SHORTY ROGERS BIG BAND / KAY BROWN
STARS OF JAZZ - FEBRUARY 4, 1957 - SHOW #31
Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved
The TV Guide listing for the February 4, 1957, edition of Stars of Jazz got most of the details correct. Shorty’s big band was actually 18 pieces: Oliver Mitchell, Conte Candoli, Shorty Rogers, Al Porcino, Harry “Sweets” Edison, trumpets; Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, Frank Strong, Jr., Harry Betts, trombones; Sam Rice, tuba; Herb Geller, Jack Montrose, Bill Holman, Bill Perkins, Pepper Adams, saxophones; Pete Jolly, piano; Stan Levey, drums; Red Mitchell, bass. The big band accompanied the guest vocalist, Kay Brown, performing Shorty’s arrangement of Wow! that Miss Brown had recorded for Mercury under Maynard Ferguson’s leadership (Mercury 5863) and Shorty’s arrangement. Miss Brown’s second performance on the program was a medley of spirituals with solo accompaniment by Eddy Samuels on piano (the script mistakenly notes that the big band accompanied Brown on this number).
Bobby Troup’s commentary traced the career of Shorty Rogers from his early big band days with Woody Herman and Stan Kenton to his arrival on the west coast and his contribution to the jazz style that would be associated with west coast jazz. Many critics consider Shorty’s first album for Capitol, Modern Sounds, to be the beginning of the movement. After signing with RCA Victor, Shorty would continue to create albums that explored all of the nuances of big band writing. Shorty was also comfortable in a smaller combo setting and Bobby Troup promoted Shorty’s Giants (quintet) album, Wherever The Five Winds Blow, with Jimmy Giuffre, Lou Levy, Ralph Peña, and Larry Bunker by holding up a copy of the LP at the end of the show.
Kay Brown was born In Peoria, Illinois. Peoria used to be to vaudevillians what Covina and Azusa are to TV comics today. So logically enough, Kay started her show business career in Peoria...and in vaudeville.
She was all of three when she first ventured on the boards as singer and acrobat in a Peoria movie palace. At eight years, she took off as a member of a touring vaudeville troup known as the "Cyclones of Youth.” A couple of years later her parents brought her out to Hollywood, where she stayed for good.
Hollywood quickly recognized Kay's talent as singer and dancer. As a student at Hollywood High, she was booked on various radio shows and soon had her own TV show, Varsity Varieties. At sixteen she signed her first recording contract with Mercury, and at seventeen, she had the lead opposite Mickey Rooney in an M-G-M picture called “The Strip." Prior to making her recordings for Mercury Kay Brown had some 78 singles on the Crown label where she was backed by the Van Alexander orchestra.
It was in this picture Kay sang a number called "A Kiss to Build A Dream On," her first big hit. This led to a job with the Stan Kenton band, where Kay proved herself a fine jazz singer.
This edition of Stars of Jazz concludes with Shorty's big band accompanying a silent film with Rudolph Valentino. Shorty had broken into the film industry shortly after his arrival on the west coast when Marlon Brando insisted to his producers and director that he wanted Shorty Rogers to play jazz on the soundtrack of The Wild One.
FEBRUARY 4, 1957
Shorty Rogers Big Band: Oliver Mitchell, Conte Candoli, Shorty Rogers, Al Porcino, Harry “Sweets” Edison, trumpets; Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, Frank Strong, Jr., Harry Betts, trombones; Sam Rice, tuba; Herb Geller, Jack Montrose, Bill Holman, Bill Perkins, Pepper Adams, saxophones; Pete Jolly, piano; Stan Levey, drums; Red Mitchell, bass. Shorty Rogers, arranger, leader. Kay Brown, vocal; Eddy Samuels, piano.
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 photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate and the Roy Harte Jazz Archive. The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives and the Roy Harte Jazz Archive. Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and the Roy Harte Jazz Archive and are used here with permission. Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to: Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.