Tuesday, October 20, 2015






© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

Jazz City patrons were treated to jazz vocals in February 1955 when the Chet Baker Quintet appeared at the club. Chet had introduced vocals in his sets after the successful introduction of this facet of his talents on his first vocal album, Chet Baker Sings, PJLP-11. Jazz vocals continued to be an attraction when Jackie Cain and Roy Kral joined the Conte Candoli Quintet at Jazz City in May of 1955.

The Al Belletto Sextet opened at Jazz City on July 1, 1955. The Belletto group was promoted by Stan Kenton who had recorded them in December of 1954 for his Stan Kenton Presents Jazz series on Capitol Records.

Anita O’Day with the Bud Lavin Trio opened at Jazz City on July 12, 1955, a Tuesday. Anita O’Day had several albums featuring her jazz stylings on Norman Granz’s Norgran label. Her appearance at Jazz City continued through July 21, 1955.

The Buddy DeFranco Quartet with Sonny Clark, piano; Eugene Wright, bass; and Bobby White, drums; opened at Jazz City on July 22, 1955. The quartet had several best selling albums recorded for Norman Granz.

During their stay in Los Angeles the Buddy DeFranco Quartet recorded again for Norman Granz with the additional of Tal Farlow making two quintet albums, Cooking the Blues and Sweet and Lovely.

Anita O’Day returned to Jazz City on August 5, 1955, to alternate sets with the Buddy DeFranco Quartet. The Buddy Rich Quintet featuring Harry “Sweets” Edison was booked to open the following Friday, August 12, 1955.

Buddy Rich was among Norman Granz’s stable of jazz artists and had several LPs in release that featured Edison in the lineup.

Buddy Rich and his Quartet (Nat Pierce on piano, Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet, Ike Isaacson on bass). From One Night Stand: The World of Lenny Bruce (1959).

The Buddy Rich Quintet closed their initial engagement at Jazz City on August 22,1955. The Lee Konitz / Warne Marsh Quintet opened the next day, Tuesday, August 23, 1955. Marsh and Konitz played together on Friday, August 19, 1955, at the Hollywood Bowl along with a stellar lineup that included Dave Brubeck, Buddy DeFranco, Billie Holiday, Pete Kelly’s Big 7, Andre Previn, Shorty Rogers, and Cal Tjader. The previous June they recorded an album for Atlantic with Sal Mosca, Billy Bauer, Oscar Pettiford, and Kenny Clarke.

The Konitz / Marsh Quintet alternated sets on the opening weekend of their run with the Four Freshman on August 26, 27, and 28. The Four Freshmen would be on the stand again the following weekend, September 2, 3, and 4.

The Four Freshmen were Capitol Records artists who had been brought to the label by Stan Kenton. They were one of the top jazz vocal groups to emerge in the 1950s.

The Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh Quintet ended their run at Jazz City, Monday through Thursday, September 5 through 8. The Dave Brubeck Quartet opened on September 9, 1955, appearing three days only, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet was profiled in an article for Life magazine in 1954 with a color photo spread by Eliot Elisofon. Paul Desmond, Joe Dodge, Dave Brubeck, and Bob Bates in a multiple exposure.

Carmen McRae opened at Jazz City on September 13, 1955. She was backed by the Kenny Drew Trio with Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Lawrence Marable on drums. McRase had recently been awarded “Singer of the Year” by Metronome magazine and was signed with Decca Records with several LPs in release.

McRae’s three week run ended on September 29, 1955.  Anita O’Day aand her trio returned to Jazz City on September 30, 1955, alternating sets with the Buddy DeFranco Quartet.

The Anita O’Day / Buddy DeFranco booking continued through the month of October 1955. The Buddy Rich Quintet featuring Harry “Sweets”Edison returned to Jazz City on November 4, 1955, for another ten-day run.

Maynard Sloate scored a coup when he booked the Chico Hamilton Quintet into Jazz City. The quintet enjoyed a long run at Strollers in Long Beach when they were signed by Dick Bock at Pacific Jazz. The Chico Hamilton Quintet became a major selling artist group for the label.

The Chico Hamilton Quintet performing at Strollers in Long Beach.

The original quintet included: Chico Hamilton, leader, drums; Buddy Collette, reeds; Fred Katz, cello; Jim Hall, guitar; and Carson Smith, bass. Chico’s quintet enjoyed a five week run at Jazz City from November 16 through December 8, 1955. (Above photo from a Tiffany Club engagement.)

Woody Herman formed a smaller aggregation of musicians in the fall of 1955 that was known as The Las Vegas Herd. It included Dick Collins and John Coppola, trumpets; Cy Touff, bass trumpet; Woody Herman, clarinet, alto sax, and vocals; Richie Kamuca, tenor sax; Norman Pockrandt, piano; Monty Budwig, bass; and Chuck Flores, drums. The Las Vegas Herd appeared at the Shrine Auditorium on December 3, 1955, as part of Irving Granz’s “Jazz a la Carte” concert series.

The reduced Herd recorded an album for Capitol a few days earlier that was released as Jackpot - Woody Herman and the Las Vegas Herd.

The Woody Herman Las Vegas Herd appeared three nights only at Jazz City, December 9, 10, and 11, 1955.

Anita O’Day and Buddy DeFranco returned to Jazz City on December 12, 1955, and closed out 1955 at the club. 

Jazz City advised patrons to make reservations for the December 31, 1955, program that included hats, noisemakers, and favors to ring in the 1956 New Year.

The already fierce competition among Los Angeles Jazz clubs got hotter when Zardi’s completed a remodel that expanded the capacity of the club that the owner’s renamed Zardi’s Jazzland. Jazz City had direct competition across the street from Peter Vescio’s Peacock Lane. Vescio frequently booked the same artists that appeared at Jazz City. Maynard Sloate scored a hit in January of 1956 when booked the Miles Davis Quintet into Jazz City.

The Howard Lucraft photo that greatly enhances this presentation has been provided courtesy of CTSIMAGES.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Howard Lucraft Collection.  Please note that this photo remains the property of the Howard Lucraft Collection and is used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding its use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.