ALL HAIL THE KING OF SWING
The 31st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival took place this month, and two events leading up to it and one taking place during it promise to be very special for big band fans.
A free panel discussion, "Benny Goodman: The First American Idol?," will be presented at 12 Noon on Thurs., September 3rd in the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center. Jazz writer - historian John McDonough will address whether Goodman's role in popularizing jazz helped to create the superstar system in American music. Among those joining McDonough will be one of Benny's daughters, Rachel Edelson.
At 6:30 that evening in the Pritzker Pavilion at Millenium Park, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble and clarinetist Buddy DeFranco are to appear in a free concert in Goodman's honor. They will perform both classic and contemporary arrangements, including a newly-commissioned work, Benny: Then, Now and Forever, composed by Victor Goines.
On Sat., September 5th at 3:30 pm, clarinetist - saxophonist Eric Schneider will offer his own tribute to Goodman in Grant Park in another free session.
BENNY GOODMAN: THE FAMOUS 1938 CARNEGIE HALL JAZZ CONCERT
(Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England: Prancing Fish Publishing, 2009)
A new, 218-page title further celebrates the Goodman centenary by focusing on his jazz concert which took place at Carnegie Hall on January 16th, 1938. Author Jon Hancock spent years researching the topic and thoroughly covers it with detailed text, many photographs, reproductions of advertisements and other memorabilia, and a song-by-song discussion of the Carnegie Hall playlist. Benny's daughter, Rachel, contributed a forward, "The Quest for a Perfect Reed," and Hancock's book includes footnotes, a bibliography, and an index. The cover shows the 1950 Columbia LP issue of the concert (set SL 160, which contained record nos. ML / OL 4341 and 4342).
One might not think that there is a book's worth of information to tell about a single date, but, disregarding some silly errors which Hancock should know better (like spelling Glenn Miller's name with a single "n" and confusing Artie Shaw with Arnold Shaw in the index), I enjoyed seeing this.
Big Band Library rating: EXCELLENT
AND ONE MORE THING ABOUT B.G.
In this month's IAJRC Journal (Vol.42 No.3), Bix Beiderbecke expert Albert Haim writes of "Bix and Benny," telling how and when the careers of Beiderbecke and Goodman overlapped. Haim's article is on pages 44 through 50.
ANDY WARHOL'S 15 MINUTES OF FAME
Another recent book, Andy Warhol: The Record Covers 1949-1987: Catalogue Raisonne (Montréal, Quebec, Canada: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2008) reproduces various LP jackets which Warhol did artwork for. It may surprise some to see a few big band names included, namely the face of "Count Basie" (RCA Victor LPM-1112, 1955); the seven heavenly figures on "Cool Gabriels" (Groove LG-1003, 1956), coordinated musically by Elliot Lawrence; the close-up of hands and the clarinet on the front of "Artie Shaw: Both Feet in the Groove"
(RCA Victor LPM-1201, 1956); and the seven clock faces and pocket watches on the back of "Artie Shaw: Any Old Time" (RCA Victor LPM-1570).
SOUNDS OF CHICAGO'S LAKEFRONT
Yet one more book to mention - Tony Macaluso, Julia S. Bachrach, and Neal Samors' Sounds of Chicago's Lakefront: A Celebration of the Grant Park Music Festival (Chicago: Chicago's Neighborhoods, Inc., 2009), for its inclusion of three big bands.
In 1937, the Festival's first season, Rudy Vallee was one of the guests at the Grant Park bandshell.
"Seventy thousand people whooped it up for Rudy Vallee last night . . . a bill that any showhouse would sell its soul to secure . . .," it was stated in a newspaper account.
Benny Goodman performed in 1941 as a guest with the Woman's Symphony, then led his own orchestra for the rest of the program.
"Enthusiasm mounted steadily, and when the men of Goodman's band started taking the places vacated by the woman's orchestra the thousands of high school youngsters packed in front of the band shell became all but hysterical," it was reported.
And on June 25, 1970, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra played at Grant Park, then stayed in town to appear at the Conrad Hilton Hotel the following evening.
SLACK AND MAC WON'T BE BACK
Some bad news came from Mosaic Records on the 9th of this month.
"Each of our sets is manufactured by the label that owns and licenses to us the masters contained in the set. One of our major licensors changed pressing plants for the tens of thousands of titles it manufactures. Unfortunately a number of Mosaic titles (mostly Selects) were deleted and all of the components and masters were destroyed in process," an e-mail message revealed."
Among the now-discontinued titles is the 3-disc "Mosaic Select: Freddie Slack" (MS-018), which not only includes 65 Slacks recorded for Capitol from 1942-52 but also the 7 Ray McKinley sides made in 1942. Another is the 3-disc "Mosaic Select: Johnny Richards" (MS-017) with music recorded by the former Stan Kenton arranger-composer on Capitol in 1955-66.
"Mosaic Records cannot afford to remaster and remanufacture components for the remaining run of these titles and due to contractual issues there is no relief from the responsible parties. We have no choice but to prematurely retire these titles . . . we are forced to tell you without warning that we are out of stock and these titles will never be available again."
If you wanted either the Slack or Richards sets, it may be difficult finding a copy to purchase.
"As champions of the completist concept, we know how important collecting a complete set of releases is and heartfully apologize for this set of circumstances."
NEW COMPACT DISCS
Dizzy Gillespie, "Dizzy for President," Douglas Records DRS 4 [ a 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival
Bobby Hackett, "Strike Up the Band / Creole Cookin'," Lonehill Jazz LHJ10377 [ = the 1975
Flying Dutchman LP BDL1-0829 + the 1967 Verve LP V6-8698 ].
Ralph Marterie, "Let's Go to Town," Sounds of Yester Year ( UK ) DSOY 789 [ 2-CDs ].
Billy May, "Maytime," Montpellier ( UK ) MONTCD 056 [ 22 selections recorded for Capitol during 1952-55,
including the entire "Bacchanalia!" LP H374 (10") / T374 (12") and the majority of the "Arthur Murray Cha Cha Mambos" LP T578
(leaving off Mama Inez and Ain't She Sweet Cha Cha ].
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Ray McKinley, "Whistle Stop," Montpellier ( UK ) MONT
CD57 [ nine selections from RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1522 "The New Glenn Miller Orchestra in Hi-Fi" (leaving off I'm Thrilled,
I Almost Lost My Mind, and Slumber Song) plus nine selections from RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1852 "The Miller Sound" (leaving off
Civilization, Too Little Time, and Oranges and Lemons ].
MORE BIG BANDS FROM CHICAGO
On Sat., September 5th, big band historian Karl Pearson will be Steve Darnall's special guest on "Those Were the Days," airing from 1 to 5 pm CST over WDCB 90.9 FM in the Chicago area or wdcb.org on the Internet, as "More Big Bands From Chicago" are presented. The line-up includes Ben Bernie, Art Kassel, Tex Beneke and The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Orrin Tucker, Duke Ellington, Sauter-Finegan, and Dick Jurgens, at various venues around Chicago between 1931 to 1969. Pearson will talk about those bands and Chicago dance spots.
IN-PRINT AND / OR ONLINE
Tavo Amador, "An unlikely success: Tell-all biography of Merv Griffin disappoints,"
[ San Francisco, CA ] Bay Area Reporter, Sept. 3, 2009 [ review of Darwin Porter's new book, "Merv
Griffin: A Life in the Closet (Staten Island, NY: Blood Moon Productions, Ltd., 2009) ].
David Bernhart, "A Message From the President," The Bandstand, Sept. 2009, p.2
[ mentions Van Alexander's new autobiography From Harlem to Hollywood: My Life in Music ].
Gary Demuth, "Glenn Miller Orchestra stands test of time," Salina [ KS ] Journal,
Sept. 25, 2009 [ "There's a great mystery to his death," GMO director Larry O'Brien told Demuth. "No one really knows
what happened to him because nothing was ever found of him." ].
Tony Eaton, "CD Reviews," [ Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 323 /
3rd Edition 2009, pp.7+ [ favorable critiques of Sounds of Yester Year CDs DSOY783 and DSOY780 ].
---, "What's New?," [ Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 323 / 3rd Edition
2009, pp.6-7 [ More dealing with the book The Glenn Miller Conspiracy: The never-before-told true story of his life -
and death; "The custodians of the GM Archives at the University of Colorado . . . presented their interpretation of what is known
about Glenn's activities . . . " ].
Michael Eck, "For famed composer Johnny Mandel, they'll be playing his songs," [ Albany,
NY ] Times Union, Sept. 24, 2009 [ Mandel (Raeburn '45; Rich '46 / '48; Shaw '49; Basie '53) will be honored at a
concert at the Massry Center for the Arts. He commented to Eck, "I think it's a dismal world when 'American Idol' becomes the
arbiter of good taste in the world of music. It's gone as low as you can go. It seems like it's going to have to get better, but don't
ask me how, I have no idea. I don't want to sound like an old person, but it just used to be a whole lot better. Music is made by
amateurs now and not by professionals and that's all encouraged. 'American Idol' is an amateur show, that's all it is. It seems
almost like professional is a dirty word these days.'" ].
Albert Haim, "Bix and Benny," IAJRC Journal, Sept. 2009, pp.44-50 [ studies the musical
interactions of Beiderbecke and Goodman ].
Nat Hentoff, "The Other Frank Sinatra," Wall Street Journal, Sept. 1, 2009 [ Frank Sinatra Jr. talks
about his career, including working, at age 19, with Sam Donahue and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the 1960s. "Donahue
was a musicians' musician," Sinatra Jr. told Hentoff. "The bulk of what I knew about singing with a band started then, hanging
out with him and his musicians. From then on—like mechanics hang around with other mechanics—I stayed around musicians.
One of my mentors was Duke Ellington. He took me under his wing." ].
W. Kim Heron, "Jazz: The last king of swing," Detroit [ MI ] Metro Times, Sept. 2, 2009
[ about Gerald Wilson (Lunceford '39-'42) ].
Phil Holdman, "An Interview with Big Band Vocalist Gail Reese," The Great Escape!,
Issue No.15 Sept./Oct. 2009, p.8 [ re-print of an older interview; Reese worked with Barnet, Berigan, Miller,
and Osborne ].
Henry Holloway, "Best Ever Trip to the USA," [ Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader,
Number 323 / 3rd Edition 2009, p.2+ [ recounts Holloway's recent visit to the USA, including a dinner in his
honor hosted by former band vocalist Ginny Mancini and attended by singers Tony Martin and Bea Wain, vibraphonist Terry
Gibbs, Big Band Academy of America President David Bernhart, author-historian John Tumpak, and others ].
Bruce Klauber, "The Benny Goodman Band That Never Was...Rediscovered!," Naples
[ FL ] News, Sept. 2, 2009 [ a 1953 tour which co-starred Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong ].
Bob Knack, "They Also Died Too Young," The Great Escape!, Issue No.15 Sept./Oct.
2009, p.1+ [ about musicians who have died at a young age or under off circumstances ].
Howard Reich, "Chicago honors the King of Swing Benny Goodman," Chicago Tribune,
Sept. 1, 2009 [ including comments by Buddy DeFranco about Benny ].
Bob Reny, "Sam Donahue On CD," IAJRC Journal, Sept. 2009, pp.39-42 [ comments about
available titles by Donahue ].
Robert J. Robbins, "Count Basie Orchestra: Swinging, Playing, Singing," all about jazz,
allaboutjazz.com, Sept. 22, 2009 [ favorable review of new CD ].
Tom Scanlan, "The Impeccable Mr. Wilson," DownBeat, Sept. 2009, pp.36-39 [ re-print of an article
about pianist-bandleader Teddy Wilson from Jan. 22, 1959 ].
Roger Schlueter, "Answer man: A voice from the past made it big," Belleville [ IL ]
News-Democrat, Sept. 6, 2009 [ someone wrote in asking whatever became of vocalist Jeanne McManus, who
sang with Hal McIntyre's band. She died of a brain hemorrhage in 2002. ].
Roland Taylor, "Editorial," [ Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight Serenader, Number 323 / 3rd
Edition 2009, p.1 [ Re: "Tony Eaton's excellent review of Hunton Downs' book . . . a plausible explanation of what might
have happened . . . " ].
---, "'GM Conspiracy' book is now on sale in the UK," [ Glenn Miller Society ] Moonlight
Serenader, Number 323 / 3rd Edition 2009, p.1 [ "The book . . . . offers a clear possibility concerning the
tragic loss of Major Glenn Miller." ].
---, "Miller's Mighty Service Band: The ensemble in focus," [ Glenn Miller Society ]
Moonlight Serenader, Number 323 / 3rd Edition 2009, pp.9-11 [ A continuing chronological study,
now into July 1944 ].
Kathyrne Williams, "Harry James Orchestra to perform at BCA's first concert of season,"
Beckley [ WV ] Register-Herald, Sept. 25, 2009 [ "When the Harry James Foundation, which owns the band’s
charts and is dedicated to preserving the legacy, was searching for a musician to lead the Harry James Orchestra for the 50th
anniversary ( sic ) of Harry James," Williams writes, "Radke was the first choice because of his unique talents and broad area of
THE JAY McSHANN COLLECTION
Awards, photographs, performance footage, interviews, and other memorabilia which belonged to the late bandleader and pianist Jay McShann have been donated by his daughter, Pam, to the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
McShann, who moved from his native Oklahoma to Kansas City in 1936, attended the UMKC Conservatory of Music in the 1950s and received an honorary Doctor of Musical Arts in 1990.
During his career, he played big band, bebop, and blues, and his early 1940s orchestra included Charlie Parker on saxophone.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum at Queens College in New York is now seeking a Project Archivist to work with materials in their Jack Bradley Collection, which includes Armstrong-related sound recordings, film, photographs, personal papers, artifacts, and other materials. The person will be responsible for the arrangement, preservation, description, and use of those items, as well as the retrospective conversion of existing catalog records.
Minimum qualifications include a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree from an ALA-accredited institution or a Masters in Jazz History or equivalent professional experience. Ideally, they would like someone who has an expert knowledge in the history of jazz, especially the life and career of Louis Armstrong. A graduate degree in music, African-American Studies, American culture, or related discipline would also be desirable.
Length of employment would be two years, with an annual salary of $40,950 and benefits.
Additional details and application information may be viewed on the website louisarmstronghouse.org. The position is open until filled.
THIS MONTH'S ITINERARIES
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes: Sept. 11, Clark Center for the Performing
Arts, Arroyo Grande, CA.
Les Brown's Band of Renown directed by Les Brown, Jr.: Sept. 11, "Hooray for Hollywood"
dinner and dance, Tower Club, Springfield, MO.
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Buddy Morrow: Sept. 26, Saenger Theatre,
Eddy Howard Orchestra directed by Jerry Accola: Sept. 20, D's Place Bar / Restaurant,
East Dubuque, IL.
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke: Sept. 12, Moses Lake, WA; Sept. 25,
Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians directed by Al Pierson: Sept. 23, Lincoln-Way North
High School, Frankfort, IL.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Larry O'Brien: Sept. 9, Lincoln Theatre Napa Valley,
Yountville, CA; Sept. 10, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, CA; Sept. 11,
Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, Tracy, CA; Sept. 12, USS Hornet, Alameda, CA;
Sept. 13, College of the Siskiyous, Wood, CA; Sept. 15, Jacoby Auditorium, Roseburg,
OR; Sept. 16, Sprague Theater, Brandon, OR; Sept. 17, Events Center, Florence, OR;
Sept. 18, Tillamook High School, Tillamook, OR; Sept. 21, Brandt Center, Nampa, ID;
Sept. 22, Blackfoot Performing Arts Center, Blackfoot, ID; Sept. 24, Midwest Theatre,
Scotts Bluff, NE; Sept. 26, South Dakota State University Performing Arts Center,
Brookings, SD; Sept. 27, Northern Lights Casino, Walker, MN; Sept. 29, Missouri
Theatre, St. Joseph, MO.
Frank Sinatra, Jr.: Sept. 4, Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, CA; Sept. 5-6, Suncoast Casino,
Las Vegas, NV; Sept. 8, The Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA; Sept. 10-13, Catalina
Bar & Grill, Los Angeles, CA.
Ed Metz, Sr., 74, pianist - leader (Crosby's Bob Cats '96-'09), d.Sept. 1, 2009, "after a long illness."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
Stumpy Brown, trombonist-vocalist (Brown '43-'01?), b.Sept. 1, 1925.
Trigger Alpert, bassist (Rey '40; Miller '40-42; Miller AAF '43-'45), b.Sept. 3, 1916.
Gerald Wilson, trumpeter (Lunceford '39-'42) - bandleader, b.Sept. 4, 1918.
Virginia Maxey, vocalist (Barnet '43 / '48 "Red Skin Rhumba" [ sic ] Universal short; Pastor '44; Elman '47),
b.Sept. 4, 1923.
Frank Foster, saxophonist - arranger (Basie '53-'64; Basie Orch '86-'95), b.Sept. 23, 1928.
Herb Jeffries, vocalist (Ellington '39-'42), b.Sept. 24, 1913.
SPEAKING OF HERB JEFFRIES
Even in his mid-90s, he's been hosting an occasional "open mic night" of "poetry, prose and acoustic music" at Buzz Coffee, 73-647 Highway 111 in Palm Desert, CA this summer, drawing fellow singers, musicians, and poets.
According to Bruce Fessier of The Desert Sun, "If you have some prose to recite or lyrics to sing, or if you just want to hear Herb tell his joke about why flamingos fly so high, drop by for a coffee buzz."
$5 includes a free drink of your choice. For more information on the next "open mic night," call (760) 837-9091.
TRACKING DOWN THE "A" TRAIN
Over 20 years ago in Harlem, Garfield Gillings made an interesting find as he was looking through some trash (or, as it's termed today, while "dumpster diving"). He pulled out what seemed to be a three-page, simplified version of the music to the big band classic Take the "A" Train, composed by Billy Strayhorn for Duke Ellington's orchestra. What really made it unusual was that the pages were done in metal and appeared to be backwards.
Gillings recently contacted PBS' popular TV program, "History Detectives," hoping that they could trace the origin of the relics.
As shown in a segment which aired September 7th, the zinc and lead plates had been used by Ellington's publishing company, Tempo Music, to make copies for sale to the public in the early 1940s.
Among those who helped to identify the items were Loren Schoenberg, Director of The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and John Edward Hasse, Curator of The Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Gillings, an Ellington fan and now a resident of Brooklyn, NY, was pleased.
The late songwriter Carl Sigman was born 100 years ago on the 24th of this month. Besides adding lyrics to Jerry Gray's instrumental Pennsylvania 6-5000, Sigman co-wrote such popular favorites as Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) [ with Herb Magidson ], What Now, My Love [ a variation on Gilbert Becaud and Pierre Laroyer's Et Maintenant ], and Crazy, He Calls Me [ with Sidney Russell ]. Sigman's son, Michael, commented recently, "The point is the diversity and versatility of his songs."
Sound engineer Robert Auld will discuss "Recording the Jazz Big Bands" at the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention, to be held in the Javits Convention Center in New York City next month. He will present a multi-media talk which traces the recording practices of the Big Band Era to the development of early stereo techniques.
send feedback about September 2009 "Big Band News" via e-mail
FEEDBACK AND FOLLOW-UP:
Christopher Popa follows up:
Before the Goodman panel discussion started, I enjoyed chatting with John McDonough and thanking him for the many articles and essays about big bands which he's written over the years.
He showed me photocopies of some paychecks from when Benny Goodman worked for Chicago bandleader Jules Herbuveaux in 1926. He pointed out that Benny was paid from $56-$58, and that the checks were made out to "Ben" Goodman, with the first co-signed by a Mr. "Abrams," who was the Goodman family's landlord at the time.
McDonough served as moderator of the program, and made some interesting points in explaining why Goodman deserved to be considered an American icon (along with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles, but not, according to McDonough, Michael Jackson).
"He [ Benny ] helped liberate popular music," he commented.
McDonough also praised Goodman's star drummer, Gene Krupa, whose centenary also took place this year, calling his work with Benny, "One of the great partnerships in American music."
Since much more attention was paid to the 100th anniversary of Goodman's birth compared to Krupa's in 2009, McDonough observed, "I think he's become something of a forgotten man this year."
As part of his introduction, McDonough showed several audio-visual clips of Goodman, including his solo from Five Foot Two, Eyes of a Blue, a 1926 cylinder recording made by the trumpeter Earl Baker, and an excerpt of the start of a "Let's Dance" radio broadcast, comparing a waltz version of the theme by Ken Murray with Benny's swinging version.
Invited to the stage, Richard Wang, Professor Emeritus from the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the story that, when the Goodman family lived at 1125 S. Francisco Ave. and Benny and his brothers attended the Shepherd Grammar School around the corner, when they came home for lunch each day, their mother, Dora Goodman, would lower some wrapped sandwiches on a string down to the ground, so the boys wouldn't have to climb the three flights of stairs up to their apartment.
Two guest panelists from New York City, Martin Segal and Phoebe Jacobs, also shared personal recollections about Benny Goodman. Segal, 93, knew him in the early 1960s and shared some tales of Benny's generosity, while Jacobs, who worked in Goodman's office with his secretary Muriel Zuckerman, praised his musical talents.
Unfortunately, one of Benny's daughters, Rachel Edelson, was not in attendance as had been planned.
Several hours later, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble opened its concert with Let's Dance, Stompin' At the
Savoy, King Porter Stomp, Goodbye, and Jersey Bounce, featuring clarinetist Rob Denty. (Some of the charts were slightly changed from the original renditions; Goodbye, for example, was the arrangement which Jim McNeely had done for conductor - trumpeter Jon Faddis' Carnegie Hall Jazz Band.)
Vocalist Bobby Wilsyn sang Bei Mir Bist Du Schon, Why Don't You Do Right, and And the Angels Sing, announcing that the latter was recorded by the great vocalist Martha "Tillman" [ sic ].
Next, Buddy DeFranco, 86, came out to play Don't Be That Way. He put on his glasses to read the music, prompting Faddis to quip, "He's not imitating Benny - he really needs his glasses."
"He [ Benny ] was just an incredible clarinetist. He put the jazz clarinet on the map," DeFranco stated. "He was absolutely a giant."
With Jim Cooper on the vibes, DeFranco also performed three small group numbers: Poor Butterfly; I Surrender, Dear; and After You've Gone.
Clarinetist Victor Goines premiered his new suite, Benny, Then Now and Forever, which was commissioned by ASCAP and The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. Its movements were The Maxwell Street Ghetto; Dearly Beloved; We Four Plus One; Benny's Groove; and Then Now Forever.
DeFranco returned to join Goines and the Ensemble for Sing, Sing, Sing.