Tag Archives: Genevieve Naylor

THE DEAR DEPARTED PAST: 1948, 1959

Billie Holiday on the Eddie Condon Floor Show, 1948, by Genevieve Naylor

Billie Holiday on the Eddie Condon Floor Show, 1948, by Genevieve Naylor

George Wettling and Hot Lips Page, Eddie Condon's Floor Show, 1948, by Genevieve Naylor

George Wettling and Hot Lips Page, Eddie Condon's Floor Show, 1948, by Genevieve Naylor

Newport 1959: Buck Clayton, PeeWee Russell, Buzzy Drootin, Ruby Braff

Newport 1959: Buck Clayton, PeeWee Russell, Buzzy Drootin, Ruby Braff

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“IDOL OF MILLIONS OF POPULAR MUSIC LOVERS THROUGHOUT AMERICA”

Quick, now.

Which person comes to mind when you read “Idol of popular music lovers throughout America”?

Admittedly, the phrase has a certain archaic sound to it.  But even so: Elvis Presley? Bing Crosby? Benny Goodman?  Glenn Miller?

No, it’s EDDIE CONDON!

I’ve been posting about the fabled Eddie Condon Floor Show for some time now.  My friend Rob Rothberg — who has a fabulous collection of what Ebay calls “entertainment memorabilia” — generously sent along copies of what appears below.  Circa 1949, it appears to be a prospectus for the program, an effort to find a sponsor (cash bulging out of corporate pockets) so that the show could stay on the air.  I assume that the booklet was the creation of Ernie Anderson, but I am sure that Phyllis Condon and Paul Smith, her brother, made some contributions; both of them worked for advertising agencies.

Although the Condons had a dog, whose name escapes me as I write this, I find it difficult to envision Eddie or perhaps Joe Bushkin telling everyone how Ken-L-Ration made for bright eyes and a healthy coat.  Or Tide detergent.  But stranger things have happened.  Some jazz fans will remember the radio and television commercials Louis did for Schaefer and Rheingold beers and Fords — why else would I hear his voice ringing out, “You’re ahead in a Ford / All the way!” some forty-five years later?

The prospectus didn’t succeed, but here are pictures and text:

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Condon and Sidney Bechet, of course.

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Looking off (handsomely) to the mysterious East, where the sponsors ride over the mountains in expensive suits:

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You see I didn’t invent this enthusiastic prose.

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That camera makes me think of the NBC peacock — spreading its animated self as a totem of “living color” even when most viewers saw it in black and white.

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I didn’t know that “the proverbial duck” also played tenor guitar, but no matter.

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These photos are more familiar; they surfaced in Hank O’Neal’s EDDIE CONDON’S SCRAPBOOK OF JAZZ, a wonderful book.

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It’s an interesting mix of “jazz” and “popular” — Condon recognized talented musicians, however they might have defined themselves.  I wonder, however, what songs Frankie Carle played when he appeared.

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A cherubic Billy Butterfield, a pleased Joe Bushkin — sixty years ago, when newspapers paid attention to jazz.

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That’s a dramatic art photo — Gene Krupa and Roy Eldridge framed by the bent wood of the chair.  And, to the left is an easel.  Was this the program on which Mischa Reznikoff (husband of photographer Genevieve Naylor) sketched while the musicians improvised?

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Here comes the hard sell . . .

floor13Oh, how I wish this prospectus had appealed to some firm — Proctor and Gamble, say.  Then, instead of watching BONANZA on Sunday nights, we could have seen Cutty Cutshall and Pee Wee Russell.

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I think that Virgil Thompson was praising the Town Hall concert series, but the sentiments remained true.

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The VOA transcriptions might be the source for the audio portions of the Floor Show that survive.

floor16Ernie Caceres to the left, Peanuts Hucko, Bushkin, Butterfield . . .

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Alas, it didn’t work.  But Condon’s career didn’t end when the show did, and he kept playing and organizing bands into the early Seventies, when I got to see him in action — a subject for another post.  Right now, let us remember the time and place when it was possible to have such high art on nationwide television, with or without a sponsor.

GENEVIEVE NAYLOR, PHOTOGRAPHER

Ricky Ricardi posted this lovely image of a radiantly happy Louis — surrounded by an audience hanging on his every word — on his extraordinary blog, “The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong.”  You can find it at www.dippermouth.blogspot.com.  It was taken while Louis read and sang “The Three Little Bears” during one of Eddie Condon’s 1949 Floor Shows.

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I don’t ordinarily go in for such things, but I would love to have that photograph reproduced on a good-sized coffee mug: looking at Louis making other people so happy would make it easier for me to feel the same way, even when I know that the next thing I have to do is go to work!  Thanks, Ricky!  (And I am sure that this photograph will appear in his book on Louis’ later years — coming out in 2010!)

But who was Genevieve Naylor?  Obviously she was someone in the right place and she clicked her shutter at just the right time.  Here’s what I found — alas, from her July 25, 1989 obituary in The New York Times:

Genevieve Naylor, a fashion photographer whose work appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, McCall’s, Cosmopolitan and other magazines, died of heart failure Friday at Dobbs Ferry (N.Y.) Hospital. She was 74 years old and lived in Dobbs Ferry.

Ms. Naylor, a native of Springfield, Mass., studied at the New School in the 1930’s and began her career with The Associated Press.

Photographs she made of life in Brazil on assignment for the State Department were given a one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945 and led to her being hired by Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Ms. Naylor’s late husband was the painter Misha Reznikoff. She is survived by two sons, Peter Reznikoff of Manhattan, and Michael Reznikoff of Tokyo; a sister, Cynthia Gillispie of Chicago, and two granchildren.

And from that obituary, the jazz connection becomes clear.  Misha Reznikoff was deeply and happily involved with the Condon crowd — I think he knew Louis as well — and there’s a photograph of him sketching on television while the band is jamming as a feature on the Floor Show.  So it would have been a natural thing for his wife to be there with her cameras and lenses . . . and we are so lucky that she was.

P.S., about an hour later: I kept returning to that photo, each time with a lump in my throat.  Why does it move me so?  Then it hit me.  WE are those children. We warm ourselves at the light of Louis every time we see his image, hear him sing, or play, or talk.