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Tuesday, December 25, 2012



Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

There are some discrepancies between the TV Guide listing, the production script and Bobby Troup’s introductions of the sidemen that accompany Wild Bill Davis on this fifteenth Stars of Jazz program.  The TV Guide and the production script note that Chris Columbus will accompany Davis on drums.  The production script script also names Floyd Smith on guitar.  When Bobby Troup announces the sidemen on the program he names Wally Richardson on guitar and Ralph Jones on drums.  The entire trio is visible in the photo below that Ray Avery shot during the program. If any Wild Bill Davis fans are familiar with his sidemen during this time period please get in touch if you can confirm the identify of the drummer and guitarist.

Wild Bill Davis biography from All Music

by Craig Harris

With the dynamic, swirling sounds of his Hammond B-3 organ, Wild Bill Davis provided a bridge from the big band swing of the 1930s and '40s to the organ-driven R&B of the 1950s and early '60s. Together with guitarist Floyd Smith and drummer Chris Columbus, Davis set the framework for the jazz organ combo sound. Initially a guitarist, Davis made his debut with Milt Larkin's band in 1939. The group is remembered for the double-saxophone attack of Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Arnett Cobb. Davis, who was inspired by the guitar playing of Freddie Green, remained with the band until 1942. Moving to the piano, Davis joined Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5 in 1945. By then, he had already attracted attention as a skilled writer and arranger. He later furnished original material and arrangements for both Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He was scheduled to record his arrangement of "April in Paris" with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1955, but was unable to make it to the recording sessions. Recorded without his participation, the tune went on to be a Top 30 pop hit. Intrigued by the organ playing of Fats Waller and Count Basie

Davis began to experiment with the Hammond B-3. He soon developed his unique approach. "I thought of (the organ) as a replacement in clubs for a big band," he said during a late-'80s interview. Although he left Jordan's band after five years to form his own trio, Davis periodically returned to play special engagements. Although eclipsed by succeeding jazz organists, including Jimmy Smith and Bill Doggett in the late '50s, and Booker T. Jones in the '60s, Davis remained active until his death from a heart attack in August 1995. His summer appearances in Atlantic City, New Jersey were an annual treat for almost three decades.

A native of Moorestown, New Jersey, Davis studied music at Tuskegee University and Wiley College in Texas.

The Monday After: Claire Hogan sang with the big bands
By Gary Brown

Stark County ballad singer Claire Hogan started her performing and recording career by winning a 1944 “Sing a Song With Johnny Long” contest in Cleveland.
The victor won a musical booking with Long at the New Yorker Hotel in New York City, but that gig was extended to a six-month tour with Long’s orchestra.
“Long, who was in need of a vocalist, later invited her to sing with the band, and she accepted,” said a profile of Hogan published in The Canton Repository on Sept. 11, 1949.
That article, carrying a headline “Band Career Has Its Darker Side,” noted that Hogan was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dueber E. Cable of North Canton. By the time it was printed in the Sunday edition of the newspaper, the young singer already had established herself in the music world.
“Miss Hogan, as you might know if you’re a popular music fan, has been the girl vocalist for such outstanding artists as Johnny Long, Freddie Slack and Gene Krupa,” reported the newspaper. “At present, she is singing with James Dorsey, the bandleading brother of the famous ‘Sentimental Gentleman of Swing,’ Tommy Dorsey.”
Those were large names in jazz and swing music during the 1940s portion of the Big Band era.
Hogan humorously recalled in 1979 for Repository writer Myrna Mullen how her mother “summoned her to the telephone” because a man calling was claiming to be the famed bandleader.
“Jimmy Dorsey wants to talk to you,” her mother said.
“Where have you been? I’ve been looking all over the place for you!” began Dorsey.
“I thought it was a joke,” the singer — by then Claire Hogan Nelson — told Mullen.
Her eyes “twinkled” when she talked of the conversation, wrote the newspaper’s reporter. But, that was decades after the time she toured as a band vocalist.
Hardships accompanied the glamour in her job, she said while performing as a singer was still her career.
“You certainly don’t have much of a home life,” she said for the 1949 story. “Most of the time, you live out of a suitcase. I do travel around the country a lot, but I don’t get a chance to do much sightseeing.”

Before her performances with Dorsey, Hogan had sung with Krupa’s band. And she had toured with the Freddie Slack Orchestra, playing stops in Florida, New Jersey and, even, Ohio. Those Ohio swings would bring her to Canton’s Moonlight Ballroom, which she called “one of the prettiest places we played a one-nighter.”
After a year on the road, Slack fell ill and his orchestra folded. Hogan returned to the Lake Cable home of her mother, Caroline Cable. It is there where Dorsey found her.
“I think his big attraction to me was that he was Irish, and I was so Irish that you couldn’t believe it,” Hogan told Mullen for her 1979 article.
The singer initially was paid $75 a week, that article reported.
“Several successful albums and the hit record ‘Kiss Me’ later, Claire’s income had risen to $750 a week.”
But, life on the road made her earn her pay. Bookings might be extended stays in New York and Chicago, she explained to Mullen, but elsewhere on the tour it was mostly one-night stands that were separated by 400 miles ridden on a bus.
“I never even knew where I was most of the time or what state I was in,” she said in 1979. “It got to the point where you thought the bus was home.”
Columbia made several short films of the band when it was featuring Hogan. She also spent time in studios, where she recorded songs.
“Between engagements in dance halls and night clubs, she has managed to put several songs on wax,” noted the 1949 Repository article. “Her latest — and her best to date, she believes — is ‘Fiddle-dee-dee.’ ”
Among albums she released for MGM include “Just Imagine,” which she performed with the LeRoy Holmes Orchestra, and “Boozers and Losers,” which she recorded with record producer Cy Coleman, whom she called “a friend from the road” in her 1979 interview.
“Standards and show tunes — that’s what I like to do,” she told syndicated entertainment columnist Earl Wilson in 1955.
She called rock-and-roll music a fad in Wilson’s column, and said she disdained being labeled for her music.
“I got classed as a Dixieland singer once,” she explained. “But the record that stepped out for me happened to be a ballad.”
So, ballads became the music for which she was known  — “sweet love songs,” wrote Wilson.
At the time his column was written, Hogan had been away from show business for three years, but was making a comeback. She had just released a record for MGM called “Where To, My Love?”
She was scheduled to make a personal appearance tour through Boston, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis — “singing ballads, of course,” wrote Wilson.
“You can be very successful on records,” she told the columnist, “but if you show up and don’t make it for the audience, it’s a big disappointment for them.
“I’m in better voice than I ever have been in my life. I’m going to keep right on singing the good songs and if it happens I get a hit record, well, it’ll happen.”
In the end, the big hits never came. Eventually, she returned to Stark County, living at Lake Cable. The former singer died several years ago, leaving a legacy of fine performances during the Big Band era.
Her reputation lives on. Not long ago, Mitchell Lee of Richmond, Va., posted a review at about the online sale of Hogan’s vinyl album, “Boozers and Losers.”
“There are very few singers that really make one believe,” wrote Lee. “Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Claire Hogan are in that select company. Don’t get me wrong, there are great singers like Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald that are great artists without needing to make one believe ANYTHING. Their talent alone is stunning! But there is something very special about Claire Hogan.”

SHOW #15
OCTOBER 1, 1956
(01.10.56) The Wild Bill Davis Trio:- Wild Bill Davis, Hammond organ; Wally Richardson, guitar; Ralph Jones, drums. Claire Hogan, vocal; Bobby Hammack, organ, piano.

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: (not credited)
Director: Norman Abbott
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: Jack Denton, Mike Freedman
Technical Director: Bob Trachinger
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: Gene Lukowski

The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.

Friday, December 7, 2012



Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

The TV Guide entry for the September 24, 1956 Stars of Jazz program did not supply any details regarding Jack Costanzo’s group that would be appearing on the program backing Frances Faye.  Faye and Costanzo were a hot combination that would appear at Gene Norman’s Crescendo Club on the Sunset Strip.  Gene Norman would also record both of them for release on his G.N. P. label (Gene Norman Presents).

Bobby Troup hi-lighted Frances Faye’s recent work on Bethlehem Records ambitious recording of George Gershwin The Complete Porgy and Bess with Russ Garcia conducting The Bethlehem Orchestra, Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra, The Australian Jazz Quintet, The Pat Moran Quartet, The Stan Levy Group, with vocal work by Mel Torme, Frances Faye, Betty Roche, George Kirby, Johnny Hartman, Sallie Blair, Frank Rosolino, Loulie Jean Norman, Joe Derise, Bob Dorough, Betty Joyce, Tony Stevens, Ralph Carmichael, James Joyce, Ernest Newton, and Bev Kelly.

In the late 1950s, the cabaret scene on the Sunset Strip was so feverish, you could hear Christine Jorgensen and Frances Faye in different rooms on the same night without leaving the building. Jorgensen played the Interlude; Faye the Crescendo downstairs. Jorgensen’s set included “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” sung, apparently, without irony. A robust performer even on a bad day, Faye could be heard through the floorboards, violently slapping the piano keys and inquiring, “Gay, gay, gay, is there another way?”

Frances Faye was that rare thing, a white chick who could not only shout but swing. She had a dry, gruff voice she put in the service of a deadpan, declamatory style, nudging listeners to consider standards in a different way: stripped of obvious sentiment. Is Faye’s brash recording of “Am I Blue” the most knowing version on the books? People who thought Teddi King and Mildred Bailey and Felicia Sanders said it all have concluded “yes.”

Faye made more than a dozen albums, collaborating with the aristocrats of pop-jazz arrangers, Dave Cavanaugh, Marty Paich and Russ Garcia, and musicians like Maynard Ferguson and Herbie Mann. Faye was partial to a Latin beat, and Jack Costanzo, the great bongoist, often supplied it. If you own nothing of Faye’s, “Caught in the Act” is a good place to start. 

excerpt from:

Dubbed "Mr. Bongo" by the eminent jazz critic Leonard Feather, Chicago-born percussionist, composer and leader Jack Costanzo is credited with introducing the bongos into American popular music when he joined Stan Kenton’s band in 1947. From a Sicilian family, Costanzo began as a dancer and during his teens he taught in a local dance studio where he first heard bongos played by a Puerto Rican band. He made his own pair of bongos from a couple of buttercups and taught myself. After serving in the navy during World War II, he settled in Los Angeles in 1945. His first professional gig as a bongo player was with the Mexican bandleader Bobby Ramos in January 1946. He went on to work with the Lecuona Cuban Boys, Desi Arnaz and René Touzet. He toured with Stan Kenton from 1947-48. From 1949 to 1953 he played with the Nat King Cole Trio, with whom he had the hit "Calypso Blues" and co-wrote the blazing "Go Bongo" with Cole. Jack is featured in the Nat King Cole Trio anthologies Go Bongo! (Blue Moon, 1995) and Nat King Cole Trio – The Complete Capitol Transcription Sessions (Blue Note / EMI, 2005), and Nat King Cole – The Forgotten 1949 Carnegie Hall Concert (HEP Records, 2010). From there he worked with a who’s who of American showbiz, including Peggy Lee, Danny Kaye, Pérez Prado, Betty Grable, Harry James, Judy Garland, Jane Powell, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Dinah Shore, Xavier Cugat, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Eddie Fisher. Many Hollywood stars studied bongos with him, including Curtis, Grable, Marlon Brando, Rita Moreno and Gary Cooper. He worked extensively in the Hollywood film industry as an actor and musician, including motion pictures with Danny Kaye (Man From the Diners’ Club, 1953), Jerry Lewis (The Delicate Delinquent, 1956, and Visit to a Small Planet, 1960), Red Skelton (Public Pigeon Number 1, 1957), Pat Boone (Bernadine, 1957) and The Satin Bug (1965). His last picture was Harem Scarum (1965) staring Elvis Presley.

Costanzo formed his own band in the 1950s that recorded and toured internationally. The first six tunes he recorded as a leader in December 1954 are compiled on Jack Costanzo Plays Jazz, Afro & Latin (Fresh Sound Records, 2005); the remainder of the anthology comprises 12 largely jazz-infected tracks made in the summer of 1956 featuring the incredible pianist Eddie Cano (1927-1988) and trumpeter Paul López (who clocked-up seven albums with Mr. Bongo) that were originally released under the title Mr. Bongo Has Brass by Zephyr Records. For his first album for Gene Norman’s GNP Crescendo label, Mr. Bongo Jack Costanzo And His Afro Cuban Band (1956) Jack deliberately emulated the trumpet conjunto format of Cuba’s La Sonora Matancera to achieve the album’s fat sound and tipped his hat to the group by covering their hit "Melao de Caña". Personnel included Cano and López, who wrote most of the arrangements. Cuban-born Kaskara (Manuel Ochoa) and Jack’s wife at the time, Ohio-born Marda Saxon, provided lead vocals. Jack went on to make second album for GNP in 1971, Viva Tirado, which he admitted, "was a turkey." Also with GNP, he sessioned on the René Touzet sets The Cha Cha and the Mambo (1955, a.k.a. The Charm of the Cha Cha Cha) and From Broadway to Havana (mid-’50s) and co-headlined with Cano and vibes player, singer and composer Tony Martínez on Dancing on the Sunset Strip (circa 1960) recorded live at Hollywood’s Crescendo club.

excerpt from:

SHOW #14

SEPTEMBER 24, 1956

Jack Costanzo and his Band: Paul Lopez, trumpet; Gerald Wiggins, piano; Bill Pitman, guitar; Tony Reyes, acoustic double bass; Edward Aparicio, drums; Jack Costanzo, bongos. Frances Faye, vocal.

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: (not credited)
Director: Norman Abbott
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: (not credited)
Technical Director: Bob Trachinger
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: (not credited)

The Howard Lucraft photo that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of CTSIMAGES.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Howard Lucraft Collection.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Howard Lucraft Collection and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.

Thursday, November 29, 2012



Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

The TV guide listing for the September 17, 1956 Stars of Jazz program gave no details regarding Teddy Buckner’s appearance other than listing the five member ensemble, no hint was offered regarding what type of jazz the group performed. Teddy Buckner and his Dixieland Band had a long standing gig at the “400 Club” at 3330 West 8th in Los Angeles.  That stretch of 8th Street was a popular destination for Angelenos seeking entertainment with The Tiffany Club, The 331 Club and Agua Caliente all within walking distance of each other. Teddy Buckner would appear on Stars of Jazz a total of three times during the two and a half year run of the program.

Gene Norman promoted music in Los Angeles in a variety of concert promotions.  His “Just Jazz” concerts brought top names in jazz to auditoriums and concert halls in Los Angeles and Pasadena with such stars as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. Norman also featured traditional jazz artists at his “Dixieland Jubilee” concerts that he presented in conjunction with Frank Bull. In addition Norman had one of the premier nightclubs on the Sunset Strip, The Crescendo, where top jazz names were always in attendance.  Many of these artists were recorded at these venues and appeared on Norman’s G.N.P. (Gene Norman Presents) Records.

Floyd Levin wrote a profile of Teddy Buckner in his survey of traditional jazz:

Teddy Buckner joined Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band at the Beverly Cavern in Los Angeles on July 16, 1949. He replaced Andrew Blakeney, a particular favorite of mine, so I was initially disappointed to learn about the change. My disappointment evaporated the moment Buckner blew his first note. His Armstrong-influenced tones, tinged with melodic integrity and stunning technical prowess, filled the little club with warmth and vitality. Those same attributes were integral to Teddy's personality. During the years he worked with Ory, he rose to prominence and became a favorite of jazz fans the world over. Our friendship gradually mellowed into a warm relationship, but I always remained a dedicated fan.

Teddy Buckner was born in Sherman, Texas, in 1909; his family moved to Los Angeles when he was eight years old. After he admired a young cornet player in a marching band, his mother promptly bought Teddy a silver horn and arranged for music lessons. "It took a lot of practice after school instead of playing ball," he said, "but I was determined to play music." He began his professional career in Los Angeles at the tender age of fifteen, working a succession of jobs. During the 1920s and 1930s he played with bands led by Speed Webb, Sonny Clay, Edythe Turnham, Lorenzo Flennoy, Les Hite, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter.

"I was twenty-seven years old when Lionel Hampton hired me to play with him at the after-hours Paradise Club in 1936," Buckner recalled. "One night Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and Teddy Wilson came in after their gig at the Palomar Ballroom. They all sat in, and we had the greatest jam session until 4 A.M. When Goodman hired Lionel, he [Hampton] turned the band over to me. I stayed at the Paradise Club until I joined Benny Carter."

In 1954, after five years with Kid Ory, Buckner formed a great little band of his own, Teddy Buckner and His Dixieland All-Stars. It soon ranked among the most successful Dixieland groups in the country and played a vital role in the Los Angeles jazz scene for many years. With few changes, of personnel, the group played extended engagements at the 400 Club and the New Orleans Hotel in Los Angeles, followed by four years at the Huddle in West Covina and sixteen years at Disneyland's New Orleans Square. Buckner's recordings with members of Louis Armstrong's All-Stars, triumphant tours in Europe, and wonderful 1959 French record sessions with Sidney Bechet added to his fame. He was featured in many Hollywood films (both onscreen and on the soundtrack), including Pennies from Heaven with Bing Crosby, Pete Kelly's Blues. Hush. Hush. Sweet Charlotte, and St. Louis Blues.

Levin, Floyd. CLASSIC JAZZ,  A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2000. 61-62.

SHOW #13
SEPTEMBER 17, 1956
Teddy Buckner and his Dixieland Band: Teddy Buckner, trumpet; John Ewing, trombone; Joe Darensbourg, clarinet, soprano sax; Harvey O Brooks, piano; Arthur Edwards, acoustic double bass; Jesse Sailes, drums.

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: (not credited)
Director: Norman Abbott
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: Jack Denton, Claire Higgins
Technical Director: Bob Trachinger
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: Tom Sumner

The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.