In this week's Wall Street Journal, I interviewed Regis Philbin for "House Call" on growing up in the Bronx, how he came to be accepted at Notre Dame University, who pushed him to pursue a career on TV, and life as Joey Bishop's sidekick (go here). No matter what you think of the retired TV host, the guy is a comet of good cheer. During our photo shoot on New York's Upper West Side, within seconds of his appearance on the street, Regis was mobbed by adoring fans.
Also in the WSJ, my "Playlist" chat with novelist Walter Mosley on Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons (go here). Walter's latest book is Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery (go here). And here's Ford and his hit...
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"In the 1980s, I used to sub on occasion for several years in the saxophone section of drummer Mel Lewis's Jazz Orchestra—originally the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. When I wasn't playing, I would often stop in to hear their weekly Monday-night gigs at New York's famed Village Vanguard. (A tradition that the band—now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra—continues to this day after over 50 years.)
"On one of those Mondays, a unique event took place. Trumpeter Miles Davis, on the verge of emerging from a six-year seclusion, sat in with Mel's band. Several days ago, someone posted an amateur recording of the event on YouTube here.
"For the record, here's the probable personnel of the band that night as best I can remember:
Earl Gardner, Joe Mosello, Simo Salminen, John Marshall (tp); John Mosca, Lee Robertson (tb); Douglas Purviance, Earl McIntyre (b tb); Stephanie Fauber (fh); Dick Oatts, Kenny Garrett (as); Bob Mintzer, Rich Perry (ts); Gary Pribeck (bs); Jim McNeely (p); Marc Johnson (b); Mel Lewis (d) and Miles Davis, guest solo trumpet.
"In 1997, I wrote briefly about that night in the preface to A Miles Davis Reader, which I edited for the Smithsonian Institution Press. To wit:
I had only one brief contact with Miles Davis.... In the spring of 1981 Davis was preparing to emerge from a nearly six-year retirement, and he spent several consecutive Monday nights visiting the Village Vanguard in New York and listening to Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra. During the last of those visits (at which, to my good fortune, I was present), Lewis persuaded Davis to sit in with the band. Lewis kicked off one of his orchestra's staples, Thad Jones's "The Second Race," and Davis, borrowing in succession all four trumpets from the band's trumpet section, played an extended blues solo to the delight of everyone in the club. Since he was playing borrowed horns and was still getting his chops back after years of inactivity, Davis sounded rusty, but what he played could have come only from him.
During the next break, I was sitting at a table with one of the band's trumpeters, Joe Mosello. Suddenly, Davis approached our table and crouched down next to us. He placed his left hand on my right knee, looked straight at Mosello, and said in his famous raspy voice, "You know, you shouldn't drink beer on the gig. It dries you out.
Miles was right."
Trumpeter Jeff Helgesen sent along the following post by trumpeter Larry Moses. Jeff found it at a trumpet forum. In the post, Moses says he was one of the trumpet players from the night mentioned above...
"That night was I was in the section along with Earl, Mosello and Marshall. Miles walked up along the side of the club, stood next to the trumpet section and said 'I wanna play' in his cool, raspy voice. We were just getting ready to start the
last set. Miles came into the section, looked at all of our stuff and chose my mouthpiece and Earl`s trumpet. Mel then kicked off Second Race and opened up the trumpet solo for Miles. Miles grabbed my Harmon, Mel was playing brushes, and it was on! Miles played a while and after a few choruses he looked at Mel and said, 'Sticks
Lewis.' Mel played sticks at that point, Miles played open trumpet (he lost the mute by then). Yeah, he was a bit rusty, but it was certainly Miles and it was magic. The next night I played a Broadway and was quite happy relaying the facts to the brass section about Miles playing this mouthpiece. I did get some quizzical looks about that. For anybody wondering, I was playing a Tottle with a Medium Deep V cup. I`m thinking that the V was why Miles went for it. A very cool night!"
Pianist Joe Alterman will perform at the Blue Note in New York on Sunday, June 19 with his trio—James Cammack on bass and Benny Woodard on drums. There will be two sets: 11:30a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $35, which includes brunch, music and a drink. Reservations can be made by calling (212) 475-8592. Joe will also be at Atlanta's City Winery on Tuesday, June 21 (doors open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 8 p.m.) City Winery recently opened in Atlanta's Ponce City Market.
Singer Tessa Souter will be at the Sidedoor in Old Lyme, Conn., with David Gilmore (guitar) and Boris Kozlov (bass) on Friday, June 24. Cocktails and seating begins at 7:30 p.m.; the show starts at 8:30. Tickets are $35. For more information: 860-434-0886.
Sixties hangover. The1970s were awful for many reasons. On the jazz side, many legends went out and bought clothes they had no business wearing and cracked jokes that no longer seemed to be funny except to those who also grew up during the Depression. This past week, as part of his Merv Griffin retrospective, director Raymond De Felitta posted on an appearance on The Merv Griffin Show by Buddy Rich, Mel Torme, Redd Foxx and Henny Youngman, who wound up being more dynamic than all of them combined. Go here.
What the heck. In tribute to former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough, who died on June 14 after a long illness at age 72, here's My Love, with McCullough's guitar solo...
Oddball album cover of the week.
Based on our model's eyes, Lou either ran a little too long at the keyboard or she conked out. Our model may want to rest her head on Emery's bow and sleep it off (see last week's Oddball).