Tiffany Club – 1956/1957
Shelly Manne and His Men continued to be the headline attraction through December 1955 at Tiffany Club and were carried over into January of 1956. The continuing engagement included a special “New Year’s Eve Gala” at the club with favors, hats, horns, and noisemakers. Manne’s working quintet comprised Stu Williamson on trumpet, Charlie Mariano on alto sax, Russ Freeman on piano, and Leroy Vinnegar on bass. Bill Holman who played tenor sax with Manne’s quintet when they opened at Tiffany in 1955 was replaced by Mariano who was with the group when they recorded the Contemporary album featured in the previous post.
Tiffany added the Hampton Hawes Trio to the line-up on February 10th for a double bill with the Manne quintet. Hawes’ trio at this time included Red Mitchell on bass and Chuck Thompson on drums. Hampton Hawes was a rising recording star for Les Koenig’s Contemporary Records where the same trio members had two LPs in release for the label.
Hawes was self-taught, by his teens he was playing with the leading jazz musicians on the West Coast, including Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, and Teddy Edwards. His second professional job, at 18, was playing for eight months with the Howard McGhee Quintet at the Hi De Ho Club, in a group that included Charlie Parker. By late 1947, Hawes’ reputation was leading to studio recording work. Early studio dates included work for George L. “Happy” Johnson, Teddy Edwards, Sonny Criss, and Shorty Rogers. From 1948 to 1952, he was recorded live on several occasions at Los Angeles-area jazz clubs including The Haig, The Lighthouse, and The Surf Club. By December 1952, he had recorded eight songs under his own name for Prestige Records with a quartet featuring Larry Bunker on vibraphone. After serving in the U.S. Army in Japan from 1952 to 1954, Hawes formed his own trio, with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson. The three-record Trio sessions made by this group in 1955 on Contemporary Records were considered some of the finest records to come out of the West Coast at the time.
“Chico Hamilton, a subtle and creative drummer, will probably always be remembered for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming. Hamilton first played drums while in high school with the many fine young players (including Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, and Charles Mingus) who were in Los Angeles at the time. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, was house drummer at Billy Berg’s, toured with Lionel Hampton, and served in the military (1942-1946). In 1946, Hamilton worked briefly with Jimmy Mundy, Count Basie, and Lester Young (recording with Young). He toured as Lena Horne’s drummer (on and off during 1948-1955), and gained recognition for his work with the original Gerry Mulligan piano-less quartet (1952-1953).”
Shelly Manne and His Men departed Los Angeles at the end of February 1956 on a nationwide tour. Tiffany Club continued the double bill policy bringing in the Chico Hamilton Quintet. The quintet comprised Hamilton on drums, Buddy Collette on reeds, Fred Katz on cello, Jim Hall on guitar, and Carson Smith on bass. Chico’s quintet was a rising star for Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label. His initial 10 inch LP release for the label featured a trio with Howard Roberts on guitar and George Duvivier on bass. When Bock moved his LP line to the new 12 inch standard he recorded the trio replacing Roberts with Jim Hall to add four tunes to fill out the LP. Chico’s quintet has recently completed a long engagement at Stroller’s club in Long Beach where live remote broadcasts had introduced the quintet’s unique sound to the Los Angeles jazz community.
The Hampton Hawes Trio double bill with the Chico Hamilton Quintet continued through the end of March. Tiffany continued the engagement of the Chico Hamilton Quintet as the single headline act until mid April when the Pete Jolly Trio plus Arnold Ross opened. Jolly’s trio at this time included Bob Bertaux on bass and Frank DiVito on drums. Newspaper reporting during this time did not mention Ross’ role in the engagement, but Jolly was doubling on accordion and most likely Ross filled the piano bench when Jolly played the accordion. Newspaper ads for the Jolly-Ross engagement continued through the first week of May when the Pete Jolly Trio was the solo featured act at Tiffany.
By John Tynan, Down Beat, May 30, 1956
“It’s not old-fashioned to swing. Too many musicians experimenting today seem to be trying to prove that it is. But I think you can be as modern as you like and still swing like mad.”
Pianist Pete Jolly is not just talking. Assisted by Bob Berteaux on bass and Frank DiVito on drums, he’s proving nightly that he means what he says at a club called the Tiffany in Los Angeles.
This is a new trio in a city of ever-rising and fast-dying jazz combos. But Pete, in his quietly determined way, means to keep it together and make it add up to something significant musically.
“I’ve always wanted to have a small group of my own,” said Pete. “Some musicians want to lead bigger, more ambitious groups. Not me. I think the piano is shown off best in a trio or quartet.
“You have more scope, more freedom, and the other fellows have more opportunity to play, too. And it’s more fun than playing solo piano, I think, because you’re in constant communication with the others.”
The degree of communication established within the Jolly trio becomes obvious as you watch them work. As with so many first rate, enthusiastic jazz musicians, they seem to be having a constant ball. Not obviously so, but in little subtleties that become apparent if the listener observes with his eyes as well as with his ears.
Two years ago Pete was fresh from Phoenix, Ariz., feeling his way around the Los Angeles jazz scene, sitting in with modern jazzmen, and finding his feet musically in strange territory. Before that, he had been working at Chuck Terry’s Jazz Mill, playing with a wide variety of coast-based musicians from Wingy Manone to Herb Geller. Before long, word got back to Los Angeles of his broad talent, his exciting harmonic ideas on piano and his breathtaking technique. When he visited the coast, he furthered this reputation and, later, when he arrived with bag and baggage to settle there, it wasn’t long before he had teamed up with Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne, Jimmy Giuffre, and Curtis Counce in the first “Giants” group.”Shorty is a wonderful guy to work for,” Jolly said. “So easy, relaxed. I gained lots of experience with him. Actually, you might say I did a lot of growing up with the Giants.”
Fact is, Pete has been growing up musically since he was 3 when he first began tutelage on accordion under his father, Pete Jolly Sr. His jazz accordion playing today is one of the more stimulating approaches to that underestimated instrument. His Victor album, Jolly Jumps In, contains some excellent examples of his solo accordion.
When Pete was 9 he started on piano. Before he was 14, he had begun playing in local Connecticut dance bands, predating the family’s move to Phoenix.
“First jazz pianists I can remember paying attention to were Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson,” Jolly recalled. “It was their beat, their great swinging conception that made the initial impression. Then when jazz began to take a different course I listened and learned from the second Herman Herd and Charlie Ventura groups with Jackie and Roy Kral.
“Of course, I was really lucky to meet and get to know Howard Roberts and Howard Heitmeyer in Phoenix. They led me to the Jazz Mill and ultimately to Shorty.”
Pete said he believes the short-lived association with Buddy DeFranco was of great benefit. During its brief life the DeFranco-Jolly quartet created some memorable moments in combo jazz. One had but to observe Buddy happily watching as Pete soloed to know what a ball it was. As to his own group, Pete said he might like to add a fourth voice later, perhaps a guitar. He also intends to widen the group’s book with more of his own originals.
“Berteaux and i met at the Jazz Mill in Phoenix,” he reported. “We’ve played together a lot, and he took Gene Wright’s place with DeFranco. He’s played bass with Zoot, Kessel, and Andre Previn and has lately achieved recognition around L. A. His time is fine, and his choice of notes just what I look for.”
DiVito is, of course, a young veteran of the business. He was with De-Franco’s big band four years ago and since has played drums with most of the top-liners in jazz. His most recent association was with the Terry Gibbs combo before an auto crash broke up the group. Jolly says jazz is heading increasingly in the direction pointed by the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Jazz Messengers, and similar groups employing imaginative arrangements with plenty of room for extended solos.
“There’s definitely a more swinging trend in the music today,” he said thoughtfully. “This, of course, is primarily because of the Basie influence which is just great for the music. And Al Cohn also is contributing so very much.”
I feel very strongly about having more jazz concerts. If a program could be organized like the Community Concert series where you buy tickets for the season, I think it would be fine.
“It’d mean more work for musicians, and more kids would get to hear jazz. After all, why does jazz have to be in night clubs? Why does there have to be a bar with waitresses running around and high prices for drinks the kids aren’t permitted to buy? If jazz is brought to more and more schools and colleges, a whole new audience is being created, an audience not just for today but for the future.
“Personally, I think jazz is destined for the concert platform. Bringing jazz to the people in concert form engenders more respect for the music and, as a result, the music as a whole will benefit.”
Right now the crew-cut 22-year-old is most eager for his trio to be successful. His opening run at Zardi’s in Hollywood earned it many admirers, and the current stint at the Tiffany is sure to bring ’em back for more.
When the time comes for a road trip, they’ll go happily. But, says Pete, “The West Coast is home to my wife, Judy, and me, and it’ll probably always be that way. After all, this is where I struck paydirt.”
— John Tynan
Shelly Manne and His Men returned to Tiffany on June 15th. The Los Angeles Mirror-News noted that Shelly’s group would be featuring tunes from Shelly’s new Contemporary album, Shelly Manne and His Friends, C3525. The friends were Andre Previn on piano and Leroy Vinnegar on bass. Manne’s first LP with the trio was recorded in February of 1956. A second album recorded in August with the trio became a bestseller for Contemporary Records, Shelly Manne & his Friends* modern jazz performances of songs from MY FAIR LADY, C3527. The success of that album spawned jazz treatments of Broadway shows at all of the major record labels, and continued Broadway show treatments at Contemporary but none of them achieved the same success as the My Fair Lady album. The album also caused a riff between Vinnegar and Manne when it was disclosed that Previn was sharing in royalty revenue from the album whereas Vinnegar received AFM wages for the recording only.
Shelly Manne and His Men continued at Tiffany into July and through the end of August. The club was dark on Monday nights as were most of the jazz clubs operating in Los Angeles at the time. This policy was noticed by the team at KABC television when they launched a new weekly series called Stars of Jazz. The first shows tapped jazz artists who were appearing at Zardi’s Jazzland, a competing jazz club at 6315 Hollywood Blvd. The third show featured the Chet Baker Quintet who were appearing at another major jazz club, Jazz City. The fourth show showcased Shelly Manne and His Men who had Monday night off at Tiffany.
Shorty Rogers and His Giants moved into Tiffany for a month long engagement in August. Rogers was signed by RCA Victor during this time and his current group included Jimmy Giuffre on reeds, Lou Levy on piano, Ralph Pena on bass, and Larry Bunker on drums. They recorded Wherever The Five Winds Blow in July for the label. When Rogers had an extended engagement at Zardi’s in 1954 the featured drummer was Shelly Manne.
The Hampton Hawes Trio returned to Tiffany on September 1, 1956. Hawes current trio members were Red Mitchell on bass and LeRoy McCray on drums. The trio was featured on Stars of Jazz on September 10, 1956. Tiffany manager, Jack Tucker, also appeared on the TV episode to present Hampton Hawes with Down Beat’s New Star on Piano award for 1956. Bobby Troup’s girl friend, Julie London, was the featured vocalist on the show. The Hawes Trio remained at Tiffany through the middle of November.
Shelly Manne and His Men returned to Tiffany on November 16th for a limited engagement of four weeks. Tiffany ushered in another double bill on December 14th with the Hampton Hawes Trio backing Stan Getz. Tiffany re-instated a continuous seven nites a week policy during the Hawes/Getz engagement that carried over into 1957.
Shorty Rogers and His Giants followed the Hawes/Getz billing into Tiffany on January 18, 1957. The Giants three week engagement ended on February 8th when vocalist Kay Brown backed by the Jimmy Giuffre 3 opened for a brief run. “Mr. Bongo” aka Jack Costanzo had a similar run at the club followed by the Art Pepper Quartet who opened on March 14th.
The Tiffany Club was under new management when Art Pepper appeared at the club. Harry the Hipster opened at Tiffany the first week of April. Hadda Brooks was featured as the final double bill for the club in mid May. A short column in the California Eagle hinted at financial problems for the club.
Tiffany Club closed its doors on the first of June as Max Factor decided that a remodel was needed before it re-opened on June 28th as a burlesque venue. Thus ended another chapter in the jazz club history of Los Angeles.