Los Angeles in the mid 1950’s was a jazz lovers paradise. A snapshot of January 1954 provides an example. Billie Holiday was ending her current engagement at Tiffany Club, Bud Powell was opening at The Haig, Chet Baker and Russ Freeman were at Zardi’s, Nat “King” Cole was at Ciro’s, June Christy was at Trianon Ballroom, Eartha Kitt was at Mocambo, Ike Carpenter’s Orchestra was at Crescendo, Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All Stars were still holding forth regularly in Hermosa Beach, and Jess Stacy was at the Interlude.
Billie Holiday’s engagement that began during the Christmas holiday in 1953 ended on January 5, 1954. Ernie Andrews and the Joe Rotondi Trio opened on January 8th. Andrews was profiled by George Laine in the Pasadena Independent on the occasion of Andrews upcoming performance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium with the Ken Hanna Orchestra.
“Youthful Ernie Andrews, a lad endowed with a pair of fine lungs and a voice to match, doesn’t like the idea of playing tag with the public fancy, he wants to go to the top right now.
And although he’s already well on his way, it’s not fast enough to suit the tall Philadelphian. Andrews, along with the Ken Hanna orchestra, will be entertaining what might be a capacity crowd at the Civic Auditorium Friday night.
“I’ve been singing since I was 14,” Ernie moans,”and even though I’m never happier than when I’m singing, it just don’t seem right for a guy to sing for 10 years and not make any more impression than I have.” We tossed a couple of names at the versatile vocalist. Look at King Cole. Look at Billy Eckstine. They both had rough roads to hoe.
“Then was then,” Ernie explains. “People are supposed to know music now. Those guys were pioneers. It had to take them 15 years to get in. But now . . .”
One thing that has slowed the Easterner’s chances is his refusal to copy the Cole or Eckstine styles.
“You sound a little bit like Billy Eckstine,” one teenage listener told Ernie recently.
“It’s an accident honey, believe me,” he replied.
“I’m not trying to sound like anybody but Ernie Andrews,” Ernie explained later. “I’m going to make it as Ernie Andrews or I’ll go back to selling insurance.”
His waxing of “Soothe Me” back in 1944 sold more than 300,000 copies. But, although he kept busy at the record works for the entire period in between, he couldn’t get a seller until last year when Trend Records hooked up “Don’t Lean On Me” and “Make Me a Present of You.” Now, he’s got another “big play” disc in “You’re Gone For A Long, Long Time” and “All Alone and Lonesome.” (He’ll sing all of these here Friday.)
One disc jockey said that Ernie has “the sincerity of Nat Cole and the projection of Al Hibbler.”
But he doesn’t have to admit it.
And he won’t.”
Ernie Andrews’ one week engagement was followed by another one week and a half engagement of the David Street Quintet. Street was a radio and TV personality, a vocalist, with a popular following in Los Angeles. He was featured in the December 25, 1953, edition of TV Radio Life along with other radio and TV personalities recalling a memorable Christmas.
David Street, KLAC-TV.
“Twas the night before Christmas on ‘Broadway Open House’ in New York, and I had just finished shopping for presents for the cast. The packages were so numerous and bulky, believe it or not, the buses and trolleys would not let me on. I hailed a cab—in fact, three or four— but they were all busy. So there was nothing to do but trudge the ten blocks to the studio in the slush and ice the White Christmas had become on the streets.
“We started rehearsal at 7:00 and rolled right along. Show time came at 11:00 and we were on, set to make this a real production. My choice for a closing song was the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria,” my favorite song, and I’d been rehearsing it for days. Everything went fine until about half-way through the program, when my voice became a little scratchy, I rushed for a box of troches, but to no avail. It continued to get worse, and by closing, I couldn’t speak at all. The cast, always ready to help a friend in need, volunteered to go the closing number, to which I could mouth the words. They all insisted it would be the most appropriate song. So we finished the show with “Silent Night.”
Sarah Vaughan opened at Tiffany on January 29, 1954. She had previously appeared at the club in 1951. Vaughan was no stranger to Los Angeles clubs as she had been booked at other venues prior to her second exposure at Tiffany. She was profiled by Down Beat’s Don Gold regarding her career.
By Don Gold
SARAH VAUGHAN has cold feet
She’d like to record an all-piano LP, but she lacks the courage, despite eight years of piano training and experience as vocalist-pianist with the Earl Hines band.
“I’ve thought of playing more piano, but I always get cold feet. It’s always in the back of my mind,” she says. “I dig Tatum so much, and Hank Jones, Jimmy Jones, Garner, and Shearing. I practice at home, backstage, when there’s time. You know, I’d like to do the kind of piano LP Nat Cole has done,” she adds.
Despite the lucrative, satisfying career she has found, Sarah continues to seek other worlds to conquer, including the world of the spiritual. –, “You have to have a little soul in your singing,” she says. “The kind of soul that’s in the spirituals. That’s why I’d like to include spiritual material in the sets I do. It’s a part of my life. You know, I’m from a Baptist church. Every now’ and then, when I’m home in Newark, I sing with the church choir,” she adds.
“I want so much to do a special album of spirituals, like an Italian wanting to do Italian folk songs. I dig most of the spirituals 1 know from church, what you’d call the ‘old standards’, not too many of the new. I’d like to give an all-spiritual concert, too, with choir. Do it up right, like Marian Anderson. She’s always been an idol of mine,” Sarah says.
From one aspiration, she moves on to another.
“You know what else I’d like to do: I’d like to have a crazy TV show, like Rosemary Clooney’s show. I’d have a variety of things, not just jazz. Something of musical value for young and old. It wmuld be fun for me,” she says.
It would be fun, she admits, but not quite like the earlier days, before these large-scale hopes, when she joined the Earl Hines band in 1943 at the age of 19.
“I never had so much fun in my life as I did singing with Earl,” she remembers. “Billy (Eckstine), of course, helped me get that job by telling Earl about my amateur hour appearance at the Apollo theater. Not only did I learn much about stage presence from Billy, but several other members of the Hines band were like fathers to me. It was a beginning. No money, but much fun. I wouldn’t mind going through it one more time.”
She And Eckstine left Hines and sang together in Eckstine’s band. She began recording, first for Continental, then Musicraft. She worked and listened to the jazz innovators. Inspired and encouraged by such people as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, she turned to working as a single. “I thought Bird and Diz were the end. I still do. At that time I was singing more off key than on. I think their playing influenced my singing. Horns always influenced me more than voices,” she Says.
“All of them—Bird, Diz, Pres, Tatum. J.J., Benny Green, Thad Jones—listening to them and others like them, listening to good jazz, inspired me,” she recalls.
Until the late ’40s, Sarah went unrecognized by the general public. Then came a Columbia recording contract.
The efforts of her unofficial fan club began to pay off. She attributes her success to a combination of influences and loyalties.
“Dave Garroway . . . People were telling me about him praising me before I knew Dave,” she notes. “He praised me so much, some of his listeners thought we were married. It was the kind of support you can’t pay for.”
Her Manager, and husband since 1947, George Treadwell, played an integral part in her maturation as a singer and increased the number of strolls to the bank.
“Good management has helped me find much of the success I’ve got. George was the one who helped me all along. There are other loyal ones, too. My right hand man, John Garry, has been with me for 10 years. If he ever left me I’d be out of business. And with my secretary, Modina Davis, around, I don’t have to worry about a thing. I just have to sing,” she adds.
Now with Mercury-EmArcy, Sarah can sing. She records pop tunes for Mercury, jazz-flavored sounds for EmArcy. She is aware of happenings in both fields, but devotes most of her listening time to jazz.
“I dig Chico’s group, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and some of Mulligan’s things,” she says. “Doing a Pinky-type tune with such groups would just knock me out.
“I’ve got quite a record collection at home, jazz and semi-classical. I start listening as soon as I walk in the door. I prefer to have good music around me at all times. Good music? Well, Mahalia Jackson can sing! If she wanted to, she could sing anything well. I dig Doris Day. And I love the way Jo Stafford reads. Clooney can wail . . . Fitzgerald . . . Nat Cole . . . Billie.
“It’s singing with soul that counts. Billie has so much soul. When I sing a tune, the lyrics are important to me. Most of the standard lyrics I know well. And as soon as I hear an arrangement, I get ideas, kind of like blowing a horn. I guess I never sing a tune the same way twice. And a recent rehearsal we had in Boston was the first I had in years. My trio—Jimmy Jones, Richard Davis, and Roy Haynes—is always up to tricks onstand. I dig it this way,” she concludes.
Those who have known her since the awkward days of the mid-’40s, when her voice showed indications of quality and her gowns and stage presence did not, can best appreciate the transformation which has taken place. Today, as one of the most successful singers, she is poised and chic, and is singing more communicatively than she has in the past.
As a major figure in the evolution of singing in jazz, and as a singer with appreciable fame in the pop field, she finds herself in a position quite different from that of the nervous 19-year-old in front of the Hines band. Today, young singers look to her for inspiration.
Sarah Vaughan was booked for a two-week engagement. The packed audiences induced Landis to extend her an additional week, closing on February 21, 1954. Several days later Al Hibbler opened on February 26th.
Al Hibbler was featured in the April 21, 1954, edition of Down Beat. No byline for the author.
AL HIBBLER UNBENDS HIS SCOOP TO SING STRAIGHT
New York—Al Hibbler, noted for his “scoop and swoop” singing style, has decided to emphasize a straighter vocal line from now on so that “people can really hear my true voice,” And that Hibbler voice is^ quite an instrument. “On a clear day,” Al notes calmly, “I can sing as high as Billy Williams, and I can hit a low B flat on the other end.” The Hibbler approach to vocals became nationally known from 1943 to 1951 when he was featured with Duke Ellington. Since then Al has been working steadily as a single.
Ellington once termed the Hibbler style “tonal pantomime,” and Al himself describes it as “a kind of phrasing, a way of going down and finding a note you can hold onto clearly and then being able to bring it firmly into a higher pitch.”
“Actually” he says, “it’s what Sarah Vaughan and a lot of other people have come to do. I don’t say I originated it, but I certainly didn’t pick it up from anybody, and I didn’t hear anybody else doing it when I started to sing that way.”
Sees More Success
But Hibbler, newly signed with GAC, feels that he can be more commercially successful and hit the larger clubs if he sings with less reverse English. His recent Clef releases of “Getting Sentimental Over You” and “As Time Goes By” illustrate the new Hibbler. And a full-scale example of the changed style is to be heard April 1 when his new album, Al Hibbler Sings Duke Ellington, is issued on Norgran.
“I’ll still sing the old way occasionally, like when people ask for it, but I want to concentrate on the straight approach to standards and pops. People have suggested, too, that I sing blues, but personally I don’t care for them too much. Semi-blues are okay— one of my best records was a semi-blues, Lucky So and So. But the downright funky blues I don’t see.”
This phase of Hibbler’s career hits him at the age of 38. Originally from Little Rock, Ark., his first audition for Ellington was in 1934. Duke asked him to travel with the band, but Al’s mother felt strongly that school was more important
So Al continued to sing and listen to such influences as Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, Arthur Tracy, and especially Pha Terrall, long with the Andy Kirk band. Pha gave Al much personal as well as vocal encouragement. Hibbler also added academic dimension to his experience with two terms at the New England conservatory in Boston in 1935-36.
Al then joined Jay McShann and came east with the band that included Charlie Parker. He left McShann at the end of 1942, worked in Harlem, and finally was auditioned a second time by Duke in May, 1943.
“It was at the Hurricane. I asked Duke if I could audition next set,” Al remembers. “Duke said there were too many requests that the band had to play, and he went into his dressing room. But Ben Webster snatched me up to the stand and I sang “Summertime.” Duke came out as I finished the number in time to see the house go wild. He kept telling me to come back every night, and it was two weeks before I knew I had been hired as a member of the band.
“While with Duke, I played Carnegie hall six times, the Hollywood Bowl, the Shrine auditorium, Robin Hood Dell and some of the country’s best clubs. I don’t see any reason why I can’t play them now as a single. Besides, now that I’m singing straight, I think I can reach a lot more people.”
The manager of Tiffany Club, Jack Tucker, attended Stan Kenton’s “Festival of Modern American Music” on February 28, 1954, at the Shrine Auditorium. After the concert he approached Charlie Parker and negotiated a one week appearance at the club where Al Hibbler was continuing to appear. Charlie Parker was scheduled to return to Tiffany on March 1st and alternate sets with Al Hibbler until March 7th. The Joe Rotondi Trio who had backed Ernie Andrews at the club in January was engaged to back Al Hibbler and Charlie Parker. Ken Vail provided a detailed accounting of the troubled engagement in his Bird’s Diary, The Life of Charlie Parker 1945-1955, Castle Communications, 1996.
MONDAY 1 MARCH 1954
Charlie attends a midday rehearsal at the Tiffany Club (3260 West 8th Street, Los Angeles) with the Joe Rotondi Trio. After only a quarter of an hour, Charlie says no more rehearsals are necessary. Charlie Parker opens at the Tiffany Club in the evening. Al Hibbler is also on the bill. Charlie plays only two short sets and leaves the club at 11 o’clock during intermission to get a sandwich. He makes a long distance telephone call to Chan. He is picked up by the LAPD and held overnight on suspicion of being a narcotics user.
TUESDAY 2 MARCH 1954
Charlie Parker is booked on a drunk and disorderly charge but after Charles Carpenter of the Gale Agency pays a $10 fine Charlie is released at 7 p.m. Carpenter accompanies Charlie to the Tiffany Club and renegotiates his contract. Parker plays four short sets.
WEDNESDAY 3 MARCH 1954
During the course of the third night at the Tiffany Club, Charlie has a few drinks with George Hoefer of Down Beat magazine and Norman Granz’ brother. A row ensues with the management and Charlie is fired. Charlie hears from Chan that their baby, Pree, is to be put into an oxygen tent in a last effort to save her life.
THURSDAY 4 MARCH 1954
Charlie reappears at the Tiffany Club and plays three sets before another row develops with the management and Charlie is fired again.
FRIDAY 5 MARCH 1954
Charlie advises the Gale Agency of the situation at the club and is advised to go back to the Tiffany and offer his services. The management of the Tiffany reject the offer and refuse to negotiate a settlement.
The above synopsis provides a glimpse of events that are seldom known regarding jazz artists and their encounters with club owners. It seems that the pairing of Bird and the Joe Rotondi group was ill advised and not up to the standard he had experienced with Donn Trenner’s group during his previous engagement at Tiffany. Ken Vail’s book provides copies of letters from Jack Tucker and Charlie Parker detailing their grievances to representatives of the American Federation of Musicians.
The George Shearing Quintet opened at Tiffany on March 11, 1954. This was Shearing’s fourth appearance at the club, a testament to the group’s popularity with Los Angeles jazz fans. 1954 was Shearing’s last year as an artist with MGM. He signed a contract with Capitol Records in 1955 and his recordings for Capitol over the next few years expanded his appeal beyond what had been a hard core jazz following at MGM.
Shearing was profiled in 1957 in Down Beat and the opening paragraphs of that article discuss the changes that mark the difference between his earlier work for MGM and the commercial albums recorded for Capitol.
Cheers For Shearing
By Harry Frost
Down Beat October 19, 1957
There are striking analogies between jazz and sports. A jazz player, at his best, must be in condition to meet the demands of a music that draws much from mental and physical reservoirs, and like the athlete who constantly faces situations that require split-second decision and response, the improvising musician must have the ability to react with speed and certainty.
The happy anomaly between these two fields is that a jazz man’s prime can extend decades beyond an athlete’s; indeed, jazz seems to have certain youth-perpetuating properties, and aging is relative, determined not so much by years as by spirit and drive. The benign effects of nightly transfusions of invigorating sound are evident in the many examples of older players who continue to perform with essentially their full power. Of course, we have enduringly great figures such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, and Stan Kenton, but more dramatic examples are provided by the men who retain their strength and vitality as soloists—among others, the dazzling Dizzy Gillespie and the amazing Buddy Rich at 50, and George Shearing, who turned 48 in August and today plays with more spark and drive than he has in many years.
A large part of Shearing’s new-born enthusiasm is generated by the fine players he has with him now, a quintet measuring up to any he’s had. The group includes Joe Pass, guitar; Charlie Shoemake, vibraharp; Bob Whitlock, bass; and Colin Bailey, drums.
Through the years, Shearing has done many things that are not the ideal of what he wants to do, but his integrity has held firm. Many of his records are frankly commercial, but his has been an artful compromise. Withal, there is a line he never has dropped below—a standard.
“You know,” he remarked with a smile and a tilt of his head, “I love to play tinkly piano with a big string section behind me. It’s pleasant … it certainly doesn’t go against the grain. Then, when we’re on the road, I get a chance to extend myself, and in certain clubs I can take the lid off the group.”
When he does take the lid off, unfurls the more challenging side of his library and turns his players loose, the results come as more than a mild surprise to those who have written off the Shearing quintet as no more than purveyors of bland popular music.
The Shearing story has been well detailed, from his position as Britain’s top jazz pianist to his postwar decision to make his home in the United States, his initial struggles, and his rise to fame with his quintet. From 1949 to ’52, during which years he won the Down Beat Readers’ Poll as best combo, Shearing sat atop the jazz world and at the same time commanded a large pop following.
Then, as the ’50s unfolded, there was a shifting of the image, and Shearing became more the property of the general public. It appeared that he was no longer important to jazz, nor jazz important to him.
The George Shearing Quintet had been appearing at The Blackhawk in San Francisco before arriving at Tiffany. Lester Young and his orchestra followed Shearing into The Blackhawk in March and likewise followed the Shearing quintet into Tiffany in April after the Shearing three-week engagement ended.
Lester Young’s quintet during this time included a variety of bassists and drummers. The two constants were Jesse Drakes on trumpet and Gildo Mahones on piano. Lester Young’s influence was noted in the September 1951 issue of Metronome magazine.
“THE MODERN tenor sax sound is neither Miller nor Hawkins, nor was it based on either man’s blowing. It came mostly from Lester Young, whose light, fluent, smokey sound came East from Kansas City with the Count Basie Band to startle musicians everywhere. With it came an entirely different harmonic conception. Miller and Hawkins had stuck fairly close to the melody; Young added harmonic embellishments that almost immediately made the other styles seem old hat.
When bop and its cool sounds, as fostered by Messrs. Parker and Gillespie, came into prominence, many young tenor men took to the Young hills in an effort to find a matching tone. None was so successful as Stan Getz, a young New Yorker, who had blown Hawkins-style before in several name bands, but who, like many other young musicians, was searching for a new sound. The modern tenor sound, as exemplified by Getz, is a purer sound than Young presented, more controlled and with less of a vibrato.
Harmonically, this school of tenor blowing is advanced. Many of its disciples are ardent boppers; some have advanced beyond that stage. Like many other modern musicians, they often blow behind the beat, and it has only been recently that some of them have begun to swing the way Lester used to.
Getz is generally accepted as the number one man of this school, but those familiar with the style would have some difficulty differentiating his playing from that of other young blowers like Zoot Sims, Allen Eager, Al Cohn and Brew Moore, all closely associated with the new sound. Herbie Steward, who now blows mostly alto, also had the cool sound and was one of the first of this group to really swing. Bob Cooper, Stan Kenton’s famous tenor man, has also affected this style of playing, while Bob Graf has been blowing it for Woody Herman and Buddy Wise used to play it in Gene Krupa’s band. Though never a bopper, young Warne Marsh often gets the Young-Getz sound. Some of the older men, too, have taken on the younger sound, notably Georgie Auld and Wardell Gray. And, though his tone has not changed appreciably, even Coleman Hawkins has recognized the merits of this new style, has modernized some of his playing accordingly.”
June Christy followed the Lester Young engagement at Tiffany, opening on April 16, 1954. The Joe Rotondi Trio provided accompaniment for Christy. The Pasadena News Independent featured a short article on Christy in their “Platter Chatter” column July 14, 1954, edition.
June Christy Loves Her Work
Green-eyed, blonde June Christy, in addition to doing night club stints on her own, has chirped with Stan Kenton’s orchestra on tours all over the United States and Europe and credits Kenton as being the greatest benefactor in her career.
With no formal musical training and unable to read music, June started singing with local bands in her home town of Springfield, IL, at $5 a night. She went into singing because she “loved it” and even today would rather be a singer than anything else “except maybe a housewife.” Miss Christy, who is married to a tenor sax player, Bob Cooper, is expecting a baby in the fall.
If June ever has a smash hit record she says she’ll “buy my mother a mink coat and go on a shopping spree with the luxury of no guilt complexes.” Her favorite books are The Fountain Head and Man Against Himself. A mongrel dog, “Caesar,” and a Siamese Cat, “Cleo,” are her pets, while her pet hate is a phony — any phony.
Her latest Capitol disk is “Magazines” and “The First Thing You Know You’re in Love.” The Christy engagement closed the first part of May.
Landis’ manager/proprietor of Tiffany Club was Jack Tucker. In addition to being at the club to oversee operations and take care of the business end of things, Tucker also provided advice regarding the selection of artists to perform at the club. Tiffany offered a modern jazz billing during the early weeks of May 1954. The artists hired for this approach were not well known leaders with national followings, but each was well known in the Los Angeles jazz community. The musicians for this “Modern Sounds” presentation offering five sets nightly from 9:00 until 2:00 AM were Don Dennis, trumpet; Milt Bernhart, trombone; Steve White, tenor sax; Red Callender, bass; and Lawrence Marable, drums. Competition among Los Angeles clubs was beginning to heat up and Tiffany offered a no minimum, no cover, no admission policy to entice patrons.
Tucker added some luster to the billing on the second of June when Art Pepper was featured in ads along with the Tiffany All Stars. There isn’t any documentation to verify if the “Modern Sounds” combo was backing Pepper. The more likely scenario is that Pepper brought along musicians he was comfortable in working with, Jack Montrose on tenor sax, Forrest Westbrook on piano, Bob Whitlock on bass, and Billy Snyder on drums. Montrose’s presence was verified on June 11th in an LA Times ad.
A few days later Tiffany added another quintet that was destined to cause ripples in the jazz world, the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet. The Roach/Brown quintet had been attracting full house capacity at the California Club where they opened with Sonny Stitt on tenor. By the time that they opened at Tiffany, Stitt had been replaced by Teddy Edwards with the quintet rounded out with George Bledsoe and Carl Perkins. The full extent of Clifford Brown’s time in California is covered in my detailed examination at:
The double billing with the alternating quintets of Max Roach and Art Pepper continued through the middle of July. The Red Norvo Trio featuring Tal Farlow replaced the Art Pepper Quintet on July 16th. The new double billing with the Red Norvo Trio and the Max Roach Quintet filled out the balance of July.
The Chet Baker Quartet featuring Russ Freeman replaced the Max Roach Quintet on August 1st. The Norvo/Baker double billing continued until mid August when the Chet Baker Quartet was the sole featured group at Tiffany. Chet’s quartet had recently completed a tour of California with concerts in Santa Cruz, San Jose, Sacramento, Modesto, and Fresno. Details of that tour are documented in my examination at:
Pacific Jazz scheduled an LP featuring the Chet Baker Quartet recorded at Tiffany Club. It was advertised in the Fall 1955 Pacific Jazz catalogue as PJ-1203. Chet’s quartet had also been recorded during a concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while they were on tour. Dick Bock received a tape of that concert and decided to release it as PJ-1203, Chet Baker Quartet – Jazz at Ann Arbor. The Tiffany tapes remained unreleased until a two volume EP release surfaced on an Italian label. The Chet Baker Quartet booking closed at Tiffany on September 12th.
The Hi-Los followed the Chet Baker Quartet with a two-week engagement. Their first album on Trend Records, an EP received favorable reviews. The December 4, 1954, issue of Billboard announced that they were leaving Trend and had signed with Starlite Records.
HOLLYWOOD. Nov. 27.-The Hi-Los, vocal group featured on Trend Records, exited the label this week on what’s reported to be a temporary release. Group has recorded an album of standards titled “Listen” on Starlite Records.
In recent weeks, the Trend artist roster has been greatly depleted, with the Lancers going to Coral, Jerry Fielding ork on a tryout to Decca, and Matt Dennis to RCA Victor.
October offered Tiffany patrons a radical change in entertainment with a return to traditional jazz and Dixieland featuring Eddie Skrivanek and his Sextette From Hunger. Skrivanek’s group recorded exclusively for C. P. MacGregor in the late 1940s producing 78 singles that were also released on two 10″ LP collections. The group was also featured on MacGregor transcriptions produced for subscribing radio stations. Skrivanek’s sextet was strictly a “kicks kombo” because it was made up of topflight radio, motion picture and television musicians in Hollywood.
Tiffany returned to booking top drawer jazz vocalists when Ella Fitzgerald opened in November of 1954. Ella Fitzgerald was the headline jazz artist in ads for Norman Granz’ “Jazz at the Philharmonic” when it appeared at the Shrine Auditorium on October 10th. Fitzgerald’s recording contract with Decca was still in effect. When it expired Granz quickly signed her to his new label, Verve Records.
The following text is from the New York Times obituary from June 16, 1966, by Stephen Holden.
As early as 1942 and 43, Miss Fitzgerald began to be influenced by the experiments of such be-bop instrumentalists as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. She incorporated elements of be-bop rhythm and harmony into her singing, and while on tour with the Gillespie band in 1946 she embraced the music wholeheartedly.
A year earlier, she had recorded what would become one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade, a version of “Flying Home” in which she indulged extensively in the phonetic improvisation known as scat. Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness.
Two years later, when Decca released her sensational be-bop version of “Lady Be Good,” Downbeat magazine proclaimed her “as great a master of bop as she has been of swing.”
These achievements were among the high points of a recording career that found Miss Fitzgerald recording in all manner of pop settings. Between 1935 and 1955 she recorded for Decca Records. Under the commercially astute supervision of the producer Milt Gabler, she was teamed with the vocal group the Ink Spots for several hits, including the million-selling “I’m Making Believe” and “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall.” She also scored commercially with novelty duets recorded with Louis Jordan, the most popular of which was “Stone Cold Dead in the Market.”
Dictated largely by the fads of the moment, Miss Fitzgerald’s pre-1955 pop recording career was an artistically mixed bag and stood distinct from her work as a swing and jazz singer in nightclubs. One of the artistic high points of the Decca years was a 10-inch long-playing record, “Ella Sings Gershwin,” which she recorded with the pianist Ellis Larkins in 1950.
Miss Fitzgerald’s life changed when Norman Granz, the impresario of the popular Jazz at the Philharmonic series, invited her to join the touring jam sessions in 1949 and later became her manager. One of her most popular numbers, “How High the Moon,” evolved into the unofficial signature tune of the series.
Their relationship quickly developed into one of the most productive artist-manager partnerships in the history of jazz. When Miss Fitzgerald’s contract with Decca expired, she became the first artist Mr. Granz signed to his new Verve label. It was under his supervision that she undertook the series of landmark “Songbook” albums that brought her voice to a large nonjazz audience.
Ella Fitzgerald’s engagement at Tiffany was highly publicized when Marilyn Monroe visited the club with some friends. That meeting forged a friendship that Fitzgerald treasured for the rest of her life. Various online accounts have also credited the visit as happening at Mocambo Club where Ella was booked to appear following Eartha Kitt in December of 1955.
The Terry Gibbs Quartet followed Ella Fitzgerald, opening at Tiffany of November 26th. Gibbs quartet at this time featured Terry Pollard on piano doubling on vibes with Terry. This was the first west coast appearance of Gibbs who had been garnering awards in Down Beat and Metronome polls.
Gibbs rose to national prominence in the early 1950s with his recordings for the Brunswick label. His career continued to climb after signing with EmArcy Records, the new jazz specialty arm of Mercury Records.
Tiffany closed out 1954 with the Lee Konitz Quartet. Konitz’ quartet during this time included Ronnie Ball on piano, Peter Ind on bass, and Jeff Morton on drums. Konitz was also a major presence in reader and critic polls in Down Beat and Metronome, a considerable achievement when the competition was Charlie Parker and Paul Desmond.
RECAP : 1954
January 1 – January 5
January 8 – January 13
January 15 – January 27
January 29 – February 21
February 26 – March 7
March 1 – March 4
March 11 – March 28
April 2 – April 11
April 16 – May 1
TIFFANY ALL STARS
May 21 –
ART PEPPER/JACK MONTROSE
June 2 – July 11
MAX ROACH/CLIFFORD BROWN
June 15 – August 1
RED NORVO/TAL FARLOW
July 16 – August 12
CHET BAKER/RUSS FREEMAN
August 6 – September 12
September 17 – September 26
ED SKRIVANEK/SEXTETTE FROM HUNGER
September 30 – October 17
November 5 – November 20
November 26 – December 16
December 17 – December 31