If you aren't aware Glen Campbell was part of the elite LA group of studio musicians known as the "Wrecking Crew" who played on the greatest pop and rock recordings made there durin gthe 1960's. That's Glen late in the decade with legendary Crew drummer Hal Blaine. Glen was part of this group from the early 60's until his own hit records Am I sure he was on the records I mention? Well, the Musicians' Union contracts are pretty much smoking guns, as they show who was hired and paid.

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Jazz guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli, whose 2004 album Bossa Nova stands as one of his finest efforts, honors the 50th Anniversary of Frank Sinatra's album-length collaboration with the late Brazilian musician and Bossa Nova visionary Antonio Carlos Jobim. Pizzarelli's joined by Jobim's grandson.  Does it succeed?   

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 Yesterday marked Dean Martin's 100th Birthday. Immortal because of his own work with Jerry Lewis, alone and as part of the Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., his recorded legacy is vast and varied. It also has a couple of curiosities in it. One involves his best known song, "Everybody Loves Somebody." 

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My look at Triplicate, Bob Dylan's new three-disc pop standards album, continuing the concepts of Shadows In The Night and Fallen Angels.

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NO SPOILERS. "Mabel," Monday night's Season 3 premiere of Better Call Saul literally picks up from Season 2's final moments. The musical interlude, however, as in previous episodes, came early, during the show's black-and-white "flash forward" moments (the present day).

Is it a "drug song?" Well, read on.

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buddy greco on stage

In the first major musical death of 2017, Buddy Greco, the famed singer-pianist, a member of the Rat Pack and friend of Marilyn Monroe, died yesterday at 90 in Las Vegas, ending a career that began in his native Philly, and continued well into the 21st century.  Greco, while long associated with Vegas, actually has roots a lot closer to here.

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Today, the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor commemorates an event infamous and immortal in world history.  After World War II ended, it accounted for two immortal moments in the arts. One was literary: James Jones's 1951 sordid best-selling novel From Here To Eternity, inspired by the author's real life prewar Army experiences in Hawaii. The other was cinematic: the 1953 movie adaptation, cleaned up considerably for viewing audiences. It remains a landmark American film for both story and the virtuoso performances by stars Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Deborah Kerr and Ernest Borgnine.

It proved a pivotal moment for Sinatra. His performance as doomed private Angelo Maggio restored a career long in freefall, earning him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  Which brings us to the above photo, of Clift, Lancaster and another cast member: country music star, singer-songwriter and guitarist Merle Travis (1917-1983), now a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016 09:55

Pittsburgh Jazz Legends 20: Billy May



"Recording with Billy May is like having a bucket of cold water thrown in your face."

--Frank Sinatra.

Billy May's career took him from playing and arranging in Pittsburgh bands to the mainstream after World War II. His virtuosity, vision and buoyant good humor created a vision that enhanced the recordings of Sinatra and other singers. He also left a legacy of first-rate, swinging instrumental albums.

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Wednesday, 23 March 2016 09:05

Review: 'Elvis: The Complete RCA Albums'


elvis complete albums

Last week, Legacy Recordings released Elvis Presley: The Complete RCA Albums, a boxed, 60-CD collection (not available on download) comprising all of Presley's released RCA Victor albums during his lifetime, beginning with Elvis Presley (1956) and Moody Blue, released in July, 1977, less than a month before his death from prescription drug abuse.   Conceived to mark the 60th Anniversary of his first RCA album, it's not a package aimed at the casual fan (there are many fine introductory packages that cover that era nicely).  This is, without question, a collection for the hardcore, whose appreciation differs from those who enjoy only the earliest material, or the "comeback" recordings of the 60's, the gospel material or even the movie soundtracks, which everyone agrees had ample throwaways with gems buried within.

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Buddy Greco is one of my favorite jazz singers, in part because his musicality (he's a gifted jazz pianist) gives him a dimension few of the Rat Pack style singers could match. The Philly native was the pianist in Benny Goodman's short-lived 1949 bebop orchestra. He made incredible records for a variety of labels and became a Vegas mainstay before relocating to England. He turns 90 this year.

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