Last week I found this neat color photo from the 1950s of Sunset and Vine in Los Angeles [click on photo to enlarge]. Wallichs Music City is on the left. The record store operated from 1940 to 1978, and its owner, Clyde Wallichs, was brother of Glenn Wallichs, who started Capitol Records with Johnny Mercer and former Paramount movie producer Buddy De Sylva in 1942. In the 1950s and 1960s, Music City was on the cutting edge of record merchandising, introducing cellophane-wrapped records and display racks. If you missed my earlier post on the following Capitol promo film, you'll enjoy the scenes filmed at Music City...
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Wall Street Journal alert. In my Playlist column today, I interview celebrity chef Sandra Lee [pictured], who talks about her hard-knocks childhood and the song that inspired her when she was starting out in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. Go here or please buy the paper.
Meredith d'Ambrosio called to remind me she's on piano on Love Is Not a Game, not her late husband Eddie Higgins. I updated last weekend's post but this gives me an opportunity to post it again. Dig Meredith's keyboard phrasing.
John Carisi. Following my post last week on John Carisi, WBGO jazz radio host, producer and writer Bob Porter [pictured] offered additional reasons why Carisi's Jazz Workshop album wasn't released in 1956:
"There are two other possibilities: Jack Lewis joined United Artists in 1956, leaving the album without a champion. When that happens, someone higher up the line may have decided the album wouldn't sell. And they were right.
"Al was a character. He had this slow, deliberate delivery, and the guys used to imitate his famous voice all the time. One night, many years ago, when Mel Torme was at The St. Regis in New York, Al was fronting the band. For the opening—sort of a warm-up number—Al decided to come to the front and sing, unexpectedly. I think it was Top Hat, White Tie and Tails. Billy said he couldn't speak and almost fell off his chair. He wasn't laughing at Al but laughing in disbelief. Who knew? After the fabulous show that Mel did, Al came over to us and said, 'Billy, don't go away. I'll be right back.' He returned in five minutes with an armload of old band photos. Billy was in a few, and Al generously gave them to us later. Mind you, Al was on the road for this gig, carrying around a suitcase of photos."
This one is on tenor saxophonist Phil Urso [pictured below]...
"Billy recommended him to Jimmy Dorsey. When he came on the band, Jimmy turned to the orchestra toward the end of the first night and said, 'Gee fellas, my sound is so big tonight.' Jimmy didn't realize Phil was doubling Jimmy's part. Phil couldn't read music and was simply learning the arrangements. By the next night he had the arrangements memorized and things were back to normal."
Count Basie in 1981. Super-duper John Cooper sent along this link to a performance by Count Basie and his band in 1981 with special guests. Not the greatest show and plenty of awkward moments, but it's still Basie...
Pee Wee Russell radio. Jazz writer and saxophonist Bill Kirchner will host a one-hour tribute to clarinetist Pee Wee Russell on Sunday night as part of WBGO-New York's Jazz From the Archives series. You can tune in on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here. The show airs from 11 p.m. to midnight (EST) on Sunday.
Oddball album cover of the week.
There's artistic license and then there's literal. The McKameys were (and are) a spiritual/gospel group. Their sound can be heard here. I have no idea what year this was recorded, but whenever it was, avocados were two for a dollar. And based on the color scheme of the wall sign behind them, I'll guess it was 1975.