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LOU LEVY

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Louis A. Levy, generally known as Lou Levy, was born on March 5, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois and started playing piano when he was twelve. His chief influences were Art Tatum and Bud Powell. A professional at age nineteen, he played with George Auld, Sarah Vaughan, Chubby Jackson, Boyd Raeburn and Woody Herman’s Second Herd during the late Forties. Still with Woody Herman by 1950, he moved on to play with Tommy Dorsey, Flip Phillips before leaving music for a few years.

Lou returned to music and gained a strong reputation as an accompanist to singers, working with Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, June Christy, tony Bennett, Anita O’Day and Pinky Winters. He would also go on to play with Shorty Rogers, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Coleman Hawkins, Bob Cooper, Bennie Wallace, Terry Gibbs, Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, Supersax, and most of the major West Coast players.

Over the course of his career he recorded as a leader for Nocturne, RCA, Jubilee, Philips, Interplay and Verve leaving behind a catalogue of fourteen albums as a leader and another eighty-one as a sideman.

Bebop and cool jazz pianist Lou Levy died of a heart attack in Dana Point, California at the age of 72 on January 23, 2001.

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RALPH TOWNER

Daily Dose Of jazz…

Ralph Towner was born on March 1, 1940 in Chehalis, Washington. Born into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player, Towner learned to improvise on the piano at the age of three. He started trumpet lessons at the age of five, but did not take up guitar until attending the University of Oregon.

Ralph first played jazz in New York City in the late 1960s as a pianist and was strongly influenced by the renowned jazz pianist Bill Evans. He began improvising on classical and 12-string guitars in the late 1960s and early 1970s; and formed alliances with musicians who had worked with Evans, including flautist Jeremy Steig, Eddie Gomez, Marc Johnson, Gary Peacock ad Jack DeJohnette.

He began his career as a conservatory-trained classical pianist, who picked up guitar in his senior year in college, then joined world music pioneer Paul Winter’s Consort ensemble in the late 1960s. Leaving Winter along with band mates Paul McCandless, Glen Moore and Colin Walcott, they formed the group Oregon, mixing folk, Indian classical, avant-garde jazz and frr improvisation.

Around the same time, Towner began a longstanding relationship with ECM Records, releasing virtually all of his non-Oregon recordings since his 1972 debut as a leader Trios / Solos.  As a sideman he has ventured int jazz fsion with Weather Report on the 1972 album I Sing The Body Electric.

Unlike most jazz guitarists, Ralph only uses 6-string nylon-string and 12-string steel-string guitars. He tends to avoid high-volume musical environments, preferring small groups of mostly acoustic instruments that emphasize dynamics and group interplay. He make significant use of overdubbing, allowing him to play piano or synthesizer and guitar on the same track. During the Eighties he used more synthesizer but has returned to the guitar in recent years.

Composer, arranger, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Towner, who plays 12 string guitar, classical guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion and trumpet, has an impressive catalogue of some five-dozen recordings spread between his role as a leader, with Oregon, and as a sideman with Paul Winter and Weather Report among others. He continues to perform, record and tour.

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TEN CENTS A DANCE

Hollywood On 52nd Street

10 Cents A Dance is a song originally written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the Broadway play Simple Simon, which became the inspiration for the 1931 romance-drama film of the same name. The film starred Barbara Stanwyck as a married taxi dancer who falls in love with one of her customers.

The Story: A beautiful streetwise taxi dancer named Barbara O’Neill works at a New York City dance hall called Palais de Dance. One of the dance hall’s wealthy patrons, Bradley Carlton comes to the hall and gives Barbara $100. Concerned about her unemployed friend and neighbor Eddie Miller, Barbara asks Bradley to give him a job, and he agrees. They fall in love, get married, Eddie philanders, they get divorced, they remarry, and then he wanders off to South America. Realizing their love is not strong enough she tries to get another divorce but gets denied by the judge. But after a fight and his gambling she packs her bags, goes to the dance hall and leaves with Bradley for France.

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ROB MCCONNELL

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Robert Murray Gordon McConnell was born on February 14, 1935 in London, Ontario, Canada. He took up the valve trombone in high school and began his performing career in the early 1950s, performing and studying with Don Thompson, Bobby Gimby, Maynard Ferguson and music theory with Gordon Delamont. In 1968 he formed The Boss Brass, a big band that became his primary performing and recording unit through the Seventies and Eighties.

In 1988, McConnell took a teaching position at the Dick Grove School of Music in California, but gave up his position and returned to Canada a year later. In 1997, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and in 1998 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Rob remained active throughout the 2000s, touring internationally as both a performer and educator. The Rob McConnell Tentet, a scaled-down version of the Boss Brass featuring many Boss Brass alumni, has been quite successful; it has recorded three major albums, The Rob McConnell Tentet, Thank You, Ted and Music of the Twenties.

Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass became one of Canada’s most popular jazz ensembles, performing live and recording for Concord Jazz label and a variety of others. The valve trombonist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator and recording artist died on May 1, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, aged 75, from cancer. He left a catalogue of 33 albums recording with Maynard Ferguson and Mel Torme among others.

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LISTEN DARLING

Hollywood On 52nd Street

Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart is a 1934 popular song with words and music by James F. Hanley. Though Hal Le Roy and Eunice Healey introduced the song in the Broadway revue Thumbs Up! probably the most notable recordings were made by Judy Garland, who sang it in the 1938 film “Listen, Darling”.

The Story: Pinkie Wingate and her friend Herbert “Buzz” Mitchell go to great lengths to prevent her widowed mother Dottie from marrying the wrong person.

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