ZARDI’S – 1949/1950
A column in the Daily News from February 18, 1949, noted that Pete Daily and His Chicagoans had been pumping out their two-beat stuff in Hollywood’s Monkey Room to good crowds for a solid six months. The Pete Daily engagement at Sardi’s that began in August of 1948 continued through most of 1949.
Eddie Spivak’s EDDIE’S morphed into SARDI’S sometime in late 1948 or early 1949 as documented in Los Angeles newspapers from the time. The Bill Anson ad from 1947 advertising Midnight at Sardi’s (Chi Chi In Hollywood) noted two separate rooms at the location, the Monkey Room with Johnny Shadrack & Juan Flores and the Circus Room with Martha Davis.
A cocktail napkin from Sardi’s Monkey Room portrayed three monkeys sitting in a cocoanut palm tree. Many Los Angeles clubs and restaurants sported a South Seas motif that was viewed as exotic and appealing to patrons. The Chi Chi chain of restaurants may have introduced the Hawaiian décor when they acquired the space in 1945. Subsequent owners may have retained the tropical theme that was popular in clubs and restaurants such as the Hawaiian Hut on Beverly, Hawaiian Paradise on Melrose, and Whisling’s Club Hawaii on Sunset.
Dixieland or traditional jazz had a supportive following in Los Angeles. Clubs like the Beverly Cavern on Beverly Boulevard was a bastion of New Orleans style jazz and was “home” to Kid Ory and His Creole Band for many years. Los Angeles deejays like Frank Bull and Gene Norman regularly featured traditional jazz on their radio shows. Bull and Norman launched a concert series in 1948 that drew thousands of fans to the Pan-Pacific Auditorium.
PIED PIPERS OF JAZZ DRAW ‘CATS TO GILMORE ISLAND
By Reed Stevens – Los Angeles Mirror News, October 30, 1948
The “Dixieland Jubilee,” something strictly new in the field of big time musical entertainment, had a packed house of 8,500 hep-cats really creaming at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium last night, right from the opening all brass fanfare until the big finale.
Among the 50 musicians participating in last night’s massive jam session several were terrific hits.
Wingy Manone, a native son of New Orleans, the heart of Dixieland jazz, gave a sensational performance, not only with his trumpet but in his great sense of humor and showmanship.
“Zootie” Singleton had all of Gilmore Island jumping to his famous drum solo of “Chinatown.” “Wild Bill” Davidson, playing in the set with Eddie Condon’s group, all but stopped the show with his trumpet numbers.
And last but not least, Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong along with Jack Teagarden on the trombone and “Big Sid” Catett on drums and his other instrumentalists, gave out with the popular “Black and Blue” with “Satchmo” himself doing the vocal.
Red Nichols, Jess Stacy, Kid Ory, Matty Malncck, Artie Shapiro and Marvin Ash were other outstanding performers in pied pipers Frank Bull and Gene Norman’s initial venture of its kind.
Hoped-for Annual Event
Mr. Norman announced that he hoped the “Dixieland Jubilee” would be an annual event, and judging from the audience response to this statement, he and Frank Bull will have another complete sellout next year. Last night’s performance had the biggest advance ticket sales in the history of the Pan-Pacific auditorium. Also, it was learned that the areana managers association has asked that these great jazz artists make a tour of the leading cities throughout the country.
The big finale had the entire group of 50 musicians parading “around the hall” with a wind-up of a special 50-piece arrangement of “Muskrat Ramble,” a truly outstanding finale for the long and enjoyable evening.
Pete Daily and His Chicagoans engagement at Sardi’s Monkey Room continued to be featured in Los Angeles newspapers regularly throughout 1949. The notable break in that record standing run was the 2nd Annual Dixieland Jubilee staged by Frank Bull and Gene Norman. They moved the location to the Shrine Auditorium near the USC campus. Newspaper reviews of the concert on Friday, October 7th, were positive noting that the Shrine was filled to capacity and that the presentation was superior to the first concert. Each ensemble was limited to four tunes with Zutty Singleton acting as Grand Marshall for the finale parade through the aisles of the auditorium. Bull and Norman produced a souvenir programs for the concert. The text featuring Pete Daily, below (purple), did not credit an author.
Whisking down to the Shrine with his bouncing band of Chicagoans, Pete Daily will be doubling from his regular stand, Sardi’s Monkey Room in Hollywood, as he shares the podium with his fellow jazzmen at the Dixieland Jubilee.
Daily and his battered cornet, tarnished and bent and wound with adhesive tape from years of use, are currently riding a new popularity crest after years and years and years of struggle. Last June, the Daily version of the venerable Bennie Moten evergreen, “South,” was released on a Capitol record, sans publicity, sans promotion, sans fanfare. In three months it zipped across the 100,000 mark and it’s still moving, for all Daily knows, and he’s getting fan mail for the first time in his career.
Little Pete and his Chicagoans have suddenly become an important asset to Capitol, and his “Green Light Rag,” “She Looks Like Helen Brown,” “Down Home Rag” and “O, Katharina” have been rushed out as follow-ups to the “South” socksuccess. “I don’t quite know what to make of it,” Pete says. “The hit wasn’t any different from my other sides on Capitol, and “Jazz Man,” and “Sunset” and “Jump.” You tell me!”
With Pete tonight are top-drawer sidemen. Warren Smith arranges, plays slide horn and—if threatened will sing. He’s a valued ex-Bobcat whom Daily snared several years ago and has pampered since. Smitty’s tram bites, it slides, it rocks. They don’t come any better.
Bernie Billings recorded some of those Bluebirds with Muggsy, playing tenor, and will be performing with Daily tonight for the first time in concert. He’s a recent arrival from New York. Kansan George Defebaugh is at the traps, Don Owens will be at the keys, Stan Storey (who performed last year with Ted Vesely) holds down the clarinet chair and versatile Jimmy Stutz is pulling the bass guts.
Daily can’t quite make up his mind about the tuba. He prefers a banjo to guitar in the band, but for the past year he has experimented off and on with string bass and tuba, recording with either, or both. Tuba or not tuba is the question with Daily these days: he will receive suggestions gratefully if sent him via Sardi’s Monkey Room at Hollywood & Vine.
Daily’s theme, “I Want to Linger,” will be heard tonight along with “South” and others, he promises. But he’ll make no promises as to which type bass he will feature at the Jubilee to be held a year from now.
What’s wrong with a Sousaphone?
Pete Daily and His Chicagoans took a break from their long standing engagement at Sardi’s in December when they were relieved of duty by Nappy Lamare and the “Bob Cats” – some of the musicians who had appeared in October at the 2nd Annual Dixieland Jubilee – Zutty Singleton, Brad Gowans, and Pud Brown. Nappy Lamare and His Straw Hat Seven enjoyed an extended engagement on KTLA’s Dixieland Showboat TV program in the 1950s.
Pete Daily and His Chicagoans returned on January 6, 1950, for a seven week engagement that ended on March 1st when Red Nichols and His Five Pennies took the bandstand at Sardi’s. The Nichols group were featured at the 2nd Annual Dixieland Jubliee. The souvenir program included a profile of Nichol’s group.
What Kid Ory is to New Orleans music, Loring (Red) Nichols is to jazz in general. The genial cornetist wasn’t born in New Orleans, or even Chicago, or, to be sure, any of the much-publicized hotbeds of hot music.
Ogden, Utah, gave Nichols and nobody else to jazz, and he was playing a horn at 3. His father, a noted musician, started Red while other kids were making mudpies, and because of his early start (he was a big name musician in New York before he was 20) the squares assume him to be a palsied, bald, arthritic old cat on crutches. But Red looks as young, plays as fresh and acts as wild-haired as any one of the 1949 goatee-and-beret crowd along West 52nd street.
His Pennies comprise five other excellent musicians. Joe Rushton, the uncrowned Nabob of Rushhouse, puffs the most booting bass saxophone in the world today, and can get off on clarinet and motorcycle with the best, too. King Jackson on trombone, Rollie Culver on drums, Bobby Hammack on piano and Matty Matlock (doubling from the Bobcats) on clarinet complete the Pennies.
Red’s hard-hitting little ensemble begins its fifteenth month at the Hangover Club in the heart of Hollywood this week. And Red, who has cut more wax than any other musician on the stage tonight, still can’t get in a game of golf these autumn afternoons because of his commitments on network shows, and recording sessions with the big “commercial” orchestras.
Listen for the Nichols treatment of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” tonight. And watch for his forthcoming biscuits on the London label, “Sugar Babe,” “Dancing on the Ceiling” and others.
That Nichols guy—after 26 years of blowing—is rolling all over again!
Ted Vesely led a Dixieland band that played numerous Los Angeles clubs in 1949/1950. His group opened at the Royal Room on Hollywood Boulevard in February 1949 and moved to the Club Showtime on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks in July. His Dixieland group made frequent appearances on KLAC-TV.
Ted Vesely and His Dixieland Band had an extended engagement at the Tom Tom Café in Glendale during 1950. His only recordings as leader, two 78 singles, were produced privately on Tom Tom Records. Tom Tom T-1001 featured “Peter and the Wolf” backed by “Tin Roof.” Tom Tom T-1002 presented “I Found a New Baby” backed by “What’s Your Story?” Band members included: Vesely, trombone; Ralph Harden, trumpet; Bill Wood, clarinet; Lee Countryman, piano; Morty Corb, bass; and “Smokey” Stover, drums. Ted Vesely recorded with Ben Pollack and His Pick-A-Rib Boys in 1937, Artie Shaw and His Orchestra in 1938, Les Brown in 1939, and was on numerous recorded sessions with Benny Goodman and His Orchestra during 1939-1940.
Ray Hewitt’s “The Spotlighter” column in the August 10th edition of the Daily News announced that Red Nichols and His Five Pennies were taking a vacation from their long standing engagement at Sardi’s and would be replaced by Ted Vesely and His Dixieland Band for two weeks. The Vesely band stayed at Sardi’s for a full month before the Nichols group returned in mid September. The Vesaely group moved to Garden of Allah in Seal Beach after Leaving Sardi’s in September. Red Nichols and His Five Pennies remained at Sardi’s through the end of the year.
Theodore Robert “Ted” Vesely, born August 24, 1913, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died August 20, 1973, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He had a heart attack while working in his music store. His achievements as a jazz artist have not been recognized outside of the usual notations in jazz discographies. No mention in the New Grove, Feather, or Gitler volumes. A brief mention in Floyd Levin’s Classic Jazz got the spelling wrong, Vesley, as did some listings in the newspapers that also listed Yesley, Veseley, and Vesley in error.
The Cecil Charles photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of CTSIMAGES. The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Cecil Charles Collection. Please note that these photos remain the property of the Cecil Charles Collection and are used here with permission. Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to: Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.