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JazzWax Ronnie Cuber in Copenhagen

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Baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber cut his teeth in  Marshall Brown’s Newport Youth Band in 1959. The band was noteworthy for breaking in gifted players who went on to sizable jazz careers, including bassist Eddie Gomez and pianist Mike Abene. The band also was a feeder for Maynard Ferguson’s big band of the early 1960s. Among those who recorded on Ferguson’s The New Sound of Maynard Ferguson (1963) and Come Blow Your Horn (1964) were Ronnie, Abene, Nat Pavone and others. [Photo above of Ronnie Cuber courtesy of French Sound Records]

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These days, Ronnie does a lot of touring in Europe, where jazz still thrives in clubs and concert halls. In November 2017, Ronnie was at Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen, backed by Kjeld Lauritsen on organ, Krister Jonsson on guitar and Andreas Svendsen on drums. The run was recorded by Denmark’s Storyville Records and recently released as Ronnie Cuber Live at Montmartre. The album opens with Tee’s Bag, Ronnie’s tribute to pianist-arranger and studio musician Richard Tee. Toots Thielemans’ Bluesette waltz follows with a bouncing solo by Ronnie.

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Next up are three songs made famous by Charlie Parker. Ronnie takes Cherokee at its typical burning-fuse tempo. Then comes Just Friends with highly charged solos by swinging guitarist Jonsson and organist Lauritsen before Ronnie cruises in with his grunting baritone. Au Privave is a straight-up reading of the jazz standard beginning with Ronnie, who tears neatly through a bop solo. Jonsson and Lauritsen again light up the song with solos reminiscent of ’60s Prestige recordings.

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Perhaps my favorite track on the album is Horace Silver’s Silver’s Serenade, a lyrical song with a walking tempo that offers up superb solo work by Ronnie. Jazz Girls is a blues written by Lauritsen that gives him a chance to cook and groove. The last track is the cool and mannered Four, a swinger credited to Miles Davis. All four musicians are on fire on the closer.

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One can only hope that Ronnie brings this group to the U.S. It’s fabulous hearing his baritone framed by three Danish and Swedish musicians who totally understand the American organ-combo genre.

JazzWax tracks: You’ll find Ronnie Cuber Live at Montmartre (Storyville) here.

JazzWax clip: Here’s Four

Four

       

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JazzWax Ronnie Cuber in Copenhagen

JazzWax The Gene Krupa Story

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The best of the bandleader biopics was The Gene Krupa Story (1959), starring Sal Mineo. It’s far from perfect, but the Memories of You scene with Anita O’Day still kills me. Bobby Troup as Tommy Dorsey, Red Nichols as himself, and there’s some great Shelly Manne in there as well. [Photo still from the movie above of Susan Oliver and Sal Mineo]

Here’s the full movie…

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JazzWax The Gene Krupa Story

JazzWax Video Interview: Jackie and Roy

JazzWax Video Interview: Jackie and Roy

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I write often about Jackie and Roy because they were among the hippest and most charming singing jazz duos of their generation. I also had an opportunity to interview Jackie for JazzWax before she passed in 2014. Last week, I stumbled across an in-depth video interview that Monk Rowe conducted in 1998 for Hamilton College. As you’ll see, it’s lengthy and quite good. But before we dive in, here’s a taste of Jackie and Roy’s sound on Mountain Greenery from the mid-1950s…

And here’s the 1 hour and 40-minute interview…

       

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JazzWax Video Clips: Pearl Bailey

JazzWax Video Clips: Pearl Bailey

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Pearl Bailey is virtually forgotten today, but in her prime in the 1950s and ’60s, she was a comedian, a stage and movie actress, a charismatic nightclub performer and a formidable pop and gospel singer. She married drummer Louis Bellson in London in 1952, and they were probably the most highly visible integrated couple in the entertainment industry at a dangerous time for such unions.

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Bailey began her recording career in 1944, singing Now I Know in the Cootie Williams Orchestra. Here’s the recording…

Here’s Bailey on The Nat King Cole Show in July 1957…

Here’s Bailey on the Dinah Shore Show in 1960…

Here’s Bailey in 1967 on I’ve Got a Secret hosted by Steve Allen…

Here’s Bailey with Dinah Shore singing Mack the Knife

Here’s Bailey with Ethel Waters in the 1960s on Bailey’s syndicated TV show, Pearl

Here’s Bailey in 1971 with Andy Williams…

Here’s Bailey with Bing Crosby in 1977…

And here’s Bailey with the Boston Pops in the mid-1970s with husband Louis Bellson on drums…

       

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JazzWax Cannonball Adderley on Kung Fu

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