Jimmy Roselli (1925-2011). My dad was a tough guy. Born poor and raised in the Bronx in the 1920s and '30s, he served in the Navy during World War II as a war artist, traveling throughout shattered Europe dispatched to paint portraits of officers and battle scenes. When my dad was alive, if I put on Frank Sinatra, he'd fly into a rage. Something about Sinatra not serving in the war or some such.
I never could figure out the true basis of my dad's Sinatra animosity. Then again, that was true of most of my father's many beefs and rages. He was an artist and had that temperament. Secretly, I always suspected that his bilious distaste for Frankie had more to do with losing a girl to some guy who adored the singer. Or maybe the girl did. Who knows?
Having grown up in a rough Italian neighborhood in the Bronx, my dad was well-versed in bel canto and recordings of Italian street singers who could bring you to tears—if you understood the lyrics. Or even if you didn't. My father's Italian vocalist of choice—or at least the one he'd throw in my face whenever I'd ask him to listen to Sinatra—was Jimmy Roselli.
When I grew up, Roselli was always rumored to be a mob entertainer. I'm not sure what that meant, since even mobsters had to listen to someone. While Sinatra was slick and made guys feels like guys, he was considered a squirt by some street guys who really knew this kind of singing. Roselli, by contrast, made Italians of another era yearn for their broken-English parents, crowded stoops in the summer, and large Sunday dinners.
Roselli had a strange hypnotic effect on pre-war urban types like my dad, but you kind of understood it when you heard Roselli's chianti pipes. He was authentic and an underdog, someone who paid his dues but still couldn't quite make it—a guy who got left back repeatedly in the school of hard knocks and never complained or brought shame on those who loved him.
So for my dad, wherever you are up there, here's your favorite Jimmy Roselli song. Hey dad, let's just say that Frank and Jimmy were both good, OK?
Quincy Jones documentary. I had no idea that the financial network CNBC featured a biography series called CNBC Titans. Last week producer Bob Waldman sent along an advance copy of his upcoming Quincy Jones profile, and it's terrific. I had my doubts, of course. Many of these made-for-TV docs can slip into infomercial territory or shamelessly suck up to subjects, becoming all but worthless. This one defies those assumptions. It's beautifully shot, there's terrific rare footage, A-list talking heads (including Jones), and you come away with a fine sense of what makes the arranger-composer-conductor-producer special, whatever you think of him and no matter how much you believe you already know. The first airing on CNBC is next Thursday at 10 p.m. (EDT). For more information on the Quincy Jones profile and its broadcast schedule, go here.
iTunes solution. As you may recall, last week I complained about how Apple prevents you from playing songs that you've purchased at iTunes if you've registered more than five computers with the same email account. Such an event can occur if you've owned that many computers. And over many years, it's quite possible. Further complicating matters is that many people originally signed up with email accounts that are dormant or no longer exist.
There's an easy solution. Several readers pointed out last week that you can unregister all of your computers and then register just your current one. This can be done in iTunes under "Store" in the menu, selecting "View My Account." If you have complications related to old email accounts, call AppleCare, and they'll walk you through what to do.
In short, you need to sign into your old account, unregister all of your computers, re-register your current computer and then simply log in under your current email address. Then all music that you've purchased over the years will play just fine.
Wrecking Crew hits the road. One of the great rock-umentaries that still has not seen the light of day on DVD due to staggering music-rights payments is Denny Tedesco's The Wrecking Crew. It features original members of the Los Angeles studio band that recorded the instrumental tracks on most of the early and mid-'60s pop-rock singles, including Denny's dad, Tommy Tedesco.
Now Denny is taking the film on the road. To see where this documentary will be screened in coming months, go here.
Stevie Wonder plays John Coltrane. Think I'm kidding? Here's Stevie Wonder improvising on Giant Steps...
"I had the great pleasure of hearing this wonderful quartet during their appearance at a Washington D.C. nightclub in the Spring of 1963, right before I graduated from high school. Art Farmer had always been one of my favorites—and he did not disappoint! Jim Hall's melodic playing was also a real bonus. The blend of that group was exceptional. I would also like to mention that on the breaks my buddy and I—a trumpet player—had the opportunity to talk with all of them and they just could not have been more accommodating to us. We even got autographs! Thanks for bringing back some great musical memories."
And this one from Michael Pettersen...
"I met Jim Hall in 1972 while I was attending University of Illinois/Urbana. He was my favorite jazz guitarist and he came to perform with the U of I Big Band, under John Garvey. I could not believe how humble and nice Jim was. He gave me a long lesson (for free) after the concert. We went out for pizza, which was surreal for me: having pizza with Jim Hall! He came back the following year, and brought with him guitar arrangements that I had sent him. We went over these and he offered ways to improve. Those two lessons completely changed my approach to jazz guitar.
"I loved Jim's tone but I could not duplicate it. He let me try his guitar and his amp, and I did not sound like Jim Hall. Then he played my guitar, and he sounded like Jim Hall! Lesson learned: the sound was in his hands.
"My favorite Jim Hall recording is Jim Hall In Berlin: It’s Nice To Be With You."
Chris Jordan. Director Raymond De Felitta send along a link to a clip by pianist Chris Jordan, who has Art Tatum down cold...
Free big-band radio. Radio legend Dick Carr hosts Big Bands, Ballads and Blues. Listen to his show for free at any time. When you click, let the video ad play out for 20 seconds. Then drop the screen down so it's out of your way while the music plays. If you dig New York's beloved WNEW (now long gone), you'll love Dick's show—probably because he used to run WNEW in its heyday. To listen on your computer from anywhere in the world, go here.
CD discoveries of the week. When I wrote about Iron City last year, the band had just released Sparks, its second CD. Here comes the followup: The Business (CArlo Music). With guitarist Dave Stryker producing, their new album has a funkier edge and a deeper groove reminiscent of Prestige in the '70s. On track after track, guitarist Charlie Apicella, organist Dave Mattlock and drummer Alan Korzin along with tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley and percussionist Mayra Casales swing with an easy-going ambition that is immediately infectious. Dig the hip snap of '64 Cadillac and Ironicity. Or catch what they do with Can't Help Falling in Love. It's easy for organ trios to make a ton of noise but wind up saying very little. These guys know their green-label vinyl, and it shows. For more on Iron City, go here. You'll find this one at iTunes and here.
If you don't understand French, you'll love Zaz (Sony Music Independent Network). Zaz is the stage name of Isabelle Geffroy, a hot-selling pop singer in France. Each track is rollicking and upbeat, with plenty of passion, fizz and zest. Think Edith Piaf in a good mood. I can manage a little "restaurant French" and understand almost none when spoken to. But I love the way the language sounds in Zaz's singing voice. If I were riding a motorcycle in Paris, this is the music I would be listening to on my iPod. Sample Le Long De La Route and J'aime À Nouveau. There's a lot of jazz in Zaz's phrasing. An all-around spirits-lifter. More about Zaz here. You'll find her CD here.
Oddball album cover of the week. This 1962 release from Warner Bros. featured trumpeters and brothers Pete and Conte Candoli with Gary Peacock (b) Shelly Manne (d), along with Max Bennett and Frank Capp (d) on other tracks. In addition to being politically incorrect, it's unclear whether these women are jumping or being dropped from on high. One suspects a few trampolines were involved. Or a crane.