LESTER LANIN'S MUSIC STILL TURNS PARTIES INTO EVENTS
He died in 2004 at age 97, but two of his longtime employees, Spencer Bruno and John Burcin, are seeing that the Lester Lanin name and style continue, still based in New York City.
"Please remember that both John and I have worked exclusively for and with Lester Lanin for more than 15 years prior to his death," Bruno explained to me. "Our close musical association with Lester provided a natural succession for us to carry on the Lester Lanin tradition."
Their Bruno-Burcin Enterprises now operates Lester Lanin Music and The Lester Lanin Orchestra, offering bands of all sizes, tailored for various high-profile, private functions and other performances of distinction.
Bruno serves as the organization's Musical Director.
"I was Lester's first leader for the past 10 years, and also played in Lester's band while he was active. I've been around long enough to have played with all of Lester's best musicians," Bruno reported. "Since I was leading the Lester Lanin Orchestra all along, even while Lester was retired, many of our clients didn't even know if and when Lester passed away!"
Similarly, Burcin's connection to Lanin goes back a while.
"John (also a fine drummer) was contractor and worked in the office. Whenever they'd call the office through years past, they would speak to John the same as they do now," Bruno noted, "by calling the same phone number - i.e., 212-265-5208 (listed more than half a century as Lester Lanin Music)."
Burcin, who is Director of Sales, reviewed for me some of the prestigious engagements at which the band has appeared so far this year.
"In January, we played at the Harvard Club in New York, for the New York State Bar Association's annual dinner gala, where more than 3000 guests were in attendance," he stated. "Also in January, we had the pleasure of performing in Chattanooga, TN, where 5000 people attended a fund raiser / dinner-dance for the Memorial Health Care Foundation."
"In March, we had the pleasure of playing for the Saint David Society of New York at the Yale Club, and also the Black Watch Council of New York at the Union League Club, also in New York," he said.
"In April, we played for over 2000 people at Cipriani 42nd Street, where 12 debutantes had their coming out," Burcin recalled. "Money was raised to support French American Aid for Children."
"In May, we performed in New York for the Columbia Medical School at the Metropolitan Club of New York... at Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach Florida where 1500 members of the Flavor Extract Manufacturing Association members from all over the world attended... and at Union Station in Washington, DC, where 5000 people attended the Georgetown commencement ball," he went on. "Back in New York at Cipriani, over 1200 guests attended the Scandinavian Society Dinner Gala, where the King and Queen of Sweden were honored."
"As you can see," Burcin commented, "these are private but very prestigious parties that we have the pleasure of performing at, and it gives you an idea of the different cities we get to."
Upcoming bookings are in a similar variety of locales.
"Some future dates include the famous Central Park Boat House in September, The Schuyler Meadows Club outside of Albany, NY, and the Skaneateles Country Club in upstate New York, as well," he said. "October, we are at the famous Rainbow Room above Rockefeller Center for a private dinner gala. Also, we will be at the Union League Club of New York for the Washington and Lee alumni dinner gala. November brings us to the Metropolitan Club for the annual Dinner Gala for the Society of Mayflower Decedents, and also the Union League Club of Philadelphia, where 800 members gather for their annual fall dance. In December, we will be at the Waldorf-Astoria for the International Debutante Ball, where 80 girls from all over the world will have their coming out. And in January, we fly to Fort Worth Texas for the famous Jewel Charity Ball."
I wish Messrs. Bruno and Burcin much success with Lester Lanin Music and The Lester Lanin Orchestra!
OTHER BIG BAND ITINERARIES - SELECT LIST
Ray Anthony and His Orchestra: Aug. 27, 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
Governor's Ball, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes: Aug. 28, Millenium Park, Chicago, IL [ free,
joint performance with The Chicago Jazz Orchestra in a mock "Basie Meets Ellington" battle ]
Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Paul Ellington: Aug. 27, House of Blues, Showboat
Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ
Sammy Kaye Orchestra directed by Roger Thorpe: Aug. 4, "Pride of Saginaw," Morley
Plaza, Saginaw, MI [ two free shows, open to the public ]; Aug. 13, Clemens Center, Elmira, NY
Gene Krupa Quartet featuring Michael Berkowitz: Aug. 3, Auditorium Juan Baustita
Gutierrez, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians directed by Al Pierson: July 16, Clayton Opera House,
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien: Aug. 1, Westchester Broadway Dinner
Theater, Elmsford, NY; Aug. 2, City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA; Aug. 3, Roger Sherman
Baldwin Park, Greenwich, CT; Aug. 4, Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, PA; Aug. 7,
Art Park, Lewiston, NY; Aug. 9, Foellinger Theater, Fort Wayne, IN; Aug. 12, Shooting
Star Casino, Mohnomen, MN; Aug. 14, Royal Theatre, Victoria, British Columbia,
Canada; Aug. 15, Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Aug. 17,
Epcor Center, Calbary, Alberta, Canada; Aug. 18, Francis Winspear Centre for Music,
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Aug. 20, Casino Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Aug. 21,
Manitoba Centennial Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Aug. 25, Lexington Music &
Theatre Co., Lexington, MI; Aug. 26, Towne & Country Theatre, Norwalk, OH; Aug. 27,
Fredonia Opera House, Fredonia, NY; Aug. 28, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontario,
Canada; Aug. 29-30, Theatre St. Denis, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Aug. 31, Salle
Albert-Rousseau, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada
Russ Morgan Orchestra directed by Jack Morgan: Aug. 13, Metropolitan Beach Ballroom,
Mt. Clemens, MI
THE SWEETEST MUSIC THIS SIDE OF... IOWA
IPTV, Iowa Public Television, is airing a program, "Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians," on three different dates this month: August 5, 19, and 26. There will be archival footage of vintage Lombardo performances, including Ain't She Sweet, Nevertheless, I Ain't Gonna Take It Sitting Down, Canadian Capers, St. James Infirmary, If You Love Me, Say It with Music, Easter Parade, and Alexander's Ragtime Band. New "wraparound" segments were taped with Al Pierson, director of the Lombardo band since 1989, who offers brief facts and anecdotes about Lombardo and his music.
"RED BEANS & RICELY YOURS"
The sixth annual "Satchmo SummerFest," dedicated to the memory of Louis Armstrong, was held from August 3-6 in his hometown, New Orleans, LA. Because of the damage from Hurricane Katrina, the Fest had to slightly shift its locale, but still promised plenty of music, food, and fun.
Seminars featured jazz scholar Dan Morgenstern ("Caught in the Act: A Personal View of Armstrong in the Recording Studio and His Many TV Performances"), record producer George Avakian ("Satchmo Goes Pop: Los Angeles to Chicago, 1930-1932"), curator Michael Cogswell ("Louis Armstrong: The Offstage Story of Satchmo"), and author - historian Floyd Levin ("Happy Birthday, Louis," a film presentation).
One event on August 5th was "The Sweet Sounds of Satchmo Sugarfoot Stomp," an exhibition by celebrated local chefs, including a display of "blown sugar trumpets, carved chocolate sculptures, [ and ] other sumptuous culinary delights inspired by Satchmo."
There were also various concerts, a club crawl, parade, and jazz mass. For more details, view the website nola.com/satchmofest/.
BIG BAND BIRTHDAYS - SELECT LIST
Herb Ellis, guitarist (G. Gray '44, J. Dorsey '45-'47; Carter '54), b. August 4, 1921
Jack Morgan, trombonist (Morgan '58-'69; leader of Morgan Orchestra '69- ),
b. August 4, 1940
Buddy Collette, saxophonist - clarinetist (Les Hite '42; Hayes '47; Carter '48-'49),
b. August 6, 1921
Urbie Green, trombonist - leader (Savitt; Carle '45; Krupa '47 / '50; T. Dorsey Orchestra
'66-'67), b. August 8, 1926
Frank Capp, drummer (Kenton '51; Hefti '52), b. August 20, 1931
Peter Appleyard, vibraphonist (Goodman '71-'77), b. August 26, 1928
Med Flory, saxophonist (Thornhill '50; Mooney; Herman '53 / '59), b. August 27, 1926
Jerry Dodgion, alto saxophonist (Carter '55; Goodman '59-'60 / '61 / '62),
b. August 29, 1932
Mike Douglas, 81, vocalist (Kyser '45-'46; '49-'50) - TV show host, Aug. 11, 2006
[ he died on his birthday ]
Duke Jordan, 84, pianist (Cooper + Savoy Sultans; Eldridge '46), Aug. 8, 2006
Maynard Ferguson, 78, trumpeter (Raeburn '48; J. Dorsey '49; Barnet '49 / '54 / '56;
Kenton '50-'53) - bandleader ('56- ), Aug. 23, 2006, "kidney and liver failure due to
an abdominal infection"
CONGRATULATIONS TO DON GILL
After working in radio and television for over 50 years, Don Gill was inducted into the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame on August 10th. For more than 15 years, Gill has hosted "Big Band Spotlight," a one-hour program which airs Fridays at 8:30 pm CST on NET Radio 91.1 FM, the National Public Radio (NPR) station in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thanks for spinning the big bands with charm, wit, and interesting background information, Mr. Gill!
IN PRINT AND / OR ONLINE - SELECT LIST
Chapman, Geoff. "Orchestra keeps Glenn Miller's sound alive," Toronto [ Ontario,
Canada ] Star / thestar.com, Aug. 24, 2006.
Eaton, Tony. "Glenn On the Net: Part 4 and Tony Eaton Is Still Surfing,"
Moonlight Serenader, No. 308 / 3rd Ed. 2006, pp.9-10.
---. "Skip Nelson On the Net," Moonlight Serenader, No. 308 / 3rd Ed. 2006, p.10.
Friedwald, Will. "Exploring Dizzy's Afro-Latin Landscape," New York Sun / nysun.com,
Aug. 4, 2006. [ review of a performance by the Jon Faddis Quartet plus two guest percussionists ]
Ginell, Richard S. "Big Band Bash," Variety / variety.com, Aug. 24, 2006. [ review of an Aug. 23rd
performance at the Hollywood Bowl, which included the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, a "Kenton Orchestra 2006: Artistry in Rhythm"
directed by Robert Curnow, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band conducted by Slide Hampton ]
Lloyd, Robert. "Mike Douglas left his ego off the set: The always-civil talk show host
let his guests steal the show," Los Angeles Times / latimes.com, Aug. 14, 2006.
Stevens, Garry with Stephen Fratallone. Band Singer: An Autobiography (Houston, TX:
Bookstand Publishing, 2006). [ 199-pg. book ]
Taylor, Roland. "Miller's Mighty Service Band," Moonlight Serenader, No. 308 /
3rd Ed. 2006, pp.3-6.
Thurber, Jon. "Maynard Ferguson, 78; Trumpeter, Big Band Leader Achieved Pop
Success," Los Angeles Times / latimes.com, Aug. 25, 2006. [ obituary ]
Vanstone, Rob. "Glenn Miller Orchestra here Sunday," [ Regina, Saskatchewan,
Canada ] Leader-Post / canada.com/reginaleaderpost, Aug. 16, 2006. [ Leader Larry O'Brien
comments on the continuing popularity of the Orchestra ]
---. "Miller classics stand test of time," [ Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada ] Leader-Post /
canada.com/reginaleaderpost, Aug. 22, 2006. [ review of sold-out Aug. 20th performance ]
Von Drehle, David. "Maynard Ferguson's Horn Screamed With Vulgar Passion,"
Washington [ DC ] Post / washingtonpost.com, Aug. 26, 2006. [ obituary ]
SPREADIN' RHYTHM AROUND
Sony-BMG is releasing a new, 3-CD set, "Fats Waller: If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It," catalog number 82876 832672, including an essay about Waller by Dan Morgenstern, Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.
"In his heyday, Fats was a big seller," Morgenstern told me. "How many fans of Fats survive nowadays? It's not likely to be a whole lot, in terms of what record labels are looking for in sales. But he's still a concept. Younger listeners have become aware of him. So one would have to wait and see how this is received."
The set's 66 tracks date from 1926-43 and are divided into three themes. Here is the complete track listing:
disc 1 - "Fats Waller Sings and Plays Fats Waller"
1 Honeysuckle Rose
2 How Can You Face Me?
3 The Panic Is On
4 Sugar Rose
5 I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby (And My Baby's Crazy 'Bout Me)
6 Lost Love
7 Our Love Was Meant to Be
8 The Joint is Jumpin'
9 A Hopeless Love Affair
10 Hold My Hand
11 Patty Cake, Patty Cake
12 Honey Hush
14 Squeeze Me
15 Old Grand Dad
16 All That Meat and No Potatoes
17 Ain't Nothin' to It
18 Bessie, Bessie, Bessie
19 Cash for Your Trash
20 You Must Be Losing Your Mind
21 Up Jumped You with Love
22 Ain't Misbehavin' [ "2000 Remastered" ]
disc 2 - "Strictly Instrumental" [ mostly solo keyboard or small band performances ]
1 St. Louis Blues
3 Thou Swell
4 Numb Fumblin'
5 Ain't Misbehavin'
6 Love Me Or Leave Me [ take 3 ]
7 Smashin' Thirds
8 My Fate Is in Your Hands
9 African Ripples
10 Viper's Drag
11 Keepin' Out of Mischief Now
12 Star Dust
13 Carolina Shout
14 Serenade for a Wealthy Widow
17 Lounging At The Waldorf
18 Blue, Turnin' Grey Over You
19 In the Gloamin'
21 The Jitterbug Waltz
22 Honeysuckle Rose
disc 3 - "Fats Sings and Plays Around with Tin Pan Alley"
1 (I'll Be Glad When You're Dead) You Rascal You
2 You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew
3 What's the Reason (I'm Not Pleasin' You)
4 Lulu's Back in Town
5 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
7 There'll Be Some Changes Made
8 Somebody Stole My Gal
9 Christopher Columbus (A Rhythm Cocktail)
10 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
11 She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific
12 The Sheik of Araby
13 Two Sleepy People
14 A Good Man Is Hard to Find
15 Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood, Mama) [ previously unissued master ]
16 'Tain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It)
17 Your Feet's Too Big
18 Darktown Strutters' Ball
19 I Can't Give You Anything But Love
20 You Run Your Mouth, I'll Run My Business
21 Let's Get Away From It All
22 'Tain't Nobody's Biz-Ness If I Do
"I would imagine that they would not have considered doing this... and they spend quite a bit of money on these things... if they were not thinking that they could sell a reasonable amount of these sets," Morgenstern continued. "They're not doing it for art's sake. Record companies are bottom-line minded. We do have some people who have some sense of what this legacy is all about, and that's very encouraging. But I don't think they go in and, you know, invest in a project like this, unless they thought that it would be sellable. And, of course, it will probably also be offered in Japan, and there'll be some European version of it. Although, in Europe nowadays, there is such a huge proliferation of what is not 'bootleg' in Europe, because the copyright laws are different. Anything that's more than fifty years old is fair game over there, so you have a tremendous amount of stuff available."
MORE NEW COMPACT DISCS - SELECT LIST
Ray Anthony: "Juke Box Special," Montpellier ( UK) 12 [ 1950-54 ]
Louis Armstrong: "Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars: Live At the University of North
Carolina," Avid ( UK ) 870 [ May 8, 1954 ]
Count Basie: "One O'Clock Jump: The Very Best of Count Basie," Sony Legacy
"Signature Series" 81744 [ 14 studio and broadcast performances, all previously on Columbia C4K 87110,
"Count Basie and His Orchestra: America's #1 Band!," released in 2003 ]
Les Brown: "The Complete Song Books," Lone Hill Jazz ( Spain ) 10261 [ = two 1959 Coral LPs,
"Swing Song Book" ( CRL 57300 ) and "Jazz Song Book" ( CRL 57311 ) ]
Larry Clinton: "Larry Clinton and His Orchestra featuring Bea Wain: My Reverie,"
ASV Living Era ( UK ) CD AJA 5629
Tommy Dorsey: "Jamboree," Sounds of Yester Year (UK ) DSOY 712 [ 1935-36 ]
Duke Ellington: "The Private Collection," Castle Music Ltd. ( UK ) PBXCD010
[ 141 tracks, recorded 1956-71, previously available as separate volumes, now in a "budget" box of 10 CDs ]
Dizzy Gillespie: "Night in Tunisia: The Very Best of Dizzy Gillespie," Sony Legacy
"Signature Series" 84866 [ remastering done in 1994 ]
Benny Goodman: "Live At Basin Street East," Jazz Factory ( Spain ) 22881 [ July 1954 ]
Coleman Hawkins: "The Hawk Relaxes," Concord "Rudy Van Gelder Remasters" 1881062
Woody Herman: "My Kind of Broadway," Wounded Bird Records WOU 9157
[ = the 1965 Columbia LP CL 2357 / CS 9157 ]
Richard Himber: "The Complete Vol. Two: What Can You Say In A Love Song and 23 more
recordings from 1934," Renovation 7007
Spike Jones: "Omnibust / '60 Years of Music America Hates Best'," Collectables
COL-CD-2900 [ NOTE: duplicates Taragon TARCD-1095 released 2002 ]
Louis Jordan: "The Aladdin, 'X' & Vik Recordings 1953-55," Rev-Ola ( UK ) CRBAND2
Sammy Kaye: "Swing and Sway in Hawaii," Decca ( Japan ) UICY-93135
Glenn Miller: "Dancing in a Dream," Sounds of Yester Year ( UK ) DSOY 713 [ 1940-41 ]
Chick Webb: "Ella Fitzgerald: Complete 1940 NBC Broadcasts," Definitive ( Spain )
11299 [ 2-CD set incl. Jan. 22, 1940, Jan. 25, 1940, et al by "Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra" (that is,
The Chick Webb Orchestra after Chick's death ) ]
various artists: "Thanks for the Memories," Sounds of Yester Year ( UK ) DSOY 714
[ incl. Crosby, Eldridge, Oliver, others ]
IN THE YEAR 2106
What does Dan Morgenstern predict in the future for the music of the legendary big bands?
"Sometimes, it surprises me how often stuff is recycled, and, apparently, continues to sell. I mean, God knows how much Glenn Miller has been recycled, and, I think, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw, and so on," he commented to me. "The way things are in the world today, let's hope that anything will survive < laughs >. But, given that we'll be okay and that we don't melt the globe < chuckles > or whatever, that we manage to carry on, jazz is a great music and it's one of the great artistic phenomenons of the 20th Century. I have no doubt that it will survive, and people a hundred years from today will still [ also ] be listening to Armstrong and Ellington and Waller, and Charlie Parker and Lester Young and Art Tatum, and whatever, because it's a unique, wonderful expression of human creativity. It's a very special kind of music that came about at a very special time in history, and in a special place, which is the United States. It's something that will survive, because people are gonna be interested in it, just like we still have people who want to perform and study baroque music or music from the classical period. And we have people who love Gregorian chants, so, why not, you know? I think it'll be around, sure. It does coincide with the invention of the phonograph, so we have this very real legacy, which is, kind of, unprecedented."
send feedback about Big Band News August 2006 via e-mail