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Saturday, January 25, 2014

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A.
JAZZ JOURNAL REVIEW
Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

Steve Allen's JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. series was reviewed by Jazz Journal in their February 1963 issue by west coast correspondent, Douglas Hague, who attended the filming of the Cannonball Adderley show.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. - CODA
Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

Steve Allen had hoped to continue his Jazz Scene USA syndication series for a second round of twenty six shows so that the package would contain a year’s worth of programs for potential licensees who wanted to broadcast the series weekly.  The initial budget estimates that Philip Turetsky put together for each show proved to be unreliable and the funding that Steve Allen had set aside forced to series to end after twenty six shows had been taped.

Jazz has been presented on television by numerous hosts, anchors, emcees and presenters over the years but I doubt that none of these equaled the record set by Steve Allen during his tenure on The Tonight Show.  Below is a partial list of jazz and other music artists who appeared on The Tonight Show in 1956 compiled from newspaper listings for the program.






Here is a recap of the eight programs that were issued on VHS by Shanachie Entertainment Corp.  Some of these programs were also issued on DVD and interested fans can seek them out at Amazon, Ebay and other internet sites.








This blog has presented a behind the scenes glimpse of the twenty six programs that defined the state of jazz in the USA in 1962. It has included copies of all of the production scripts that provided the storyline for each of the twenty six episodes that were narrated by Vern Stevenson and Oscar Brown, Jr.  The scripts reveal the twists and turns that occur during a taping, text edited here, a song shortened to fit time requirements, explicit directions for the cameramen, etc.  

Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #26


JIMMY SMITH TRIO


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1962
CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA

Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

The jazz artist selected for the last and 26th program in Steve Allen’s JAZZ SCENE USA syndication series was Jimmy Smith.  As noted below in the biographical sketch, Smith had risen in the mid 1950s on the jazz scene and over the course of his recording career with Blue Note Records he had become “the jazz organist” on the American jazz scene.  Below are a sampling of his jazz albums from the label.


The Jimmy Smith Trio program was included in the VHS and DVD releases of shows from Jazz Scene USA. It was coupled with the Phineas Newborn, Jr. program and is available at Amazon as well as other internet sites such as Ebay and Half.com.





Jimmy Smith became a jazz innovator when, in the mid-fifties, he revolutionized the sound of jazz organ. Heretofore, Wild Bill Davis had been the pied piper who led many a pianist to the organ with his full orchestral sound and big band emulation. It was Jimmy Smith, however, who gave the organ a new soloing voice in much the same way Louis Armstrong gave new life to the trumpet. Born in Norristown, PA on December 8, 1928, Jimmy revealed his musical talent early. His parents both played piano and encouraged him in the boogie-woogie and stride styles of the day. Jimmy made his professional debut at age fourteen in a father/son dance team and joined the navy a year later to serve in WW II. His GI bill helped him attend Ornstein's School of Music in Philadelphia where his undeniable talent was acknowledged. He studied both piano and bass and admired Art Tatum for technique and a myriad of saxophonists for expression. In 1951, Jimmy joined drummer Don Gardner and his Sonotones but soon felt confined as merely a Rhythm and Blues pianist. Fascinated with the organ, he went to see Wild Bill Davis at the Harlem Club in New Jersey. Jimmy began playing in the style of Bill Davis while with Don Gardner but felt compelled to do more. By 1954, he bought his own Hammond organ and placed it in the warehouse where he and his father worked as plasterers. Every day Jimmy would practice his new ideas on the organ, developing horn lines with never before heard registrations. One day he emerged from that warehouse with a truly original sound. His debut at Spider Kelley's Club drew great approval and in 1956, when Jimmy's trio opened at Greenich Village's Café Bohemia, the word quickly got out that this was, in fact, the new sound in jazz organ.

Jimmy's career advanced rapidly as Blue Note recording sessions fueled his notoriety. He literally became the jazz organist to chase as more and more pianists switched to the organ. Jimmy's trio played the Newport Jazz Festival and the Cannes Festival in France. He added more musicians to his recording sessions as the hits began to compile. Back at the Chicken Shack , The Sermon and Midnight Special all became anthems for budding jazz organists to learn. Television captured the Jimmy Smith experience for Philadelphians in 1961. Downbeat magazine voted him their 'Misc Category' winner in 1962 and by 1963, Jimmy was making commercially successful orchestral recordings for Verve Records. 

© Pete Fallico, JJA 2004


Oscar Brown, Jr. promoted two of Jimmy Smith’s LPs on the show, first his Fats Waller album on Blue Note and second the orchestral album with arrangements by Oliver Nelson that included the version of WALK ON THE WILD SIDE that became a chart topper for Jimmy Smith.

The entire Jazz Scene USA show is currently available on YouTube and fans should catch it before it is taken down as frequently happens on the channel.




Jimmy Smith, Hammond B-3 organ; Quentin Warren, guitar and Donald Bailey, drums.

Production credits: 
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr. 
Executive Producer: Steve Allen 
Producer: Jimmie Baker 
Director: Steve Binder 
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart 
Associate Director: George Turpin 
Technical Director: Dick Hall 
Lighting Director: Leard Davis 
Audio: Larry Eaton 
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee 
Jazz Consultant: John Tynan
Title Films: Grant Velie 

Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny









Wednesday, August 28, 2013

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #25

BEN POLLACK & HIS PICK-A-RIB BOYS


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1962

CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA

Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

When Steve Allen and Jimmie Baker tapped Ben Pollack to appear on the Jazz Scene U.S.A. syndication series Pollack provided a link and historical perspective to the jazz series when the host, Oscar Brown, Jr., asked Pollack to identify the notable jazz stars that had their start in bands that Ben had organized during his career.  The brief biography reprinted below from allmusic.com notes these figures that are not listed in the script as Pollack was replying ad lib to screen projections during the filming of the segment.  The photo by Cecil Charles [below] was taken at the Beverly Cavern, a long standing bastion for traditional jazz in Los Angeles.

Ben Pollack was a talented drummer and an even better bandleader, with a great ear for talent but none of the luck needed to hold onto his discoveries. He always worked without ever quite hitting the big time himself; but his bands of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s included such future luminaries as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Jimmy McPartland, Harry James, Yank Lawson, Muggsy Spanier, Jack Teagarden, Joe Marsala, Eddie Miller, Frank Teschemacher, Dick Cathcart, Irving Fazola, Freddie Slack, and Bud Freeman.

Pollack was born in Chicago, to a family in the fur business. He loved music, however, and took up the drums in school. He played drums in various high-school groups and an all-city band, and also picked up occasional work with professional outfits while still in his teens. Pollack became a member of the Harry Bastin Band, before moving on to work with a groundbreaking ensemble as the drummer for the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, the pioneering white Dixieland ensemble, during the early '20s. Pollack was supposed to go into the family business, but decided to stay in music, and for a time he took over the Bastin band in Los Angeles.

He formed his own band in 1926, and for the next eight years he was host to some of the biggest future talents in jazz, as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy McPartland, and later, Yank Lawson and Matty Matlock passed through his lineup. The group finally broke up in December of 1934, and its membership immediately became the core of Bob Crosby's band, which went on to years of success in that capacity. Pollack turned right around, however, and put together a new band that included Harry James and Freddie Slack in its lineup.

Pollack soldiered on, never venturing far from the Dixieland style that he favored, leading bands in New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where Muggsy Spanier became an alumnus. In 1942, he became the leader of the touring band working behind music/comedy star Chico Marx. By this time, the field of big-band music was dominated by his former alumni, most notably Miller, Goodman, and James. Pollack was working out of New Orleans in the late '40s, and hosted the Second Annual Dixieland Jubilee in 1949, after which he led a sextet. Pollack was an important and popular enough figure among his fellow musicians to justify appearing (as himself) in the 1955 feature film The Benny Goodman Story (starring Steve Allen as the legendary clarinetist and bandleader), but by the late '50s he had left music in favor of opening a club of his own in Los Angeles and then a successful restaurant in Palm Springs, California. Pollack recorded throughout his career, for Bluebird, Brunswick, and Vocalion, among other labels.

© Bruce Eder, allmusic.com


Ben Pollack, leader, drums; Gene Bolen, clarinet; Bill Campbell, piano; Dick Cary, trumpet; Warren Smith, trombone and Walt Yoder, bass.

Production credits: 
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr. 
Executive Producer: Steve Allen 
Producer: Jimmie Baker 
Director: Steve Binder 
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart 
Associate Director: George Turpin 
Technical Director: Dick Hall 
Lighting Director: Leard Davis 
Audio: Larry Eaton 
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee 
Jazz Consultant: John Tynan
Title Films: Grant Velie 
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny















The Howard Lucraft photo that greatly enhances this presentation has been provided courtesy of CTSIMAGES.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Howard Lucraft Collection.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Howard Lucraft Collection and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #24


THE VI REDD SEPTET


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1962

CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA

Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

Vi Redd’s sextet had recorded her first album as leader in May of 1962 for United Artists.  The album has recorded over two days at Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard.  The May 21st date captured five instrumental numbers with Carmell Jones (tp), Vi Redd (as), Russ Freeman (p), Roy Ayers (vib), Leroy Vinnegar (b) and Vi’s husband, Richie Goldberg (d).  The balance of the album was recorded on May 22nd with Vi Redd (as, vcl), Russ Freeman (p), Herb Ellis (g), Bob Whitlock (b) and Richie Goldberg (d).  The UA session was produced by Leonard Feather which most likely accounts for the inclusion of two Feather originals on the album.


Howard Lucraft attended both recording sessions as seen in his sampling of photos (below) from Western Recorders.


Vi Redd (as), Carmell Jones (tp), Herb Ellis (g), Russ Freeman (p), Roy Ayers (vib), Bob Whitlock (b) and Richie Goldberg (d).

Production credits: 
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr. 
Executive Producer: Steve Allen 
Producer: Jimmie Baker 
Director: Steve Binder 
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart 
Associate Director: George Turpin 
Technical Director: Dick Hall 
Lighting Director: Leard Davis 
Audio: Larry Eaton 
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee 
Jazz Consultant: Leonard Feather
Title Films: Grant Velie 
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny
















The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of CTSIMAGES.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Howard Lucraft Collection.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Howard Lucraft Collection and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.