Nat “King” Cole opened at Tiffany during Christmas week at the end of 1952. This was Cole’s sixth appearance at Landis’ club, an affirmation that Nat enjoyed playing the club when returning home from touring. The January 28, 1953 issue of Down Beat published a column by Don Freeman highlighting Cole’s new album for Capitol that was strictly piano jazz, no vocals. Nat’s engagement closed on January 15, 1953.
Nat “King” Cole’s new Capitol album, Penthouse Serenade – Nat ‘King’ Cole at the piano, H332, was recorded in New York with John Collins, guitar; Charlie Harris, bass; Bunny Shawker, drums; and Jack Costanzo, bongo and conga. The ten inch LP was reissued in 1955 as T332 when additional tracks were recorded to fill out the twelve inch LP release.
The Real Reason Nat Cole Cut His Piano-Only Album
At what appears to be his peak as a vocalist, Nat Cole has turned out a long-playing record of piano solos for Capitol. This may seem a curious bit of timing—curious enough, in fact, to prompt us to put the question to Nat. The answer is simple. Nat Cole simply wanted to jog a few memories.
Specifically, he doesn’t want it forgotten that Nat Cole was once a spectacularly efficient pianist with a lode of jazz ideas.
“Everybody seems to have forgotten about my piano,” said Nat. “Just as they forget that Billy Eckstine was a pretty fair musician and bandleader, people think I’ve always been a vocalist.
“The young kids more than anyone else, they’re even surprised that I play a piano at all. I mean the kids who started buying records a few years ago when Mona Lisa was popular. All they’ve ever heard me do is sing with big bands and strings in the background.”
Nat also aimed his new piano collection at some of his critics, some of whom are shaking their heads at his apparent forsaking of jazz in favor of lushly arranged vocals—plus the accompanying dollar.
I’ll Never Leave
“People who know me know I’ll never leave jazz,” said Nat. “My roots are in jazz and that’s the music I love. But I can please a lot of people with other kinds of music and also throw in some jazz—and they like it because they’ve accepted me as a popular performer.”
That, contends Nat, is the way to serve jazz to the general public, in- gentle, sugar-coated doses—in opposition to the pour-it-down-the-squares’-throats school.
The view here is that Nat Cole —an excellent jazz pianist and just as good a popular singer—is very right.
Ray Hewitt’s YE TOWN CRIER column in the January 16th edition of the Daily News noted that Billie Holiday was opening at Tiffany Club that evening and that Lady Day had been introducing new songs to her repertoire during her current concert tour. Holiday had arrived in California earlier in the month after a very successful set of concerts in New York. Bill Coss wrote an upbeat review of her Carnegie Hall appearance in Metronome. Lady Day’s three week engagement ended on February 8, 1953.
Concert – Carnegie Hall NYC
Metronome review by Bill Coss
Lady Day finished the concert for me. Looking more handsome than ever, more humble and considerably fresher, Billie began with “I Cover the Waterfront” with Jimmy Hamilton’s clarinet and Ray Nance’s violin as pleasant supports. Her voice was perhaps a little harder, a bit more tired—fitting more perfectly now the description once offered, that her voice was like the taste of copper pennies—but she sang with such authority, taste and attack. “Lover Come Back to Me” was even better though considerably harsher. Her “I Loves You Porgy” was as emotion-packed as a song can be; “What A Little Moonlight Can Do” was beautifully phrased and swung: “My Man” was too choppy and obviously styled, but the projection here, as in the other tunes, was masterful: “Fine and Mellow” was a friendly, happy encore, so unlike the “Strange Fruit” that so often used to serve that function. Perhaps this is an indication of the new Holiday. Certainly it was a real holiday for me. Credit can be liberally parceled out to everyone concerned.
Chuck Landis booked a double bill following Billie Holiday’s engagement. Timmie Rogers and Joe Adams opened on Friday, February 13, 1953.
Timmie Rogers was born in Detroit. At the age of eight, he was earning money by dancing on the street. At the age of 12, Rogers ran away from home and found a job as a dishwasher on a boat, where he learned the languages of the cooks; eventually, he spoke nine. Rogers would later write and record in French and German. Later he cleaned ashtrays at a local ballroom, absorbed what he saw and was invited to dance onstage before acts. By 1932, Rogers was part of a successful dance team, Timmie & Freddie, that performed on the vaudeville circuit. They split in 1944 as blacks across the country were developing a collective voice in the name of civil rights, and Rogers decided to try it on his own, his way.
He was known as the Unknown Pioneer of (Black) Comedy. He insisted on not wearing blackface when performing his comedy act and stood firm with his conviction. His catchphrase was “Oh Yeah!” and it was a part of his act for over 50 years. Rogers starred in US television’s first black prime-time show Uptown Jubilee on CBS Television in 1949.
He was also a recurring guest star on The Jackie Gleason Show for over 12 years, and would continue to work with Jackie Gleason for the next thirty years. Rogers later credited Gleason for giving him national exposure which helped his career. Rogers also wrote music including “If You Can’t Smile and Say Yes,” a song recorded by Nat King Cole. He also wrote songs for Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan. In the late 1950s and living in Philadelphia, he recorded on Cameo and Parkway Records. His hits included “Back to School Again” and “I Love Ya, I Love Ya, I Love Ya.”
Joe Adams was the first African-American announcer on NBC’s radio network, handling West Coast jazz remote broadcasts and producing segments of NBC’s Monitor program. In 1948, he became a disc jockey and announcer on KOWL radio in Santa Monica, California, and 10 years later he was described in a newspaper article as “the station’s top personality and most valuable property”.
Adams became the Emcee and stage director for the fourth Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles which was produced by Leon Hefflin, Sr. on September 12, 1948 and continued for the annual event for 10 more years. The event showcased over 125 artists over time. Dizzy Gillespie, Frankie Lane, Little Miss Cornshucks, The Sweethearts of Rhythm, The Honey Drippers, Joe Turner, Jimmy Witherspoon, The Blenders and The Sensations were all featured as Adams emceed his first Cavalcade of Jazz concert.
On June 19, 1951, Adams began his own television program on KTTV in Los Angeles. The show featured Adams’ 15-piece orchestra, vocalist Mauri Lynn, and the Hi Hatters dance team.
The Timmie Rogers/Joe Adams double bill closed on February 26, 1953. Dinah Washington opened the following day for a two week run at Tiffany. Dinah was accompanied by the Beryl Booker Trio.
Down Beat, May 21, 1952
Leonard Feather Profiles Dinah Washington
Dinah Washington’s presence on the last Beat cover, indicating that she has become a symbol of the rhythm-and-blues field just as Bing is symbolical of pop music, was peculiarly gratifying to us.
Dinah’s stature today bears out our theory that the most successful rhythm-and-blues music can be, and often is, that which qualifies as good jazz. Decades ago, Bessie Smith’s multi-million sales testified to this principle; a few months ago the sales figures on Johnny Hodges’ “Castle Rock” proved it again.
Dinah’s is a curious story of an artist who, at 27, has lived virtually in four musical worlds, traveling from church music to jazz to blues to pop. Like Sarah Vaughan, she grew up around religious music. Born in Tuscaloosa, raised in Chicago, she had show business eyes even while directing and playing piano for the church choir.
Her career got its effective start when, at 15, she won an amateur contest at the Regal theater, singing “I Can’t Face the Music.” But for three years after that she had a succession of nightery jobs paid with almost invisible loot—and then, tired of it all, she went back to church, playing piano for a group called the Sally Martin Singers.
“Then,” Dinah recalls, “I was playing piano at the Three Deuces in 1942, and one night Martha Davis took me over to hear Billie Holiday at the Garrick Stage Bar.
“That was the night I met Joe Sherman, who ran the Garrick. Billie was singing in the downstairs room. I sang “I Understand” for Sherman, with the Cats and The Fiddle, who were playing upstairs. He hired me right off; I worked there almost a year.” It was Sherman, too, who gave Dinah her new name—until then she had been Ruth Jones.
Sherman to Glaser to Hamp
“Then one night Sherman brought Joe Glaser in to hear me. The next night Glaser came back, with Lionel Hampton. Lionel had me sing on his first show at the Regal for a tryout. A few weeks later I bought two traveling bags, on time—some friends signed for me; I was getting $50 a week at the Garrick. It was the first time I’d ever been to New York alone.”
Lionel, who started Dinah at $75 a week, had a fantastic band in 1943, the one that spawned all the tenor men who today have their own combos. But the record ban was on, and even when Decca signed with the union, the outlook for Dinah was bleak, since both Lionel and Decca were interested in cutting instrumentals.
That was when Dinah and this writer began an era of mutually beneficial cooperation (i.e. we’ve been lucky to each other). Feeling badly that a unique voice was going unrecorded, we approached Keynote Records. Keynote was planning to embark on a jazz catalog to supplement its folk music lists.
Lionel, who was working Christmas week of 1943 at the Apollo, gladly volunteered Dinah’s services. We enlisted six men from the band to support her, including Arnett Cobb, Joe Morris and Milt Buckner, and booked a small studio in the RKO Building for midnight.
Hamp wasn’t flying home that night. He flew down from the Apollo, insisted on playing drums on “I Know How to Do It” and piano on “Homeward Bound,” and gleefuly supervised while Dinah sang “Evil Gal Blues” and “Salty Papa.” His teen-aged girl singer had become a blues-shouting recording star! We got through at 4:30 a.m., to beat to know whether we’d produced anything of value.
Oddly enough, only one of the songs on that date, “Homeward Bound,” was written for Dinah; we had written the others in 1940 and recorded them with other artists, but nothing had happened.
Unhappy New Year
By New Year’s Day all hell had broken loose. Decca denied Lionel’s contention that he had a right to play on the date. Everybody (including Mrs. Hampton, who’d been at the session) wanted our head, and the masters. Finally it was settled: Hamp’s name was removed from the labels and the records were unleashed.
The juke boxes, already a surging business in 1944, began to eat up the discs. Soon, Dinah found herself unofficially what she is today in her official billing, the Queen of the Blues. But she still couldn’t get on a Decca record.
“One day I got up very early to rush over to a session; Hamp had promised to let me record “Million Dollar Smile.” But somehow it wound up being a vibes solo. I still don’t know whether Decca or Lionel was to blame.”
Dinah finally cut one side with the band, “Blowtop Blues” in May 1945. Lionel, unhappy with us because he couldn’t get the publishing rights, and feuding with Dinah about other matters, didn’t let the record out until many months later, after she had worked her way up to $125 a week and finally quit the band. Dinah then cut 12 sides for Apollo, for $1800, and late in 1946 signed with Ben Bart, still her booking agent today, and with Mercury Records, who had taken over the Keynote sides.
Mercury got Dinah on a pop song kick, alternating her between the Hit Parade and the blues. Dinah likes to sing both, varying her routines greatly according to where she’s working. Happily, too, the blues still sell: recently, when the new “Blowtop” she had cut for Mercury began to show in the best seller lists, Decca reissued the original, recorded so reluctantly seven years earlier.
Today Dinah Washington, who sang for $50 a week at the Garrick and envied her idol, Lady Day, in the room downstairs, is a big commercial property, a gal who can sell in six figures on The Wheel of Fortune and turn around and make a superb “Trouble in Mind.”
When they recorded her with strings recently, one tune that Dinah chose was “I Can’t Face The Music”— the very song with which, as an unknown 15-year-old, she began her career by winning an amateur contest in Chicago. For little Ruthie Jones, the wheel of fortune has come full circle.
Girls In Jazz
Beryl Best Since Mary Lou?
Down Beat – April 4, 1952
New York—You could call her the greatest girl pianist since Mary Lou Williams. Or you might say she’s the female Erroll Garner, except that to us her style is even more delightful than Erroll’s and more flexible—and Erroll doesn’t sing.
So perhaps the best way to put it would be a flat statement that Beryl Booker deserves national recognition more than any other pianist we’ve heard.
Naturally there are numerous other pianists who rate similar attention and have had similar trouble earning it; but Beryl’s combination of pianistic and vocal charm, combined with what we know about her as a person, inclines us to a prejudiced interest in her success.
Other musicians have long realized her potential. Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn have admired her for years. Garner comes to listen to her whenever they’re in the same town. Mary Lou Williams and Beryl have a mutual admiration society (though Beryl denies that either influenced the other).
Beryl’s career might already have reached an octave or two higher had it not been for the combination of ill health and bad breaks that has continually plagued her.
She was to play the Paris Jazz Festival in 1949 but had to beg off when pneumonia trapped her. She started a new solo career in New York recently but left suddenly for her home in Philadelphia when pleurisy set in.
Despite such setbacks, she’ll make it some day. She deserves it.
The baby of a nine-piece Philadelphia family (her eldest brother is over 50), Beryl was born in 1923, started fingering a piano at the age of five, but never took a lessen because the family couldn’t afford it. She can read a melody line today, but that’s all the music reading she ever does.
An early marriage lasted only a couple of months and left her with a baby daughter. Beryl supported herself and little Gloria by working the bars around Philly with the Two Dukes and a Duchess, with the Toppers (later known as Steve Gibson’s Red Caps), and with her own trio. To get in the union she had been obliged to earn the $25 fee by working as a waitress at $5 a week.
“Then one week Slam Stewart came to town to play the Earle,” she recalls. “Everybody used to go to Nat Segall’s Down Beat club in those days to sit in, so I went there hoping to find Slam. He came in and I asked him to play some with me. He looked at me like I was crazy. A woman? No!
“So I went up and started playing by myself. I’d played about eight bars when he was up on the stand playing with me. We played “Body and Soul.”
“After we’d finished that one number he asked me if I wanted to join his trio. He had Johnny Collins and Billy Taylor with him then. I replaced Billy—this was in 1946, and I stayed with Slam almost three years the first time.
Later that year Beryl cut two sides for Victor’s Girls in Jazz album with Mary Osborne on guitar and June Rotenburg on bass, as well as a solo, “I Only Have Eyes for You,” which was released only a few weeks ago in Victor’s Modern Jazz Piano album. She also cut three sides with Don Byas for Gotham.
Beryl left Slam when her mother became seriously ill. After a few months of semi-retirement, during which her mother died, she returned as accompanist for Dinah Washington, who had heard her one night with Slam.
During her four months on the road with Dinah, Beryl seemingly fell under Dinah’s vocal influence. There are distinct Washingtonian traces in the subsequent Booker recordings for Sittin’ In.
The eight sides on the latter label were made during her second stint with Slam, which lasted nine months. After that she spent more than a year with a group called the Austin Powell quintet, which featured two heavy guitars that practically blotted Beryl out completely. For economic security she stayed with it long after realizing it was time to strike out on her own.
Since leaving Powell, Beryl has seen the first glimpses of a real break. Bob Shad, who has waxed her for Sittin’ In, offered her a Mercury contract. The first date had an all-star cast (Budd Johnson, Don Elliott, Charlie Smith, and Slam). At the same time she signed a booking deal with Billy Shaw, and played a few weeks on 52nd St.
Beryl says she’s always played the way she plays now. “Mary Lou and Fats Waller were my early idols, back when Mary Lou was with Andy Kirk,” she says, adding that she likes Garner but was never influenced by him.
Being a girl hasn’t been a handicap, she adds, but she recalls one amusing incident.
Insulted by Pres
“I was insulted by Lester Young one night at the Three Deuces. Somebody wanted me to go up and play with him. He had just gone on the stand to start the set. Well, we started the first number and he kept modulating, to show me he didn’t want me there. He kept hollering E Natural, A Natural, and so forth—and I followed him. But after modulating about 10 times, he called intermission again, when we’d only played one number!”
Beryl has a tremendous admiration for Johnny Collins, and doesn’t want a guitarist in her group until she can afford him. Maybe that day isn’t too far away.
The Earl Bostic band opened at Tiffany on March 20, 1953. Bostic’s band around this time included Blue Mitchell (tp), Stanley Turrentine (ts), Luis Rivera (p), Herman Mitchell (g), Mario Delagarde (b) and Albert Bartee (d). Their two week engagement ended on April 2nd when the new George Shearing Quintet opened on April 3, 1953.
Alto saxophonist Earl Bostic was a technical master of his instrument, yet remained somewhat underappreciated by jazz fans due to the string of simple, popular R&B/jump blues hits he recorded during his heyday in the ’50s. Born Eugene Earl Bostic in Tulsa, OK, on April 25, 1913, Bostic played around the Midwest during the early ’30s, studied at Xavier University, and toured with several bands before moving to New York in 1938. There he played for Don Redman, Edgar Hayes, and Lionel Hampton, making his record debut with the latter in 1939. In the early ’40s, he worked as an arranger and session musician, and began leading his own regular large group in 1945. Cutting back to a septet the next year, Bostic began recording regularly, scoring his first big hit with 1948’s “Temptation.” He soon signed with the King label, the home of most of his biggest jukebox hits, which usually featured a driving, heavy, R&B-ish beat and an alto sound that could be smooth and romantic or aggressive and bluesy.
In 1951, Bostic landed a number one R&B hit with “Flamingo,” plus another Top Ten in “Sleep.” Subsequent hits included “You Go to My Head” and “Cherokee.” Bostic’s bands became important training grounds for up-and-coming jazzmen like John Coltrane, Blue Mitchell, Stanley Turrentine, Benny Golson, Jaki Byard, and others.
George Shearing’s new quintet included “Toots” Thielemans on harmonica and guitar, Cal Tjader on vibes and bongos, Al McKibbon on bass and Bill Clark on drums. The new quintet arrived in Los Angeles earlier to cut a new album for MGM with the new group. The Shearing two-week engagement ended on April 18th.
Shearing Terms His New Quintet His Best
Down Beat – May 20, 1953
By Ralph J. Gleason
“This is the best group I’ve ever had,” George Shearing said shortly before his new quintet left San Francisco’s Black Hawk recently for Hollywood and another MGM record date.
He’s absolutely right. The new group, featuring harmonica and guitar player Jon Thielemans and vibist-bongo star Cal Tjader, is the swingingest thing of the year.
Tjader the Spark
Tjader, in my opinion one of the most exciting young musicians anywhere, is providing the spark that makes certain everything this group does settles into a hand-clapping, foot-tapping kind of groove that marked the solidly SRO engagement Shearing played for two weeks at the Black Hawk.
It’s easy to see that George is gassed by this group. He practically knocks himself off the piano bench with enthusiasm as Cal swings away in the complicated cross-rhythms of “Wrap Your Troubles in Drums,” in which he plays bongos; as Jon Thielemans, another great asset to the group, blows an exciting and crowd-pleasing “Body and Soul;” and as all the old Shearing favorites take on new life and new interest from the new life and new interest the group, itself, has.
Clark Gets Freedom
A word for the rhythm section: Cal, Al McKibbon, and Bill Clark work perfectly together, and it is indicative of George’s mood to experiment that Clark is allowed more freedom on drums than anyone has ever had in the group before.
Following the resurgence of interest in the group as a result of the new members and the more versatile sounds now possible, Shearing is enjoying his biggest demand in some time. The group has done exceptional business since the first of the year, breaking house and one-night records left and right.
Cut New Discs
Just prior to their San Francisco opening, the group cut eight sides for MGM, including “Wrap Your Troubles in Drums,” “Body and Soul,” “Milt’s Mood,” and the usual helping of standards. If these records are only half as exciting as the group sounds in person, they will be a much-needed shot of adrenalin to the Shearing record sales chart.
You can no longer predict what the next Shearing number will sound like. You can no longer predict what the next Shearing number will sound like in person, either. It might be anything from Count Basie to Cyril Scott.
And whatever it is, it certainly is swinging!
—Ralph J. Gleason
Serge Chaloff formed a touring quartet in 1953. The group was recorded during an engagement at the Buvette Club in Rock Island, Illinois in February. Quartet members included Serge Chaloff (bar), Jerry Murphy (p), Al Dimino (b,vcl) and Don Sheldon (d). Prior to their opening at Tiffany they had gigs at the Club Deluxe in Eureka, California and the Mayfair Club in Kansas City, Missouri. They returned to the Buvette Club in June after their Tiffany engagement. The Chaloff quartet opened on April 24th and closed on May 7th.
Chaloff ran afoul of the authorities during his time in California. One incident involved him falling asleep while driving and plowing into the front of a grocery store. The other more serious misdeeds involved approaching physicians for drugs who reported it to the police.
Stan Getz and his current quintet opened at Tiffany on Friday, May 8, 1953, after driving cross country from Washington, DC. John Williams and Getz took turns driving Stan’s stretch De Soto. The automobile is featured on the cover of the 1996 Verve CD reissue, Stan Getz – East of the Sun – The West Coast Sessions. That three CD set did not include the West Coast sessions with Bob Brookmeyer that were recorded in July and August of 1953 and released on Norman Granz’ Norgran label as Intereptations by the Stan Getz Quintet and Intereptations by the Stan Getz Quintet #2. Steve Voce interviewed John Williams who recalled his joining Stan Getz and their time on the West Coast.
“All of a sudden out of a clear blue sky my old buddy Frank Isola called me up and told me that Stan Getz was looking for a piano player, and that I was to come down to Nola’s, a set of studios at Broadway and 51st, to audition. I played at Nola’s many many times. We used to chip in a few bucks each to hire the place and have sessions there. Anyway, I went there to audition and I got to go with Stan. Two long stints first began in January 1953 and the second in 1954. The first one had Al Levitt on drums for a while and Bill Crow on bass. Johnny Mandel played the first week or two on trombone with the band while we waited for Bobby Brookmeyer to work out his notice. He was playing piano with the Tex Beneke Orchestra. How about that! Johnny Mandel wrote “Pot Luck”at that time, the quintet recorded it later. The reason that there were two separate stints was that Stan disbanded to do a concert tour on his own in the fall of 1953.
“The pictures were taken on the trip we made by road between Washington DC and LA. I had only been with Stan about four months, so it would have been about May, 1953. We were on the road and as I remember the girls were very pretty along the way.
“We were working at The Blue Mirror in Washington DC which then was the jazz club in the city. It was a great jazz city in the early fifties. Every time you played Washington the good players came out of the wall. They were all over the place – Earl Swope, Rob Swope, Bill Potts. Bill put together and wrote for that wonderful local band which worked under Willis Conover’s name. Charlie Byrd used to work in an after hours club in the city. We got through at two o’clock and then there were all these private clubs all over the city where you could go and play until eight in the morning. We went to the place that Charlie was working with his trio and sat in almost every night that we were there.
“We closed on Sunday night at the Blue Mirror and we were supposed to open at the Tiffany Club in Los Angeles on Friday night. Bobby Brookmeyer was going home to Kansas City and was going to fly out and meet us in LA. We left Al Levitt in Washington. I think that was his last week with the band. Frank was going to join later, and somebody from LA subbed until he did. I’m sorry to say I can’t remember at this time just who it was.
“Anyway, it left three of us to go from Washington to Los Angeles in Stan’s old stretch De Soto, longer than the usual car and with room for instruments and stuff.
“So there was bassist Teddy Kotick, Stan and I. But Teddy didn’t have a licence and didn’t know how to drive. So Stan and I had to drive these three thousand miles between us. Now I wasn’t too orderly in those days, but there were times when I felt a lot more orderly than some of the people I was working with and I’d assumed that we ought to leave Monday if we were going to open Friday three thousand miles away. But Stan, as always, had better things to do on Monday, namely some lovely young lady. That happened with him in every city we played. So he called Teddy and me at our hotel and told us that we couldn’t leave until Tuesday. It was about five o’clock on Tuesday that we finally pulled out of Washington.
“Thankfully there was a friendly little druggist in Washington who was a real jazz enthusiast -he particularly loved Louis Armstrong as I recall – and with the help of his amphetamines we made it to LA in about 60 hours of driving time!
“Teddy was relegated to the front seat because he was a non-driver. Stan and I would take turns to drive eight hours, then wake the other guy up and he would drive eight hours. Of course, when you finished driving after eight hours you took a big swig of whiskey and lay down in the back seat while the other guy drove. We did so good that we even stopped in Kansas City for about six hours. Stan and I crashed out in a hotel while Teddy went to see his estranged wife Peggy (they got back together later). As you can see from the photo of the stop at Salt River Canyon, Arizona (we probably just stopped to relieve ourselves), with Stan and Teddy cheek to cheek, it was kind of a cuckoo ride. But not only did we make it to the gig, we pulled into Santa Monica at the Pacific Ocean about 10 o’clock on Friday morning. We stopped at Red Norvo’s place. By pre-arrangement his wife had gotten us some rooms at a motel on the beach. I went down to the beach and fell asleep and ended up with one of the worst sunburns I’ve ever had in my life. I had to play that night and subsequent nights in real misery.
“We were at the Tiffany Club in LA at the same time as Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Carson Smith and Larry Bunker were at The Haig. That was the origin of the Gerry Mulligan pianoless saga. The Tiffany Club and The Haig were only about 6 or 7 blocks apart, so every intermission we’d run out to the car, and head for The Haig and hope that we would hit it while they were playing. We’d listen to the band for 20 minutes or so and then back to The Tiffany. Chet and Gerry would do the same thing in reverse. It was during that period when I got to know Chet pretty well. We went to Chet’s house one afternoon and jammed, and on another day Chet took Teddy and me down to Balboa Bay and took us out in his sailboat.
“I think we were at Tiffany’s for three or four weeks and then Frank Isola came out and joined the group. We went into a place called Zardi’s at Hollywood and Vine and we stayed there all summer, for about three months. We all lived at the Elaine Apartments on Vine Street. There was a pool, and the picture that you see of the rhythm section was of us sitting round that pool at the Elaine. It takes me back, because on my feet are the rubber shoes that I had brought home from Korea five or six months before.”
The Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer Quintet closed at Tiffany on May 30th. They opened at Zardi’s in June. Nat “King” Cole had been hospitalized with a stomach ulcer earlier in May and was able to return to performing to fill a gap at Tiffany between the departure of the Getz group and the arrival of Johnny Hodges’ Castle Rock Band on June 19th.
Bill Brown’s Jazz Beat column in the Daily News edition of June 11, 1952, noted that “Nat “King” Cole and his ulcers opened at the Tiffany last week, did sellout business for every show. This guy is the most but we do wish he’d play a bit more, sing a bit less. We remember Nat when he was unquestionably one of the truly great pianists around.” This was Cole’s seventh appearance at Landis’ newly remodeled Tiffany Club.
Billboard magazine devoted a column to Nat “King” Cole’s June appearance at Tiffany in their June 27, 1953 edition.
Nat “King” Cole returned to nitery work here after a brief layoff caused by illness. He showed no ill effects. He was in fine voice and displayed his usual relaxed assurance.
Cole, in his intro and between-numbers patter, exudes a graciousness almost to the point of undue modesty. It all adds up to exciting expectancy to hear him work, particularly when he reminisces with a medley of two tunes for which he’s well known, “Mona Lisa” and “Too Young.”
Show gets off to a typical Cole start with “Too Marvelous for Words.” Pace is changed gradually with “Red Sails in the Sunset” and “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home.” Cole does en effective job with “What Does It Take to Make You Take to Me?” and gets biggest mitting with “Somewhere Along the Way.” Crowd begs for more as singer gives with the rhythmical “Little Girl.”
Outstanding backing is supplied by John Collins on guitar; Lee Young, drums, and Charlie Harris, bass.
Johnny Hodges was touring with the same band that had appeared at Tiffany in 1952. Prior to their arrival in the southland they had been performing at San Francisco’s Black Hawk. Hodges sextet included Al Sears on tenor sax, Lawrence Brown on trombone, Emmett Berry on trumpet, Sonny Greer on drums, Leroy Lovety on piano and Joe Benjamin on bass.
RECAP : 1953
NAT “KING” COLE
December 26 – January 15, 1953
January 16 – February 8
TIMMIE ROGERS – JOE ADAMS
February 13 – February 26
DINAH WASHINGTON – BERYL BOOKER TRIO
February 27 – March 15
EARL BOSTIC BAND
March 20 – April 2
GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET
April 3 – April 18
SERGE CHALOFF & WOODY HERMAN ALL-STARS
April 24 – May 7
STAN GETZ/BOB BROOKMEYER QUINTET
May 8 – May 30
NAT “KING” COLE
June 7 – June 15
JOHNNY HODGES BAND
June 19 – July 5
To be continued.