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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #25

BEN POLLACK & HIS PICK-A-RIB BOYS


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1962

CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA

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

When Steve Allen and Jimmie Baker tapped Ben Pollack to appear on the Jazz Scene U.S.A. syndication series Pollack provided a link and historical perspective to the jazz series when the host, Oscar Brown, Jr., asked Pollack to identify the notable jazz stars that had their start in bands that Ben had organized during his career.  The brief biography reprinted below from allmusic.com notes these figures that are not listed in the script as Pollack was replying ad lib to screen projections during the filming of the segment.  The photo by Cecil Charles [below] was taken at the Beverly Cavern, a long standing bastion for traditional jazz in Los Angeles.

Ben Pollack was a talented drummer and an even better bandleader, with a great ear for talent but none of the luck needed to hold onto his discoveries. He always worked without ever quite hitting the big time himself; but his bands of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s included such future luminaries as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Jimmy McPartland, Harry James, Yank Lawson, Muggsy Spanier, Jack Teagarden, Joe Marsala, Eddie Miller, Frank Teschemacher, Dick Cathcart, Irving Fazola, Freddie Slack, and Bud Freeman.

Pollack was born in Chicago, to a family in the fur business. He loved music, however, and took up the drums in school. He played drums in various high-school groups and an all-city band, and also picked up occasional work with professional outfits while still in his teens. Pollack became a member of the Harry Bastin Band, before moving on to work with a groundbreaking ensemble as the drummer for the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, the pioneering white Dixieland ensemble, during the early '20s. Pollack was supposed to go into the family business, but decided to stay in music, and for a time he took over the Bastin band in Los Angeles.

He formed his own band in 1926, and for the next eight years he was host to some of the biggest future talents in jazz, as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy McPartland, and later, Yank Lawson and Matty Matlock passed through his lineup. The group finally broke up in December of 1934, and its membership immediately became the core of Bob Crosby's band, which went on to years of success in that capacity. Pollack turned right around, however, and put together a new band that included Harry James and Freddie Slack in its lineup.

Pollack soldiered on, never venturing far from the Dixieland style that he favored, leading bands in New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where Muggsy Spanier became an alumnus. In 1942, he became the leader of the touring band working behind music/comedy star Chico Marx. By this time, the field of big-band music was dominated by his former alumni, most notably Miller, Goodman, and James. Pollack was working out of New Orleans in the late '40s, and hosted the Second Annual Dixieland Jubilee in 1949, after which he led a sextet. Pollack was an important and popular enough figure among his fellow musicians to justify appearing (as himself) in the 1955 feature film The Benny Goodman Story (starring Steve Allen as the legendary clarinetist and bandleader), but by the late '50s he had left music in favor of opening a club of his own in Los Angeles and then a successful restaurant in Palm Springs, California. Pollack recorded throughout his career, for Bluebird, Brunswick, and Vocalion, among other labels.

© Bruce Eder, allmusic.com


Ben Pollack, leader, drums; Gene Bolen, clarinet; Bill Campbell, piano; Dick Cary, trumpet; Warren Smith, trombone and Walt Yoder, bass.

Production credits: 
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr. 
Executive Producer: Steve Allen 
Producer: Jimmie Baker 
Director: Steve Binder 
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart 
Associate Director: George Turpin 
Technical Director: Dick Hall 
Lighting Director: Leard Davis 
Audio: Larry Eaton 
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee 
Jazz Consultant: John Tynan
Title Films: Grant Velie 
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny















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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

VI REDD

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #24


THE VI REDD SEPTET


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1962

CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA

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

Vi Redd’s sextet had recorded her first album as leader in May of 1962 for United Artists.  The album has recorded over two days at Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard.  The May 21st date captured five instrumental numbers with Carmell Jones (tp), Vi Redd (as), Russ Freeman (p), Roy Ayers (vib), Leroy Vinnegar (b) and Vi’s husband, Richie Goldberg (d).  The balance of the album was recorded on May 22nd with Vi Redd (as, vcl), Russ Freeman (p), Herb Ellis (g), Bob Whitlock (b) and Richie Goldberg (d).  The UA session was produced by Leonard Feather which most likely accounts for the inclusion of two Feather originals on the album.


Howard Lucraft attended both recording sessions as seen in his sampling of photos (below) from Western Recorders.


Vi Redd (as), Carmell Jones (tp), Herb Ellis (g), Russ Freeman (p), Roy Ayers (vib), Bob Whitlock (b) and Richie Goldberg (d).

Production credits: 
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr. 
Executive Producer: Steve Allen 
Producer: Jimmie Baker 
Director: Steve Binder 
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart 
Associate Director: George Turpin 
Technical Director: Dick Hall 
Lighting Director: Leard Davis 
Audio: Larry Eaton 
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee 
Jazz Consultant: Leonard Feather
Title Films: Grant Velie 
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny
















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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #23


CLARENCE “BIG” MILLER / THE RUSS FREEMAN QUARTET


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1962

CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA

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

Jimmie Baker and Steve Allen represented the vocal realm of jazz on Jazz Scene USA with a diverse sampling of vocalists and styles.  Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, Oscar Brown, Jr., and Mark Murphy preceded the decision to feature Clarence “Big” Miller for the twenty-third taping of the series.


Clarence H. Miller, known to his friends as "Big", was one of the most impressive new blues singers on the late Fifties scene. With a childhood background of church singing and piano and trombone studies, he became a professional musician in 1946 after Army service, when he led a band touring with a repertoire largely based on Louis Jordan "jump" numbers, before switching to bass and joining Jay McShann s earthy, Kansas City based outfit. Influenced by Walter Brown and Joe Turner, he started singing blues with the band and moved to Chicago and Cincinatti, forming a group with trombonist Al Grey which went to Texas. A year touring the small Texas towns honed his gift for blues singing and a move to New York led to his big breakthrough. He made a debut LP, Did you ever hear the blues?, for United Artists, went with Nat Pierce s band into Birdland and then, through singer Jon Hendricks, was invited to the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival. That led to Hollywood. Stints at Shelly Manne’s celebrated club and an album, Revelation and the Blues, with Ben Webster confirmed his status as a front-rank blues singer with a unique style which was influenced by bop.
(Editorial Review copy from THE AMAZON PAGE)

Clarence “Big” Miller’s first album as leader was on the United Artists label, Did You Ever Hear The Blues? featuring blues penned by Langston Hughes. Miller was backed by three different assemblages of musicians for the February 1959 date.  The first configuration consisted of Clarence "Big" Miller (vcl), Pat Brooks (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts), Al Cohn (bar), Jimmy Jones (p), Chuck Wayne, Turk Van Lake (g), Chet Amsterdam (b) and  Elvin Jones (d).  The second grouping included Pat Brooks (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts), Sol Schlinger (bar), Everett Barksdale, Kenny Burrell (g), Chet Amsterdam (b) and Jo Jones (d). The third assemblage of musicians backing Miller included Pat Brooks (tp), Vic Dickenson (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims (ts), Al Cohn (bar), Jimmy Jones (p) Billy Bauer, Barry Galbraith (g) Chet Amsterdam (b) and Gus Johnson (d). 

Miller’s second album as leader was for Columbia, Revelation And The Blues.  That date in Los Angeles, October 18, 1960, also varied the musicians backing Miller. The first session had Clarence "Big" Miller (vcl) accompanied by Ben Webster (ts), Gildo Mahones (p), Bobby Gibbons (g), Ike Isaacs (b) and Jimmy Wormworth (d). The second session on November 8, 1960 featured Clarence "Big" Miller (vcl) accompanied by Plas Johnson (ts), Ernie Freeman (p), Jim Hall (g), Red Mitchell (b) and Frank Butler (d).

Clarence "Big" Miller had a third album under his leadership by the time he made his appearance on Jazz Scene USA: Sings, Twists, Shouts And Preaches: Clarence "Big" Miller with the Bob Florence Orchestra.  This album was also recorded for Columbia and featured Clarence "Big" Miller (vcl), John Audino, Jules Chaiken, Tony Terran (tp); Bob Enevoldsen, Herbie Harper, Gail Martin, Bob Pring (tb); Bernie Fleischer, Bud Shank (as); Bill Perkins (ts); John Lowe (bar); Ray Sherman (p); Bill Pittman (g) or John Pisano (g); Buddy Clark (b) and Frank Capp (d). Bob Florence (arr,cond).

The script is not clear regarding the composition performed by the Russ Freeman group.  In addition to “Big” Miller sitting this one out, Lorenzo Holden sat on the sidelines while Russ Freeman, Monty Budwig and Frankie Capp performed an original by Russ Freeman entitled Olden Times.

Clarence “Big” Miller (vocal), Russ Freeman (piano), Lorenzo Holden (tenor sax), Monty Budwig (bass), Frankie Capp (drums).

Production credits: 
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr. 
Executive Producer: Steve Allen 
Producer: Jimmie Baker 
Director: Steve Binder 
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart 
Associate Director: George Turpin 
Technical Director: Dick Hall 
Lighting Director: Leard Davis 
Audio: Larry Eaton 
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee 
Jazz Consultant: Leonard Feather
Title Films: Grant Velie 
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny