Wednesday, March 16, 2016



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

The Australian Jazz Quartet/Quintet engagement that began in June carried over to July 5, 1956. The Chet Baker Quintet opened the following day, Friday, July 6, 1956.

The Chet Baker Quintet appeared on Stars of Jazz the next Monday, July 9th, with the addition of Bill Loughborough on boo-bams, a percussion instrument consisting of calf skin stretched over varying lengths of timber bamboo. Chet would frequently play boo-bams during the engagement at Jazz City.

(Bill Loughborough, Chet Baker, Phil Urso, and Peter Littman)

(Phil Urso and Chet Bakert with Jazz City back projection)

The quintet with Jimmy Bond on bass and Bobby Timmons on piano recorded an album for Pacific Jazz later in July that was issued as Chet Baker and Crew, Pacific Jazz PJ-1224. William Claxton’s photo of Chet and the members of the quintet on a sailboat in Santa Monica Bay was the quintessential west coast jazz cover.

Chet’s quintet remained at Jazz City for the rest of July and closed on August 2nd.

(Pete Jolly and Howard Lucraft with Jazz City marquee)

Billie Holiday plus the Pete Jolly Trio opened at Jazz City on August 3, 1956. Pete Jolly’s rhythm section, Bob Bertaux on bass and Bob Neel on drums, accompanied Corky Hale on piano who backed Billie Holiday on her vocals.

(Buddy Collette, Corky Hale, and Billie Holiday at Jazz City)

Stars of Jazz featured Billy Holiday and the Pete Jolly Trio on the August 13,1956, program. Corky Hale with Bertaux and Neel accompanied Holiday on the TV program.

A rare interview with Billie Holiday, taped after the engagement at Jazz City, has surfaced. It was never broadcast as described in the commentary that contains the audio link for the interview. The person who conducted the interview at radio station KNX was George Walsh, whose voice is familiar to my generation as the voice of Gunsmoke. The interview broadcast was to include a track from Holiday’s Velvet Mood LP on Norman Granz’s Clef label, ”Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.” Walsh asks Billie who accompanied her on the album and she recalls all of the musicians except Larry Bunker. Tad Hershorn interviewed Jimmy Rowles who was the pianist on that session and Rowles recalled that Billie could never get his last name right, always referred to him as Jimmy Ro.

The Holiday/Jolly engagement ended on Thursday, August 16. Anita O’Day and the Dave Pell Octet opened on Friday, August 17, 1956. O’Day and Pell were featured previously in April at Jazz City, and O’Day had been a frequent performer at the club in 1955. Their two week engagement closed on Thursday, August 30, and the Chico Hamilton Quintet opened on Friday, August 31, 1956. The quintet’s previous engagement at Jazz City was in November of 1955.

The Chico Hamilton Quintet had two LPs in the stores when they appeared at Jazz City and a third LP was in the works at Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label. They also put in a guest appearance on Stars of Jazz, Christmas Eve, December 24, 1956.

The Chico Hamilton Quintet proved to be a strong draw at Jazz City and their original two week engagement was extended two weeks making their run at the club fill most of September 1956. 

When the quintet closed their month long run on September 24, the next act was a repeat for the “Wild Bill Davis” Trio who had a two week run in the club in January. 

The “Wild Bill” Davis Trio opened on September 28th and ended their two week run on Thursday, October 11, 1956. The “Wild Bill” Davis Trio also made an appearance on Stars of Jazz on the October 1, 1956, show. They were followed by another double billing that pitted the East Coast, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, against the West Coast, the Chet Baker Quintet.

The Jazz Messengers were also tapped for Stars of Jazz on the October 29, 1956 show. The Chet Baker Quintet ended their stay at the end of two weeks and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers remained at Jazz City for another two weeks, closing their engagement on November 8, 1956.

Maynard Sloate booked another double act that opened on November 9, 1956, the Bud Shank Quartet and the Jimmy Smith Trio.

(Jimmy Smith in front of the marquee at Jazz City)

The Shank/Smith double bill remained at Jazz City until Wednesday, December 5, 1956. The normal closing day, Thursday, featured the Jimmy Smith Trio plus Stan Kenton All-Stars, a one night event before the Julian “Cannonball” Adderley Quintet opened on Friday, December 7, 1956.

The Jazz International night changed, as noted in the above ad from December 6, 1956, from Tuesday night to Thursday night and now featured two extra groups. The Adderley Quintet was also tapped for Stars of Jazz, making their appearance on the December 17, 1956, program.

Another double bill was featured for five days only from December 14-18 when the Four Freshman alternated sets with the Adderley Quintet.

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet closed their Jazz City engagement on Thursday, December 20, 1956, when they were joined by Shelly Manne and His Men for the Jazz International night. 

Billie Holiday and the Pete Jolly Trio returned to Jazz City on Friday, December 21, 1956, and remained through the balance of the month and into the first week of January 1957 when the Miles Davis Quintet returned to Jazz City.

The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate and the Howard Lucraft Collection.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives and the Howard Lucraft Collection.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and the Howard Lucraft Collection and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.


  1. Great stuff.....appreciated seeing the contracts, etc...

  2. Thanks for this article....just excellent!!