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

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