Archive for lambert hendricks and ross

A Little Love for Joe Williams

Posted in The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault with tags , , , on December 16, 2015 by curtjazz

Francis Albert Sinatra is not the only great singer born on December 12. Born that same date, three years later (1918) in Crisp County, GA was a boy named Joseph Goreed. Three years after his birth, his mother and grandmother would take him to Chicago, where he would grow up.

By the early 50’s, Goreed was calling himself Joe Williams and struggling to make ends meet singing in Chicago area clubs, when he met Count Basie, who was in the process of putting his band back together. Williams, cool urbane baritone was the opposite of Basie’s prior vocalist, blues shouter Jimmy Rushing but he was perfect for the new Basie sound.

From 1954 to 1961, Williams was known as Basie’s “Number One Son” and recorded hits such as “Alright, Okay (You Win)” and “Every Day I Have The Blues”. Williams officially left Basie in ’61 but their musical partnership continued of and on the rest of the Count’s life.

In the ’80’s Williams gained fame with a new generation, as he played “Grandpa Al”, Claire’s father, on The Cosby Show. But he never stopped singing and recording. Unlike Sinatra, time (and care) had been kind to Williams’ vocal gifts and he continued to make critically acclaimed, relevant jazz albums well into his seventies.

Joe Williams died in Las Vegas in 1999. And of late, time seems to be forgetting one of the great jazz vocalists of all time. Hopefully, three years from now, there will be at least a few Williams centennial celebrations on December 12.


Unburied Treasure – Dave Lambert’s “Audition at RCA”

Posted in Never on CD, Uncategorized, Under The Radar, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2014 by curtjazz

lambertIf you read my posts regularly, you know that I’m a fan of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, the great jazz vocal group that influenced so many others, from the Swingle Singers to New York Voices to their most successful progeny, The Manhattan Transfer. Hard as it is to believe, the trio of Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross only recorded together for five years (1957 – 1962). Unlike many others, I’m even quite fond of the work of Lambert and Hendricks with Yolande Bavan, the Ceylonese soprano who replaced Ms. Ross in 1962 and recorded three albums with the group for RCA.  Dave Lambert’s untimely death in an accident on a Connecticut highway in 1966, put an end to the talk of the original trio’s reunion that had been buzzing at the time.

There’s a handful of film footage of both of the group’s incarnations, in qualities that range from grainy but historically relevant; to clear, fun and eminently watchable. And until recently, I thought that I had seen pretty much all that was publicly available. Then a few months ago, I stumbled upon something that had been hiding in plain sight for many years – a short film from 1964, by D.A. Pennebaker, who would go on to create some of the best rock documentaries ever made. It was called simply, Audition at RCA. It features a post L, H & R (or B) Dave Lambert, as he has formed a new group, called Dave Lambert and Co., as he is trying to convince the suits at RCA Records, who had last recorded Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan; to give one more shot to the art form known as vocalese.

In the documentary, you not only see and hear Lambert as he works through “the process” but there’s also legendary jazz producer George Avakian (who was ready to produce the album if RCA signed on) and the great bassist George Duvivier among those providing musical support. The quartet of vocalists supporting Lambert, were all unknown and although they were quite capable, none went on to very prominent careers in the jazz world. The tunes are catchy, especially “Blow The Man Down” and “Comfy Cozy” (which sounds tailor-made for L, H & R). I would have liked to have heard what the finished product sounded like.

Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the RCA execs didn’t go for the project. The tapes of the music were erased and this cool, swinging music by a jazz master, ceased to exist anywhere, except for the snippets that are a part of this documentary short. To my knowledge these tunes have never been recorded again and I’m not sure if any complete, written versions of the compositions and arrangements exist. If they do, what a great project it would be to finally let them be heard, more than half a century later.

Until then, we have this unburied treasure to enjoy as we wonder what might have been…


My Halloween Jazz – A Few Treats (but no “Tricks”)

Posted in The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by curtjazz

Though I admit to not being a big Halloween person, our friends at NPR’s A Blog Supreme, inspired me with a great post yesterday on Halloween Jazz.

I thought of four more tracks that I’ve always had a fondness for that fit well with the season. Some have an obvious connection and some are a bit of a stretch, but I hope that you’ll dig ’em all.

Happy Halloween!!!

 It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is number two in my book of Charlie Brown specials, behind A Charlie Brown Christmas. However Vince Guaraldi’s score for …Pumpkin is as good as his immortal work on the Christmas special, though it doesn’t get as much ink. “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” is as warm and inviting as hot cider on a chilly fall evening.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross were making an obvious grab for a seasonal single with “Halloween Spooks”. It’s not the best of their work, but it still swings and includes some of their trademark wit.  The clip created by TurnipGirl13, includes some great shots of seasonal pumpkin carving.

I was quite surprised to find that there was no clip already on YouTube for Philly Joe Jones’ “Blues for Dracula”, so I made my own.  Philly Joe does a great Bela Lugosi impersonation standing in for his friend Lenny Bruce, whose standup routine inspired the monologue. Bruce was also supposed to do the monologue on the song, but schedules didn’t work out.  Nice solo work by Julian Priester on trombone, Johnny Griffin on tenor and Tommy Flanagan on piano are additional highlights.

Our last track is “Spooky” by Stanley Turrentine. An instrumental version of the old pop hit for Classics IV. It was a filler track on a late ’60’s Turrentine date for Blue Note. This kind of groove was right in Stan’s wheelhouse and he is all over it.

Where To Find the Tracks

“The Great Pumpkin Waltz “- CD – Charlie Brown’s Holiday Hits (Vince Guaraldi); mp3 also available

“Halloween Spooks” – CD – Hottest New Group in Jazz (Lambert, Hendricks and Ross)

“Blues for Dracula” – CD – Blues for Dracula (Philly Joe Jones); mp3 also available

“Spooky” – CD – The Lost Grooves “67 – ’70 (Blue Note Artists)