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Saturday, September 15, 2012


STARS OF JAZZ - JULY 2, 1956 - SHOW #2

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

The listing for Stars of Jazz in the July 2, 1956 edition of TV Guide noted that guest jazz artist Erroll Garner would demonstrate the evolution of piano, mimicking the style of Meade Lux Lewis, Fats Waller and Art Tatum.  Garner and his trio were in Los Angeles playing at Zardi’s Jazzland opposite the Stan Getz Quintet.

Once again the copy deadline for TV Guide must have prevented the mention of the featured vocalist who would be appearing on this second edition of Stars of Jazz, Faith Winthrop. The next Stars of Jazz show a week hence on July 9, 1956 would feature one of the most popular modern jazz groups to have emerged on the west coast, The Chet Baker Quintet, with Chet Baker on trumpet, Phil Urso on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano, Jimmy Bond on bass, Peter Littman on drums plus special guest percussionist Bill Loughborough on boobams, an instrument invented by Loughborough and David Buck Wheat.  Boobams were constructed of varying lengths of timber bamboo with goat or calf skins stretched over the heads.  The varying lengths would provide a variety of timbre when struck by the percussionist.  A display ad would be purchased in the Los Angeles Times to herald the appearance of the Chet Baker Quintet who were currently playing at Jazz City.

Erroll Garner was one of the hottest jazz combos in America at the time with his best selling album on Columbia, Concert By The Sea, that had been recorded at the Sunset Auditorium in Carmel, California by Will Thornbury, a fan who had brought his portable recording equipment to the concert.  Garner was unaware that the concert had been recorded and his manager was elated when they found out that it had indeed been captured for posterity.  Arrangements were made to have the engineers at Columbia master the amateur recording and enough material was mastered to make the release of an LP possible.  The rapport between Garner’s trio and the audience was electric and it came across in the recording that became one of the best selling albums for Columbia at the time, reaching a wide audience beyond Garner’s jazz following.  The same rhythm section that had backed Garner at Carmel was with him for the Zardi’s gig and this appearance on Stars of Jazz, Eddie Calhoun on bass and Denzil Best on drums.

The July 2 Stars of Jazz show introduced the format that would become standard for the program, a featured instrumental group plus a vocalist.  The songbird tapped for this second run of the show was Faith Winthrop who had been a fixture at The Hungry i in San Francisco.  Miss Winthrop was backed by Don Overberg on guitar with Calhoun and Best providing rhythm accompaniment.  Overberg was a very accomplished Los Angeles jazz guitarist who never really achieved the recognition that he deserved.  The audio segment below with Faith Winthrop gives Overberg a chance to stretch out a bit as well. Photo: Faith at the Hungry i in 1956 with Vince Guaraldi, Dean Reilly, and Eddie Duran.
 (courtesy -

The production credits on script #2 were still sparse, crediting only Jimmie Baker, Producer; Norman Abbott, Director; Chuck Lewis, Audio; Vince Cilurzo; Lighting Director and Bob Trachinger, Technical Director.  No sponsor is listed and the script pages do not list any commercial breaks.  The first show had listed a plug for Apple Valley.  If Stars of Jazz did not find a sponsor by the fourth week it would most likely be given the axe by Selig J. Seligman.

Stars of Jazz - Show #2 - July 2, 1956

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