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Tuesday, October 1, 2013



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

The TV Guide listing for the January 14, 1957 broadcast of Stars of Jazz noted the aspiring vocalist, Lois Madden, and listed the Lennie Niehaus Quintet incorrectly by spelling Lennie’s last name as Miehaus, perhaps a typo due to their close proximity on the typewriter keyboard.  The shooting script for this edition of Stars of Jazz is missing from the Jimmie Baker Collection at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute but the AFRTS transcription disc is in the collection and a summary of the script follows.

Bobby Troup notes that Lennie took up the violin when he was eleven years old.  His father was a professional violinist and wished his son to continue in the tradition.  But Lennie soon gave up the violin and began lessons on the alto saxophone.  The family disapproved until Lennie began to earn money from his playing.  His association with the Stan Kenton Orchestra began in 1952 and was interrupted by a stint in the armed forces for two years and then he returned to the Kenton Orchestra where he was a regular for the two years preceding his appearance on Stars of Jazz.  Between his commitments for the Kenton Orchestra he squeezed in his recordings for Les Koenig.  Lennie noted that he and two members of his current quintet were Kenton alumni, Bill Perkins and Mel Lewis.  He also noted that the current quintet had been together for four months and that he hoped to record the quintet.

(Ralph Blaze & Lennie Niehaus with the Kenton Orchestra)

Lois Madden was one of the many vocalists who appeared on Stars of Jazz hoping that it would provide exposure to advance her vocal career.  Bobby Troup discovered her when she dropped by The Keynoter where Bobby was playing with his trio, Al Viola and Jimmy Aton.  She sang along with one of the tunes that the trio played which led to her being asked to join the trio at the microphone.  Bobby was impressed with her ability and asked her to appear on Stars of Jazz.

Lennie Niehaus was among the first group of jazz artists signed by Les Koenig when he launched his Contemporary Records jazz series in 1953.  Niehaus’ original albums for Contemporary were on the 10” LP 2500 series.  Both were later releases as 12” LPs in the 3500 series with additional sessions to fill out the 12” LP.

Niehaus’ first album, C 2513, LENNIE NIEHAUS VOL. 1 THE QUINTET, featured Jack Montrose on tenor sax and Bob Gordon on baritone sax with Monty Budwig and Shelly Manne in the rhythm section.  When Les Koenig decided to reissue the 10” LP in the 12” LP line four additional tunes were recorded with Stu Williamson on trumpet and valve trombone plus Hampton Hawes, piano; Red Mitchell, bass and Shelly Manne on drums.  William Claxton was shooting sessions and designing covers for Pacific Jazz and Contemporary Records at this stage in his career. He used the same photo from the recording session for the 10” and 12” LP covers, expanding the original crop lines to include Jack Montrose and Bob Gordon who were in the frame for the 12” LP.

Lennie Niehaus expanded the quintet personnel on his first Contemporary session addding Stu Williamson on trumpet and Bob Enevoldsen on value trombone plus Lou Levy on piano to form an octet.  When Koenig decided to reissue the octet sessions in the 12” LP 3500 series Niehaus assembled a pianoless octet with all new faces: Frank Rosolino on trombone, Vince ReRosa on French horn, Jay McAllister on tuba, Bill Perkins on tenor sax, Pepper Adams on baritone sax, Red Mitchell on bass and Mel Lewis on drums.

Niehaus recorded his third album for Contemporary in January and February of 1955.  By this time the Contemporary jazz line had ended production in the 10” LP line and the new 12” series began with C3501.  C3503 was another octet album with Bill Holman replacing Jack Montrose on tenor sax, Jimmy Giuffre replacing Bob Gordon on baritone sax and Pete Jolly replacing Lou Levy on piano.  The rest of the original octet line up remained the same.

Lennie Niehaus returned to a quintet format for his fourth album for Contemporary that was recorded in three sessions during March and April of 1955.  On the first session Niehaus was accompanied by four strings plus Budwig and Manne.  The second session kept the strings for accent and added Bill Perkins on tenor sax and Bob Gordon on baritone sax.  The third session eliminated the strings and added Hampton Hawes on piano and Stu Williamson on trumpet and valve trombone with Budwig and Manne completing the rhythm section.

The piano chair was vacant on Niehaus’ last session for Contemporary Records, C3524, THE SEXTET.  Technically this session for Niehaus’ fifth album was not his last as he went into the studio on January 20, 1956 to fill out his original quintet album for the 12” LP reissue and again in December of 1956 to fill out the original octet album. Volume Five included Stu Williamson on trumpet and valve trombone, Bill Perkins on tenor sax, Jimmy Giuffre on baritone sax with Buddy Clark on bass and Shelly Manne on drums.

The quintet that appeared on this edition of Stars of Jazz continued to perform in clubs and filled a regular week night spot at Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse Cafe into the summer months of 1957.  Unfortunately the quintet did not record during their time as a unit.

The Niehaus Quintet performed I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU'RE IN LOVE WITH ME, THE SERMON AND WITCHCRAFT. Lois Madden sang LOVER COME BACK TO ME and YESTERDAYS accompanied by the Lennie Niehaus rhythm section, Paul Moer, Buddy Clark and Mel Lewis.

SHOW #28
JANUARY 14, 1957
The Lennie Niehaus Quintet: Lennie Niehaus, alto sax; Bill Perkins, tenor sax; Paul Moer, piano; Buddy Clark, acoustic double bass; Mel Lewis, drums. + Lois Madden, vocal.

The Howard Lucraft photo that greatly enhances this presentation has 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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