At The Wall Street Journal, it was a busy writing week. For my “House Call” column, I interviewed photographer Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney (go here). Mary talked about her family’s secluded stays in western Scotland when she was a child in the 1970s, and she told me the story behind the famous photo of her as a baby inside her father’s shearling jacket (above). The famous image was used on the back cover of Paul’s first solo album, McCartney, in 1970.
For the Life & Arts pages, I interviewed Tony Bennett and Diana Krall separately in advance of Love Is Here to Stay, their new duet album due out September 14. The album features 12 songs by George Gershwin (go here and here). If you missed my JazzWax post on my conversations with Tony and Diana, go here.
And for the weekend Review section, I wrote a think piece on TV’s Peter Gunn, which first aired 60 years ago in September (go here). As I write in my piece, the private-eye series created by Blake Edwards introduced cool to television. Unlike earlier TV detective shows, Gunn wasn’t a rumpled, morally bankrupt detective ruthlessly running down the facts. Instead, Craig Stevens was purposefully cast against type. He was hatless, virtuous and modeled after Madison Avenue executives. Best of all, his office was a table at a jazz club called Mother’s, where his girlfriend, Edie (Lola Albright), sang. My favorite scenes feature Gunn sitting down at Mothers to listen to Edie. When people wanted to talk to him, he’d raise his hand slightly signaling to wait until Edie was done. My kind of guy. Want all three seasons on 12 DVDs? Shout Factory just released a box! Go here.
Here’s Gunn in action…
If you see something, say something. I typically write my JazzWax posts in the evening, after a long writing day. Despite a second read early the next morning, typos can creep in. So if you see a letter missing or any other error, please email me so I can fix it. JazzWax is free. All I ask is that you let me know if letters have escaped from the words that brought them to the dance. Thanks in advance.
The Queen of Soul radio. Chris “King” Cowles recently hosted a tribute to Aretha Franklin during his weekly Saturday Greasy Tracks show on WRTC-FM in Hartford, Ct. To listen, (go here).
Here’s Chris’s playlist…
So Swell When You’re Well
Baby I Love You
Sit Down And Cry
Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
Taking Up Another Man’s Place
Love The One You’re With
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Share Your Love With Me
Make It With You
Don’t Play That Song
You’re All I Need To Get By
Spirit In The Dark
Spirit In The Dark Reprise (with Ray Charles)
Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)
I Take What I Want
When The Battle Is Over
New albums you should know about:
Jason Fabus Trio—Splanky. This Los Angeles trio features Jason Fabus on alto saxophone, Shane Savala on guitar and Nick Ornelas on bass. Jason has done his share of listening to Benny Carter and other alto greats. Lyrical jazz with a swinging feel. Go here and Spotify.
Here they are on their new album playing Neal Hefti’s Splanky, recorded originally by Count Basie in 1957…
The Whispers—Whisper in Your Ear, The Whispers and Imagination (Robinsongs). In 1979 and ’80, the Whispers recorded three solid soul-disco albums. All three plus six bonus tracks are on this two-CD set. Solid songs by the Los Angeles vocal group include And the Beat Goes On, It’s a Love Thing, Jump for Joy, Whisper in Your Ear, Lady, Girl I Need You and many others. What beautifully produced soul sounded like at the tail end of the disco era. Go here.
Here are the Whispers on Girl I Need You…
Victoria—Joueuse (Twilite Tunes). I can’t recall who sent along this EP or how it landed on my desk, but it grabbed me and held on. Singer Victoria Meyer isn’t French—she apparently works for NASA in Pasadena, Ca. But she knows her Yé-Yé, a French pop-rock style from the early 1960s that distilled the Liverpool sound and was pioneered by Francoise Hardy and other female singers in Paris. Meyer was produced here by Andy Paley, who has worked with Madonna and Debby Harry. The result is drum-driven French pop meets surf and go-go dragster. Can’t wait for Victoria’s full album in this genre. Go here or Spotify. For more on Victoria Meyer, go here.
Here’s C’est Un Tombeur…
Lurrie Bell & the Bell Dynasty: Tribute to Carey Bell and Tribute (both Delmark). These two blues albums will get your juices going. The Bell kin Lurrie, Steve, Tyson and James pay tribute to their father Carey Bell, the late, great blues harpmaster. Special guests include Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Branch. Tribute is an album of newly recorded blues celebrating the Delmark label’s 65th anniversary. A long list of down-home artists playing superior blues. Go here and here.
What the heck: Back in 2000, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall toured, with Diana playing piano and singing. Man, these two should have been recording duet albums a lot sooner. I just hope they recorded enough extra material for another album beyond the one that’s coming on Sept. 14. How hip is Diana! Here’s Tony and Diana together at Quail Lodge at the Meadows in Carmel, Ca…
Oddball album cover of the week.
Ken Griffin was an organist who, in the early 1950s, hosted a weekly TV show called 67 Melody Lane, which featured guest performers. Any closer and our chap with the pipe would have to turn the pages on Ken’s Wurlitzer. Also, how in the world did our set-watchers wind up with crystal clear reception? Come to think of it, where are the rabbit-ears antenna? And for a guy without a wedding band, he probably could have come up with something a little more entertaining.