Tonight, JazzWax on the radio. My first JazzWax radio show will air tonight, Sunday, from 10 pm to midnight (EST) on Toronto's JAZZ.FM91, Canada's leading nonprofit jazz station. Lots of rare tracks and stories. To listen, go here and click on the blue "Listen Live" button at the top of the screen. I hope you enjoy it.
Louie Bellson, on the mend. Francine Bellson, Louie's tireless and mighty wife, sent an email Friday to let me know that Louie fell while exiting a car earlier this month and fractured his hip. Francine says the legendary drummer is getting stronger every day, and if all goes well he'll enter rehab next week. To send Louie a personal get-well wish, sign the Guestbook at his website here. Francine reads them to Louie throughout the day, and she says each one cheers him enormously. [Pictured, from left: Clark Terry, Louie and Francine Bellson earlier this year]
Joe Romano (1932-2008). Drummer Mike Melito wrote me on Thanksgiving to let me know that saxophonist Joe Romano had died. He was 76. The tenor saxophonist came of age in the late 1950s and 1960s, just as big bands and jazz began to feel the influence of rock and soul-funk. Romano's first recording was a terrific live date with Woody Herman's band at Peacock Lane in Los Angeles here. Perhaps Romano's strongest recording during this period was on Herman's Heat & Puente's Beat!, from 1958, which is available at iTunes or Amazon here. Romano also played and toured with drummer Louis Bellson's big band in 1978 and 1979 and with Buddy Rich's in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing on Stick It and The Roar of '74, a big band-funk fusion album.
Recalls drummer Mike Melito:
"Joe Romano was my musical father. He hired me for my first gigs and always played from his heart and gave 1,000%, whether he played for 3 or 3,000 people. He expected the same from everyone who played with him. One of the great lessons he taught me was to always play with great authority no matter what and always play in the moment. I think that's one of the reasons why he called the CD I did with him This Is the Moment. Joe has always been a big inspiration to me and will continue to be a big inspiration as I go through my career."
Earl Swope. Following my post last week on trombonist Earl Swope, I received a bunch of emails, some with additional album recommendations.
From trumpeter, TV producer and Syracuse University professor Richard Dubin:
"You keep pulling guys out of my personal nostalgia bag. Swope was a monster player. I worked with him in the show band at Washington, D.C.'s Howard Theater in the early 1960's. He played a bunch of bone, even in decline and while drinking prodigiously. That cat could empty a jug of gin. A very sweet and gentle man. Some parts of his playing reminded me of Willie Dennis, another forgotten great. Also a sweet man and one of my best friends. They both got great sounds and could really get around their horns."
From reader James Wardrop:
"Good stuff on Earl Swope! Another CD you could add to your list is The Norman Williams New Jazz Quintet, recorded live at Olivia Davis' Patio Lounge in Washington, D.C., in 1956. Swope is a special guest, appearing with the Williams group, which at the time featured Bill Potts on piano and another Washington legend, Al Seibert, on tenor sax. The CD is on the Jazz Mark label. The first time I met Bill Potts in 1993, he gave me a copy. Al is a vet of the Herman bands of the 1950s and later a mentor and guide to many young Washington musicians through the end of the 1990s. Thanks for bringing back a warm memory of one of my most treasured jazz adventures."
From Michael Palmer in Australia, host of the Johnny Hodges tribute site:
"And don't forget Swope's feature with Woody Herman in 1948 called Berled in Earl (ouch!)."
Sarah Vaughan. After my post on Sarah Vaughan, I received a number of emails, including this one from Richard Dubin:
"Check out Sarah's album called After Hours. It's Sarah with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist George Duvivier. Just after it came out in 1961, I was walking down Broadway with Div. We bumped into Paul Chambers, who said he was blown away by Div's intro on Great Day. Chambers couldn't quite figure out how Div played it. You'll dig the recording."
Mystery guitarist. Last week Uwe Zanisch of Germany sent along the follow email wondering whether any JazzWax readers know the identity of the guitarist featured in this YouTube clip:
"Some days ago I was browsing YouTube and found scenes from the 1948 movie Killer Diller. This is a film with pre-recorded music. The musicians make some bad synchronized pantomime along with the playback. There are also parts of live audience footage to convince us it's a concert movie. This excerpt from Killer Diller features an uncredited guitarist who plays with electrical amplified sound but without a wire in the guitar plug (!) in front of the great swinging Andy Kirk Orchestra. Later in this clip, you hear the same guitar solo-line, but the player is not visible. Who is the guitarist? In the comments, a few readers make some suggestions about Floyd Smith and Al Casey. I think it was Al Casey."
Rosemary Clooney. In response to my post last Sunday on Rosey Clooney, reader Dale Corning writes:
"Enjoyed your post on Rosemary Clooney. I am pleased to hear that you want to hear more of her radio sessions with Buddy Cole [pictured standing, with Hoagy Carmichael]. Buddy Cole deserves recognition. He was everywhere in the 1940s and 1950s. He played with Shorty Sherock and Bumps Myers at the first Jazz at the Philharmonic in 1944. (See Disc 1 of the 10-disc Complete Jazz at the Philharmonic: 1944-1949.) He is on Nat King Cole's Nature Boy in 1947, and many of Cole's records until 1955. He recorded albums with Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby. And he made it into the Top 10 with Henry Mancini's Mr. Lucky in 1960. That's Buddy Cole's jazzy organ on that record.
"When Rosemary Clooney played the London Palladium in 1955 with Buddy Cole, the British weekly The New Musical Express focused on Cole: 'He is also kept busy at the radio studios. Five broadcasts a week with Bing Crosby, two a week with Rosemary Clooney. Buddy uses a separate quartet for each of these series...' Buddy Cole married one of the King Sisters, Yvonne. It would be great if more of the radio shows turned up."
Neal Hefti. Han Schulte of the Netherlands emailed this note and album cover:
"Today I found between my EP's this Neal Hefti item [two tracks from the 1965 movie Harlow]. I never saw the movie Harlow. The music on these tracks sounds a little bit like Jingle Bells' reindeer running around in your garden."
Editor's note: Harlow is best known for introducing the standard Girl Talk, for which Hefti received two Grammy nominations. To hear samples from this pure 1960's score, go here. Bobby Vinton covered Hefti's main theme from the movie here.