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Sunday, December 22, 2013



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

At the close of the February 4, 1957, Stars of Jazz program Bobby Troup announced that the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band would be featured next on the show, the first TV appearance of Dizzy’s band on the west coast.  The band was in town for an extended engagement at Peacock Lane, across the street from Jazz City at 5505 Hollywood Boulevard.  TV Guide received the same information and noted in the edition covering the week of February 11 that Dizzy’s big band would be the featured guest.  

The full page displayed, as has been the custom from time to time, places the Stars of Jazz program among the other offerings on Los Angeles television that evening. Stars of Jazz followed the Lawrence Welk show that preceded it on channel 7.  Most of those viewers probably tuned in one of the western movies after the champagne bubbles subsided.

Arrangements to have the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band on Stars of Jazz were not successful and the Cal Tjader Quintet filled the February 11, 1957, program.  The vocalist on the program was Shirli Sonders.  The Tjader quintet was in town performing at Zucca’s Cottage in Pasadena.

The jazz club scene in Los Angeles in February of 1957 was still quite healthy as noted by the diversity of groups performing in the club listing from Down Beat, and the groups booked into Zucca's Cottage before the Cal Tjader Quintet arrived on February 7, 1957.

Cal Tjader rose to prominence in the Dave Brubeck Octet in the late 1940s, and then with Brubeck’s trio on the Fantasy label.  When the Weiss brothers decided to record Tjader as a leader of his own group they launched their second label, Galaxy.  Tjader’s eight Galaxy sides were later released as a Fantasy 10” LP.  Tjader was hip to the emerging marriage of Latin rhythms to jazz and released several albums for Fantasy that focused in this area.  The Mambo was the “in” Latin rhythm in the early 1950s and Life magazine dispatched a photographer to San Francisco’s Macumba Club to document Tjader’s Latin combo and the patrons swaying to the Mambo on the dance floor. The Life feature on the Mambo craze appeared in the December 20, 1954 edition of the magazine.

          © N.R. Farbman, LIFE, 1954

Shirli Sonders began her music career after winning a Horace Heidt Talent Discovery contest.  After making several vocal demos at Gold Star and W.R. S. Recording studios she was discovered by Ken Hanna who featured Sonders as vocalist on his Trend LP, The Bright New Orchestra, TL-1007.  Sonders was also featured on Hanna’s next recording ventures for Capitol’s “Kenton Presents Jazz” series, T6512.

                           Cal Tjader at Zardi's            Ken Hanna and Shirli Sonders at Capitol

SHOW #32
FEBRUARY 11, 1957
The Cal Tjader Quintetz; Cal Tjader, vibraphone; Vince Guaraldi, piano; Gene Wright, acoustic double bass; Al Torres, drums; Luis Kant, percussion. Bobby Hammack, piano; Shirli Sonders, vocal.

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: Bruce Lansbury
Director: Leo G. “Hap” Weyman
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: Jack Denton, Sal Folino
Technical Director: Gene Lukowski
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: George Hillas

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.

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