. Considering the life she led, well detailed in her autobiography of some years back, “High Times, Hard Times;” it is simply amazing that she made it past 50 years of age. And she was singing, after a fashion, just about up until the end. 

O’Day was at the forefront of an entire school of jazz vocalists from Chris Connor and June Christy on up and on down, and it’s a “school” that continues today in various guises. For instance, O’Day’s amazingly wide sphere of influence included plenty of jazz-oriented popsters, including the likes of Joanie Sommers. Britain’s Stacey Kent, who sounds almost exactly like Sommers (though Kent told me she never really listened to Joanie), is therefore, in a way, an O’Day student, albeit a couple of times removed. Plenty of male singers got he message as well. It’s hard to believe that Mel Torme’, for instance, didn’t listen closely to Anita. 

She, along with Roy Eldridge, really helped put the Gene Krupa band on the popular and critical map upon their arrival in 1941. Gene’s crew, until then, was a good, more-than competent and always musically swinging crew, though it never really came across on records. Though the band had some good singers, soloists and arrangers, there was nothing utterly distinctive about it until Anita and Roy arrived. It wasn’t long after their arrival that Krupa had two, real “stars” on his hands, and a number of hit records, to boot. Anita always had great, great words about her days with the band, and Gene’s drumming in particular, and this was from someone whose quotient of kind words through the years were measured carefully. And no, for the tabloid-oriented amongst us, O’Day verified a number of times that she never had an affair with Krupa. So there! 

Anita O’Day was among the very, very few in jazz history to successfully modernize as time went on. Her groundbreaking work for Norman Granz Verve record label in the 1950s was more than an extension of cool. Anita O’Day was cool by being hot, if that is possible. She always swung and swung hard. Her scatting was refreshing, inventive, surprising and often rhythmically impossible. She could not, quite simply, get lost, and some of those 1950s charts–Gary McFarland’s, for one–were darned difficult. O’Day even drove Oscar Peterson, a speed wizard if there ever was one back then, to extremes. 

With the arrival of The Beatles, the entire entertainment business changed and it would never be the same. Julie LaRosa, a fine and underrated singer, once told me, “Before the Beatles, we were thrilled if we could fill a 400-seat club. After their arrival, if you couldn’t fill a 20,000-seat stadium, you couldn’t get work. 

It was no different for Anita O’Day, though it was likely worse, given the hard times jazz experienced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In those years, and the sordid details have been repeated often enough elsewhere, she survived drug overdoses, arrests, periods of “almost-homelessness” and worse. Yet musically, when she had the chance, most often for her own Emily record label, Anita continued to evolve, at times foreshadowing what Betty Carter would much later take, to these ears, excess. As “far out” as she may have gone harmonically and rhythmically, Anita O’Day never forgot the lyric. Others did. In those years, like many artists in similar situations, she took work where she could. The scenarios were not often pleasant. Her general frustration with the scene and with the bread, to say nothing of her difficulties at the time with alcohol made for some strange situations on the bandstand. At a small club in Philadelphia, for instance, Anita berated the local trio backing her–on the stage–because they didn’t know “Let Me Off Uptown,” even though there was no chart for it in her book. 

She did some nice work in the 1980s, buoyed by the response to her autobiography (Madonna at one time held the film rights to it), interviews on “60 Minutes and other national television shows, work at festivals, etc. At long last, this miraculous survivor was deservedly deemed a legend. 

If all had been right with the world, she would have bowed out gracefully at the end of the 1980s, appearing at ceremonial occasions to be justifiably honored as amongst the universe’s most influential artists. Although her chops were just about shot, she kept on singing. Too, too often, the results were variable. Who knows why she kept on. Bread? Glory? The fact that singing was all she knew? Who knows? Ali, Sinatra, Joe Louis comprise just a very few who, in the opinion of the public, stayed too long at the fair. Or did they? The public kept on coming and kept applauding. Isn’t that what was and is important? 

Cut to the latter 1990s and the year 2000 until now. Though I don’t know all the details, some time during those years, a relative youngster by the name of Robbie Cavolina attached himself to Anita O’Day, billed himself as her “manager,” and began booking her all over the world. The problem was, that Anita O’Day could no longer sing in any way, shape or form, and if my time with her several years ago at the Denver Jazz on Film Festival was any indication, she had little idea where she was. The whole idea of it was, simply, pitiful, and smacked of the grossest exploitation possible. Not too long ago, Cavolina had the unmitigated nerve to trot O’Day into a recording studio–or living room, as it sounded on the CD–to record something called “Indefatigable,” one of the saddest and most embarrassing documents ever recorded by anyone. It is an insult of the lowest kind to the legacy of Anita O’Day, and could have only been done for one reason: bread. If Anita O’Day, the consummate artist, had any idea what was happening, she would have never allowed it. It is a sin that Robbie Cavolina did. 

A year or two ago, word came that a documentary on O’Day’s life was in preparation, and such a document is long, long overdue. The film is said to me almost completed, and tt’s a shame that Anita did not live to see it. I did, however, get a glance at the preliminary credits for the picture, and it lists none other than Mr. Robbie Cavolina as “director,” “producer” and “writer.” I hope he finally gets some money out of the whole thing which, to me, is why he went into this game to begin with. Anita O’Day, at the very end, deserved better. 

Bruce Klauber December, 2006


Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

After some good reviews both in and out of the industry and decent sales for a project of this scope, the backlash against “Gene Krupa: The Pictorial Life of a Jazz Legend” has begun, as I knew it inevitably would. The e-mails being received in this regard, and thankfully there aren’t many of them, concern a number of errors that these readers found, all told, totaling about eight, and one was a typo. Some suggest that Gene is deserving of a more “scholarly” work. Others claim that I am spouting inaccuracies because, since the subject of the book is dead, no one will know the difference. Wow. 

Regretfully, there are errors thousands of publications of every kind. Some of the publications, like the errors they contain, are of every size and type. One, very, very well-known mail-order catalog, just as minor example, continues to say that “drugs destroyed (Gene’s) life” in their copy advertising “The Gene Krupa Story. DVD. One very well-known writer for the jazz magazine “of record,” recently reviewed a big name singer and credited his drummer for doing a fine job. Problem was that the drummer he named only appeared on two tracks recorded 20 years ago, because said drummer has been dead since 1989. One great newspaper review of a concert, that appeared in Philadelphia publication years ago, was a rave, rave write-up of a Ray Charles concert. The problem this time is that Charles actually cancelled the concert and there was no such show. The year after, Philadelphia’s major newpaper and Pulitzer Prize winner had a review of a Count Basie concert. The reviewer remarked that he especially enjoyed the Count’s rendition of the famous song, “Chinese Stockings.” I’m not even going to talk about the minor inaccuracies that pop up in many jazz books. It’s a fact of life, and it happens. Always did, always will. 

Hopefully, whatever screw-ups made by my publisher, my editor and me—individually and collectively—stand as more minor than Count Basie’s “Chinese Stockings.” That reviewer is still working, by the way. 

Some of the errors mentioned in my Krupa book are some reputed misspellings (Frank Bellino’s name was spelled Bellino in no less than “Down Beat” magazine, though someone insists it is spelled otherwise), the exact year when Gene began using a swish cymbal (told to me, by the way, by both Charlie Ventura and Eddie Wasserman), dates of photos that may or may not have been off by a year or two, some background figures in photos that may or may not have been misidentified, etc. 

I do regret two errors: One was a simple typo, naming my good friend Bruce Crowther as Bruce Growther. It happens. Just as another crazy example, a major drum magazine which should know much, much better, spelled my last name as “Kaluber.” And I’ve been working with them for almost 20 years. Like I said, it happens. So, to my friend Bruce, and we refer to each other as “the other Bruce,” 

My sincerest apologies. 

The other grievance concerns a photograph that is evidently owned by that great drummer, Krupa fan, Krupa supporter and keeper of the Krupa flame, Brooks Tegler. I will not—nor will I ever—dispute the fact that the photograph in question is owned by Brooks Tegler. I know Brooks and his dad, the great John Tegler, for many years. If the Tegler’s say it—about anything—you can bet it is so. From my end, on the copy of the photograph I had, there was absolutely no identifying mark or photo credit on or near the photo itself. Several others, whom I will not name, have also evidently used it uncredited. Believe me, as was said in the book’s introduction, if an error was made in terms of credit, it is deeply, deeply regretted and I will do everything within my limited power to make things right. I have been in the Tegler’s home and in their company many, many times. What they do for the cause of jazz simply cannot be measured. Brooks, by the way, is heading up a jazz cruise this coming August, where his crackerjack big band will pay tribute pay tribute to Gene, Benny, Glenn Miller and various others in the most authentic manner possible. John will offer commentary and plenty of inside stuff along the way. Check out the latest issue of “Jazz Times” for details. 

As some of you know, this book was caught in the transition between publishers, when Warner Bros. Publications was sold to the Alfred Publishing Company. If things hadn’t become so complex during this changeover, and I am told that the Krupa book was one of the few projects that survived the change, there likely would have been fewer mistakes than the eight or so reputed ones that there could be. In using over 200 photos, most of them not credited in any way, shape or form, it’s quite possible that some of them may be off by a year or two in terms of identification. Unless you where there, your guess is as good as mine…believe me. I am not offering excuses, but the accusers should know some of the details involved in a production like this before they accuse so negatively. 

There are several “little guys” (to use Gene’s term) out there who, it appears, want to claim some kind of “ownership” of Gene and, for whatever reason, want to nitpick to death projects like these and those who do them. One, in particular, who is no longer with us, virtually “nixed” the promotion of a Slingerland, “Krupa Tribute” drum set, as he insisted that Gene “invented” the Radio King snare drum, insisted that Slingerland include a 16 X 18 floor tom in the kit, etc. Look whavt happened to the “new” Radio King line. 

Let me give you some names of those who have given my books and videos a good deal of support through the years: Charlie Ventura, Marty Napoleon, Bobby Scott, Eddie Wasserman and John Bunch. They all played with Gene, and yes, I had the good fortune of playing with them as well. Then there were Mel Torme’, Teddy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Jack DeJohnette, Ed Shaughnessy, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Steve Gadd, Max Roach and many more with whom I’ve worked over the years. The contemporary drummers in the new Krupa book, who know more about Gene than anyone can imagine, have also been behind me since day one and have never suggested my various works be “more scholarly” or bugged me about the date Gene used a swish or sizzle cymbal. 

I decided long ago that the jazz community was much too small for us to be criticizing each other, and that was the time I made the decision that I would no longer function as a critic…of anything. Here’s one example why: In the “critical” arena, there’s an author and reviewer out there who stands as about the most prolific author and reviewer on jazz in the jazz industry. This guy must be watching DVDs and listening to CDs in his sleep, and good for him. We were, at one time, colleagues and associates in this very small community. As a matter of professional courtesy, I sent this fellow a copy of a semi-private CD release by a vocalist I helped produce—and I played on it as well. My only request to this guy was, “If you dig it and want to say a nice word or two about it, please have a ball. If it’s not to your taste, just toss it out and forget it existed, as it’s mostly a self-produced private thing, anyway. This was some years ago, and I didn’t discover until recently that Mr. Jazz Author reviewed this project, posted on some inconsequential website, and absolutely “skewered” the vocalist and those involved. It was mean-spirited. What was the writer’s purpose in doing this? As Jackie Gleason one said, “What does it get you?” The negatives hurt. Forget the fact that I may be hurt. The negatives hurt the industry. How many of those, after all, are there in what we call “jazz?” 

Good, bad or indifferent, I believe that the various Krupa projects over the years—whether video, DVD, books or magazine articles, tribute bands and drummers, CDs and web sites—have really helped bring Gene’s name back before a public that may have forgotten him, and have helped garner an entire new audience for the man and his music. That, I believe, is the point, not whether Gene used a swish cymbal before 1962. 

Three books have been written about Gene since 1992: one by Bruce Crowther and two by me. If any of you, mainly those who really do know volumes about Krupa, I cordially invite you to write your own. I’ll help you get a publisher, too. 

I am so fortunate that my friend, and yes, my musical idol, Charlie Ventura lived to see my first Krupa book come out. Other than those in the Goodman Quartet, Charlie, I believe, had the longest on-and-off association with Gene. I asked Charlie one night what Gene would have thought about my book. “He would have loved it, Bruce,” Chaz said. And that was and is enough for me. 


There is a lot of controversy these days about the famous—or infamous, depending on your point of view—website called YouTube. I believe there has been some discussion about it on our Forum, as well. The fact is, and you can ask anyone from NBC and CNN on up and on down, that YouTube is using copyrighted material. By the droves. I am told that the numbers of those now lined up to sue them are more than equal to the population of a small state. Yes, they are showing Gene Krupa clips, and yes, most of them are mine. And yes, I paid thousands for them through the years. And yes, this is copyright infringement of the most obvious kind. It will be an eye-opening experience for some of you to see the hoops one must go through in order to actually prove copyright infringement. One has to provide everything from your waist size to the maiden name of your next-of-kin. Though this is an exaggeration, check it out. I did, and I have neither the time nor the desire to attempt to fight what is rapidly becoming the internet version of big brother and city hall. If YouTube, reportedly a billion-plus dollar company, gets its rocks off by showing a clip of Gene playing “Leave Us Leap” that I paid Turner Entertainment a thousand-plus dollars for in 1993, then so be it. I wish I had the support that they did, and in line with that, as has been mentioned before, is now accepting appropriate paid advertising. E-Mail me if you’re interested. Maybe I’ll pitch YouTube. 

Talks are continuing with Vic Firth about a Krupa drumstick, and I do hope to meet with Vic personally after the holidays. Likewise with our concept for “The Great American Drum Catalogs” book, which has already garnered the endorsements and blessings of Gretch and Ludwig. Stay tuned and have a swingin’ Thanksgiving and beyond. 

Bruce Klauber 

November, 2006


Friday, September 22nd, 2006

A number of you have and continue to respond to whatever issue exists with “Randy Caputo as Gene Krupa. Right now, the votes are unanimous, and several of those checking in are musicians who play with Randy. They confirmed my suspicions that this talented gentleman does indeed have his own style, and like many of us, uses Gene and Buddy–to say nothing of Louis and Cozy–as a “jumping off” point. Not to bore you with business, but doesn’t sell a heck of lot of items that Gene is not on, with the exception of Tony Williams, some Jo Jones, and that other drummer we used to feature on the site. However, I am seriously recommending that you give “Randy Caputo as Gene Krupa” a look-see. It will, at the least, make you feel good about music, about tradition and about drumming. Feel free to make suggestions as to who you’d like to see and hear on DVD and on audio. 

Speaking of that “other drummer,” word has filtered down about a “Buddy Rich Drum Company,” with a sample set being on display at the summer NAMM show. Bud has long, long deserved something like this, marketed properly, and there certainly should be a BR stick on the market as well as a cymbal. There was talk of a cymbal some time ago, but nothing came of it. Slingerland, in an attempt to market a Buddy and a Krupa “tribute” set a few years ago, failed miserably. It does not help that then, as now, no one can reach anyone from Slingerland by phone, mail or e-mail. Maybe Slingerland, under the direction of the Gibson guitar company, no longer exists. As it stands, it shouldn’t exist. Look at what Gretsch did. They’re now getting up there with the major manufacturers when everyone counted them out. It can be done. And that, by the way, goes for an enterprising group of folks who should put a Rogers set on the market. 

In not too long a time, you will hopefully notice some great, great changes to the web site. Terry McKyton–the best webmaster who ever webmastered–felt it was due time to bring us into the year of 2006 with some video and a generally updated and easier-to-use design. Terry, a recent Masters Degree awardee from the prestigious Stanton University (As many of you know, Stanton is a ficticious college that used to offer ficticious degrees for about a hundred bucks a pop. As a present for Terry’s real graduation from the Masters program of a real school in Florida, we awarded Terry an official degree from the infamous Stanton. Those of you who have heard this story a billion times must forgive me. I think it’s funny. And I, too, am a proud Stanton graduate.) There is no better web designer out there. This guy pushes buttons on a computer that were said not to exist. If it’s a web site or web design you have in mind, Terry McKyton is, as the Zildjian cymbal people say, “the only serious choice.” 

It is hard to believe that an American record company did not step forward to release our 1956 JATP in Germany discovery. There are so many factors that make this so special, including the artists involved, the level of playing, the superb fidelity and the fact that this show was, until now, not documented in any way, shape or form. Verve turned it down because of what they claimed would be the expense, and likewise, those who own Norman Granz’ Pablo imprint. Those good folks claimed that they had dozens of unreleased shows like this in their vaults, including some concerts with Gene and Buddy. We were promised the details of all these alleged goodies. That was almost a year ago. We are thrilled to say that we are concluding serious talks with the Barcelona, Spain, based Fresh Sounds label. You won’t believe their catalog, and those involved in Fresh Sound are seriously devoted to the music. We are working quickly on this to come out with a first-class package of re-mastered sound, extensive notes and rare photos. If we can get it out for Christmas, there will be a lot of happy gift-givers out there. I’m sure that my many friends on the other side of the ocean are quite aware of Fresh Sound and all the great, great releases in their catalog. We might possibly enter into a DVD agreement with them as well. 

Browsing e-bay the other day, I came upon an extraordinary piece of art and workmanship. A miniature Gene Krupa drum set! I looked at this with great interest and admiration and contacted the artist himself, a fine gent named Rick Parries, and asked for some details and info about him and about his works of art. Here’s Rick himself: ” I have been playing drums since 1969, and of course my influences were Krupa, Rich, Bellson (I am working on his Remo miniature as we speak), Philly Joe, Morello and of course many more. I have always been artistic and love realism art. Detailed miniatures from the time I was a kid always fascinated me. I love drums, and I am very artistic and realized that nobody made a good miniature drumset. A lot of mass produced miniature drums were out there but nothing of any quality at all. So I ordered a miniature drumset off of e-bay, an import, and tore it apart to see how it was made. I started making the drums in my kitchen on the counter not knowing what I was doing or why I was doing it. The rest is history. These are all hand made one by one. I have no special tools to make them They are my own design and I do not claim to do replicas, but a replica “likeness” (“replica” can’t be used loosely). The drums are very labor intensive and some may vary from set to set. An example: tom mounts some could be rail and some swivel for the same drummer. I can do either and it does not take away from the basic cosmetics of the set . In other words I will not put anything on a drumset that does not belong unless I was doing my own designed custom kit. I have no doubt in my mind that these sell. I’ve proven it in the past when I was making them. I put my heart and soul into these drums and want to make sure the customer is getting what they paid for. I strive to make improvements all the time and I have done and will continue. The biggest thrill for me is to bring something to life in a miniature. I have been blessed with a gift of being able to create these little drums. I love building them and creating new product. I really is an honor for me to have the gift to create some of these little drums of past and present for everyone’s enjoyment.” 

Forgive my editing, Richard. I hope all our readers get the idea. Go on e-bay to check out this fine, fine work, and stay attuned to as we plan to hopefully be able to offer this art somewhere down the line. 

And in terms of art, the great, Philadelphia-based abstract painter, Judith Ross, has turned her talents to charcoal drawings of the jazz greats, including Benny, Gene, Bill Harris, Ben Webster and several others. These are really fabulous and are one-of-a-kinds. As soon as the newly-designed web site is ready to go on the air, we will have a separate page offering Ms. Ross’ superb works. 

Anyone who has ever considered themselves a collector and/or just a serious or concerned listener or fan, has what we term “the holy grail.” This could be an LP, a CD, a video or a DVD that you once loved and lost, one you once heard about and never could find, and that magic item that those who think they know about such things claim “do not exist.” It’s a great Forum discussion topic, if nothing else. In my own case, I was told more times than I could remember that the Krupa/Rich drum battle on the Sammy Davis, Jr. television show of 1966 never existed. I knew it did, and couldn’t believe it when I finally got a copy after much, much time and expense. Those clips, as you know, can be seen on “Buddy Rich Jazz Legend Part One.” There are still two, outstanding holy grails for me. One is supposed to be a tv guest shot of Krupa on the Frank Sinatra CBS televison show of 1950 or 1951. Supposedly, the Jazz Trio backs Mr. Sinatra, and then peforms a vocal duet with Gene himself on a song called “18.” I’ve tracked down some leads through the years with those who have claimed to have the audio. They were all dead ends. My second “grail” item was an LP made in the mid-1950s for the obscure and short-lived, New York city-based Herald jazz label. This was a meeting between two of my favorite pianists, Mary and Teddy Napoleon. Teddy, who passed away much too young in 1964, and brother Marty, who is still very much with us, are two two keyboardists I love, Both played with Gene, Buddy, Charlie Ventura and Eddie Shu, and I had the honor of playing with Marty in the mid-1970s. I finally found the recording–where else?–on e-bay. We’ll offer it to you as soon as it arrives. Until there’s more news, God bless and keep swingin’. 

Bruce Klauber, September, 2006


Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

For the past year, or so it seems, drummer Randy Caputo has been getting a nice amount of press and publicity for his show, which is billed as “Randy Caputo as Gene Krupa.” A number of sincere folks both in our Forum and away from it have voiced negative opinions about what Caputo is doing as it relates to Gene. The consensus from those who don’t agree with the concept of “Randy Caputo as Gene Krupa,” place his show somewhere between sin and capitalism run wild. On the other hand, there seem to be plenty of Gene’s fans out there who are happy there is another person out there who is spreading the Krupa gospel. 

I do get the sense, though, that not a lot of people have heard him play, and that even fewer really know him. Even before hearing him and knowing him a bit, my belief was that anything that “gets the word out there” in a positive sense is just great. While there are plenty of Krupa-related books, sticks, web sites, CDs, DVDs, videos, forums and drum sets on the market, nothing can replace a “Krupa-in-the-flesh,” even once or twice removed as in this instance. 

“Randy Caputo as Gene Krupa,” by the way, is not the first case of someone doing a Krupa-type show with an emphasis on Krupa music, style and mannerisms. The great drummer Mike Berkowitz currently leads but one of the Krupa orchestras out there. There are several players of varying ages in the New England area who continue to put on Krupa tribute shows. Anyone remember a drummer named Brent Brace who lead a Krupa band years and years ago in a touring nostalgia show? There are many, many more out there, to be sure. 

I worked some years ago with a great gentleman and singer, the late Sonny Averona. There were few who came closer to Frank Sinatra in looks and sound than Sonny. He had many, many fans and I often felt that some of these people actually believed they were seeing and hearing Sinatra. For a number of them, truth be told, hearing, seeing and hanging out with Sonny Averona would be as close as they would ever get to the real Frank Sinatra. So yes, Sonny Averona served a purpose. He presented top quality music, was backed by top quality players, and performed to happy, enthusiastic and appreciative audiences. Where’s the crime? It’s not for nothing that there are at least two “Rat Pack” shows now touring, entertaining the masses who never had the opportunity to see and hear Frank, Dean and Sam in the flesh. 

The fact is, as long as there is civilization, there will be those who impersonate and/or pay tribute to Elvis, Sinatra, and in a more narrow sense, Gene and Buddy. And yes, let’s not forget the thousands of would-be Buddy Rich clones out there. At least two of them, Butch Miles and Donny Osbourne, Jr., have come to national prominence. Let’s face it, most drummers of a certain age wanted to be Gene or Buddy at one time or another. Randy Caputo deserves all the credit in the world. He’s doing it, and in the process, is developing a whole new audience for the real thing. 

Randy Caputo is a dedicated, talented and diligent young man who would have to love Gene Krupa in order to do what he’s doing. Having played drums professionally with the likes of Charlie Ventura and Milt Buckner over the past 40 years, I’ve done my share of Krupa impressions, and at times, I actually thought I was “channeling” GK. The first time I ever played “Dark Eyes” with Ventura–can you imagine?–was one such case. Randy Caputo appears to be channeling Gene at times, but he does it with such disarming good humor that it quickly becomes obvious that he’s just out there to entertain and have a good time. I knew guys who played the “Buddy Rich character” 24 hours a day. So did you. Get off this bus!! 

Technically, of course, he’s got the Krupa licks and looks down very well, but if you listen carefully, you’ll hear that the licks and the solos often represent Randy’s interpretation of Gene. There are a number of things Caputo plays that would have been, I believe, beyond Gene in a technical sense, but Randy weaves them appropriately in and out of the Krupa-oriented whole. His concept works, and I have little doubt that off-camera, Randy Caputo has a style of his own that may be influenced by Gene and Buddy, but is certainly not a bonafide impersonation. 

I urged Randy to let offer a Randy Caputo DVD on the web site in order to give our many visitors and supporters the opportunity to really hear and see this sincere and talented gentlemen. The DVD is in three sections: A drum solo from the Orange County Fair in California, a nice production of his “Radio Show Band” with female vocalists and retro costumes, and the famed Gene versus Buddy battle, with Jimmy Ford doing one heck of a job as BR. 

As soon as I find a way to beat this slight bit of arthritis in the wrists and fingers, I will make good on my offer to get together with Randy Caputo and drum battle with him personally…and I’ll let him win! 

Randy, you’re all right. God bless and keep swingin’ 

Bruce Klauber, September, 2006