As long-time readers of this blog know, I've been rather obsessed with D.A. Pennebaker's film Audition at RCA (also known as Lambert & Co.), a 15-minute minidocumentary made in the summer of 1964 that features Dave Lambert and his new group of vocalese singers. As the film opens, they meet producer George Avakian outside of RCA's studios before going in to pitch material for an album. I've posted about this documentary here, here and here. If you haven't seen the film yet, go here or view below. [Pictured above, from left: Steve Sholes and George Avakian]
To recap the names of those in the film. That's George walking up just as Lambert and his singers—David Lucas, Leslie Dorsey, Sarah Boatner and Mary Vonnie—emerge from Dave's car. In the recording studio, they were backed by Moe Wechsler on piano, George Duvivier on bass and Gary Chester on drums.
A few months ago, as I was writing the liner notes for Miles Davis: The Original Mono Recordings—a box set due on Nov. 11—I spent time with George [pictured above] chatting about the Davis sessions. I also brought my computer to show him Audition at RCA, which he hadn't seen in decades. We talked about the "audition," and George gave me the names of most of the remaining people in the film:
"At the beginning, it appears as if I had asked Dave to meet me outside and that I was championing the session. In truth, I had found out about the session only an hour or so before and agreed to tag along in case I could be of help.
The guy to my right [in the picture above] is Steve Sholes, the director of RCA's pop department. The guy I'm talking to without a jacket is Ben Rosner, an RCA promotion man. He's probably the one who got Dave the audition, and Steve probably set up the session.
The musicians were terrific. George Duvivier [pictured above] was an absolute rock in the studio—he knew exactly what to do the first time, perfectly. The same was true about Moe and Gary.
I'm not sure why the audition didn't result in an album. I think the reason was that Dave didn’t have enough new original material for a full 12-inch LP. At any rate, the decision to do the album would have been Steve's [pictured]. I was in charge of the overall department but Steve was in charge of pop. I wouldn't have overruled him or stood in the way of what he thought was best."
Dave Lambert's daughter Dee also reached out to me:
"Though I lost dad’s original manuscripts for the original songs you hear in Audition at RCA in a fire in 1979, I did have transcriptions made from the originals and filed copyrights for them. I have lead sheets of the songs as arranged as well as take-downs done by a Los Angeles take-down service (from the soundtrack of the film).