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Tuesday, October 2, 2012



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

The TV Guide listing for the August 6, 1956 Stars of Jazz listed all of the members of Buddy DeFranco’s quintet that would be appearing along with the featured vocalist, Lucy Ann Polk.  Buddy DeFranco was appearing at Zardi’s Jazzland, alternating sets with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The quintet members were: Buddy DeFranco, clarinet; Howard Roberts, guitar; Marty Paich, piano; Ralph Pena, bass and Frank DeVito, drums.  Lucy Ann Polk’s vocal numbers were accompanied by Roberts, Paich, Pena and DeVito.

Buddy DeFranco talks about clarinet playing:
"I'm often asked, these days, what I think about the so-called 'new-style' clarinet playing as practiced by Jimmy Giuffre and Buddy Collette. Jimmy and Buddy are, of course, wonderful musicians but, to me, they only play half the clarinet. I get what they're trying to say but I'm not sure that they are really saying it. As a clarinet player, it is sometimes a little frustrating to listen to. Actually, Giuffre gets a saxophone sound on clarinet - just like Lester Young's clarinet sound. Jimmy couldn't play baritone, as he does, and still get a real clarinet sound, in my opinion. I haven't played saxophone since I left Tommy Dorsey in 1948. It adversely affects my clarinet embouchure. When I attempt to play bass clarinet the same thing happens. Anyway, I find that the bass clarinet is not good for jazz. It is so quiet and has no punch like a B-flat clarinet or a saxophone. You know, whether you like their styles or not, Benny and Artie played the instrument from the lowest note to the top. I've also tried an alto clarinet. It's really an abortive instrument - not satisfying at all. It doesn't have the drive, fire or punch essential for jazz.

"I use a most unorthodox combination of mouthpiece and reed - a Vandoren mouth-piece No. 5 or 6, refinished myself - opened up myself - and a #3 reed. With a wide-open mouthpiece and a heavy reed, other clarinet players turn blue in the face when they try my instrument. I've had this combination for about two years. Before that, I had a closer Vandoren mouthpiece (about a No. 4) but the chamber was different inside. Also, then, I used about a #4 reed. I changed to get a better sound for recording. I use a Leblanc (Symphony model) clarinet. In my opinion, Leblanc wasn't a good clarinet years ago, but Vito Pascucci, who was with the Miller band in Europe during the War, met the Leblanc brothers in France. Fascucci's ingenuity and suggestions brought about a lot of tremendous improvements in the Leblanc design." 

"I left Joe Glaser and I've just recently signed with the Willard Alexander office. I plan to do college concerts almost exclusively in due course. Eventually, it's hoped to tie up a college tour by a larger Buddy DeFranco group with a show produced by Stan Kenton and Howard Lucraft's Jazz International Organization. For so many years I tried, without success, to get education authorities interested in the idea of school and college jazz. It is only this last year that they have recognized jazz properly as a serious art form." 

Buddy DeFranco © Melody Maker, January 5, 1957
(Photo: Jimmy Giuffre, Buddy Collette, Howard Lucraft, Abe Most and Buddy DeFranco at Zardi’s - photo from the Howard Lucraft Collection, courtesy of CTSIMAGES)

Buddy DeFranco entered into a long association with Norman Granz in the mid 1950s recording with a variety of sidemen.  His appearance of Stars of Jazz was released on the Calliope Records label some twenty years after the show was recorded.  Details of that release can be found at our blog devoted to the Calliope label:

Lucy Ann Polk was featured on Albert Marx’s Trend Records label in a recording made in 1953 with the Dave Pell Octet backing her.  Following her appearance on Stars of Jazz she would make another album in her own name for the Mode label and her appearance on Stars of Jazz would be included on the Calliope Records release along with the Buddy DeFranco performance from the show.

(Buddy DeFranco & Marty Paich)
(Lucy Ann Polk & Marty Paich)
(Buddy DeFranco, Frank DeVito, Marty Paich and Ralph Pena)

Bobby Troup Show Introduction

The production script for this show is missing from the Jimmie Baker archive.

The ABC network granted permission to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service to distribute the Stars of Jazz shows to armed forces overseas via their transcription service. The AFRTS guidelines stipulated that all commercial content had to be removed from the program.  Thus the commercial spots for Budweiser Beer and Schweppes Quinine Water were removed by the transcription service.  The August 6, 1956 program was Show #2 in the AFRTS series, transcription master #AF-6501X dated July 26, 1957.

The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate and the Howard Lucraft Collection.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives and the Howard Lucraft Collection.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and 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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