the big bands are back
in a new and exciting way
    Also presented here are other groups associated with the Blackhawk, though heard from different locations in Chicago and elsewhere: Coon-Sanders' Nighthawks, Hal Kemp, Jack Teagarden, Art Kassel, Les Brown, Chico Marx, Eddy Howard, and Buddy Moreno.
    Along with the music, the set contains a 24-page booklet with track details, program notes, and an essay about the Blackhawk by noted Chicago dance band expert Charles A. Sengstock, Jr.; various illustrations and photos from the family of Otto and Don Roth, who operated the Restaurant; and a bonus CD with a 25-minute interview of Don Roth by radio host Chuck Schaden.
    As with other big band titles from The Audio File, this is a first-rate production, in fine sound, produced with a caring touch.
    "It's been a true labor of love on my part!," Pearson told me.  "Bob Voracheck, manager of Don Roth's [ still operating as an eatery in Wheeling, IL ], as well as the Roth family, have been very supportive of the project."
    "Bands That Played the Blackhawk Restaurant" may be ordered directly from The Audio File, located in Glenview, IL, at 847-759-9288.    
Big Band Library rating: VERY GOOD

Louie Bellson, "Louie Bellson and His Jazz Orchestra: Hot," Nimbus NI 2712
  [ = Musicmasters 60160 ].
Benny Carter, "Elegy in Blue," Nimbus NI 2702 [ = Musicmasters 65115 ].
Bob Crosby, "Solid!: 20 Selections From 1957," Audiophonic 80921 [ 2-CD set; includes
    March of the Bobcats, Melody of Love, Vaya con Dios, Shortnin' Bread, I Apologize ].
Tommy Dorsey, "This Is It - The Best of Jack Leonard with Tommy Dorsey," Flare ( UK )
    ROYCD281 [ 26 selections including Marie, Who, Heaven Can Wait, How Am I to
    Know ].
Duke Ellington, "The Great Concerts: London & New York 1963 - 1964," Nimbus NI 2704
    [ 2-CD set; = Musicmasters 65106 + 65122 ].
Mercer Ellington, "Stepping Into Swing Society," Fresh Sounds Records ( Sp ) FSRCD 531
    [ = the 1958-59 LPs "Stepping Into Swing Society" (Coral CRL 57225) + "Colors in
    Rhythm" (CRL 57293) ].
Dizzy Gillespie, "Latino Anthology," C&B 540 [ 2-CD set; 1947-1957 ].
Benny Goodman, "Yale University Archives, Vol. 1 1955 - 1986," Nimbus NI 2700 [ 2-CD
    set; = Musicmasters 5000 + 5006 ].
Coleman Hawkins, "Complete Live At the Bayou Club 1959," Lonehill Jazz LHJ10350
    [ 2-CD set ].
Harry James, "On the Radio," Acrobat ( UK ) 339 [ 1944-1945 broadcasts ].
Dick Johnson, "Music for Swinging Moderns: Dick Johnson Quartet Sessions 1956-1957,"
    Fresh Sounds Records ( Sp ) FSRCD 528 [ = the LPs "Music for Swinging Moderns"
    (EmArcy MG 36081 + "Most Likely" (Riverside RLP 12-253) ].
Isham Jones, "Song of the Blues," Rivermont 1146 [ 25 selections; 1923-1932 ].
Louis Jordan, "The Later Years," JSP ( UK ) 4207 [ 2-CD set; 1953-1957 ].
Stan Kenton, "This Way Or That," Audiophonic 80907 [ 2-CD set; selection of 1941-42
    MacGregor transcriptions ].
---, "Road Band '67," Tantara 1124 [ live performances from 1967 ].
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien, "The All-Time Favorites!," Victor
    Entertainment ( J ) VICP-64524 [ selection of the band's previously-released recordings,
    incl. Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug, In the Mood, Star Dust, etc. ].
Artie Shaw, "The Last Recordings: Vol.1: 1954," Nimbus NI 2709/10 [ = Musicmasters
    65071 ].
---, "Misterioso [ sic ]," Edel ( G ) EREO193672.
Muggsy Spanier, "Muggsy A-Z," USD 1249.
Teddy Wilson, "Swedish Jazz My Way / Jazz a Confronto," Lone Hill Jazz LHJ10351
    [ material from Apr. 1970 and May 1974; = LPs Sonet ( Sw ) SNTF618 + Horo ( It )
    HHL101-12 ].
various artists, "Stanley Dance Presents the Music of the Great Ellingtonians," Fresh
    Sounds Records ( Sp ) FSRCD 532 [ = the LPs "Booty Wood: Hang In There" (MJR
    LP 8102) + "Paul Gonsalves / Harold Ashby: Tenor Stuff" (Metronome MLP 15073) ].

Joe Romano, 76, saxophonist (Herman '57-'59; Rich '68-'69), d.Nov. 26, 2008, lung cancer.

Herb Geller, alto saxophonist (Thornhill '50), b. Nov. 2, 1928.
Jim Harwood, trombonist (McKinley '42; Miller AAF '43-'44), b. Nov. 4, 1923.
Chris Connor, vocalist (Thornhill '52; Kenton '53), b. Nov. 8, 1927.
Louise Tobin, vocalist (James '39; Goodman '39), b. Nov. 11, 1918.
Johnny Mandel, trombonist - arranger (Raeburn '45; Rich '46 / '48; Shaw '49; Basie '53) - composer
     (The Shadow of Your Smile), b. Nov. 23, 1925.
Jack Sheldon, trumpeter (Kenton '58-'59; Goodman '59-'60 / '65 / '76 / '78), b. Nov. 30, 1931.

    November 2nd marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bunny Berigan, so I asked longtime Berigan expert Michael P. Zirpolo to reflect on why Bunny's music remains vital and enjoyable in 2008.
    "First, his trumpet sound was stunningly beautiful: large, round and warm in all registers, and he had a lovely controlled vibrato," he responded.  "Second, his playing seems to communicate with people on a variety of levels in a very dramatic and immediate way."
    I also inquired about what Zirpolo thinks of Bunny's ability to lead a big band, as opposed to his remaining a sideman with, say, Benny Goodman or Tommy Dorsey.
    "Bunny was first, last, and always, a musician.  He was intent on making music, and contrary to existing folklore, he was a dedicated and skillful bandleader, whose leadership facilitated many splendid performances by the various bands he led," Zirpolo observed.  "Although he was not a businessman in any sense, he was not careless about business matters.  He retained the services of some of the best people in the band business to help guide his career.  Unfortunately, he trusted them completely, overlooked their conflicts of interest and other shenanigans, and as a result, they often took advantage of him.  Under the guidance of his last manager, he had reduced or eliminated the debt he incurred as a result of leading a band on the road, and was playing to large and enthusiastic audiences with his band.  In the last year of his life he was also appearing more frequently as a trumpet soloist away from his band, and his career was once again on the upswing."
    It's a shame that Bunny's death couldn't have been prevented.
    "Unfortunately, his alcoholism was accompanied by cirrhosis, and from late 1941 until his death from it on June 2, 1942, that disease became progressively worse," Zirpolo explained.  "Still, he was playing before appreciative audiences on the road until only a few days before he died."
    Zirpolo has recently been hard at work on a Berigan biography, which promises, in part, to carefully analyze Bunny's life and career and to rectify some of the long-held inaccuracies surrounding him.
    "How and why Bunny became an alcoholic (and a workaholic), how he struggled with his alcoholism, why his marriage was unsuccessful (including his ill-fated liaison with singer Lee Wiley), his complex relationship with Tommy Dorsey, his strange relationships with Music Corporation of America and RCA Victor, these and much, much more make up the full story of Bunny Berigan," Zirpolo commented.  "I have tried to tell it as comprehensively as possible, and have had access to the massive research done by the late Bozy White and others, as well as assistance by Berigan biographer Bob Dupuis, among many others to help me do it."
    I hope that Zirpolo's project can be accompanied by a CD of Berigan music, ideally some previously-unissued things.  In the meantime, would he identify some of his favorite performances which feature Bunny?
    "There are too many to list," Zirpolo cautioned, "but here are a few: among the well-known - King Porter Stomp, Blue Skies, and Sometimes I'm Happy, with Benny Goodman; Marie, Song of India, and Liebestraum, with Tommy Dorsey.  With his own bands: I Can't Get Started, (both small and big band versions); Caravan, The Wearin' of the Green, Trees, and Jelly Roll Blues, among the better-known; and Turn On That Red Hot Heat, Sobbin' Blues, [ and ] Ebb Tide, among the lesser known.  Bunny's series of recordings paying tribute to Bix Beiderbecke are also marvelous, with Flashes being an especially fine performance that is often overlooked.  Two live recordings from the summer/fall of 1939, when he was playing superbly (but Victor failed to record him) are Livery Stable Blues (from Chicago's Hotel Sherman) and I Poured My Heart Into a Song (from New York's Manhattan Center).  One of the last recordings he made, Skylark, cut only weeks before he died, is excellent, and quintessential Berigan.  Earlier gems are to be found in the recordings he made with Frank Trumbauer in late 1934, and the dozen or so sides he recorded for John Hammond in late 1935.  There are many, many more."
    Having thoroughly whetted our Berigan appetites, how soon might we read Zirpolo's completed manuscript?
    "I'm putting the finishing touches on it," he reported.

    C. Calloway Brooks recently talked about his famous grandfather, Cab Calloway, with Charity Bonner, staff writer for the Courier News in Illinois.
    "It is a great tradition to perpetuate.  It is a source for a lot of styles that came afterwards,"
Brooks, director of today's Cab Calloway Orchestra, observed.  "To get the people
participating in the magic of the moment, everything kind of feeds off that energy.  I don't
think it is how many songs you know or how many chords you know or how rough you are or where you grow up or who you studied."
    And so big band music lives on.
    "It is the universality of it coupled with the simplicity of it that makes it endure," Brooks
said.  "The same thing that makes my grandfather's style endure is the same thing that
makes blues endure, which is the simplicity of it."

    Louis Prima will be the topic November 12th when his widow, Gia, speaks of his life and musical legacy at the Destin Library in Destin, FL.  She will also show video clips from some of Prima's performances. 
    "My dad was a huge Louis Prima fan," Gia recalled recently.  "From when I was a little child, Dad would wake me up blasting Louis Prima music on the record player . . . He was my life ... all my life . . . It still remains that way today ... Like a Cinderella story come true.
    Her program is free and open to the public.

    The grandson of big band leader Griff Williams, puppeteer Basil Twist, 38, brought a ramped-up version of his 2001 production of Igor Stravinsky's 1911 ballet Petrushka to the Phoenix Symphony in Phoenix, AZ this month, adding a visual element to the standard concert-hall experience.
    Speaking about his grandfather to Richard Nilson of The Arizona Republic, Twist said, "He loved puppets and brought them onstage . . . He had string marionettes of Harry James, Cab Calloway and other names of the time.  There is a puppet of himself, too.  He'd stand on the piano operating the puppet with a spotlight following it, as the puppet 'led' the band.  He died before I was born, but when I was young and already enamored of puppets, my grandmother gave me those puppets.  They are in my show Arias With a Twist still running in a little theater in New York."

    Three former members of Woody Herman's band - trombonist John Fedchock, drummer
John Riley, and saxophonist Ralph Lalama - will be guest artists in a November 15th concert titled “The Thundering Herds of Woody Herman,” to be held at Purchase College in Purchase, NY.  They will perform with the College's Jazz Orchestra directed by Todd Coolman, director of the Jazz Studies program there.

Louie Bellson: Nov. 23, Holiday Market, Silver Valley Country Club, San Jose, CA [ NOTE:
    "meet & greet" - not a performance ] - - - canceled due to Mr. Bellson falling and breaking
    his hip.
Cab Calloway Orchestra directed by C. Calloway Brooks: Nov. 7, Tecumseh Center for the
    Arts, Tecumseh, MI; Nov. 9, Hemmens Cultural Center, Elgin, IL; Nov. 22, Viterbo
    University, LaCrosse, WI.
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole: Nov. 1, Findlay, OH; Nov. 10, Alva, OK;
    Nov. 17-18, St. George, UT [ with The Pied Pipers ].
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow: Nov. 8, State Theatre, Ithaca, NY;
    Nov. 11, [ portion of ] Crystal Serenity cruise, embark in Lisbon.
Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Barrie Lee Hall, Jr.: Nov. 14-16, Grand Rapids
    Symphony, Grand Rapids, MI.
Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Frank Tiberi: Nov. 19, Living Arts Centre,
    Hammerson Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke: Nov. 21, The Pampas Club, Seattle, WA
    [ with Brian Nova ].
Sammy Kaye Orchestra directed by Roger Thorpe: Nov. 1, Roanoke Island Festival Park,
    Manteo, NC; Nov. 2, Paramount Theater, Burlington, NC.
Hal McIntyre Orchestra directed by Don Pentleton: Nov. 14, Oakley Country Club,
    Watertown, MA [ by reservation only ].
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien: Nov. 1, Washington & Jefferson College,
    Washington, PA; Nov. 3, Stage West, Missisagua, Ontario, Canada; Nov. 4, Carmens
    Banquet & Convention Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Nov. 5, Hearthstone Manor,
    Depew, NY; Nov. 7, The Carlyle Club, Alexandria, VA; Nov. 8, Patchogue Theatre,
    Patchogue, NY; Nov. 9, Lebanon Senior High School, Lebanon, PA; Nov. 10-11,
    Westchester Broadway Theatre, Elmsford, NY; Nov. 14-30, [ portion of ] Japan tour.
Modernaires: Nov. 9, Vocal Group Hall of Fame Induction Concert, Chevrolet Center,
    Youngstown, OH.
Louis Prima, Jr.: Nov. 9, Stoney's Rockin' Country, Las Vegas, NV; Nov. 22, Lullalee "Art
    for Literacy" benefit concert, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA.

Geoff Boucher, "Quincy Jones looks back, in hardcover," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 16,
    2008 [ brief article about his new autobiography, The Complete Quincy Jones: My
    Journey & Passions: Photos, Letters, Memories & More From Q's Personal Collection
    (San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions, Nov. 2008) ].
Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, "The Duke Ellington Orchestra knows how to cook," Grand Rapids
    [ MI ] Press, Nov. 15, 2008 [ review of the band's opening-night appearance with the
    Grand Rapids Symphony ].
John McDonough, "Six Forgotten Beats," Down Beat, Nov. 2008, pp.50-54 [ excellent,
    thoughtful article about six drummers whom society now mostly ignores: Chick Webb,
    Jo Jones, Gene Krupa, Sid Catlett, Sonny Greer, and Dave Tough ].
Cam Miller, "Miller is vocal for big-band era," [ California ] North County Times, Nov. 12,
    2008 [ vocalist Cassie Miller, who has performed with the Harry James and Tex Beneke
    orchestras, discusses her enthusiam about big band music ].
Herb Nolan, "Forty Years of the Nomadic Herd," Down Beat, Nov. 2008, p.14 [ from "The
    Archives" excerpt quoting Woody Herman about the future of big bands, originally
    published in the Nov. 4, 1976 issue ].
Terry Rindfleisch, "Review: Calloway orchestra performance was delightful," LaCrosse
    [ WI ] Tribune, Nov. 23, 2008 [ review of the band's appearance the night before ].
Fraser Sherman, "The 'soundtrack of our lives': Gia Prima remembers her husband,"
    Destin [ FL ] Log, Nov. 13, 2008 [ an audience of about 100 people were present at
    the Destin Library to hear her talk about her late husband, Louis Prima ].
Mandy Zajac, "Guy and Ralna bring Lawrence Welk memories to Mesa," [ Phoenix, AZ ]
    East Valley Tribune, Nov. 1, 2008 [ they will perform Nov. 9 backed by an 11-piece
    band ].

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compiled by Music Librarian

    A deluxe, new CD set compiled by historian Karl Pearson, "Bands That Played the Blackhawk Restaurant" (The Audio File), collects six hours' worth of radio broadcasts by famous orchestras which performed at that well-known Chicago venue between 1929 and 1949.
    Included are a half-dozen bands actually on the Blackhawk bandstand, namely Bob Crosby, Ozzie Nelson, Blue Barron, Raymond Scott, Del Courtney, and Al Trace.
image courtesy of Karl Pearson and used with permission