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Thursday, September 13, 2012


STARS OF JAZZ - JUNE 25, 1956 - SHOW #1

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

The TV Guide for June 25, 1956 listed a new program in the 10:30 PM time slot for channel 7, the American Broadcasting Company network affiliate in Los Angeles.  It noted that this was the debut of the program and that it would feature the Stan Getz Quartet plus a featured vocalist.  The copy deadline for TV Guide listings did not allow a full disclosure of the actual program that included the Kid Ory Creole Jazz Band, and the stated inclusion of a vocalist would not be realized until the next week when Erroll Garner was the featured instrumental group and Faith Winthrop the featured vocalist. Stan Getz and Erroll Garner were sharing the billing at Zardi’s Jazzland, alternating sets at the popular Hollywood Boulevard jazz club. Stars of Jazz producer Jimmie Baker was responsible for contacting the jazz musicians to appear on the program and the many active nightclubs in Hollywood that featured jazz were a steady source of talent to appear on the program. Kid Ory was appearing at the Beverly Cavern, his home away from home when he was playing in Los Angeles.

Other bastions of traditional jazz in Los Angeles included The Royal Room at 6700 Hollywood Boulevard where Jack Teagarden could usually be found playing when he was in town and The 400 Club at 3330 West 8th Street where Teddy Buckner was the featured jazz artist. Both Buckner and Teagarden would make appearances on Stars of Jazz.

The Getz Quartet with Stan Getz, tenor sax; Lou Levy, piano; Max Bennett, acoustic double bass and Gary Frommer, drums kicked off the program with OUT OF NOWHERE followed by LITTLE GIRL BLUE and SHINE. Bobby Troup’s dialogue stressed the creative nature of jazz improvisation, how new melodic strains are created on the fly as the musician is playing, nothing is written down, the creation is in the moment.

Future production scripts would credit the many technical staff who worked on each show including cameramen, video specialists, lighting director, audio technician, etc.  This first script lists only Jimmie Baker as the producer, Norman Abbott as Director and Bob Trachinger as Technical Director. 

The second half of the show focused on the roots of jazz and its traditional beginnings in New Orleans. Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band with Alvin Alcorn, trumpet; Kid Ory, trombone; Phil Gomez, clarinet; Cedric Haywood, piano; Wellman Braud, acoustic double bass and Minor Hall, drums kicked off the second half of the show beginning with Porter Steele’s HIGH SOCIETY followed by JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE and Kid Ory’s band closed the show with a rousing version of WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHIN’ IN.

Stars of Jazz would continue to present traditional jazz artists as well as groups like the Getz quartet representing the more modern "cool" sound and groups such as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers representing the hard bop sound that was identified with the east coast.

The photos 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.

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