Let's Go Sunning. Last week, reader John Cooper sent me an e-mail asking if I knew who the woman was singing on a YouTube clip called Let's Go Sunning. Usually I have a name for him, but this time I was stumped, and apparently so are dozens of people on the web who have been asking the same question. It seems the oddball song popped up in a video game called Fallout 3. The problem is that the song with the cheery mid-1950s arrangement and jingle-y vocal doesn't appear in any band or singer discography.
I love a mystery, so I did a little online research. A quick check at BMI told me that the song's writer was Jack Shaindlin, a composer of movie music who conducted the Carnegie Pops Orchestra in the late 1940s and whose soundtrack credits included Mickey One. Shaindlin died in 1978, so I reached out to the next-best source—his widow. We had a wonderful chat:
"Jack [pictured] wrote the song for a nudist film in the mid-1950s. It was a one-time thing. Bob McBride, Jack's orchestrator, arranged it. The film was ridiculous, and the man who produced it, Walter Bibo, was revolting. He found this pathetic young girl to sing Jack's song. She had hoped to make it big in the music business. I can't remember her name. She was a nobody, and she was so lost. Jack would tell me how hard a time they had trying to get her to sing it right. I'm not sure why Jack bothered to write a song for that film. I think he was intrigued by it. He certainly didn't need the work."
So Let's Go Sunning was the theme song of an early sexploitation film. But what was the film's title? There was no entry for the song at the Internet Movie Database. So I checked Variety's Film Reviews 1954-1958. Only a snippet of the page was available online, displaying just the song's name and the film's cinematographer, Boris Kaufman.
A quick check of Kaufman's bio told me that in 1954, a year before he won an Oscar for On the Waterfront, Kaufman had been the lensman on a 70-minute film called Garden of Eden. Here's the film's synopsis: "War widow and pre-teen daughter leave home of tyrannical father-in-law in Florida, get lost on a detour, and find shelter at a nudist colony." As teens are fond of saying today, "Riiight."
A full accounting of Garden of Eden and most of its naked participants can be found in The Good, The Bad and the Dolce Vita by Mickey Knox, who co-starred in the film. According to Knox, producer Bibo lacked a publicity budget, so Bibo released the controversial film in a Southern state, where he could expect an instant ban. And that's exactly what happened. Based on further research, Bibo brought suit on First Amendment grounds, and the case eventually led to a 1956 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Excelsior Pictures Corp. v. Regents of University of New York State). The high court's majority ruled that the film was not obscene or indecent, and that nudity was not itself obscene.
Garden of Eden ultimately was distributed, but all of the legal wrangling didn't do much for its image or visibility. Bibo soon disappeared, and according to the IMDB, he never produced another film (at least under his own name). Based on Mrs. Shaindlin's comments about the female singer, one can only assume she was an aspiring actress or singer Bibo had "vowed" to make a star. It's all very Ed Wood.
Denny Zeitlin. After Friday's post reviewing Mosaic Records' Denny Zeitlin: The Columbia Studio Sessions, Denny sent along a lovely e-mail:
"Thank you very much for this review. I deeply appreciate the time and commitment you made to get inside my music and to write so evocatively about it."
Denny also mentioned that on Friday, May 1st, from 8 to 9 p.m. (EDT), Sirius-XM satellite radio on XM-70 "Real Jazz" is broadcasting one of his sets from a March appearance at New York's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola. Joining Denny were bassist Buster Williams and drummer Matt Wilson. At the Sirius XM website, it looks like you can click for a three-day free online trial here.
Duke Ellington. This Wednesday (April 29), New York's WKCR-FM will present its annual "Duke Ellington Birthday Broadcast." The station will be spinning Duke around the clock. You can hear the show anywhere in the world on your computer by going here.
Tony Bennett. After my post on Tony Bennett last Sunday, several readers sent along thoughts and other small-group jazz recommendations:
From Jan Stevens, host of the Bill Evans Web Pages, in praise of Evan's recordings with Bennett:
"I found this quote by Tony in an interview he did with Detroit Free Press that was reprinted at Popmatters.com on April 21st..."
A: I loved Count Basie, but the best I’ve ever performed with was Bill Evans. I never heard anyone who matched him. He was so artistic and creative. What he did as a pianist was just at the highest level of musicianship. It was astounding.
From Michael Bloom:
"My all-time fave is the Bennett Does Jazz" session he recorded for Columbia with Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones and Ron Carter. There were four tracks. Out of this World was my favorite. I think they were reissued recently somewhere."
[Editor's note: The tracks, recorded in 1964, were Just Friends, Have You Met Miss Jones?, Clear Out of This World and Danny Boy. Bennett recorded Day Dream with the same group and Bob Brookmeyer a day later.]
From Sean Cannon:
Horace Silver. Jazz musician, writer and educator Bill Kirchner sent along a lovely note following my post on Horace Silver's Horace-Scope (1960). He also drew my attention to his fabulous Silver "Dozens" choices for Jazz.com.
In memoriam. Two super jazz artists died recently: Saxophonist Carmen Leggio (1928-2009) and organist Butch Cornell (1941-2009).
Cornell recorded on and off over the years, but his biggest date was surely Stanley Turrentine's Sugar. For more on Cornell, Arnaldo DeSouteiro posted a wonderful tribute at Jazz Station.
CD discovery of the week: Cy Touff is a largely forgotten jazz legend. The bass trumpeter was prominent in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, especially on a series of West Coast jazz albums. In 1981, he produced a recording session in Chicago that wasn't released for many years due to a paperwork snafu. The album, Tickle Toe, finally was issued by Delmark Records last year.
Along with Touff on this date were Sandy Mosse on tenor sax, John Campbell on piano, Kelly Sill on bass and Jerry Coleman on drums. It's a fabulous old-school CD with relaxed Lester Young-style playing by Mosse and punchy duet exchanges by Touff.
Chicago-born Touff started playing trombone in an army band with Conte Candoli and Red Mitchell in the mid-1940s. Then he studied with Lennie Tristano and worked with Bill Russo, Charlie Ventura, Ray McKinley and Boyd Raeburn. He took up the bass trumpet in the late 1940s and toured and recorded with Woody Herman in the early 1950s. Recordings followed with smaller groups, including the Nat Pierce and Dick Collins' nonet. Touff led a series of West Coast jazz groups throughout the 1950s and beyond. Probably my favorite Touff dates were recordings with Richie Kamuca in 1955, with arrangements by Johnny Mandel and Ernie Wilkins. Touff died in 2003.
Touff's playing on this 1981 album is rich and spare, with an emphasis on harmony and collaboration with Mosse, who was popular on the Chicago and European jazz scenes (Mosse died in 1983). Touff's small-group specialty was weaving tightly in and out of another musician's lines. Particularly superb here is Alone Together, Secret Love and a mid-tempo The Man I Love.
Tickle Toe is available as a CD here.
Oddball album cover of the week. Vocalist Bea Abbott recorded just one album, Out of Nowhere, for Westminster Records in late 1957. She was backed by the Hal Otis Quintet, with Otis on violin, Joe Vito on accordion, John Gray on guitar, Lennie Miller on bass and Nicke Addante on drums. Judging by the cover, it looks like Otis fiddled while Bea burned.