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January 21, 2012

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Ron W

Nice stuff. While it is not currently in print (and neither is the Complete Savoy Recordings I believe), The Johnny Otis Show Live At Monterey is a must and is available on downloads (New and unused copies are very expensive on Amazon). It was one of the last documented times of so many legends being on the stage together and a video clip from the performance (The Mighty Flea) was in Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me." It is must stuff. English Ace Records issued "Midnight At The Barrelhouse," the first of two volumes of the Johnny Otis Story that surveys his entire career. Ace has a number of great reissues of Johnny's music including "Vintage 1950's Broadcasts From Los Angeles" with live performances as well as Maury Will's radio ad boosting Johnny for California Assemblyman. I also like the Alliagtor "New Johnny Otis Show" and Johnny's tribute to big band jazz, "Spirit of Black Territory Bands" on Arhoolie.

Another of Johnny's other sons, Nicky has been drummer with the Jackie Payne-Steve Edmondson Band and can be heard on the Delta Groove albums. Payne is another artist who had an association with Johnny.

Also, Johnny's Grandson Eric Otis (I believe Shuggie's son) has a composition and orchestration on Gerald Wilson's latest album, "Legacy." Eric is also Gerald Wilson's grandson.

Allen Lowe

I love Otis but take exception to two comments here which show a pretty typical jazz-person's prejudice:
"he never became an exploiter of talent or a music thief."
Well, talk to Leiber and Stoller about Otis putting his name on Houd Dog. Otis was a good guy, but far from perfect in this sense.
"Otis never became a clownish promoter like so many white rock-and-roll record and radio industry types in the '50s" - like who? once again, this shows a jazz snobbery; Otis is considered more pure because he delved in African American forms more specifically. But rock was a multi-racial phenomenon.

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of California Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year" winner.
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