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By early 1967, the list of artists that had played the Manne-Hole read like a Who's Who of jazz. The bandstand at the Manne-Hole had to be expanded for the big bands Shelly brought in. The bands of Kenton, Herman and Gerald Wilson were among them. Shelly continued to insist that the help not hustle the patrons for drinks. He would use the quintet opposite some of the headliners on weekends - imagine seeing visiting name artists and Shelly's band all in the same night. But the piano playing of Russ Freeman was about to depart from the long association with the club, the group, and Shelly. He had watched the club grow from its inception. He could recall that when the room was expanded and the bandstand moved to the back wall that - "We could never get the acoustics and the 'feel' back there like it was when it was on the side. For years we tried all kinds of stuff - hanging things behind, a canopy over - just was never able to grab that sound. The feel of the original bandstand was great. Every night was terrific playing there." He could also remember some of the players from the east putting Shelly's playing down. "They did not know what they were talking about, I guarantee you. They only heard the surface things - things that were different from the things they were used to hearing without realizing what it felt like to play with him. Playing with Shelly was a unique experience."
By the mid-sixties, jazz had changed so much that Freeman was losing interest. "It got so ridiculous that one time at the Manne-Hole a horn player would be at the front door of the club, another would be in the band room in the back, the drummer was on the stage and the piano player was hitting the keyboards with his fists. They were all playing at the same time, not listening to each other at all. People were sitting in the audience thinking this was just terrific. I thought wait a minute! This is too bizarre for me. I just didn't like the direction jazz was taking."
Between that and the opportunity to make money in the show business end of music, Russ left the band. He took a job playing for Mitzi Gaynor's night club act that paid him ,'more money than I ever thought existed in the world." He worked with Gaynor for the next three years, then moved on to the Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In show. The Men and the Airmen of Note recorded a live performance (with Shelly as guest artist) at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Howard Roberts used Shelly on an album for Capitol, and Nancy Wilson recorded with arrangements by Billy May and Oliver Nelson and drumming by Shelly Manne.
The new Men - Candoli, Strozier, bassist Monty Budwig and pianist Mike Wofford, cut an album for Atlantic called Jazz Gunn [Atlantic LP/SD 1487]. Wofford was about to prove himself a most capable and sensitive keyboardist. Back from San Francisco, Monty replaced Chuck Berghofer, who had broken into the recording studio scene, making "These Boots Are Made For Walkin"' by Nancy Sinatra, among other hits. In March, 1967, Shelly played the Academy Awards Show under the baton of Johnny Green and a week later was in the studios working on a commercial for Shell Oil. He did the album, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for Universal Artists, and he and Ray Brown played on the Andre Previn-Leontyne Price album called Right As Rain. At the end of April, the new Men played the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco for five days. Early summer saw more session dates for the Men on the Atlantic and Concord labels. In August there was a Tommy Vig big band session and by September, the musical drummer began work on the story boards and cues for an animation feature called The Box.
Shelly was becoming very upset about critics trying to merge jazz with rock and other forms of current pop music. He told Leonard Feather - "Too many people are trying too hard to give the impression that there are no more boundary lines between jazz and pop, or between any one kind of music and another." He continued - If the public thinks pop and jazz are the same, creativity will be smothered." Manne was always trying to keep the art form creative. He booked acts in the Manne-Hole that didn't exactly fit his views of what jazz was, but he invited freedom within the art form. After all, he booked in Archie Schepp when he knew that the musician was known to karate-chop the piano as part of his repertoire.
Rudy remembers it well: "We had a double-bill with Archie and pianist Dave McKay. We had the Steinway set up and I told Archie we would really appreciate it if you didn't fool with the piano. We even rented a beautiful upright so he could use that instead. During the evening, Schepp sat down at the piano, tries it out by playing nice and easy That night he chopped the Steinway" But this was not what Shelly was talking about. He could see the movement - the cross-over playing – from rock into jazz and vice versa. But even this was not what bothered him; not even the on-stage antics of Schepp. It was the public's misinterpretation of what jazz is, what rock is, what blues is. Even the Playboy poll was about to lump their famous Jazz Poll into what they would call the Playboy Jazz & Pop Poll. "This means that a great musician like Tony Williams, Miles Davis' drummer, must now compete with Ringo Starr, who has millions of fans," Shelly commented.
Shelly booked Miles into the Manne-Hole and it was an absolute success. It was the most expensive group the club had ever booked and though Miles was infamous in his habit of fluffing off people and club owners, Shelly had nothing but great things to say about the famous jazz star. "A lot of people put Miles down, and he does have his faults, but at the Manne-Hole he really took care of business." There were people swarming all over the little club, the musician's room was always full of friends and fans, but he would always watch the time and played full sets. "One time, when the crowd outside was huge, he even split the last set and played an extra one."
The problem the Manne-Hole management had was that, too often, they would call to re-book a group a year later, and the cost had gone out-of-sight. The famous little club on North Cahuenga was booking Sonny Rollins, Cal Tjader, Gil Evans' big band, Sergio Mendes, and Roberta Flack. Shelly was beginning to experiment with electronics. Mike Wofford added a Fender-Rhodes, as were other jazz keyboardists of the day Wofford had first worked the Manne-Hole in 1961 with Shorty Rogers' band on Tuesday nights recalls how great Shelly was: "Shelly would come in to hear us and, characteristic of his concern and warmth, would really listen to me, the young, green piano player from San Diego. He was truly gracious to a kid new and still learning. His encouragement meant a great deal to me at that time in my life. More than anything else, I took away from being around Shelly the feeling that jazz is a grand form of art and that excellence in its performance is indeed a great responsibility of the musician. Shelly, almost more than any other player I've worked with, genuinely revered the jazz medium."
When Archie Schepp made his debut performance at the Manne-Hole, Mike Wofford witnessed one set when, after a solo of "shrieks, squawks, and various multi-note barrages for about forty minutes," one patron stood up in the back of the room and yelled, "We can stand it as long as you can!" Wofford also remembers when Thelonious played the club for the first time, "It was getting late opening night with everyone there but Monk. As the hour grew later and no leader, Rudy called Thelonious' hotel. The hotel operator connected Rudy with Monk's room and 'T' answered. Rudy asked, 'Thelonious, do you know what time it is? Monk said 'Yeah man, you're hanging me up!"' When Les McCann performed during one of many engagements at the club, one of his rituals was to, at some time during the night, wait for a lull in the action, walk into the ladies' room, and after disappearing for a moment would boom his voice audible all over the club - saying, "DO YOU MEAN TO SIT THERE AND TELL ME..." Such were the scenes in and around the business of operating Shelly's Manne-Hole.
"Shelly and Flip had a long-standing tradition of inviting the entire visiting group, whoever might be working at the club, to dinner at their home on the first night off," recalls Wofford. It was an opportunity that allowed the young pianist to meet, among others, the great Bill Evans. At other times, other artists and their significant others who were frequent guests at the Manne ranch included Zoot and Louise Sims, the Previns, the Spechts, the Browns, the DeCrescents, the Bunkers, on and on. Flip kept a diary of their likes and dislikes - entries would read: "No pork, loves ice cream" or "ate everything!" The ever-growing guest list read like a Who's Who of jazz! Eddie Gomez, Gary McFarland, Gabor Szabo, Jim Hall, Milt Jackson, Connie Kay, Barney Kessel, Gerald Wiggins, "Sweets" Edison, Al and Flo Cohn, Bola Sete, Roy Haynes and his band, Jimmy Cobb, and hundreds of others.
In addition to the business of the Manne-Hole, Shelly was working on The Box an animated short subject that he completed in October. It would win an Oscar at the next Academy Awards presentation. This was, like the "Tiger Paw" commercial, an all-percussion soundtrack. But here was an animated work of art - a wordless story about a box, enhanced by the inventive mind of Manne.
The late months of 1967 found the Men and Jimmy Witherspoon at the Pilgrimage Jazz Festival. Shelly played a benefit in Santa Monica with Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Oliver Nelson and a number of name jazz artists, then took the Men to San Francisco for a week. By the end of November, he recorded a Daktari soundtrack album for Atlantic. His schedule in the film studios was almost exhausting, yet the energy went on and on and so did the humor. Emil Richards recalls one session when the orchestra was about to break for lunch and the conductor suddenly remembered that a drum roll was needed for one spot in the film. "Everybody stay where you are - we need a drum roll, Shelly" The red light went on and unknown to anyone, Shelly had loosened his trousers. As 75 or 80 musicians trying to remain silent for the take looked on, Shelly started the roll and his pants slowly fell to his ankles revealing polka dot underwear. If he wasn't doing visual humor, he would try other things. When the conductor would stop the orchestra to instruct the cellists about a part, he got their attention by saying "Celli." Immediately, from the percussion department would come a high squeaky voice saying, "Yes?"
As the political year of 1968 came into being, many of the Hollywood music movers an, shakers were getting behind Eugene McCarthy When the Mannes hit the horse shows with their anti-Vietnam War "Out of Asia or Out of Office" bumper stickers, they surprised their fellow horse enthusiasts. Flip remembers that - "You could have shot a cannon off at a horse show and not hit a liberal. They didn't quite know what to make of us." Flip and Marilyn Feldman, Victor's wife, were quite active in the anti-war movement and "got the boys to play all kinds of rallies." They formed the Music for McCarthy Committee, a group that included names like John and Barbara Williams, the Bunkers, the Grusins, Bobby Helfer, Quincy Jones and others.
Not only were the politics liberal in the Manne household, so was the new group Shelly was rehearsing. Along with Wofford on keyboards, he used John Gross on tenor, Gary Barone on trumpet and Albert Stinson on bass. The new group was unlike anything Shelly had tried. He had been at the forefront of the so-called "West Coast" cool sound of the mid-fifties, now a decade later he was moving into a new era for him, the band, and the Manne-Hole. At first the change was gradual. The influences of Miles and Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock had been felt everywhere. The music was freer, though aggressive. The structure of the arrangements were less restrictive, the role of the drummer changing from timekeeper to colorist - something Shelly had been doing in jazz for decades. The group worked out more extensive charts, using the Manne-Hole as their laboratory. By early summer, the group was playing concerts performing works by Steve Bohannon, Jimmy Rowles, Charles Tolliver and Clare Fischer. In the recording studios, Shelly was working with Michel LeGrand with Nancy Wilson and with Frank Zappa. Zappa was doing an album called Lumpy Gravy and wanted the kind of drumming he knew Shelly could do so well. Zappa had the reputation of having contempt for anything within the realm of normality. When Shelly went to the recording date, he was pleasantly surprised at Zappa's musicianship.
Over on the film studio lots, Shelly was doing Oliver, Romeo and Juliet, Ice Station Zebra, Rosemary’s Baby, and scores of scores. Michele LeGrand, Ray Brown, and Shelly recorded At Shelly’s Manne-Hole for Verve in April. LeGrand would become a regular in the club's itinerary for the next few years. His song writing for the movies was now well established, and he was a very good piano player. The patrons loved him. Shelly worked with him on the soundtrack of The Thomas Crown Affair and LeGrand was added to the list of composers who made Shelly their first-call drummer. By mid-summer, Shelly was set to teach the Introduction to Jazz Class on Wednesday evenings at San Fernando Valley State. "The idea intrigued me," he said.
Bill Burrid's Animal World (Wild Kingdom) was ready for music and Don Specht was called by the sponsor for the title music. The writer immediately talked to Shelly, especially since he was doing the "Daktari" music. "He was a natural for this, so I told him, 'Get your cartage service to send everything you've got, all the toys, boobams, finger cymbals, the whole thing,' so he said 'great.' I told him that the session was set for 7 p.m. at Radio Recorders and, 'it'll be just the two of us and we'll multi-track.' He asked if I had written anything out and I simply told him I'd figure it out when we get there. That particular studio was where Lawrence Welk pre-recorded his shows and they had a beautiful twelve-foot harpsichord, double register harpsichord, probably only used to play 'Bubbles In the Wine.' So I sat down, the producer was there, Bill Burrid was there, and I just came up with this thing and Shelly said, 'Just let me put one track with you for a tempo guide.' We faked the whole thing, Shelly had me play scratchers or something. To give you an insight into the character of Shelly being thoughtful and generous in addition to that super-wit, he said, 'You can leave my name off the ASCAP filing.' I said: 'What are you talking about? He said, 'You're going to put this into ASCAP, aren't you?’ I told him that the advertising agencies wouldn't allow me to register anything for commercials. Shelly gently informed me that ‘this was a TV theme for God's sake - I get residuals from Daktari all the time.' So I did and thirty years later I still get checks. Shelly was nobody’s fool.”
Specht usually wrote commercials, things like a Rice-a-Roni spot, so this was a new venture for him. “I never wrote for Shelly. He would listen through the first run-through and by the time we were ready to ‘take,’ he had it changed. He had the greatest musical ear in that he could adapt to whatever the instrumentation or the style. He hated to play rock ‘n roll, but he’d do it. We would sometimes have Victor Feldman, Larry Bunker or John Guerin, or all three and Shelly would just take charge and make it happen.” By 1969, Shelly and a non-electric version of his Men had appeared with Henri Temianka's Southern California Chamber Symphony at a concert at the University of California in Los Angeles. The drummer and the conductor came up with a "go for Baroque" concept of mixing jazz and Bach. UCLA’s Royce Hall had to turn away concert-going hopefuls; it was a sell-out smash. The new group weaved jazz magic. The orchestra performed three of the Brandenburg concerti, and Shelly and the group improvised around the orchestral interpretations. The reviews were mixed, but the crowd loved it.
The idea of superimposing jazz over the orchestra and making it work was a tribute to the mindset of the musicians involved, both in the orchestra and the jazz group. "Manne put on a dazzling display of brushwork behind the chamber soloists" - "goosed by the humorous fireworks of Manne" - "Manne and his Men offered beautiful playing." These were the comments made by the critics who recognized the similarity between the conductor and the drummer; both were never content to stay on one level - "never flirting with stagnation." Two weeks after the concert, Shelly received a letter from Ray Bradbury, President of the Chamber Symphony Society, thanking him for the "kind contribution in response to our request for help at this time." Whether it was a junkie calling in the middle-of-the-night for help, or a lofty organization in need, Shelly was there to help, offering his time and talents.
On June 19th, the Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences "roasted" Stan Kenton. Shelly showed his home movies of the 1948 Kenton bus tour and performed his own brand of humor throughout the festivities. The group, consisting of many ex-Kenton sidemen, presented the tall bandleader with pieces of plumbing from a Kansas City dressing room, a rural mail box from the Midwest, then performed "Intermission Riff" and "Unison Riff" for their old boss. Shelly, mischievous as always, led and "mis-led" the band.
The first Lake Tahoe Music Festival was scheduled for August and it would include Temianka and the chamber orchestra, Marian Anderson narrating Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait," and Shelly and the band repeating their "Bach Transmogrified" program. There was a new jazz festival series set for the Pilgrimage Theater September through November that would include the music of Stan Kenton and Shelly Manne. Photographer Fred Seligo took his seal from his film rolls that read REMOVE THIS BAND COMPLETELY and pasted it on the Manne-Hole bandstand while his friend Cannonball Adderley played the club.
In addition to working on films like They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Topaz and The Wild Bunch and Marlowe and Hello Dolly and Sweet Charity and MacKenna’s Gold, Shelly was writing the music score for Young Billy Young, that was to star Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickinson. The western-type movie benefited from the unusual musical background, and while Mitchum sings the opening title song, the music gets better and better as the movie progresses. By August Shelly had incorporated under the name "Manne-Kind." All his business would be transacted under this name henceforth. He had been sued over a minor car accident by a woman (who eventually wound up in jail), and this would protect him from further annoyance and grief. By autumn, Shelly had finished work on Gaily,Gaily for Hank Mancini. For John Barry, he did Midnight Cowboy. For Sid Ramin, he did Stiletto. For Lawrence Rosenthal, he did Rashoman. Just as Daktari ended, Jambo started. This was a Saturday morning series of animal films and stories that kept actor Marshall Thompson and his chimp friend Judy working for a couple of years after their old series ended; it kept Shelly working, too. Jazz recordings were still down nationwide as well as on the West Coast.
Shelly did a Sonny Criss album for Prestige with Hamp Hawes and Monty Budwig and the alto saxophonist I’ll Catch the Sun, Prestige LP 7628]. Down at the ManneHole, in early November, Eurofilms began shooting Hawes, Coop, and Ray Brown for a 30-minute film presenting jazz as producer Jack Lewerke thought it should be, in a club setting. Knowing what his European market wanted - jazz! - he also felt that "we owe it to posterity to put some of the great musicians on film or tape." He pointed out that "there's not an inch of film of Charlie Parker anywhere." (There actually was some footage shot of Parker.) While Shelly was venturing into new horizons with his "electronic" Men, he easily and casually returned to the more classic "modern jazz" of the 50s for this, the first in a series, that Eurofilms filmed in the United States. It was quite clear that the European market was more sophisticated in its musical tastes. For sometime, jazz musicians had either completely moved to England, Sweden, Italy, France, or Denmark, or spent a good part of their year there. This had been going on since the mid-fifities - Kenny Clarke, Johnny Griffin, Don Byas, Ben Webster; Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter had spent at least a couple of years in Europe back in the mid-to-late 1930s. One of the benefits was the lack of racial discrimination, or very little of it, but mostly it was because of the acceptance and popularity of the music.
On December 11th and 12th, Shelly took his new group into the Contemporary Studios and recorded Outside [Contemporary S7624]. This album included Juney Booth on bass, Pete Robinson on piano, and Barone and Gross in the front line. This was the first album fans had been able to buy of the new group, the new Men. Some of the older fans couldn't quite get into the music, but Shelly - ever hungry for the new - had gradually changed his music into the realm of the avant-garde. Wofford continued to be a marvelously musical attribute to Shelly and would be for some time to come. Shelly enjoyed working with Mike and the feeling was more than just mutual. Wofford continued to marvel at the human side of his leader. "Shelly's generosity towards other musicians down on their luck was, I think, pretty well known. I personally saw him quietly and unobtrusively offer aid in various ways not the least in outright cash - to fellow jazz musicians on hard times or, in the case of young people, simply struggling to get started. I never had to ask for anything, fortunately, but if I had it would have been there, no questions asked. As a band leader who, I know, had to go into his own pocket to keep a group working, and as a friend, Shelly’s generosity was nonpareil."
1970 would see the 50-year-old drumming legend on the cover of the International Musician along with a number of other jazz stars, including Don Ellis. Ellis was making a name for himself as the California writer whose big band specialized in playing "odd" time signatures. Shelly stated that some of the time signatures looked more like hat sizes - 12/8-9/8-7/4. He also quipped that the only thing Don Ellis plays in 4/4 is "Take Five!" Down at the Manne-Hole Elvin Jones and his bassist entered into such a loud argument – that eventually got physical - that one of the male flower children heard the ruckus out front and running to the musician's room, cried - "Elvin, Jimmy, remember Trane! A love supreme... a love supreme!" As Mike Wofford recalls, "the fight continued." On a spring evening, Oliver Nelson formed a jazz quartet with Ray Brown, Shelly, and Larry Nash, and performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta.
Before Shelly took his band to Europe for a series of festivals, he recorded an album for June Christy called The Last Album. His next jazz recording would be in England at Ronnie Scott's famous jazz club. This was at the end of the jazz tour that included Italy. The ex-Ted Heath saxophonist had opened a club in the heart of England's entertainment section and booked American jazz stars whenever possible. By this time, Shelly had added John Morrell on guitar and the band had become even more "electric." Shelly had been playing "funk" on soundtracks in the studios and by now this form had made its way into his charts. The tour had shown overseas fans that the famous drummer had not stood still in his approach to playing jazz. "Our three concerts in Italy reaffirmed my faith in everything I've been doing," Shelly commented. He found it necessary to keep expanding musically "You don't need to change forcibly, just evolve naturally"
There was an aspiring young Los Angeles drummer from the Watts area who became yet another aspirant of Shelly Manne. Ndugu [Leon] Chancler tells his story - "Shelly Manne represented a dream for me that he himself aided making a reality. Being not only a great studio musician, but a great jazz musician as well, Shelly was the kind of musician I wanted to be - versatile, contemporary, and very humane. From going to the Manne-Hole and seeing Shelly and the Men, he and I became friends - first, as the man that gave an encouraging helping hand, to giving me a place to play and develop my talents under his watchful eye. It was only apropos that my first gig upon graduation from high school was at the Manne-Hole with Gerald Wilson's Big Band. From that point on, the Manne-Hole was home and Shelly one of my musical guardians." Shelly spread the word about Ndugu's playing and with his endorsement, Ndugu started to accompany acts like Thelonious Monk, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Harold Land-Bobby Hutcherson, Donald Byrd and James Moody, among others. "It was Shelly and Herbie Hancock that lobbied to Freddie Hubbard to listen to me at the club, which resulted in me being hired." Later Hubbard and Shelly and Walter Bishop, Jr. told Miles Davis about the youngster. "It was through Shelly that I was introduced to some of the greatest names in jazz at a very young age." By helping others, Shelly was instinctively passing on a jazz tradition that he had first experienced from the likes of Hawkins and Webster when he himself roamed 52nd Street.
The big records of the year were being made by the likes of Tiny Tim, Jose Feliciano, Glen Campbell, and a wild mixture of other kinds of music. "Acid Rock" was now what was supposed to be happening and Shelly was ever optimistic that jazz would survive in spite of the fact that many young people could hear nothing on the radio but eighth note rock 'n roll. He told Martin Bronstein of the Montreal Star that he felt the kids would eventually get tired of hearing the "same banal music; the same changes, everybody trying to sing the same. And they'll come to jazz. I don't think it's gonna die." At home, teaching at San Fernando Valley College, he reallocated the money the kid were supposed to spend on books and brought in live jazz musicians. He felt that hearing it was better than reading about it. Before the year was out, he recorded Barney Kessel's Autumn Leaves album with Jimmy Rowles, Ray Brown, and Teddy Edwards.
In January of 1971 Shelly took his young band north to the El Matador on San Francisco's Broadway for five nights. He told the Oakland Tribune that he felt a jazz musician must get out on the road now and then, to "rejuvenate" an to have the ego stimulated. "You have to know at first hand that people do care about what you're doing, and are listening and trying to understand." In March, in Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union presented a "Salute to Shelly Manne" in the Windjammer Room of the Marina Del Rey Hotel. Shelly and Buddy Collette had played ACLU events for years. The fund-raiser included a performance by Shelly's group and the drummer was praised by many visiting musicians. Cal Tjader, Vic Feldman, Willie Bobo, Gabor Szabo, Ray Brown, "Cannonball" Adderley, and a young tenor sensation by the name of John Klemmer sat in.
By August, Klemmer would send a letter to Shelly thanking him for playing on his very first album for Impulse. "Now I know for myself, at first hand experience, why Shelly Manne is one of the best jazz drummers on the scene. I knew it before, but now I really know it!!" He went on to thank Shelly for his superb musicianship. Klemmer had, the previous year, appeared with his group at the Manne-Hole during the club's 10th anniversary week. Monk was supposed to play that week, but had been taken ill. In the studios, Shelly was recording with everybody from Mancini to Mrs. Miller. Miller was a year-in-year-out everynight member of the Tonight Show audience, and who was such a character that she had been singled-out by every host since Steve Allen. Now there had been gathered an all-star band that included Benny Carter, "Sweets" Edison, Bud Shank, Shelly and others to record her singing tunes with such risqué titles as "I Had To Go and Lose It At The Astor," and "The Weekend of A Private Secretary"
On more serious musical sessions, Shelly did albums with Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan (with Michele LeGrand), and a Mancini album for Victor. By the fall, arrangements were made for a trip to Brazil. "I have the pleasure of informing you that under the Honorary Presidency, the President of the Republic of Brazil, and His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations, and under the auspices of the Secretariat of Tourism, the VI INTERNATIONAL SONG FESTIVAL will be held in the city of Rio de Janeiro from September 23 to October 4, 1971 where there will be approximately 40 countries participating in the contest," wrote the Consulate General of Brazil. "On behalf of Dr. Augusto J. Marzagao, the Festival's Director, who will be personally greeting you in Rio de Janeiro and looking after your welfare, I have the pleasure of inviting you to attend the festival as a guest of honor." Flip remembers the whole trip was very strange. "The political thing was a little frightening down there at that time and we weren't sure about going. Shelly called Jane Fonda to ask about the scene there, and we finally decided to go." An L.A. booker put the thing together, with Shelly supposed to play behind a singer by the name of Chi Coltrane. Nobody knew who she was, but Shelly assumed she was somehow connected to the now deceased tenor sax legend. After a series of conflicts, airline ticket mix-ups and the likes, the Mannes finally reached Rio. Shelly rehearsed with the singer who turned out to be a white vocalist who had no connection with John Coltrane or real jazz for that matter. "Shelly was supposed to do a radio show with her, but they had Shelly standing, waiting outside in a hallway," recalls Flip. "A guy came out, did a couple of doubletakes and asked why Shelly Manne was kept waiting in the hall. The other people asked who he was, and the guy said 'Are you kidding?"' From then on Shelly was treated like royalty. In fact, they had him open the festival, sitting high on the stage in a white suit, a spot light on him as the curtain opened on the huge stage. "The crowd noise was incredible," remembers Flip. The Mannes stayed for a week or so, and visited with many of the Brazilian musicians. The drummers of Brazil, like Cuba, are among the best in the world. One day Shelly went out of the hotel and came upon a drummer who had been waiting for him, and who cried out, "I never thought I would get to meet you." It was on this trip that Shelly became fascinated with the berimbau, a Brazilian instrument that resembles an archer's bow and is struck or plucked or bowed, usually while the player holds a small shaker.
Throughout the United States, the Vietnam war protests continued. President Nixon had vowed to get the troops home and everyone was getting impatient. The country had experienced the Chicago riots of the '68 Democratic Convention, forever changing the mood of the country, and now in 1971, was beginning to experience "Nehru" suits, long hair with sideburns, and Three Dog Night singing "Joy to the World." Russ Freeman was going full tilt with Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In." Even Nixon had made a cameo appearance, saying "Sock it to me!" Kids across the country were saying "You bet your bippy," and "Look that up in your Funk & Wagnall's." Mod Squad, Flip Wilson’s show, The Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple, were hits, and Shelly was busy playing drums on such shows as McMillan & Wife, McCloud, and Columbo, all part of the NBC Mystery Movie series. He was also doing Banacek, Cool Million, and Madigan.
Shelly and Flip and the band went to France and England with George Wein's concert tour. At the Manne-Hole, Roland Kirk was into breaking chairs on the bandstand as part of his act. Shelly could only stand so many chairs being broken and commented that there was nothing in the contract that said he had to refurbish the club as part of the agreement. More and more of the bands coming to the club were electronic. Shelly was in the midst of it all with his "electric" band playing in his favorite place, his own club. He often called the decor "Mid-20th Century funk." Outside the club it was getting kind of funky too. Mike Wofford was watching the street change. "You always knew this area was eccentric, now it's just sick." Shelly's lawyer, noticing the abundance of transvestites on the street, commented "the best-looking girls are guys!"
Shelly never missed a Los Angeles Kings hockey game. He was a season ticket-holder and, if he was in town, simply didn't take any playing assignment when they were playing. By now he and Vic Feldman suited-up and worked out with the UCLA hockey team. "Shelly was elated when L.A. got a hockey team," recalls Flip. "He had loved hockey as a kid - played roller skate street-hockey and rooted for the New York Americans." The Mannes celebrated their wedding anniversary with Bob and Judy Bain. Bob was now playing guitar with the Tonight Show Orchestra. Another guitar player that worked with Shelly in the studios was Tommy Tedesco. Their studio banter often consisted of putting each other on. Tommy would say, "Oh, you're the famous Shelly Manne, the big-time studio player." One time they were coming off an elevator together and a huge wrestler came up and said, "Didn't you used to be Shelly Manne?" Shelly's humor is always at the forefront of his friend's recollections. Tedesco was working on a picture call with J.J. Johnson directing, Ironsides, or "something like that," and the story centers around a musical instrument called an “ud" (pronounced ood). "They wanted me to play ud, I don't play ud, but I do everything in my power to get away with anything. So I brought the ud, but I didn't play it, I just sat it there so they would see it there. I had a nylon string guitar next to me that I tuned down a fourth, then whenever the music came up, I'd play on the nylon. Shelly was behind me and says, 'Tom, what'ya doin?' I'd say, 'Shelly, cool it.' And he'd say, 'Is that the ud?' And I'd say 'sh, sh, sh!' Forever after that, every time Shelly saw me he'd say, 'How's the ud comin', how's the ud comin', how's the ud comin'!"'
The new group was keeping Shelly on the cutting edge of modern jazz. His young band was keeping him young. "I'm too interested in music, too involved with my band and too excited by what these young musicians are playing to allow myself to get dated or old-fashioned." The veteran drummer was now beginning to quite naturally assume the role of "elder jazz statesman" even though his music was as modern as anyone in jazz. The band went into the studios in 1972 and did their Mannekind album on the Mainstream label. The opening statement called "Birth," played on a talking drum, would fit well into a movie scene depicting a primal birth, followed by "Scavanger," a rhythmic excursion into a mixture of Latin/Rock/Jazz that soon melts into "Seance." The sextet is joined by percussionist Brian Moffat, who plays a list of whistles, sirens, shakers, sheets of tin, that would rival anything in Emil Richards' percussion closet. Shelly, in addition to the basic drum set (by now a Camco cum Drum Workshop), uses the berimbau, the waterphone, the Cuica, Super Balls on cymbal, and the Dahka de Bellos. Some of the tunes are bossa nova-tinged, but always with a funky kind of overlay. The front line at times takes on a more traditional bop voicing, but not for long. The predominate feature of the band is the excitement of Shelly's drumming. The band easily moves in and out of time signatures and while older fans were surprised at Shelly playing “headache” jazz (too intellectual, too electric), there can be no question of the musical contribution this band made in its brief existence.
In May, Don Specht and his wife joined the Mannes for a wonderful trip to Europe for the Cannes Film Festival showing of The Trial of The Catonsville Nine for which Shelly had composed the music. This film was produced by Gregory Peck. On a side trip to Vienna, riding in the car with the Spechts, Shelly saw a beautiful castle and spontaneously yelled, “strike that set!.” Back in the U.S.A. Artie Kane used Shelly and Ray Brown on two organ albums for RCA. Shelly did movie tracks that included Escape From The Planet of The Apes, Doctor’s Wives, and Le Mans.
The studio scene was still very good for the now fifty-one-year-old drummer, but down on Cahuenga there was trouble brewing at the Manne-Hole. Above the club was Wally Heider's recording studio that specialized in recording rock groups. Heider was a huge big band fan and had recorded some wonderful location albums including Sinatra and Basie At The Sands. Above the Manne-Hole the studio "recording" red light was never off. Nearly 24 hours a day, they cranked out record after record. By now, Heider had built the reputation as the number one engineer in the rock field and had purchased the building. He and Shelly and Rudy had a "gentlemen's agreement" about the club renewing its lease. "There were steel supports in the building that ran from the club right up to Heider's studio and his new echo chamber directly above the bandstand," recalls Rudy. Eventually Heider sold to Filmways who also bought the building. One night the Birds were recording and one of the guys came down to the club and said, "We can hear you almost to Sunset Boulevard! " Something had to give. The club tried to book only accoustic bands, but there were hardly any left. Even Les McCann had gone over to Fender Rhodes. Monk played the club in February, bringing his son to play drums; Bill Evans followed, but there continued to be hassles. It was impossible, at least impractical, to try and soundproof the room and anyway the neighborhood was really deteriorating.
"The club simply lost its lease," explained Shelly to his fans. The last ad in the paper read, "We're closing tonight. Fall by and help us bid farewell." It was September 3, 1972 and the closing act was the Milt Jackson-Ray Brown Quintet. It had been 12 years for the bearded manager and the jazz drummer owner.
Shelly was already talking about finding a new location, but he was tired. He had poured dollar after dollar into the club, never making any money, always losing a little bit in the end. One year they actually netted just under $2,000. Other years were not as good. Flip comments - "People who came only when somebody like Miles was there and there was a line outside waiting to get in, thought the place was a gold-mine. These groups paid for all the times without the big names. Everyone but me remembers the club with great affection. I remember one Saturday night when a big name was there, and an old friend, an arranger, who never came near the place ordinarily, called and wanted to make a reservation for a large party. The policy was not to take reservations because it was such a hassle with people waiting to get in. But because he was a friend, they kept a table and he was late. The table sat empty and then he had to be let in past all the people waiting. At the end of the night he had a fit because there was a cover charge on the bill. He thought he shouldn't have to pay it because he was a friend of Shelly's." So went the problems of operating a club, and so went the club, at least for awhile.
Rudy would look upon the experience as one of learning. Learning about jazz and musicians and fans. "I'm glad I experienced Joe Maini, but he didn't follow the rules, He was anti-establishment, Peck's bad boy" While playing Russian Roulette, Maini had shot himself in the head. It was Shelly who was called. "One early morning when Shelly had only been in bed a couple of hours, the service called," remembers Flip. "In those days, the girls on the phone service knew everyone and were like friends. I answered the phone and said Shelly was sleeping but they said it was important." It was about Joe, whom they had taken to the emergency hospital. "Shelly went down immediately and sat with Joe all day. He called a doctor to find out about operating to remove the bullet or moving him. The situation was hopeless. Shelly came home very depressed. He said, 'Joe was all alone. just lying there with that little hole in his head."'
Rudy would recall Richie Kamuca as a marvelous player who was very embittered, Monty as loving life - a lot of fun and a nice guy, Berghofer as quiet and reserved and a good player. He had seen marvelous musicians in the groups Shelly led: Candoli, Freeman, Kennedy, Mariano, Strozier, Holman, Gordon, Williamson, Wofford. and many others. He had witnessed Monk, Miles. Diz. They had even hung a banner that said "Diz for President" and held ceremonies for the cause. Learning that the Lighthouse was available but not wanting to relocate all the way down there, Shelly gave the club's license to Rudy, who took it to Hermosa Beach.
Shelly busied himself with the challenge of writing the music for the Center Theater Group's presentation of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I. The production ran from October 26th through December 10th at the Mark Taper Forum. Victor Buono played Falstaff and Richard Chamberlain did the voice of King Richard The Second as Shelly moved and mixed the music of the Renaissance, the Elizabethan, and the 20th Century eras. Film projects that used Shelly's drumming included The Cowboys, The Candidate, Portnoy’s Complaint, and Lady Sings The Blues. A party for Stan Kenton was recorded with Med Flory, Shelly, "Sweets" Edison, Frank Rosolino, and Mort Sahl participating in various routines and stories about the road. Though the club was closed and jazz recording sessions were infrequent, Shelly maintained a busy schedule with jazz concerts, lectures, film work and occasional club dates with groups of all sizes. He was still I working with the sextet, but that was about to end. just the physical aspect of hauling around all that equipment was getting old. Soon the truck was sold and Shelly returned to acoustic jazz.
Mancini called him to do Oklahoma Crude and Hangin' Out, two albums for RCA: he did The Kings Mill Suite for Specht, and did a two-album -ragtime" thing for the Southland Stingers. In late 1972 a fund raiser had been held for the "McGovern for President" campaign at a restaurant called Tetou's in Century City, one of a chain of three posh eateries in the Los Angeles area. After hearing the music of Shelly, the owners had commented, "Gee that was great, we'd like to have music in the place more often.”
By 1973 a new Tetou's had opened on Wilshire Boulevard and Shelly struck a verbal arrangement with the owners whereby the restaurant would turn its premises into a new "Manne-Hole" in the evening hours. Shelly turned to long-time friend and, by then, ex-wife of Larry Bunker, Lee Wilder. "Shelly called me one day and said, 'I'm reopening the club and I'd like you to manage it for me."' Wilder was quite taken aback and said, "Gee that's very flattering Shelly, but I don't really know how to do that!" Shelly said, "I need somebody that I can trust, and you'll learn." "I was just flattered as hell and told him 'Let's give it a try' He was right, within a few weeks I felt like I had been doing it all my life."
The room was very posh, Tetou's during the day, the Manne-Hole at night. Opening night October 12, 1973, starred Carmen McRae and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, a double-bill. Mayor Bradley was there to give Shelly a proclamation, along with many of the city councilmen. The club got great press right from the beginning. Camera crews from ABC and NBC were there to record the event. Telegrams from all over the world arrived to wish the drummer well. Wires from Pat Williams, Vic and Marilyn Feldman, drummer Les DeMerle, Millie and Stan Manne, Toshiko and Lew Tabakin, and one from the "D & M Booking Agency". This telegram jokingly offered the new club the following message. HAVE BOOK FABULOUS ACT FOR MANNEHOLE WELSH MINER WHO PLAYS BIRD SOLOS ON COAL SHOVEL WIFE PLAYS BONGOS WITH TWO PIECES OF ANTHRACITE NOW OFF TO BULGARIA TO BOOK TEAM OF SLAB LOG ROLLERS WHO TAP DANCE FLYING DOWN TO RIO WHILE STANDING ON FORTY FOOT PINE TREES GREAT SUCCESS ON YOUR OPENING NIGHT DO YOU NEED AN ETHIOPIAN BLUES SINGER AVAILABLE FOR SHORT MONEY.
The business arrangement was that the jazz operation got the door receipts and a percentage of the bar. Lee had nothing to do with the food operations or waitresses or bartenders. Carmen McRae was kept for the next week's bill; then i came Jackie & Roy, the Bill Evans Trio, and the Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet to round out the November billing. Only national acts were now being booked by Shelly, who stated that he would not be playing at the club regularly, but thought he might appear with Michel Legrand who would appear with a trio in December. Shelly ended up sitting in with Legrand, who used Joe Pass and Ray Brown, rather than officially working the club. "He never really played (worked) in the new club," recalls Wilder. Shelly said, "All I'm interested in is to have a place where I can hear good music, give the musicians work under good conditions, and realize a small salary for myself that will free me to devote more time to my own band."
Comedian Redd Foxx came down to the club to work with Lalo Schifrin, working four nights for nothing just to be a part of the scene. Shelly and Louie Bellson and Willie Bobo and Paul Humphreys did a drum feature for the Phillips label. On piano was Mike Wofford - on bass, a new player that Shelly would see a lot of over the next ten years, Chuck Domanico. Over at Donte's they gave a benefit for Jack Marshall, guitarist and long-time friend of Shelly's who had died of a heart attack. Shelly played drums behind all the guitar players who came to celebrate the life of their friend. In the Manne-Hole there were money problems. Though the club's name was world-famous and musicians and fans visiting L.A. put a visit to Shelly's as a must on their list, the new club's life would be brief. There was not a responsible accounting for the money, everything was rather loose within the restaurant accounting department and Shelly was getting frustrated. Lee Wilder had been most helpful, the club's business was good in spite of the ongoing "[oil] energy crisis," but accurate statements from Tetou's were not forthcoming. Not only that, but Shelly wasn't sure the place was going to stay in business; they wouldn't commit to him more than one month at a time.
Stan Getz was booked and Shelly had to go out of town, worried that Lee Wilder wouldn't be able to handle the temperamental jazz star. (Zoot Sims, when asked about Stan Getz, once commented – “Yeah, he’s a nice bunch of guys). “I’d always wonder about me,” comments Wilder, “because I’m one of the few people who could get along with Stan beautifully.” Shelly left town and Wilder was left to handle the club … and Getz. "He was fine," recalls Wilder, "but there I was one night where he didn't want to play the last set and there being quite a few people in the in place and so on, and these people had just come in, driving down from somewhere. Getz said: 'I'm not making enough money to play the last set.' So I just played on his ego and said 'Stan, these people are such fans of yours and they've driven in all the way down from Alaska to see you. At least could play a short set, they love you so much' - he played a full set."
It would be the last act to play the Manne-Hole. Shelly suddenly terminated the "agreement" and pulled his sound system, piano, and other equipment out of the club. The years of hassling over money, trying to keep jazz healthy and heard, years of providing a place for musicians to work, were over. "It got so I couldn't afford to play in my own club. I was too busy trying to pay the bills." Lee Wilder says it best: "Shelly just wasn't having any fun." In spite of the thousands of good memories, he was closing the story of Shelly's Manne-Hole, one of the most famous jazz clubs that ever existed.
He'd had enough.