All posts by jesswaid

About jesswaid

Currently, I write police procedural novels with the stories taking place in Hollywood during the early 1960s; a period when I was a street cop there. I've moved to Mexico to be closer to my hobby of studying Mexican history. My friend and fellow author, Professor Michael Hogan, is my mentor. I am planning to write a three-part epic story that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century. What has inspired me was hearing about Los Ninos Heroes, martyrs of the Battle of Chapultepec. Also, my father was born in Concordia, Mexico and knowing his family history is an added incentive.

The Tenor Sax

Zoot Sims on the tenor sax, during the recording session for the 1956 album, Jutta Hopp with Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims on the tenor sax, during the recording session for the 1956 album, Jutta Hopp with Zoot Sims

The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor, with the alto, are the two most common types of saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key of B Flat♭, and written as a transposing instrument in the treble clef, sounding an octave and a major second lower than the written pitch. Modern tenor saxophones which have a high F# key have a range from A♭2 to E5 (concert) and are therefore pitched one octave below the soprano saxophone. People who play the tenor saxophone are known as “tenor saxophonists” or “tenor sax players”.

The tenor saxophone uses a larger mouthpiece, reed, and ligature than the alto and soprano saxophones. Visually, it is easily distinguished from these instruments by the bend in its neck, or its crook, near the mouthpiece.

The tenor saxophone is used in many different types of ensembles, including concert bands, big band jazz ensembles, small jazz ensembles, and marching bands. It is occasionally included in pieces written for symphony orchestra and for chamber ensembles; three examples of this are Ravel’s Boléro, Prokofiev’s suite from Lieutenant Kijé,and Webern’s Quartet for violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone, and piano. In concert bands, the tenor plays mostly a supporting role, sometimes sharing parts with the euphonium, horn and trombone. In jazz ensembles, the tenor plays a more prominent role, often sharing parts or harmonies with the alto saxophone.

Many of the most important jazz musicians have been tenor saxophonists, including Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Wayne Shorter.

History

The tenor saxophone was one of a family of fourteen instruments patented in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian-born instrument maker, flautist and clarinetist. A medley of ideas drawn from the clarinet, flute, oboe and ophicleide, the saxophone was intended to form a tonal link between the clarinets and brass instruments found in military bands, an area which Sax considered sorely lacking. Sax’s patent, granted on 28 June 1846, divided the family into two groups of seven instruments, each ranging from sopranino down to contrabass. One family, pitched alternatively in B♭ and E♭, was designed specifically to integrate with the other instruments then common in military bands. The tenor saxophone, pitched in B♭, is the fourth member of this family.

Description

The tenor saxophone, like all saxophones, is in essence an approximately conical tube of thin brass, a type of metal. The wider end of the tube is flared slightly to form a bell, while the narrower end is connected to a mouthpiece similar to that of a clarinet. At intervals down the bore are placed between 20 and 23 tone holes; these are covered by pads which can be pressed onto the holes to form an airtight seal. There are also two small speaker holes which, when opened, disrupt the lower harmonics of the instrument and cause it to overblow into an upper register. The pads are controlled by pressing a number of keys with the fingers of the left and right hands; the left thumb controls an octave key which opens one or other of the speaker holes. The original design of tenor saxophone had a separate octave key for each speaker hole, in the manner of the bassoon; the mechanism by which the correct speaker hole is selected based on the fingering of the left hand (specifically the left ring finger) was developed soon after Sax’s patent expired in 1866.

Although a handful of novelty tenors have been constructed ‘straight’, like the smaller members of the saxophone family, the unwieldy length of the straight configuration means that almost all tenor saxophones feature a ‘U-bend’ above the third-lowest tone hole which is characteristic of the saxophone family. The tenor saxophone is also curved at the top, above the highest tone-hole but below the highest speaker hole. While the alto is usually bent only through 80–90° to make the mouthpiece fit more easily in the mouth, the tenor is usually bent a little more in this section, incorporating a slight S-bend.

The mouthpiece of the tenor saxophone is very similar to that of the clarinet, an approximately wedge-shaped tube, open along one face and covered in use by a thin strip of material prepared from the stem of the giant cane (Arundo donax) commonly known as a reed. The reed is shaved to come to an extremely thin point, and is clamped over the mouthpiece by the use of a ligature. When air is blown through the mouthpiece, the reed vibrates and generates the acoustic resonances required to produce a sound from the instrument. The mouthpiece is the area of the saxophone with the greatest flexibility in shape and style, so the material and dimensions of its mouthpiece primarily determine the timbre of the instrument. Materials used in mouthpiece construction include plastic, ebonite and various metals e.g. bronze, brass and stainless steel.

The mouthpiece of the tenor saxophone is proportionally larger than that of the alto, necessitating a similarly larger reed. The increased stiffness of the reed and the greater airflow required to establish resonance in the larger body means the tenor sax requires greater lung power but a looser embouchure than the higher-pitched members of the saxophone family. The tenor sax reed is similar in size to that used in the bass clarinet, so the two can be easily substituted.

Uses of the tenor saxophone

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The tenor saxophone first gained popularity in one of its original intended roles: the military band. Soon after its invention, French and Belgian military bands began to take full advantage of the instrument that Sax had designed specifically for them. Modern military bands typically incorporate a quartet of saxophone players playing the E♭ baritone, tenor, E♭ alto and B♭ soprano. British military bands customarily make use only of the tenor and alto saxs, with two or more musicians on each instrument.

Much of the popularity of saxophones in the United States derives from the large number of military bands that were around at the time of the American Civil War. After the war disused former military band instruments found their way into the hands of the general public, where they were often used to play Gospel music and jazz. The work of the pioneering bandleader Patrick Gilmore (1829–1892) was highly influential; he was one of the first arrangers to pit the brass instruments (trumpet, trombone and cornet) against the reeds (clarinet and saxophone) in the manner which has now became the norm for big-band arrangements.

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The tenor is also used in classical music. It is a standard instrument in concert bands and saxophone quartets. It has a decent amount of solo repertoire as well. The tenor is sometimes used as a member of the orchestra in pieces such as Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Maurice Ravel’s “Boléro”.

The tenor saxophone became best known to the general public through its frequent use in jazz music. It was the pioneering genius of Coleman Hawkins in the 1930s that lifted the tenor saxophone from its traditional role of adding weight to the ensemble and established it as a highly effective melody instrument in its own right.

Stan Getz
Stan Getz

Many prominent jazz musicians from the 1940s onwards have been tenor players. The strong resonant sound of Hawkins and his followers always in contrast with the light, almost jaunty approach of Lester Young and his school. Then during the be-bop years the most prominent tenor sounds in jazz were those of the Four Brothers in the Woody Herman orchestra, including Stan Getz who in the 1960s went on to great popular success playing the Brazilian Bossa nova sound on tenor saxophone (not forgetting John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins). In recent years, the tenor continues to be very popular with fans of smooth jazz music, being used by notable artists like Kirk Whalum, Richard Elliot, Steve Cole and Jessy J. Saxophonists Ron Holloway and Karl Denson are two of the major proponents of the tenor on the Jam band music scene.

As a result of its prominence in American jazz, the instrument has also featured prominently in other genres, and it’s been said that tenor saxophonists pioneered many innovations in American music. The tenor is common in rhythm and blues music and has a part to play in rock and roll and more recent rock music as well as Afro-American, Latin American, Afro-Caribbean, and African music. Many post-punk and experimental bands throughout the UK and Europe have also used it on occasion in the 1980s, sometimes atonally.



Jimmy Giuffre – Decades Ahead Of His Time

Here’s a fascinating series of  articles highlighting the achievements of jazz visionary Jimmy Giuffre.

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Visionary Jazz, October 13, 2001, by N. Dorward

This reissue doubles up two Verve albums recorded by the Jimmy Giuffre Trio, Fusion & Thesis. Both were recorded in 1961, & it’s remarkable to think of that year in jazz: consider, for instance, that Eric Dolphy & Booker Little recorded a live date for Prestige at the Five Spot in July of that year; Coltrane played the Vanguard in November, yielding Live at the Village Vanguard & Impressions; the Bill Evans trio with La Faro had recorded two albums’ worth of material in June for Riverside; Cecil Taylor recorded a large amount for Candid early in the year; Lee Konitz recorded Motion; Ornette Coleman had just rounded off his Atlantic output with the magnificent Ornette! & the lesser Ornette on Tenor. All of these recordings were to prove influential, some of them (Coltrane and Evans) extremely so; & yet despite the fact that Giuffre’s trio hardly met with equal success or acclaim, one might claim these two recordings for Verve as in their way equally influential on the course of jazz. Though Giuffre’s trio didn’t have much impact in the U.S., it met with a warmer critical reception in Europe, & its example proved highly influential on the development of jazz in Europe, especially in the creation of a free jazz (or free improvisation) that was quiet, reflective, & as considerable remove from the high-volume, “blacker” free jazz associated with the ESP & Impulse labels. ECM’s founder Manfred Eicher was a great admirer of Giuffre’s work, & it’s fitting that three decades later he should reissue these two discs, which still sound quietly visionary.

One characteristic that defines almost all the experimentation in forward-looking jazz of circa 1960 is the desire to replace the conventional idea of the “soloist” with a much greater & more democratic role for “accompanists.” Think, in particular, of emphasis on three-way dialogue in Bill Evans’ trio; or the development in Coltrane’s music of the drummer’s role, so that rather than conventional solo-and-accompaniment, Jones & Coltrane engage in furious, combative dialogue; or the nascent “harmolodics” of Coleman’s quartet. Giuffre’s trio music is very much part of this line of inquiry: both the pianist Paul Bley & the bass player Steve Swallow are forceful personalities, & the music is strikingly nonhierarchical: the divisions between “solo” and “accompaniment” are often blurred.

Of the two albums, I think the second is considerably the more engaging. (As with Bill Evans’ trio with La Faro, the music was developing so quickly that each album sounds very different from the last: neither of these albums sound much like Free Fall, the 3rd and last disc they recorded [for Columbia].) The first is a touch dry & too unvaryingly slow, mostly developing through a series of carefully paced, almost static harmonies. It’s nonetheless worth a close listen. The 2nd album, Thesis, is truly a marvel: it opens with Carla Bley’s “Ictus”, which issues with a clatter from the instruments & then breaks free, into completely open space. One thing I like about this album in particular is the pacing & dynamics: sometimes, for instance, the trio introduces a brief meditative pause before the restatement of the head after the solos. Throughout the album, Bley & Giuffre draw unconventional sounds out of their instruments: Bley works with the interior of the piano, while Giuffre sometimes produces un-pitched breath-noises from his clarinet. Swallow (only 20 years old at the time!) is commanding throughout both albums, & he’s sometimes the “lead” voice—for instance, he’s given the statement of the melody on “Goodbye” (the one standard performed here: listeners should check out Bley’s recent disc Not Two, Not One, which has a theme-less improvisation which sounds to me like it’s based on this tune). Swallow often gives the music a strong push & an air of tension exactly when one expects it to become reflective: check out, for instance, his work on “Afternoon”.

This is music that still sounds sui generis. It’s not music that grabs the listener forcefully: it’s altogether more subtle & insidious. The one album of the period it does seem related to, oddly enough, is Kind of Blue—there are a few points where Bley’s playing suggests “Blue in Green” or “Flamenco Sketches”. Like that album, 1961 is notable as a turn away from the high volume & brash pyrotechnics of contemporary hard bop, to something much more oblique & atmospheric. 1961 is a much more “difficult” album than Davis’s masterpiece, of course, and many jazz fans will find it too un-swinging, too mysterious or too far from bop & post-bop tenets (though they would be missing the fact that swing & the blues are very much present here, just much more obliquely expressed). But I’d still claim this as one of the essential postwar jazz albums. Essential listening. Fans of this album will also want to listen to the trio’s 1962 album Free Fall (which is considerably more difficult music than these two dates, stepping out into complete atonality & freedom). The group also reformed in 1989 & has recorded several new albums. I would also recommend Time Will Tell, a disc on ECM featuring Evan Parker, Paul Bley & Barre Phillips performing music that is overtly influenced by Giuffre’s work (Phillips was Swallow’s replacement in the trio); & Lee Konitz’s Rhapsody, which has one track, nearly 20 minutes long, which is a theme-less improvisation on “All the Things You Are” by Konitz, Giuffre, Bley & Gary Peacock.

Paving the Way June 12, 2003, by  Christopher Forbes

The cool movement in jazz is often considered a dead end musically. By the late ’50s the Hard Bop movement had become dominant in the jazz world, leaving once central musicians such as Jimmy Giuffre and Gerry Mulligan out of the mainstream. Then the free jazz movement erupted, partly as a reaction to the hard boppers. But Ornette, Coltrane and the like were far removed from the cerebral styling of the cool musicians, so once again, the spirit of the times seemed against them. As a result, many cool school musicians struggled in the early ’60s to find a way to accommodate these new styles, while keeping up their interests. Much of this music is forgotten now, but at least in the case of the Jimmy Giuffre 3, there is much treasure in this work.

Giuffre had been leading a drummer-less group since the mid ’50s, often featuring Jim Hall on guitar. But in 1961 he formed a new group with Paul Bley on the piano and a 19-year-old Steve Swallow on bass. They recorded the two albums on this disc for Verve, the first as Fusion and the second as Thesis. Listening to them in chronological order, you can hear the group getting progressively freer. This is chamber jazz at it’s most vital. The first album features tunes by Giuffre and by Bley’s then-wife Carla. The sound is a premonition of the ECM style that Manfred Eichter would develop in the 70s…lyrical, gently swinging at times, modal but floating in and out of tonality. The compositions themselves are strong, focusing on unusual harmonies underpinning cleverly concealed traditional song structures. Improvisation is often collective with a gentle trading of lines between Giuffre and Bley. Swallow is an even voice here. Occasionally he walks lines, but more often he improvises subtle counterpoint to the lines of the piano and clarinet. Bley is stunning. He has discovered his trademark spare dissonant harmony, and his lyricism is ecstatic. You can hear that he was an overwhelming influence on many later pianists, Keith Jarrett not the least.

Thesis is an even more far ranging album. Though the recording does have plenty of cerebral “bop” numbers, the entire approach to improvising is even freer than on the earlier disc. In many tunes, particularly the opening “Ictus,” tonality disappears altogether. Bley and Guiffre experiment on their instruments, coaxing unusual tones out of them. Even the more conventional tunes seem somehow free of preplanning. An ostinato might lead to a dark passage with unusual chords or scales through in. Dissonance is used subtly but effectively. This is not music that makes its impact through groove or energy. Its pleasures are subtle and you have to listen closely for the rewards. But this is passionate music, passionate in its understatement. Every note is pregnant with meaning.

This work has nearly been lost. Verve had no compelling reason to re-release it, as it never made a huge impact when first released, at least in the US. However, it was devoured by Europeans, not the least Manfred Eichter. It is much to the ECM guru’s credit that he brought this out again. By doing so he acknowledges his tremendous debt to these musicians. If you like your music adventurous but subtle, you should definitely get this album, and the subsequent Guiffre 3 album, Free Fall on Sony. Listened to side by side, these three recording paint a picture of three top musicians in transition to what would be their mature styles.

Delicate filigree creations – sublime & awesome January 31, 2004, by IrishGit

When Jimmy Giuffre broke away from the straightjacket of white West Coast Jazz in the mid-’fifties he went on to produce a series of albums experimenting with drummer-less trios. In fact he did a wonderful album just before this series using a quartet of reeds/trumpet/bass/drums where the drums are not used rhythmically at all (Tangents in Jazz—long unavailable except on the Mosaic 6 CD set). Giuffre had always felt uncomfortable as a straight jazz improviser—he needed the space & freedom to explore ideas & sounds as they cropped up in order to express himself fully, & found the thrust of a good rhythm section too restricting—he didn’t want to ride the beating drum—his rhythmic sense was more dynamic & extreme. This trio with Bley & Swallow is where he first really comes into his own as composer, improviser & leader. The two albums on this release (Fusion & Thesis) were the trio’s first two recordings done only a few months apart in New York 1961. Also available by this trio are the seminal Free Fall (1962) & two wonderful live albums—Emphasis & Flight—recorded in Germany late 1961 (recently released on HatArt as a double CD). The remit of the trio really was to reinvent music—to take it apart piece by piece & reconstruct it afresh, making each component vibrate with its own independence whilst relating to other components with a new delicate vitality. Each instrument is also treated as a component in this web of interactions—each played with restraint & sensitivity—leaving much space around each other (bringing to mind Cage’s aphorism—”love is the space you leave around the loved one”)—listening as attentively as creating—creative listening. Not only was this group investigating the various components of music but they were also acutely aware & sensitive to the dynamics of creating as a threesome—as a trio—in fact on the later album “Free Fall” there are duets & solo pieces as well—all sounding very different in character. The overall feel of these recordings is of intense & intelligent inquiry—the more intense it gets the quieter it becomes. The music is not really jazz—it’s as much influenced by European atonal music—especially that of Berg & Webern—as it is Armstrong or Parker—in fact in the sleeve notes to Free Fall Giuffre states “Given: the urge to enter new realms, glimpse other dimensions, reach the absolute. Given: the visions received from thinking on such things as . . . gravity, Monk, electricity, time, space, the micro-cosmos, leaves, chemistry, power, gods, white-hot heat, asteroids, love, eternity, Einstein, Rollins, Evans, the heartbeat, pain, Delius, Scherchen, Art, overtones, the prehistoric, La Violette, wife, life, voids, Berg, Bird, the universe. . . .” This may sound like pretentious youthful enthusiasm but in fact it is all clearly audible in the music (Giuffre was, after all, a mature 40 years old when he made these albums)—La Violette, by the way, was Giuffre’s composition teacher. Whilst Free Fall may be this trios best & most intense deconstruction (& final—no one would record them afterwards)—these two albums—Fusion & Thesis—are the more listenable—softer (they’ve been given a little ECM reverb unfortunately)—transition recordings that still vibrate strongly with the intelligence, generosity, courage & commitment with which they were made.

Free Fall influenced the whole European free improvisation movement enormously, whereas these recordings influenced the ECM sound just as much (hence Manfred Eicher’s insistence to pay homage by releasing them on his label). Given how important this trio was & is, then surely it’s time we had everything they ever recorded available to us—even fluffed takes.

In short this trio is, along with Evans/LaFaro/Motian, the best in jazz, & this album set is their most attractive recording—sublime & awesome.

 

The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'” — Then & Now!

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If you were alive in 1957, and old enough to enjoy Rock and Roll, you will probably remember the group “The Diamonds” who had just launched their super hit “Little Darlin’.” For those of you  too young to remember, it was a time when performers actually had fun, enjoyed themselves, respected their fans, dressed appropriately — their lyrics could be (more or less!) understood. They did not feel obligated to scream, eat the microphone, mumble inaudible lyrics, or trash the set. In 1957, The Diamonds had a hit with “Little Darlin’.” Forty-seven years later, they were requested to perform in Atlantic City. Here are both performances. Tom Hanks’ father is much better looking than Tom, and even better looking with age — he’s the lead singer on the left. He still has it! Hope you enjoy. Two performances, 47 years apart

 

Rory Calhoun

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Rory Calhoun (August 8, 1922 – April 28, 1999) was an acclaimed American television and film actor, screenwriter, and producer.

EARLY LIFE

Born Francis Timothy McCown in Los Angeles, California, Calhoun spent his early years in Santa Cruz, California. The son of a professional gambler, he was of Irish and English ancestry. He was only nine months old when his father died; Calhoun’s mother remarried, and he occasionally went by Frank Durgin, using the last name of his stepfather. At age thirteen, he stole a revolver, for which he was sent to the California Youth Authority’s Preston School of Industry reformatory at Ione, California. He escaped while in the adjustment center (jail within the jail). After robbing several jewelry stores, he stole a car and drove it across state lines. This made it a federal offense, and when he was recaptured, he was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary at Springfield, Missouri. After finishing his sentence, he was transferred to San Quentin prison on other charges. He remained there until he was paroled shortly before his twenty-first birthday.

CAREER

After his release from San Quentin, Calhoun worked at a number of odd jobs. In 1943, while riding horseback in the Hollywood Hills, he met actor Alan Ladd, whose wife was an agent. Susan Carol Ladd landed Calhoun a one-line role in a Laurel and Hardy comedy, The Bullfighters, credited under the name Frank McCown. Shortly afterwards, the Ladds hosted a party attended by David O. Selznick employee Henry Willson, an agent known for his assortment of young, handsome and marginally talented actors to whom he gave new, unusual names. Willson signed McCown to a contract and initially christened him “Troy Donahue”; it was soon changed to “Rory Calhoun.” Willson carefully groomed his new client and taught him the social manners he had never learned in prison.

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Calhoun’s first public appearance in the film capital was as Lana Turner’s escort to the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945), a Selznick production. The glamorous blonde and her handsome companion attracted the paparazzi, and photos appeared in newspapers and fan magazines. Selznick then began loaning his contract player to other studios; subsequently, Calhoun appeared in Adventure Island with Rhonda Fleming, The Red House with Edward G. Robinson, and That Hagen Girl with Shirley Temple.

As Calhoun’s career gained momentum, he next appeared in several westerns, musicals and comedies, including Way of a Gaucho with Gene Tierney, With a Song in My Heart with Susan Hayward, How to Marry a Millionaire (as the love interest of Betty Grable) and River of No Return. The last two films featured Marilyn Monroe.

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Willson maintained careful control over his rising star, arranging his social life and ending his engagement to French actress Corinne Calvet. In 1955, Willson disclosed information about Calhoun’s years in prison to Confidential magazine in exchange for the tabloid not printing an exposé about the secret homosexual life of Rock Hudson, another Willson client. The disclosure had no negative effect on Calhoun’s career and only served to solidify his bad boy image.

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In 1957, Calhoun formed a production company with Victor Orsatti they named Rorvic to make and star in the films The Hired Gun, The Domino Kid and Apache Territory. In the same year, he co-produced and starred in CBS’s The Texan, a Western series that ran on Monday evenings until 1960. On March 26, 1959, he appeared as himself in the episode “Rory Calhoun, The Texan” on the CBS sitcom December Bride, starring Spring Byington, then in its last season of production. While filming The Texan, Calhoun would continue to produce and write screenplays throughout his career. After The Texan was canceled, he was strongly considered for the lead of James West in The Wild Wild West, but the producers were not impressed with his screen test. Like many American actors, Calhoun also made a variety of films in Europe.

He continued to appear in both television and film throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Thunder in Carolina, Rawhide, Gilligan’s Island, Hawaii Five-O, Alias Smith and Jones and Starsky and Hutch. In 1982, Calhoun had a regular role on the soap opera Capitol, being persuaded to do it by his family after his regret over turning down a part on Dallas. He stayed with the series until 1987.

Calhoun became known to a new generation for several roles in cult films such as Night of the Lepus (1972), Motel Hell, Angel (1984) and its sequel Avenging Angel (1985), as well as Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987).

His final role was that of grizzled family patriarch and rancher Ernest Tucker in the 1992 film Pure Country.

PERSONAL LIFE

Calhoun was married twice and had five daughters, three with wife (1948-1970) Lita Baron, one with his second wife (1971-1999, his death), journalist Sue Rhodes and one with actress Vitina Marcus while he was married to Baron.

When Baron sued Calhoun for divorce, she named Betty Grable as one of 79 women he had adulterous relationships with. Calhoun replied to her charge, “Heck, she didn’t even include half of them.”

In 1966, a paternity suit by Vitina Marcus against Calhoun was settled in Los Angeles Superior Court for an undisclosed sum. At the time, he was 43, and she was 28; their daughter, Athena Marcus Calhoun, was 7. Athena went on to become “The World’s Most Beautiful Showgirl” and received a “Key To The City Of Las Vegas” in 1987.

Calhoun’s second cousin is popular Canadian sports talk show host Bob McCown.

Rory Calhoun died in Burbank, California at the age of 76 from complications resulting from emphysema and diabetes.

The following depicts Rory in photo clips from his numerous movies:

 

Finally, I must tell my personal memory of the man: I was 12 years old when I won a two-week vacation that I shared with a dozen or more other kids at Rory’s Sespe Valley Ranch north of Ojai. He and his wife, Lita Baron, were wonderful hosts. When Rory showed up, we kids decided to “initiate” him by tossing him into the pool. We weren’t successful, but I ended up in the water. I’d seen his wristwatch and wanted to keep it from getting wet, so I tried to take it off. Mistake. Instantly, I was airborne, hitting the water so hard I got a nosebleed.

The LAPD’s “Freeway Flyer”

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The LAPD’s ‘Freeway Flyer’ program, cars specially equipped for freeway use,  was disbanded when the Highway Patrol took over the freeways through L.A. in 1969. The cars’  lights were made by S&M Lamp Co. LA (Model 757) until 1964, first used in 1951 & standard by 1953, when S&M Lamp Co. went out of business. In ’64, Trio-Sales Co. started making them for LAPD (renamed Model T-2). The lights were red/red until ’64, when rear ambers were introduced. Each T-2 had a separate flasher installed by MTD so that a ‘shop’ would not go out-of-service for a BO amber. Last cars to have the T-2 lights installed were the ’78 Plymouth Fury models.

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Most sirens were the familiar Federal C5GB, B&M S8B-S, or B&M Super Chief. 2. In those days all units were dispatched using an AM signal-1730 Mhz, just off the end of the AM broadcast dial. A good home console radio could be tuned to it. There would be a 39″ stick antenna just out of frame on the left-rear quarter panel for the receiver. Units transmitted with an FM signal in the 155 Mhz range. Because of this there were no tac (tactical) channels for patrol units and every car in the city heard the same dispatch broadcasts. Obviously, this changed very quickly after the Watts riots. The FM transmit antenna was typically a Motorola TU-316, the same one used in the Belvedere days of Adam-12.

Robert Mitchum

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Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor, author, composer and singer. He is #23 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time. Mitchum rose to prominence for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s.

EARLY YEARS

Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, into a Methodist family. His mother, Harry Anniette (née Gunderson), was a Norwegian immigrant and sea captain’s daughter, and his father, James Thomas Mitchum, was a shipyard and railroad worker. A sister, Annette, (known as Julie Mitchum during her acting career) was born in 1914. James Mitchum was crushed to death in a rail yard accident in Charleston, South Carolina, in February 1919, when his son was less than two years old. After his death, Ann Mitchum was awarded a government pension, and soon realized she was pregnant. She returned to her family in Connecticut, and married a former British Army major who helped her care for the children. In September 1919 a second son, John, was born. When all of the children were old enough to attend school, Ann found employment as a linotype operator for the Bridgeport Post.

 

Throughout Mitchum’s childhood, he was known as a prankster, often involved in fistfights and mischief. When he was 12, his mother sent Mitchum to live with his grandparents in Felton, Delaware, where he was promptly expelled from his middle school for scuffling with a principal. A year later, in 1930, he moved in with his older sister, in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. After being expelled from Haaran High School, he left his sister and traveled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including as a ditch-digger for the Civilian Conservation Corps and as a professional boxer. He experienced numerous adventures during his years as one of the Depression era’s “wild boys of the road.” At age 14 in Savannah, Georgia, he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang. By Mitchum’s own account, he escaped and returned to his family in Delaware. It was during this time, while recovering from injuries that nearly lost him a leg, that he met the woman he would marry, a teenaged Dorothy Spence. He soon went back on the road, eventually riding the rails to California.

ACTING CAREER

Mitchum arrived in Long Beach, California, in 1936, staying again with his sister Julie. Soon the rest of the Mitchum family joined them in Long Beach. During this time he worked as a ghostwriter for astrologer Carroll Righter. It was sister Julie who convinced him to join the local theater guild with her. In his years with the Players Guild of Long Beach, he made a living as a stagehand and occasional bit player in company productions. He also wrote several short pieces that were performed by the guild. According to Lee Server’s biography (Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care), Mitchum put a talent for poetry to work writing song lyrics and monologues for his sister Julie’s nightclub performances. In 1940 he returned East to marry Dorothy, taking her back to California. He remained a footloose character until the birth of their first child, James Mitchum, nicknamed Josh (two more children would follow, Christopher Mitchum and Petrine). Mitchum then got a steady job as a machine operator with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.

A nervous breakdown (which resulted in temporary blindness), apparently from job-related stress, led Mitchum to look for work as an actor or extra in movies. An agent he had met got him an interview with the producer of the Hopalong Cassidy series of B-westerns; he was hired to play the villain in several films in the series during 1942 and 1943. He continued to find further work as an extra and supporting actor in numerous productions for various studios. After impressing director Mervyn LeRoy during the making of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Mitchum signed a seven-year contract with RKO Radio Pictures. He found himself groomed for B Western stardom in a series of Zane Grey adaptations.

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Following the moderately successful western Nevada, Mitchum was lent from RKO to United Artists for the William Wellman-helmed The Story of G.I. Joe. In the film, he portrayed war-weary officer Bill Walker (based on Captain Henry T. Waskow), who remains resolute despite the troubles he faces. The film, which followed the life of an ordinary soldier through the eyes of journalist Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith), became an instant critical and commercial success. Shortly after making the film, Mitchum himself was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving at Fort MacArthur, California. At the 1946 Academy Awards, The Story of G.I. Joe was nominated for four Oscars, including Mitchum’s only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He finished the year off with a western (West of the Pecos) and a story of returning Marine veterans (Till the End of Time), before filming in a genre that came to define Mitchum’s career and screen persona: film noir.

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FILM NOIR

Mitchum was initially known for his work in film noir. His first foray into the genre was a supporting role in the B-film When Strangers Marry, about newlyweds and a New York City serial killer. Undercurrent, another of Mitchum’s early noirs, featured him playing against type as a troubled, sensitive man entangled in the affairs of his brother (Robert Taylor) and his brother’s suspicious wife (Katharine Hepburn). The film was director Vincente Minnelli’s only film noir.

John Brahm’s The Locket (1946) featured Mitchum as bitter ex-husband to Laraine Day’s femme fatale, while Raoul Walsh’s Pursued (1947) combined western and noir styles, with Mitchum’s character attempting to recall his past and find those responsible for killing his family. Crossfire (also 1947) featured Mitchum as a member of a group of soldiers, one of whom killed a Jewish man in an act of anti-Jewish hatred. It featured themes of anti-Semitism and the failings of military training. The film, directed by Edward Dmytryk, earned five Academy Award nominations.

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Following Crossfire, Mitchum starred in Out of the Past (also called Build My Gallows High), directed by Jacques Tourneur and featuring the cinematography of Nicholas Musuraca. Mitchum played Jeff Markham, a small-town gas station owner whose unfinished business with gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and femme fatale Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), comes back to haunt him. Though ignored by most critics on its release, the film was a modest box office hit at the time and has received a positive reappraisal as one of the greatest film noir movies of all time. Musuraca in the Robert Wise psychological western Blood on the Moon the following year photographed Mitchum again.

On September 1, 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tip-off. After serving a week at the county jail, (he described the experience to a reporter as being “like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff”) Mitchum spent 43 days (February 16 to March 30) at a Castaic, California, prison farm, with Life magazine photographers right there taking photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform. The arrest became the inspiration for the exploitation film She Shoulda Said No! (1949), which starred Leeds. The Los Angeles court and District Attorney’s office later overturned the conviction on January 31, 1951, with the following statement, after it was exposed as a set-up:

“ After an exhaustive investigation of the evidence and testimony presented at the trial, the court orders that the verdict of guilty be set aside and that a plea of not guilty be entered and that the information or complaint be dismissed. ”

Whether despite, or because of, his troubles with the law and his studio, the films released immediately after his arrest were box-office hits. Rachel and the Stranger (1948) featured Mitchum in a supporting role as a mountain man competing for the hand of Loretta Young, the indentured servant and wife of William Holden, while he appeared in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novella The Red Pony (1949) as a trusted cowhand to a ranching family.

Mitchum returned to true film noir in The Big Steal (also 1949), where he again joined Jane Greer in an early Don Siegel film.

CAREER IN THE 1950s AND 1960s

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In Where Danger Lives (1950), Mitchum played a doctor who comes between a mentally unbalanced Faith Domergue and cuckolded Claude Rains. The Racket was a noir remake of the early crime drama of the same name and featured Mitchum as a police captain fighting corruption in his precinct. The Josef von Sternberg film Macao (1952) saw Mitchum a victim of mistaken identity at an exotic resort casino, playing opposite Jane Russell. Otto Preminger’s Angel Face was the first of three collaborations between Mitchum and British stage actress Jean Simmons. In the film, Simmons plays an insane heiress who plans to use young ambulance driver Mitchum to kill for her.

Mitchum’s cynical, mischievous attitude through his career had led him to shrug off fame as a fluke. His expulsion from Blood Alley (1955) is frequently attributed to his pranks, especially one in which he reportedly threw the film’s transportation manager into San Francisco Bay. According to Sam O’Steen’s memoir, Cut to the Chase, Mitchum showed up on set after a night of drinking and tore apart a studio office when they didn’t have a car ready for him. Mitchum walked off the set of the third day of filming Blood Alley, claiming he could not work with the director. Because he was showing up late and behaving erratically, producer John Wayne, after failing to obtain Humphrey Bogart as a replacement, took over the role himself.

Following a series of conventional westerns and films noirs, including the Marilyn Monroe vehicle River of No Return (1954), he appeared in Charles Laughton’s only film as director, The Night of the Hunter (1955). Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, the film noir thriller starred Mitchum as a monstrous criminal posing as a preacher to find money hidden by his cellmate in the cellmate’s home. His performance as Reverend Harry Powell is considered by many to be one of the best of his career. Stanley Kramer’s melodrama Not as a Stranger though, also released in 1955, was a box office hit for Mitchum. The film starred Mitchum against type, as an idealistic young doctor, who marries an older nurse (Olivia de Havilland), only to question his morality many years later. However, the film was not well received, with most critics pointing out that Mitchum, Frank Sinatra and Lee Marvin were all too old for their characters. Olivia de Havilland received top billing over Mitchum and Sinatra.

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Following a succession of average westerns and the poorly received Foreign Intrigue (1956), Mitchum starred in the first of three films with British actress Deborah Kerr. The John Huston war drama Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison starred Mitchum as a marine corporal shipwrecked on a Pacific Island with a nun, Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), being his sole companion. In this character study they struggle to resist the elements and the invading Japanese army. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. For his role, Mitchum was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor.

Thunder Road (1958) was loosely based on an incident in which a driver transporting moonshine was said to have crashed to his death on Kingston Pike in Knoxville, Tennessee, somewhere between Bearden Hill and Morrell Road. According to Metro Pulse writer Jack Renfro, the incident occurred in 1952 and may have been witnessed by James Agee, who passed the story on to Mitchum – who not only starred in the movie, but also produced the film, co-wrote the screenplay, and is rumored to have directed much of the film himself. Mitchum also co-wrote (with Don Raye) the theme song, “The Ballad of Thunder Road.”

Mitchum and Kerr reunited for the Fred Zinnemann film, The Sundowners (1960), where they played husband and wife struggling in Depression-era Australia. Opposite Mitchum, Kerr was nominated for yet another Academy Award for Best Actress, while the film was nominated for a total of five Oscars. Robert Mitchum was awarded that year’s National Board of Review award for Best Actor for his performance. The award also recognized his superior performance in the Vincente Minnelli western drama Home from the Hill (also 1960). He was teamed with both Kerr and previous leading lady Jean Simmons as well as Cary Grant for the extremely offbeat Stanley Donen ensemble comedy The Grass Is Greener the same year.

Mitchum’s performance as the menacing southern rapist Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962) brought him even more attention and furthered his renown as playing cool, predatory characters. The 1960s were marked by a number of lesser films and missed opportunities. Among the films Mitchum passed on during the decade was John Huston’s The Misfits, the last film of its stars Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, the Academy Award–winning Patton, and Dirty Harry. The most notable of his films in the decade included the war epics The Longest Day (1962) and Anzio (1968), the Shirley MacLaine comedy-musical What a Way to Go! (1964), and the Howard Hawks western El Dorado (1966), a remake of Rio Bravo (1959), in which Mitchum took over Dean Martin’s role of the drunk who comes to the aid of John Wayne.

MUSIC CAREER

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One of the lesser known aspects of Mitchum’s career was his forays into music, both as singer and composer. Mitchum’s voice was often used instead of that of a professional singer when his characters sang in his films. Notable productions featuring Mitchum’s own singing voice included Rachel and the Stranger, River of No Return and The Night of the Hunter. After hearing traditional calypso music and meeting artists such as Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader while filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in the Caribbean island of Tobago, he recorded Calypso — is like so … in March 1957. On the album, released through Capitol Records, he emulated the calypso sound and style, even adopting the style’s unique pronunciations and slang. A year later he recorded a song he had written for the film Thunder Road, titled “The Ballad of Thunder Road”. The country-styled song became a modest hit for Mitchum, reaching #69 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart. The song was included as a bonus track on a successful reissue of Calypso… and helped market the film to a wider audience

Though Mitchum continued to use his singing voice in his film work, he waited until 1967 to record his follow-up record, That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings. The album, released by Nashville-based Monument Records, took him further into country music, and featured songs similar to The Ballad of Thunder Road. “Little Old Wine Drinker Me,” the first single, was a top ten hit at country radio, reaching #9 there, and crossed over onto mainstream radio, where it peaked at #96. Its follow-up, “You Deserve Each Other,” also charted on the Billboard Country Singles Chart. He also sang the title song to the western Young Billy Young, made in 1969.

Mitchum also co-wrote and composed the music for an oratorio that was produced by Orson Welles at the Hollywood Bowl.

Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck, live in Washington, 1962

I had an opportunity to meet Tony Bennett once at Sandpoint, Idaho, during the summer festival there. I went to Sacramento College to see and listen to Dave Brubeck and Cal Tjader in the mid-fifties. So of course this article I’m re-posting by Charles Gans of the Associated Press resonated with me.

 

Tony Bennet & Dave Brubeck, together in Washington
Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck, together in Washington

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 11:00 AM CDT

Long lost Bennett-Brubeck recording discovered

by Charles J. Gans

NEW YORK (AP) — Tony Bennett never forgot the first time he performed with Dave Brubeck more than half a century ago. But the tape of that memorable collaboration between two American jazz masters lay forgotten in a record label’s vaults until its discovery by an archivist just weeks after Brubeck’s death in December, and it’s just been released as “Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962.”

President John F. Kennedy’s White House made this jazz summit possible when it booked Brubeck and Bennett to perform at a concert on Aug. 28, 1962, for college-age summer interns. The crowd was so big that the concert had to be moved from the Rose Garden to an open-air theater at the base of the Washington Monument.

After Brubeck and Bennett each performed with their bands, the pianist came back on stage with his drummer Joe Morello and bassist Eugene Wright to accompany the singer on four encore numbers: “We haven’t rehearsed this, so lots of luck, folks,” Bennett joked with the audience.

“It was very spontaneous — a real jam session, where you really don’t plan what you’re going to sing or how you’re going to play it,” said Bennett, who had never previously performed with his Columbia Records label-mate. “I just gave Dave the key and the song, and we just went for it. The audience went crazy, and you can hear the reaction on the record.”

Columbia Records had sent its mobile recording unit to tape the concert. But only one song, their version of “That Old Black Magic,” surfaced years later on several compilation albums. The nearly one-hour tape had been mislabeled as “American Jazz Concert” with no reference to the two jazz legends and ended up lost in a section of the massive Sony Music Entertainment archives mostly devoted to classical music recordings.

Matt Kelly, director of the archives, was doing routine research last year into Columbia recording sessions done 50 years ago when he pieced together the paper trail that would lead to the tape’s discovery. He cross-referenced incomplete logbook entries for an Aug. 28, 1962, live recording in Washington, which didn’t list the performers’ names, and separate listings for Bennett and Brubeck sessions that same day. After Brubeck’s death at age 91 on Dec. 5, Bennett’s camp prodded Sony to see if a tape of the Washington concert existed and it was quickly located.

“I was shocked they even had it,” Bennett said in a telephone interview.

John Jackson, Sony Legacy’s vice president of A&R and Content, was surprised to find the tape in pristine condition and decided it had to be released.

“Both Tony and Dave are absolutely at the top of their game,” Jackson said. “It’s the only time they were recorded performing together and to have them on tape together was just too good to be true.”

Brubeck’s classic quartet — with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond — begins the set by playing the odd-metered “Take Five” at a faster tempo than on their groundbreaking 1959 album “Time Out,” which the year before had peaked at No. 2 on the pop album charts. The rest of the set includes Brubeck compositions inspired by the rhythms of countries where he had performed — “Nomad” (Afghanistan), “Thank You (Dziekuje)” (Poland) and “Castilian Blues” (Spain).

The smooth-voiced Bennett, accompanied by pianist Ralph Sharon’s trio, sings Broadway tunes such as “Just In Time” and “Small World” in his set, which closes with a song that had begun climbing the pop singles chart a few weeks earlier — “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”

Their joint performance offers a rare chance to hear Brubeck perform Great American Songbook standards with a top-flight jazz singer and Bennett unleash his jazz chops often kept in check on his more pop-oriented Columbia recordings.

They begin their impromptu performance with a brisk “Lullaby of Broadway” in which Bennett unexpectedly changes the lyrics to “Come along and listen to the lullaby of … Dave Brubeck” and the pianist quickly jumps into his solo. On “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town),” Brubeck’s solo gets somewhat funky. Bennett starts off singing “There Will Never Be Another You” as a slow ballad, but suddenly shifts to a fast tempo displaying some daring jazz phrasing, accompanied by Brubeck’s rapid-fire bop lines.

“It was a matter of listening to one another and we turned each other on,” Bennett said. “It’s always a joy to perform with people that you’ve admired your whole life.”

They didn’t perform together again until the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival when Brubeck sat in with Bennett to reprise “That Old Black Magic” — an encounter encouraged by jazz buff Clint Eastwood, who was producing a Brubeck documentary. At the time, Brubeck expressed his admiration for Bennett.

“Tony has such great command, control and power that it’s a thrill to hear him really start to belt it out,” Brubeck told the AP. “It’s a wonderful experience when somebody has all that power.”

His 1962 performance inspired Bennett to work with other jazz pianists. Bennett says he met Bill Evans for the first time at that Washington concert and they would record two albums in the 1970s that rank among the best of the singer’s career. He recently recorded an album of Jerome Kern tunes with husband-and-wife jazz pianists Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes for later release.

Bennett, who will celebrate his 87th birthday in August with a Hollywood Bowl concert, is also planning to record a jazz CD with Lady Gaga later this year. He was impressed by her performance of “The Lady Is a Tramp” on his Grammy-winning 2011 “Duets II” CD.

“We just hit it off and I realized, ‘Oh, my God, this woman’s a really great jazz singer,’” Bennett said. “She’s going to surprise everybody as to how well she’s going to sing on this record.”

Here’s That Old Black Magic, and There Will Never Be Another You from those historic sessions — enjoy!

http://jesswaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/16-that-old-black-magic-with-the-dave-brubeck-trio-live.m4a

http://jesswaid.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/17-there-will-never-be-another-you-with-the-dave-brubeck-trio-live.m4a