In The Wall Street Journal this week, I interviewed Rafael Viñoly, the architect who designed 432 Park Ave., currently the tallest residential tower in the world, for my “House Call” column (go here). For those who aren’t up on street addresses, it’s the tall, slender building that you can see from almost anywhere in New York. Rafael grew up in Buenos Aires, and his only frustration is that he isn’t able to play jazz convincingly. So he recently bought a trombone to see if that will work out. [Photo above of 432 Park Ave. by Marc Myers]
Also in the WSJ, I had a chance to interview one of my favorite disco-era singers—Candi Staton— on her favorite song for my “Playlist” column (go here). It’s Ruth Brown’s (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean. But you’ll never believe why.
JazzWax housekeeping. Apologies that some of JazzWax’s links aren’t working when you click on them. That’s because I’m doing some under-the-hood housekeeping, and a vast number of pages are down until I’ve finished upgrading them. Little by little.
Oscar Dennard, Part 1. Following my post on pianist Oscar Dennard, Mark Miller sent along the following PDF from the Utica (N.Y.) Daily Press in 1959. Click to enlarge…
Oscar Dennard, Part 2. Flurin Casura sent along the following:
“As noted, the photo of Dennard with Idrees Sulieman and Jamil Nasser was taken at the club Africana in Zurich in 1959. Visit this site, click on the “looking back” icon on the right-hand clolumn and then “Africana” to find two more (without Dennard) and other great photos.”
Jackie Paris and Anne Marie Moss. For those of us who remember New York in the early 1970s, the city was a strange place. The 1950s hadn’t quite ended yet and the 1970s hadn’t really begun. Charles Miles sent along a 1973 jazz listing in New York magazine for Jackie Paris and Anne Marie Moss singing together at the Horn and Hardart at 104 W. 57th St. (above) plus an ad from the Village Voice. Thou Swell with a special and beans…
Sunshine pop. Following my post on sunshine pop, I heard from Jerry Hopkins of the Twinn Connexion…
“Hi, Marc. You ask how we wound up in the sunshine pop music business. I guess my twin brother, Jay, and I had a dream to be on The Ed Sullivan Show. Our motivation was to get out of Montana, where the likes of our kind had very little support, even though we did create a half-hour TV show on Helena’s KXLJ called Teen Time Varieties, sponsored by Popsicle Pete. Record companies in those days would scout for groups that seemed to be everywhere. Then you’d cut a 45, throw it out in the marketplace and see if something happened.
“I remember an executive at a radio station in Ohio who pointed to an enormous cardboard box holding thousands of recent releases that they received weekly. Only a few received a listen. As you know, being a music historian, the 1960s had so much going on. Jay and I had a very honest approach. We didn’t imitate anyone, even though our interest in music was all-encompassing, from the Everly Brothers to Patti Page. Eventually we wound up in New York.
“One afternoon we were rehearsing at the New Theatre, on East 54th. St. We caught the ear of producer Thomas Z. Shepard. Tom watched us for awhile and suggested we go into Columbia studios to cut a single, which we did with songwriter Joe Reposo [later of Sesame Street fame].
“Bill Downer of Northern Publishing approached us after a performance of our act at the Champagne Gallery in Greenwich Village and enlisted us to record a song for Jerry Keller and Dave Blume—I Think I Know Him. Everyone was impressed enough to give us a go. The music they wrote for us is now considered sunshine pop. Back then it was just pleasant pop.
“I found out years later that Twinn Connexion had success in Mexico, where we reached #1 with the single Sixth Avenue Stroll for a few weeks and raised enough interest with Decca to release another single and a full album in 1968. It’s funny, I’ve since been contacted by fans in Mexico who grew up listening to us.
“So what happened to Twinn Connexion? Like most groups, we didn’t have enough money to keep going. Jay and I had appeared on the Upbeat Show in Cleveland, and our Oh What a Lovely Day single was climbing the charts in Pittsburgh. We thought we might be on a roll, but then Westinghouse Electric won a bid for MCA, and the executives who were involved had other priorities. Instead of supporting our release, they decided to go for a second 45 and toss it out there. The result was Turn Down Day and I Think I Know Him. Even though we got some play in Olympia, Wash., and the Boston area, we lost momentum and broke from our promotional tour of the Midwest. Decca didn’t offer financial help, and whatever we had came from a TV ad Jay and I did for Imperial Margarine. The ride was over.”
Lee Morgan. Following my post on I Called Him Morgan, Ellie Becker sent along a clip of Mark Murphy singing Ceora…
Vera Lynn. Joe Lang sent along a link to an Independent article on Dame Vera. The British World War II chanteuse just turned 100.
Lucy, Viv and Joan. Director Raymond De Felitta (Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris and ABC’s Madoff) just posted on a Lucy Show episode in which Lucy and Vivian Vance run into Joan Crawford. Great analysis! (go here). [Photo above from YouTube]
What the heck. Glen Hartley reminded me of the Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park from 1967…
Oddball album cover of the week.
Who knew? I suspect this was marketed in Taiwan in the early 1960s. Here’s a sense of how the music sounded…