Daily Archives: May 5, 2011

LEO AND FRIENDS: MORE FROM THE McCONVILLE ARCHIVES (Part Seven)

Here’s the subject of our inquiry himself — inscribing a portrait to . . . . Hadley?  Hadey (as in “Hayden”?).  No reasonable suggestion refused:

And here’s Conrad Thibault:

That man might be unfamiliar to most people (Rob Rothberg recognized him immediately) but he was exceedingly popular on radio from the Thirties onward — the classically trained baritone (1903-1987).

You can hear Thibault (from a fascinating site called “Grandpa’s iPod”) as he sounded in July 1943 on a radio program, THE AMERICAN MELODY HOUR:

http://www.grandpasipod.com/tag/conrad-thibault/

The best part of the photograph above, aside from the soft focus so characteristic of portraits of the time, and the sharp suit, is the inscription: even though Thiebault was hardly a jazz singer, he knew HOT when he heard it in Leo’s playing!

Don Voorhees (1903-89) is more well-known because of his dance / hot dance recordings of the Twenties, his radio work of the following decades, and his work with THE BELL TELEPHONE HOUR.  I presume that Leo could be heard on some of the Twenties recordings, and this photograph is especially interesting to me because it suggests that everyone in the music business who knew Leo knew that he yearned to leave it (perhaps when he’d made enough money to be comfortable) and start his own chicken farm.  Voorhees teases him about that rural dream on a portrait that is almost unnervingly intense:

Finally, there’s Harry Glantz — the memorable first-chair symphonic trumpeter who was chosen by Arturo Toscanini.  A delightful biographical sketch of Glantz (1896-1982) can be found here:

http://abel.hive.no/oj/musikk/trompet/glantz/

I didn’t know much about Mister Glantz before this, although I recognized the name — but have to conclude with this puckish anecdote, recalled by one of his students, Joe Alessi, Sr.:

Joe would come into his lessons and say politely, “Hello Mr. Glantz!”  Mr. Glantz would reply in a friendly tone, “Call me Harry!”  They would get down to business, and of course, out of respect, Joe was not going to call him Harry.  Next lesson… “Hello Mr. Glantz!”… “Call me Harry!”  This went on for some weeks. Joe finally got up the courage to enter the lesson and said “Hello Harry!”To which Harry shouted “Call me MISTER GLANTZ!!

And Chris Griffin remembered Harry in a 2005 ALL ABOUT JAZZ interview:  “Probably the greatest first trumpet player the New York Philharmonic ever had was a guy named Harry Glantz,” said Griffin with a smile.  “He was a friend of Benny’s.  He came in to hear the Benny Goodman band in the Paramount Theater.  He got Benny’s ear afterwards and he said, ‘What the hell do you feed those trumpet players?  Raw meat?'”

They all knew and respected Leo McConville, Sr.!

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THE JAZZ FEAST AT SACRAMENTO (May 2011)

The 2011 Sacramento Jazz Festival and Jubilee has just come out with its detailed schedule . . . and it took me several hours before I could begin this post, because the schedule made my head spin.

In the best way, you understand.

Those of my readers who have never been to a jazz party / festival / jubilee which features simultaneous bands or artists in different venues will not quite empathize, but let me explain.  In some jazz spectaculars, it is simply a matter of coming to the main ballroom or the one stage, sitting down, and hearing music for a long period of time.

Not so at Sacramento, an absolute jazz cornucopia.  The festival begins at 11:45 on Friday, May 27, and rollicks on until late afternoon on Monday, May 30.  And what happens during any given time period is nearly overwhelming.  At 5:30 PM on Monday there are eighteen separate bands playing in eighteen venues.  

“Feast or famine,” my mother used to say.

Here’s the schedule, in case you wish to jump ahead and simply immerse yourself in the mathematically delightful possibilities:

http://www.sacjazz.com/schedule/

The result of such abundance, for me, is a mixture of elation and anxiety.  Elation because, “My goodness, look at all the wonderful things there are arranged here for my delight!”  Anxiety: “What if A and B are playing opposite each other, and I want to see both?  What should I do?  Should I commit to one and miss the other, or should I rudely get up in the middle of A’s set and truck on down to B, hoping there should be a seat?”

We should all have such worries, and I plan on working things out — perhaps with a printed schedule on the flight from New York to California.  And having an absolute surfeit of jazz riches is not the worst fate I will face.

Be sure to check out the schedule: even if you cannot see your way to Sacramento this year, perhaps it will act as an inducement to raid the children’s dental fund or the like . . . ?

A FIVE-MINUTE SEMINAR IN “HOT”: RAY SKJELBRED and HIS CUBS PLAY “CHINA BOY”

This performance — recorded by the percussive and erudite Sue Fischer at the Chattanooga Traditional Jazz Festival on May 1, 2011 — is both casual and extraordinary.

Facts first: that’s Ray Sklelbred, piano; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, guitar; Clint Baker, bass; Hal Smith, drums.

And they’re playing — not too fast — the late-Twenties favorite CHINA BOY in a way that summons up early Benny, Fud Livingston, Tesch, Cless, and Pee Wee; Stacy, Hines, and Sullivan; Eddie Condon and Steve Jordan; Wellman Braud and Jim Lanigan; Baby Dodds, George Wettling, Zutty Singleton, and more.

You might think the shades of the dead crowd the stage.  You might wonder whether the living players have breathing room amidst all those Deceased Eminences.  They certainly do!  These are real people in the twenty-first century, playing their hearts out.  Bless them!

And I want to sign up for the Cubs’ fifty-city national tour.  Don’t you?