The music that follows is brilliant, but the details surrounding it are vague. For one thing, most writers have misspelled the restaurant owner’s name as Terassi for decades. I’ve done it myself. Apologies to Lou.
I read in a British trade paper that this band, the Jimmy McPartland Sextet, was appearing at Lou Terrasi’s Hickory Log at the end of 1952, but I haven’t found a specific date for this recording. All trace of the Hickory Log has vanished, although it was still in operation in 1964. In 1975, the address was a restaurant that also featured music, the Spindletop (there’s a review of Maxene Andrews at that time) and should you go to that address now, it is Trattoria Tricolore.
Assuming that Terrasi was Italian, I’ve always thought the cuisine was also, but “Hickory Log” suggests charcoal-broiled steaks. I had two friends who celebrated their engagement at the bar in 1952, between Hot Lips Page and Zutty Singleton — a story I love. But I can no longer ask them for details.
Here’s a 1952 portrait by Bob Parent of Joe Sullivan at the Hickory Log piano, which also shows something of the decor. That curtain would haunt me:
But the music is vivid, a previously unknown version of the half-hour broadcasts done by Aime Gauvin, “Dr. Jazz,” featuring the Jimmy McPartland Sextet: McPartland, cornet; Dicky Wells, trombone; Cecil Scott, clarinet; Joe Sullivan, piano; Walter Page, string bass; George Wettling, drums; Marian McPartland, piano, on EMBRACEABLE YOU and SWEET GEORGIA BROWN. A bonus: even though we hear the crash of dishes (the kitchen and bandstand always seem to be adjacent) the ambiance is serene in comparison to Central Plaza or the Stuyvesant Casino.
The band, introduced by Leonard Feather, who also chats with both McPartlands, plays LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER / TIN ROOF BLUES / EMBRACEABLE YOU / BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME / SWEET GEORGIA BROWN.
Broadcasts like this originated with the Voice of America, beamed overseas to show the Communists the virtues of democracy and capitalism. Leaving the ideological wrappings aside, the music is superb: everyone is focused and effective, and no one sounds bored by the repertoire or its conventions. I don’t know if Walter or Dicky missed being with Basie, but I am sure they were pleased to spend their days at home rather than being on the band bus; Jimmy, Joe, George, Cecil, and Marian had been playing in small groups for decades. We hear the assurance of people who know the way, and that’s truly delicious.
May your happiness increase!