There was a very special night that was off limits to the general public at Donte’s Jazz Club in North Hollywood. California. But the famed nitery was far from shuttered, for inside, the SRO crowd was made up of the “who's who” in the Jazz profession, gathered together for an evening of good old-fashioned “winging it.”
For such a group of top flight musicians to meet al a Jazz club, sans instruments, evidences a very special occasion, and it certainty was. Hosted by Stan Kenton, Mort Sahl, Shelly Manne and Frank Rosolino, the evening became one or happy nostalgia, personal side lights about fouled up club dates, one nighters and, most of all. laughter; for aside from his creative talents, the most gratifyingly special gilt a Jazz musician has is the ability to laugh at himself.
They talked or many things…foolish things…nearly forgotten things…personal things…and everybody had a three hour ball. With Kenton leading the strokes with a deftness that only someone so intimately associated with these talented guys could parry, the evening’s momentum never wavered, and when the wee small hours rolled around, the entire audience knew they had taken part in a unique experience. This album is the result of “that very special evening.”
Mort Sahl, although not a musician, has become an intimate and knowledgeable spokesman and friend of the Jazz fraternity. As Stan so ably puts it, “Mort is the classic epitome of comedic talent. Like the Jazz musician, his material is always improvisational, a bit mind bending and always right on target.”
Shelly Manne and Frank Rosolino, who both played with the Kenton aggregations, reflect on fellow musicians, string players, playing behind the beat, and those long, dull cross-country bus rides going from one gig to another. Med Flory and Harry “Sweets” Edison provoke near hysteria with their comments on experiences with driving cars for Claude Thornhill, “advancement” in the music business and note holding with Count Basie. lt’s all here…well, most of it anyway, just the way it happened that night at Donte’s.
As you listen to the album, quite possibly you can visualize the scene yourself and as you scan the room, you’ll see what kind of company you’re in. Back there in a corner booth is Don Bagley, Dee Barton, Louis Bellson, Milt Bernhart and Pete Condoli. Up at a front row center table sits Benny Carter, nationally famous Jazz columnist Leonard Feather, Bob Cooper and one-time Kenton vocalist June Christy, Bill Holman, Calvin Jackson, Hank Mancini, Don Menza and Dave Rose. Standing at the bar is Pete Rugolo, Howard Rumsey, Bud Shank, Gerald Wilson, Dick Shearer and Nick Ceroli. And holding forth around the rest of the smoke-filled room are more Jazz afficianados whose names would fill most of these liner notes, as they have in countless albums.
It was quite an impressive group to spend an evening with, yet not a note was heard; simply because it was an evening with friends, friends who play Jazz, great Jazz, and got together to swap “remember whens.”
We had an unprecedented ball putting this album together and hope you’ll have a ball listening to it and getting the same kicks we did. It was the musician’s night of, but what a night it turned out to be.
Recorded on location by United Recording Corporation Edited by Miriam Putnam and Tom Lubin Liner copy by Doug Neal
"Manne Steals Show at NARAS Kenton Luncheon." Down Beat 7 Aug. 1969: 8.
MANNE STEALS SHOW AT NARAS KENTON LUNCH
A Los Angeles NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) luncheon recently honored Stan Kenton. Some of his early producers at Capitol were on hand to reminisce and pay tribute, but it was Shelly Manne who stole the show.
He showed circa 1948 home movies of “life on the road—in the iron lung” (the bus) and kept up a riotous commentary over the silent film. Then Shelly presented mementoes to Stan of their early tours while Pete Rugolo led a group of Kenton alumni through some rusty renditions of Intermission Riff and Minor Riff. Personnel included: Don Dennis, Earl Collier, trumpets; Bob Fitzpatrick, Harry Betts, trombones; Bob Cooper, Dave Pell, tenor saxes (Shelly commented “this was a typical big band: two, two and two”); Rugolo, piano; Don Bagley, bass; Manne, drums.
There was considerable shuffling of parts, interruptions and clowning around before they began. Shelly shouted “Is that opening double high C too much for you guys?” Leonard Feather jumped upon stage and announced “I’d like to review it before they begin—1½ stars.” Dave Pell gave out with Vido Musso’s fat tones on the opening phrase of Sorrento, then followed with the octave jabs of Les Brown’s theme, Leap Frog. Bob Fitzpatrick pulled Al Porcino’s famous routine: he stood up and asked Kenton “Are we running down the whole arrangement?” Kenton replied “No, Fitzpatrick—just the first half.” Whereupon Fitzpatrick picked up his part and tore it down the middle. Rugolo got into the act with: “I can’t play this; it’s in six fiats.” Shelly responded with “Makes no difference to me—I just go boom-boom.’’
When the music finally started, the anemic voicings of “two, two and two” broke everyone up, but there was enough of the old Kenton sound to please the large audience.