Johnny Richards: Goodbye Kiss - JazzWax

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August 10, 2011


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A male vocal lead one half step away from screaming brass? Yes, I imagine that would be somewhat difficult to sing (!)
But then Allyn's whole life was a nightmare. When Marc asked him how long it took to recuperate from WWII, he told him "I'm still recuperating." Although he didn't tell Marc the full story of how he got sent to prison, the lurid details can be found in his autobiography - one of the scariest of all jazz bios (!) That book reads like a spontaneous outpouring of rage, an effect magnified by the absence of any editing or proofreading. There are a lot of wild stories about life in the big bands, on the streets, and in the slammer. Readers may find it fascinating, depressing, or most likely both.

Jeff Sultanof

Once again, you highlight an important album by a very important and talented composer/arranger. Richards had a very interesting career, but never made a lot of money; reportedly he sold the rights to "Young at Heart" for peanuts. Two of Kenton's finest albums, "Cuban Fire" and "West Side Story" were written by Johnny, and all of his bands, from his 1945 group to his last band, had marvelous music that was tough to play but great to hear.

This film was in fact released. Turner Classic Movies has shown it a few times. I've not seen it so have nothing to say about it. Copies of the WB promotional album have been in circulation for years, but this will be new music for most Richards fans. And anything by Richards is worth having; sessions with Sonny Stitt, Helen Merrill, Ben Webster and of course Gillespie (a big fan) are available.

Thank you again, Marc for putting another important musician in the spotlight again.

Bruce Armstrong

Another tour-de-force for Richards with the Kenton band was "Adventures in Time." This was done circa 1962 when Stan was still using the mellophoniums. It still holds up well today. Don Menza is the featured tenor soloist. It's out of print, but CDs are still available through independent sellers. If you are a Kenton or Johnny Richards fan, it's worth having in your collection.

John P. Cooper


Johnny Richards
Paul Whiteman
Billy May
Chubby Jackson
Fats Waller
Teddy Reig

please add more

Bruno Leicht

Two memorable sessions with Johnny Richards & Dizzy Gillespie should be mentioned too: Number one was a quickly withdrawn, four-sided Jerome Kern songbook, waxed in 1946:

Both met again in the studio four years later, in October & November 1950 for doing a couple of sides for "The Dizzy Gillespie Story" (Savoy):

Both sessions are quite Hollywoodesque, kinda early easy listening efforts, comparable to Bird & Strings.

Johnny Richards' works for Boyd Raeburn (Stormy Weather) and Harry James (How High The Moon) are outstanding examples for his special sense for drama on the one hand, and for his "fingerbusting" (liners on a Harry James LP), breakneck jazz writing on the other.

Lawrence Daniels

The discovery or re-discovery of this film track is a revelation. I've found it listed among David Allyn's recordings over the years but never could find either a soundtrack or the film itself. Thanks for clearing up this mystery. I assume Allyn appears only on the theme song. Too bad; there just isn't enough of his work.

As already mentioned I believe Allyn and Richards worked in the Boyd Raeburn band in the 1940s.

Thank you.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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