Today is the 50th anniversary of the Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here), I write about the iconic bike's colorful past and how its design influenced the future of bike styles—including today's durable street bike. I interviewed the original bike's engineer, a bike historian, California's leading Sting-Ray dealer in the '60s, the grandson of Schwinn's founder, and several others.
Back in 1968, my dad bought me a Sting-Ray on 14th St. in New York—a forest green model with a three-speed shift mounted on the center frame. I customized it with a "sissy bar" in back and replaced the rear wheel with a tread-less slick, so leaving rubber, popping wheelies and fishtailing to a stop in Washington Heights was easy. If I recall correctly, a beaver tail tied to the back bar was a thing for a while. [Pictured above: My 1968 break-away model]
JazzWax on video. Last week Bret Primack, the "Jazz Video Guy," was in town and stopped by with his camera. As long-time readers know, the Portrait of a Jazz Blogger video in the right-hand column was taped by Bret when he interviewed me back in 2009 (by the way, that's Don Fagerquist on trumpet playing You're Looking at Me). Here's Bret's 2013 interview. I'm a little grayer but hopefully a little wiser...
Rare Nelson Riddle. The radio documentary Nelson Riddle: in his Own Words has been out of circulation for 35 years. But on Saturday, June 1, at 10 a.m. (EDT), Metromedia Radio will rebroadcast the three-hour biography of the great arranger. The show will air again on Sunday, June 2, at 6 p.m. Listen live on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here and clicking on the "Listen Online" button. [Pictured above, Nelson Riddle with Frank Sinatra]
Coolest thing I did last week: On Thursday night I spoke to an audience of jazz fans and JazzWax readers at JAZZ.FM91 in Toronto. Canada's biggest and best jazz station has been a big supporter of JazzWax from the start. A warm thanks to Ross Porter, Mark Micklethwaite, Jessica Frohman, Elaine Sherwood and everyone else for making my trip a joy.
Coolest thing I saw last week: Any Wednesday (1966), with Jane Fonda and Jason Robards. It's a romantic comedy about an executive, a mistress, a New York apartment, a wife and a junior executive. Brilliant scoring by George Duning, with end-credit lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
Frank Strozier radio. My boy "Symphony Sid" Gribetz will feature the music of saxophonist and flutist Frank Strozier in a five hour radio broadcast this Sunday, June 2, from 2-7 p.m. (EDT) on New York's WKCR. You can listen on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
RIP Jean Bach. Blogger and Wall Street Journal contributor Larry Blumenfeld posts about the late Bach [with Bobby Short, above]—jazz's biggest fan and accidental documentarian. Go here.
Happy birthday Marty Napoleon. The piano great turns 92 on Sunday. For my interview, go here. [Pictured: Marty Napoleon and Louis Armstrong]
Johnny Otis. WRTC radio host Chris "Howlin'" Cowles sent along this video of the Johnny Otis Show at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival. Blues and the beat...
Allan Sherman, Dean Martin and Vic Damone. Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine sent this one along featuring Three Sour Grapes...
Charlie Parker on WPIX. Reader Mal Collins notes that Charlie Parker and Chubby Jackson being captured by a WPIX-TV camera was from the Metronome Award Show from February 21 1949. He also says that the home movie shown in the Sidney Bechet montage that I posted is the Blues Jam Session, "since video of this is known to exist, and there appear to be a lot of musicians involved." Audio tracks from this show featuring Parker appeared on a Stash CD called Rara Avis. For more on Bechet's discography, go here.
Tales from the Jazz Age. On June 13, 14, 20 and 21, the Café Carlyle at New York's Carlyle Hotel will present Tales From The Jazz Age: An F. Scott Fitzgerald Songbook. Conceived and co-created by jazz writer and author Will Friedwald, the show will feature Emily Bergl, Matthew Saldivar and Molly Pope, with musical director Jon Weber. For more information, go here.
Deanna Durbin. Reader John Cooper sent along a worthy clip of '40's movie singer and actress Deanna Durbin, who died in April. Here's the Turntable Song from Something in the Wind (1947). Sorry no embedded video. The person who put it up disengaged that feature.
Oddball album cover of the week.