Mary Kaye Trio

I stumbled across this post on boing boing about the Mary Kaye Trio. I have heard this excellent singing group in various compilations but did not realize that she was the founder of the Vegas lounge show itself. These late night shows were credited with greatly expanding the success of the nascent casino industry by creating the party atmosphere that kept people awake and gambling the night away.  I had no idea. I am once again humbled by the interweb. Mary Kaye was one impressive lounge singer:

  • She was a Spanish guitar virtuoso and played the first fender Stratocaster. The 1954 Mary Kaye model is one of the most valuable models in existence.
  • She is descended from Hawaiian royalty in the line of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch.
  • In 1961, the trio were paid the $250,000 for a 22-week gig at the Sahara – that is $1,7M in modern dollars.

Still feeling like we have evolved to a higher plain of consciousness now that Celine rules the City of Lights? Then there is no hope for you.

Microphone Love

RCA 77 ribbon mic
RCA 77 ribbon mic

I have come to realize that a healthy lust for classic microphones is something to be proud of.   It shows an appreciation for the quality of a time gone by. It indicates a romantic desire to hold a beautiful sound in one’s hand. It is one of the affinities that separates men from apes. When I was a teenager I used to enjoy listening to the crusty old local jazz pros debating the relative merits of various models of RCA ribbons like some would argue sports cars. I am afraid I was never the same. My favorite mic site:

The Many Mysteries of Rudy Van Gelder

analog tweaking
magna tweaking until the cows come home

Rudy Van Gelder is considered to be the vital ‘fifth Beetle’ on a zillion of the best jazz records ever made. Though he considers himself strictly a recording engineer, the Van Gelder sound is as signature as any great musician’s. Have you ever mucked about trying to get his sound or even kinda sorta his sound on a direct to 2 track session at home? I have and it has not been pretty. I have come to the conclusion that there are 3 main reasons for my failure:

  1. I don’t have his mikes and it is almost impossible to find out what his mikes are. He uses decoys in photos.
  2. I don’t have his room nor do I have his understanding of room acoustics.
  3. I am not Rudy Van Gelder.

If anyone can help me overcome any of the above please get in touch and I will try again.

Here is a 2008 NEA jazz interview of the man himself.

Farewell Tavern on the Green

tavern on the green
Tavern on the Green 1934

I am saddened that Tavern on the Green will be closing. I was a founding member of a Tavern house band that performed jazz there regularly in 1998 – 2001. They were sometimes brutal gigs but they paid the rent and kept my fingers warm while I was in grad school. I was fortunate to work with excellent musicians who couldn’t help but make serious music even when nobody else seemed to be listening.  Tavern was no longer exactly cool nor was it a haven for foodie hipsters but that is what made ultra special – one of those vanishing old New York places that had so much history that it did not give a damn. Like a proud old silent movie actor, Tavern loudly (and sometimes drunkenly) reminded you of it’s heyday and ignored its obvious decline and increasing irrelevance.  There was soul underneath all of those layers of kitsch that made it not at all embarrassing to be overtaken by the in-your-face romance of all of those ridiculous lights and mirrors. No matter how mediocre the food and unglamorous the clientele, somehow Tavern was still a place Grace Kelly might pull up to in a horse drawn carriage at any minute. We played some mean Cole Porter for her on those nights I can assure you.