Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Manne Hole - Part 2

© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"[In 1963] Shelly decided he wanted to bring in headline acts. Nobody in town was bringing in the likes of Stan Getz, Miles Davis or Oscar Peterson or other big jazz names from back east. Rudy and Shelly discussed the economic ramifications of such endeavors, and as if by magic - the store next door, to the north, was now available. The drummer/owner and his manager/partner bumped heads trying to project the cost of not only enlarging the club, but the bigger operational costs of more help, more advertising, and more expensive music. The lease was signed, the expansion was made, at a cost of over $10,000. They had figured that knocking out a wall and continuing the funky décor wouldn't cost more than three or four thousand dollars - it was not a pleasant surprise. Shelly continued to pour money into the now famous big-time jazz club. The first act was John Coltrane who was, by now, a living jazz legend. His stint with Miles in the fifties and his current musical groups had furthered the magic he performed and Shelly was excited to contract him for the new opening. The club wasn't quire completely renovated, but they prepared for opening night anyway. Rudy painted the news on the front of the club - but the artist was obviously not yet a pure Coltrane fan - it stated, "OPENING TONIGHT-JOHN COLTRAIN."

The night came and the crowds were lined up around the corner, about a block-long crowd waiting to get in. The only problem was that the saxophonist would not be there. He had wired that he had an abscessed tooth and would arrive a day late. Shelly pasted the telegram message on the door in hopes that it would ease the pain of the disappointed fans. "Trane" played the next night to a packed house and it was the first time the club had ever charged a cover for a mid-week night. The word spread throughout the jazz world that the Manne-Hole was now booking more expensive acts.

In January, English drummer Vic Lewis assembled a West Coast band to record His Master’s Voice and used Shelly as a percussionist, a job he was beginning to do more and more of. In February, Laurindo did another Bossa Nova album for Capitol using Manne and during this same time-frame - Jimmy Rowles, Max Bennett, and Shelly recorded some things for Capitol that were never issued. He recorded a Dixieland album with Clancy Hayes, an album with "Joe Graves and The Diggers," a Herb Ellis-Stuff Smith album that included Shelly's fellow-ex-Hermanite, Lou Levy on piano and Al McKibbon on bass. McKibbon had worked with such names as Nat Cole, George Shearing, Monk, Milt Jackson, and Carmen McRae. He remembered Shelly subbing for Big Sid on the Street, wearing his "sailor suit." He remembered Shelly's first idol, Jo Jones, tell some other aspiring drummer, "Play the full set of drums knucklehead!" According to Al, "Shelly had that Eastern feeling" - something that had obviously escaped the jazz critics who continued their East Coast-West Coast comments. "Shelly and I had a kindred love of horses." When working together for the first time in a while, Shelly told the bass player, "I've got to remember how to play with you." The drummer was so into the way other players played, particularly rhythm players, that he wanted to complement the feeling, to capture the true "give-and-take" of jazz. To enhance and make beautiful the act of playing improvisational music. He was that way with everything he played. The Manne-Hole celebrated its "longevity" with a party on the thousand-and-first night of the club's existence. The mailers were sent out, inviting the staunch fans, and close friends Bob Bain and Jack Marshall, who had serenaded the fans on the original club's opening, were somehow over-looked. "Shelly agonized over that for months," remembers Flip. Nevertheless, on the 1,001 Nights Party, Jack Marshall emceed the evenings fare that included a cake rolled in containing a bikini-clad lovely stashed in a cardboard cake. Rudy said it was the first time he ever saw Shelly speechless!

In April Shelly took his group up to The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco for a six-day visit. By mid-summer, he played a New York Philharmonic two-day date with Previn and Red Mitchell. Another bossa nova album with Laurindo at Capitol, an Earl Bostic session in August and he signed for a Hawaiian jazz date at the Waikiki Shell for September 7th, that would include Al McKibbon. It would give Flip and Shelly an opportunity to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and they went to the islands by boat. By the 13th, the Men were in full force at the Manne-Hole, and Helen Merrill was the singer. She had been working with the group every weekend in August, and was now the featured regular at the club. The Manne-Hole improved its chances for success with the acquisition of its full liquor license.

Bob Cooper recalled visiting the club shortly after they began to serve hard booze - "I sat down with Bob Troup and ordered a scotch and soda and Troup turned and said, 'You mean I've been sitting drinking this damn wine for three hours and they serve booze?"' Now the place could “kind of” afford more frequent visits by the big names but as Rudy quips "Unfortunately, we never had any heavy drinkers in the audiences." But there were few serious problems with the fans either. Rudy and Shelly and the staff ran a tight ship when it came to audience behavior. Now that the eastern acts knew that Shelly was seriously looking and booking, they came to him. While he realized that every group has its price he would always be up-front with his limits and almost always, an agreeable price would be met. The groups knew that he was honorable and could trust him. So many club dates ended in hassles with the money or the owner - not a the Manne-Hole. 

Shelly worked the Monterey Festival in September and spent most of the remainder of '63 doing studio work by day and hosting or playing the Manne-Hole. He wasn't at the club every night, he enjoyed being home, but he would often drive down to hear the visiting groups. Occasionally, the Men played out of town. For a time the band was booked by MCA and they were always after him to go out on the road. One time the Men were asked to play Las Vegas, but when Shelly was told that the hotel would require Kamuca to go through the kitchen entrance, Richie being of Mexican descent, Shelly was shocked and refused the contract. There were strange currents moving in the social layers of American society. On November 22nd, the President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Shelly and Flip were in St. Louis at a horse auction having lunch when they heard the news. Flip remembers that the auction people didn't want to put it on the loudspeakers, afraid it would interrupt the auction! In December Andre Previn put together a session with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and Shelly [4 To Go!” – Columbia CL2018,CS8818, CBS-Sony-20AP1435]. Brown was now a regular on the coast after years of performing with Oscar Peterson. The famous bassist soon had as much work as he could handle and he and Shelly would share rhythm section chores on countless sessions and gigs. The Browns, Ray and his wife Cecelia, alternated between their house and the Manne's for Thanksgiving fare and became close friends, personally and musically. Christmas was spent either with Sandy and Ron DeCrescent or, sometimes, the Mannes stayed at home and invited people for dinner who had nowhere to go.

In early 1964, Shelly did two Capitol dates, a three-day session in January with pianist Junior Mance [Get Ready, Set, Jump!” – Capitol T/ST2092] and another three-day session in February with pianist/vocalist Blossom Dearie [May I Come In? – Capitol T/ST2092; CDP 7243 4 95449 2 5]].

By March he was in Tokyo for a three week concert tour with three other jazz drumming legends Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, and Max Roach. Here were four drummers (they called the tour Four Drummers) who literally were the most important innovators and pioneers in modern jazz drumming. All had taken part in the bebop era. Haynes was for years one of the most underrated drummers (by critics) in jazz. Part of the reason for this situation is that he had been in the group backing Sarah Vaughn for many years and this had gained him little attention outside of New York. His style has personified hipness and taste in the post bop eras and has, at last, received the acclaim due him. His playing has often been described as listening to popcorn pop. Surprising snare drum and bass drum "pops" are put in places other drummers rarely use. Philadelphia Joe Jones was called that to avoid confusion with Jo Jones of Basie fame, and had, since the Miles Davis Quintet - now known by Miles fans as the "First Quintet" - received the attention of thousands of jazz fans as one of the most influential drummers in the jazz of the fifties and early sixties. His brush work was beautiful and his time feel forceful and lifting. While sometimes he had a tendency to play loud, his overall playing was outstanding. Max Roach, the pioneer bebop drummer, while five years younger than Shelly, had been active on the Street while Shelly was in the service and was considered by many to be the heir-apparent of bop drummers after Kenny Clarke. The two crossed paths hundreds of times and Shelly considered him a friend. Interestingly, Max's playing has alternately been called technically superb and technically repetitious. Shelly perfectly analyzed his and Max's different concepts of soloing in an interview with radio jazz show host Sleepy Stein. "Max plays melodically from the rhythms that he plays. I play rhythms from thinking melodically" If one listens closely to the structures of each drummer's solos, this becomes immediately apparent. Roach often uses compressed, tightly structured groups of triplets and sixteenth notes, developing seemingly complex rhythm patterns by using the entire four-piece drum kit. The bass drum often keeps steady time throughout his solos during this period of his playing, enabling him to play polyrhythmic patterns by cross-sticking the tom-tom figures. Unlike technical whizzes like Buddy Rich, Shelly and Max seldom stayed on the snare drum for any length of time. The tour included trumpeter Howard McGhee, Charlie Mariano on alto, his wife Toshiko on piano, and Leroy Vinnegar on bass. By now the foreign tours were quite popular with the musicians as well as the fans. The Japanese and the Europeans held the jazz players in high esteem and the concerts were always successful. It was refreshing for the jazz artists since the struggle to keep jazz alive in the 60s was becoming more and more difficult. 

In May, Shelly played the jazz festival at Arizona State University at Tempe, and upon his return to Hollywood, taped an ABC-TV Hollywood Palace that featured Caterina Valente. The program included Louie Bellson, Philly Joe and Irv Cottler and was aired on the 23rd of the month. That day Shelly was in San Francisco appearing on the bill with the Men, George Shearing, Anita O'Day and the Hampton Hawes Trio. In June the Men opened at the Club Shoji in San Diego. Or. this short trip south, the front line of the band had changed. Charlie Kennedy had replaced Kamuca and Don Sleet replaced Candoli. A month later, the group recorded - along with a big band - one of Shelly's favorite albums. John Williams had, by now, become a most respected composer. He had always given Shelly much credit in encouraging him to write for films. The two talked about doing My Fair Lady as a jazz vehicle for the Men, within a big band, and doing the music as a true uninterrupted musical. Irene Kral was selected to sing the lead in this unique version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, that had been adapted to the stage some eight years earlier. The male lead was none other than trumpeter Jack Sheldon, whose unique voice would later be heard in a variety of television work. His sense of humor literally smacks of "put-on" in this tour de force that segues from one tune to another - artfully and dramatically enhanced by the pure jazz writings of Williams. It is sad that the critics of the day were not always kind with this work, for the album - originally cut for Capitol and later reissued on the Talltree label - is now hard to find. It was called My Fair Lady, The Un-original Cast. 

John Williams recalls his friendship with Shelly - "My first recollection of Shelly was when he was a very tall, lean youngster just out of the Coast Guard and I saw him and heard him playing drums with the Stan Kenton Orchestra at a theater in New York. He was instantly recognizable as a kind of star of the drum world. He came to maturity musically just at that kind of cross-over between the swing era into the bebop period. His playing at that particular moment was quite different in its approach. It had hard swing, but it also had elements that presaged and predicted the post-swing era of drumming that became so popular. He's remembered in those days as a kind of 'clean-cut kid', something very wholesome about him. His enthusiastic embrace of every kind of music and all subjects related to music and art was something that was contagious to people around him. He stuck out as a player and as a personality even early on." On his playing - "He is noteworthy for his originality, and I would say one of the aspects of his playing that was so unique, was his sense of color. So many drummers just banged away and kept time. Shelly, I remember, used to play four or five minute solos on just cymbals... different pitched cymbals long before electronic experts made pieces out of gong vibrations, Shelly was already experimenting with just the beautiful impressionistic effects that he used on cymbals in night club and recording performances. It's just one aspect of his playing that's so coloristic and so subtle... so different than the mainstream of drummers in his day. He was constantly growing, listening to classical music and very interested in all kinds of sound sources - from African instruments to every kind of primitive thing that could be gotten from around the world that made a musical sound. He collected these things and used them. He was a leader of his colleagues, keeping his fellow musicians working - a losing proposition for him financially - he could have made much more money recording in the studios at night - but he insisted on having this,  what was then, jazz Mecca in L.A., because his colleagues needed a place to play and Shelly seemed to be the only one around with the gumption and enthusiasm and almost, from a business point of view, 'careless joy' that it took to go through all the grief of operating a jazz club." 

The friendship between the two grew from working the Peter Gunn and Checkmate television series. "The My Fair Lady album was done in a kind of concerto grosso format, that is to say it featured Shelly's small group backed up by a large band. I wrote the arrangements for both Shelly's group and the large band. it was a great experience to work with Shelly and all the great jazz performers that he featured in his group and that we were able to hire for the band."

Shelly recorded Mancini's Pink Panther album, did a Latin tinged big band recording with Glen Gray's Casa Loma Orchestra, More Four Freshmen and Five Trombones for Capitol, and a George Shearing album featuring the quintet and "Four Woodwinds" (and a very young Gary Burton on vibes). Caesar Giovonni arranged a large orchestra to record Exciting Sounds, billed as the Clebanoff Strings and Percussion. At the Manne-Hole Stan Getz made his first appearance to sellout crowds. Also featured at the Manne-Hole was Roberto Miranda, "The World's Fastest Dishwasher." Miranda, a fledgling bass player, went to work early every night, put his bass in a small store-room behind and a little above the band stand, tuned-up, then went into the kitchen and washed dishes - as fast as he could - so that he could sneak back and literally play (unheard) with the best jazz players in the world. Miranda recalls -"As soon as Shelly learned of this, he would feature me as a soloist during intermissions. He would get on the microphone and say 'Now we'd like to feature our dishwasher on solo bass.' Shelly was a fine gentleman, always supportive. One time when I cut my hand on some glass, Shelly asked Rudy -'Can he still play?"' 

The Men played the Blackhawk again in September and appeared on the bill with Frank Sinatra (subbing for Nat Cole), Count Basie, Vicki Carr, Tony Bennett, Dianne Carroll, and Jimmie Rodgers on December 11th at the Dedication of The Pavilion of The Music Center in Los Angeles. By the mid-Sixties, Shelly had signed with the makers of UniRoyal Tires to do a series of commercials using only the sounds of percussion. The creative juices flowed in this kind of challenge, and the famous "CAT'S PAW" commercials were the result. The TV viewer would see these stark black and white commercials and remember them for their originality. As the car screeched to brake on a rain-slicked highway, the animated figure of a cat and its surefooted paw came suddenly into existence and "saved the day" Shelly would study the story boards and sketch out the sounds he wanted in each frame. By now he had collected a variety of percussion instruments that included the boobams and a "waterphone" he had picked up in San Francisco that looked like a hubcap on stilts with varying lengths of steel rods reaching towards the floor. He built wooden cabinets in the garage at home so he could store the scores of crude tom-toms, scapers, scratchers, rattles, and other "instruments" he found interesting.

One afternoon Shelly stopped by the Pro Drum Shop. This was Bob Yeager's pride and joy, a drum shop that served the Hollywood session drummers as well as the amateur. Here the studio percussionist could order anything he or she needed, have anything repaired, and sometimes just hang out. As often as not, the man behind the counter was Chuck Molanari, and one afternoon Shelly stopped by for a visit. The "john" was just to the side and kind of behind the counter and the famous drummer walked in to relieve himself, keeping the door slightly opened as he talked to Chuck. Over in the cymbal section was a young local who always wanted to know when the next Zildjian Cymbal shipment would be in - a real cymbal "nut." A new shipment had arrived and there he was playing on this cymbal and that one, finally playing on a new "ride" cymbal. Shelly peeked around the doorway and signaled to Chuck that he liked that sound and to save it for him if the young man didn't buy it. Later that evening, the young drummer stopped by the Manne-Hole to hear Shelly play and during an intermission asked Shelly about his new ride cymbal; he thought the sound was terrific. Shelly smiled and said, "That's the one you rejected today!"

By the beginning of 1965, Stan Kenton arrived at yet another era in his glorious musical life. He now embarked on furthering his long mission of the development of the "jazz orchestra" by assembling a 26-piece orchestra that would be called The Neophonic Orchestra. The idea had been pushed on to an interested Kenton by a team of Hollywood promoters who were nuts about jazz. The idea was to promote a series of four concerts in the first year. The music and the musicians would be snatched from the closeted jazz talents of the scores of studio players who supposedly hungered to play serious jazz. Like almost all Kenton dreams, it happened - and Shelly got the call. The list of contributing composers reads like a who's who of contemporary jazz - Rugolo, Paich, Gillespie, Riddle, Rogers, on and on. The first concert was set in the new Pavilion and Shelly put on his tux and played the opening concert on January 4th. The orchestra was well received, the music was a mix of the classics and jazz, "Third Stream" some called it. Kenton was in his glory. This was the Innovations all over again, only better. We can only imagine how he felt, standing in front of a dream orchestra and, once again, seeing Shelly Manne do his magic.

In February of 1965, Shelly and John Williams collaborated on another album for Capitol. It was the same format as the My Fair Lady album recorded some six months previously This album was all Gershwin, and appropriately enough called, Manne, That's Gershwin [Capitol T/ST2313]. These two albums were treasured by Shelly. After all, here was one of the most capable composers and arrangers writing for Shelly's own big band sessions, the only big band recordings under his own name. For years to come, when he mentioned his My Fair Lady album in an interview, the host almost always thought he was referring to the Previn collaboration - the "hit." Within a few short years, the two big band albums would become collector's items. In this musical format, the listener truly has the opportunity to hear the real Shelly Manne - capable of kicking the daylights out of a big band, the ability to play complex orchestrations that take the listener from a small jazz group sound and feel - to a swinging big band passage - to a symphonic orchestral passage - all the while adding to the music in his own remarkable way. Here is the Shelly Manne that the studio musicians and the composers and the contractors knew. The man who could do anything and make it better than even the composer could have thought possible. He redefined the word taste. Some say his picture should be next to the word in the dictionary.

The Manne-Hole presented Ravi Shankar on Sunday January 24th and agreed there would be no smoking and no selling of booze. The renowned sitarist from India became the 'in' musician of the period. All over the country grown men walked into their local clothier and purchased "Nehru shirts." The flower children were arriving on the scene. Transcendental meditation classes were offered in the local Unitarian church or other places where "religion" wasn't threatened. The "door" problem at the Manne-Hole continued to perplex Shelly and Rudy. The hundreds of musician friends of Shelly's simply expected free admission. Percussionist Emil Richards recalls, "As they walked in they would say – “I’m a friend of Shelly's,' and not expect to have to pay - or Shelly would be on the door and would let everybody in free. That had to stop. so they put a kid on the door who didn't know anybody - didn't know a musician from beans - so I'm trying to get in with Mel Lewis one night and the guy said $3, or whatever the cover was, and Mel said ,'Do you know who I am?' and the kid says 'I don't know who you are, and I don’t give a shit who you are - $3.' So Mel runs around the back and I said: No, c'mon, I heard from Shelly that this was a problem.' So we go to the back anyway and here was the guy waiting there for Mel and wouldn't let him in! "

The Neophonic Orchestra played their second and third concerts on February 1st and March 1st, both at the Pavilion. On the 19th of March, a fourth concert was played, again at the Pavilion. The plan to take the orchestra to other cities had been scrubbed; it would cost too much money and be too hard to get musicians to leave town. This was the same problem Kenton experienced with the Innovations Orchestra some fourteen years earlier. There were great musicians available in Los Angeles, they were ready to play jazz, but it was difficult to get them to leave town. Shelly would see the same musicians in the studios, during the day, performing every kind of music imaginable. Not all the movies made were exactly "Academy Award" material. Shelly played on such epics as Taffy and the Jungle Hunters. And record dates could be a little strange as well. Diz Greer, a kind of poet/narrator, used Shelly while describing night life around L.A. among other things. But for the most part, the work Shelly was doing were big time, challenging projects. George Dunning D used him on The Big Valley, and Lalo Schifrin G, used him on most everything he did, including Mission Impossible. Organist Rieber Hovde used Shelly and old friend Leroy Vinnegar for his album on the Repeat label. 

 In May, Shelly returned to Arizona State University to participate in their jazz festival and conduct a clinic. He was always frustrated with college players not playing good time. He tried to explain that everybody in the band needed to develop good time and explained that everybody can learn to keep time. Not everybody can swing - that's from the heart, but there could be no excuse for bad time. The music cannot happen without the time happening! When he found good players at the clinics he conducted, he was elated. By the mid-sixties, many of the traveling bands were discovering that there was a wealth of work to be had by conducting clinics at the college level. It would be a few years before they would all learn how to take advantage of that. The one who blazed that trail was none other than Stanley Newcomb Kenton. On the 31st of July, Dick and Barbara Nash hosted the annual musicians' Christmas Party at their home. The party moved from year to year and among the participants were the Bob Bains, Jack and Eve Marshall, Milt Raskin, Gene and Fran Cipriano, and Johnny and Barbara Williams. The group would sing hip Christmas carols written by Al Burt and others and the party became an annual event for many years. One year, screenwriter Jeff Alexander wrote a carol so ribald that nobody could sing the “scatology.”

By the autumn of 1965, Frank Strozier had replaced Kamuca in Shelly's group. Richie was busying himself with other work. Shelly would book a quartet gig from time to time without Conte, using sax, drums, piano and bass. In September, the Shelly Manne Quartet (Budwig, Freeman, Strozier, and Shelly) opened at the Trident in Sausalito, closing on the 19th. The next day, Shelly taped an TV episode called This Proud Land. In October, the Men traveled back north to San Francisco and performed Manne–That’s Gershwin with the Rudy Salvini Orchestra at San Francisco University. Two weeks later, on November 15th, Conte, Russ, Monty and Frank Strozier played the Fifth Anniversary of the Manne-Hole. Now, on the sign just inside the club's door was the coming attraction board. Painted on the bottom was "Daryl B. Mordecombe." And there was more to come. 

Shelly insisted on including groups that were great musically, but not necessarily crowd-pleasers. Jimmy Giuffre's group was a little too cerebral - Art Farmer and Jim Hall had a marvelous group, but the people didn't take to them, other than a small contingency. Rudy didn't understand Shelly's desire to include bands that didn't sell. After all, it was tough enough to make a profit as it was, but Shelly was interested in the music - and he would make sure the payroll was met. These years were much leaner for jazz recordings, even for Shelly. The number of jazz albums produced had fallen since the avant-garde bands had become the thing. A good percentage of the audience had abandoned jazz they didn't understand - and rock had captured the young. By year's end, Shelly had worked on Von Ryan’s Express, Doctor Zhivago, The Great Race with Hank Mancini, Our Man Flint, and others. Fans of The Big Valley didn't know it, but they were listening to the percussive talents of Shelly Manne - and when that fantastic brushwork is heard (even today on re-runs), on the Wild, Wild, West, it is Shelly. On the 16th of December, the Men performed at the Little Theatre at L.A. Valley College in Van Nuys.

As 1966 arrived, Shelly was doing at least 20 or 30 film soundtracks a year, not to mention the weekly television shows. Universal Studios was keeping hundreds of musicians busy every week. Sandy DeCrescent had been the assistant to Bobby Helfer, but now, after Helfer's suicide, was establishing her own independent office as musical contractor for the studios. She not only booked Shelly for Universal, but handled calls for nearly every studio in town, big and small. She had come to expect the unexpected in Shelly's humor, but one episode was truly bizarre. There was a small room where the musicians took their "10 minutes out of the hour" break that the union contract entitled them to. Here the musicians would smoke, drink coffee, or grab a snack. The coffee urn was situated so the spigot was about crotch-high on Shelly (belly-high for most people), and the opportunity to do a "visual" was just too good to pass up for the drummer. He would position himself so that from the back it looked like he was urinating he would go through the motions of seemingly "taking it out," and then the onlookers standing in back of him would watch as he held the cup low and a stream of black coffee would fill the cup. He was doing this one day, much to her surprise, as Sandy's mother passed through the room. 

Ivan Tors was producing a new television series called Daktari, a spin-off from a movie made the previous year called Clarence, The Cross-eyed Lion. This new show would feature the lion, as well as a group of other animals and actors who "lived" somewhere in the jungle and spent each waking hour fixing-up or finding lost animals. The vet was called "Daktari," the chimp was called "Judy" and Shelly Manne had been selected to write the music and conduct it for the screen. Shelly assembled the musicians he knew could do the job and among them were percussionist Emil Richards and guitarist Bob Bain. On the first day of recording, the first day of Shelly’s conducting career, the musicians planned their chance to do to Shelly what he was always doing to them. Emil passed the word through the orchestra, "Nobody play a note!" Shelly stepped up to the podium, the red light went on, he brought down the downbeat and nothing happened - nobody played. Shelly fell out. He said, "Thanks a lot, my friends, my buddies.” After a good laugh, the music began and Shelly’s compositions became the best part of the series. Every sound imaginable was used for the "jungle" effects. Drummer John Guerin remembers Shelly walking in one day with a pitchfork he had brought from his horse barn. He had the ability to know just what sound to use for the moment. 

Emil and Shelly sang the title song in unison, Daktari! The Neophonic played another concert at the Pavilion on February 7th, this time featuring Shelly's band and the Don Ellis "Hindustani jazz Sextet." Writers for the concert were Frank Comstock, Bobby Troup, Bob Enevoldsen, Duane Tatro, and Dave Grusin. Ray Brown, Kessel and Shelly worked on a Jimmy Stewart movie and Shelly started working on the Mission Impossible television series. Don Specht was using him on nearly every commercial he did. "It was useless to write a drum part for Shelly, because he knew just the right thing to do, always." A small album called An Afternoon With Don Specht was recorded on Soundtrax and it displays the versatile writing skills of Specht - and the versatile playing skills of Shelly - a good example of the various styles the studio musician was asked to play. Very few recordings are evident in this period of Shelly's career, yet he was incredibly busy Most of his recording work was being done on the sound stages of the major film studios. He did record with the Men for Atlantic, a Manne-Hole session [Boss Sounds!, Atlantic LP/SD1469; Koch Jazz KOC CD-8539-2]. He did a session with Ella Fitzgerald on Verve and shared drumming duties with Grady Tate on an Oliver Nelson album recorded in New York. Grady played with the small group, Shelly with the big band.

The Men and Ruth Price traveled to Seattle for 10 days at The Penthouse, just one of many short hops the group made. The local paper noted that the Men and Ruth provided "high quality jazz." The article also included Shelly's comments about working on Daktari. "It's going to be real ethnic - drums, bells, rattles and my chanting." At home base, the Manne-Hole was really concentrating on bringing in as many big names as they could afford. Stan Getz did a knock-out business, so did Cannonball, and Shelly was thrilled to finally have Monk play the club. Rudy remembers the occasion --one night, at the end of the last set, the room wouldn't let him go - standing ovation kind of thing. Monk finally came back, sat down on the stage by himself and played 'I Love You.' It was one of the most beautiful moments in the history of the club." Thelonious had, by this time, apologized to Shelly for the aborted recording session that had happened some six years before. In October, in New York, Shelly and bassist Eddie Gomez did a trio album with Bill Evans called, A Simple Matter of Conviction [CD 837-757-2].

Two weeks later, the Poll Winners - Brown, Kessel and Manne - played the Pilgrimage Theatre in Los Angeles. The forty-six-year-old drummer was now listening to the younger players. Everybody was talking about Tony Williams' drumming and Elvin Jones was beginning to really get some recognition. Shelly stated that it was impossible not to be influenced by these great players, but that "you must do your own thing." The studio scene was beginning to change and the generic sound was getting to him. "You used to go into a studio, and the room, the microphones, the booth, the board, and the baffles were put there to service the music and the musicians. Now, sometimes, it's the absolute opposite. It looks like the musicians are there to service the microphones." 

He continued to be concerned, not just for himself but for the music scene in general, that the individual's sound was being taken away. "They shouldn't change the way we play or the way we tune our instruments to get our individualistic sounds. They should record the music as it lays. I know that nowadays, technology has the upper hand, particularly when they record a drum-set with ten mic's and it looks like you're doing an address on world peace. I'd rather have a drum-set recorded with two overheads, and maybe a bass drum mic. Some of the best records I’ve made were done with ribbon mic’s – the old RCA 44’s and 47’s – and not the condenser mic’s. They grace the drums the best, most natural sound, and they didn’t sound electric. It’s a warm sound. You know. It’s the air space between your ears and the instrument that makes the sound. I don’t care what the advertisements say; you can’t stuff a mic down inside a bass drum and get that same natural sound.”

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