Saturday, September 9, 2017

Shelly Manne and His Men "Live" at The Manne Hole

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Enthusiasm” palpably exudes from the following insert notes by the esteemed Jazz critic and author Leonard Feather which he penned for the double LP Shelly Manne and His Men "Live" at The Manne Hole [Contemporary S-7593/94 and Original Jazz Classics OJCCD 714/15-2].

And why not?

They were written as part of the continuing celebration associated with the opening of Shelly Manne’s Jazz club - The Manne Hole - just five months earlier in November, 1960.

Recorded in performance at the club on March 3-5, 1961, the tracks on this double LP were the first “live” recordings ever made at The Manne Hole.

Exuberance; excitement; ebullience - all were a part of the experience for Jazz musicians and Jazz fans when Shelly gave the gift of this club to the Los Angeles Jazz Community. During its 12 year history, the sounds of Jazz emanating from The Manne Hole would be enjoyed on an international scale as Jazz fans from many parts of the world visited this unique setting.

Over the years, I’ve read many of Leonard’s liner notes to Jazz albums. In my opinion, those that follow are among his best. He couldn’t have composed them for a more deserving subject.

The Host

SHELLY MANNE'S is one of the few successful operations of its kind, namely: a club actually financed by a name jazzman who plays there himself. In associating himself with a spot for which he could not only put up his own money, but also guarantee his own physical, swinging presence. Shelly knew he was gambling in an area that has long been one of the most hazardous in show business. His investment, in effect, was 40% faith, 40% courage, and 20% cash. Certainly the undertaking was not an attempt to get rich quick. In any case, that would be a near-impossibility without a liquor license and a larger room. Money was not his main object, for with or without the club, he has been as busy and successful a musician as any in the country. "What I really wanted was a place where I and other musicians would be free to play jazz without compromising musically in any way!'

But running a club has its responsibilities. "It's strange how different things look when you see them from the other side,” he said recently. "When I was a musician only, I'd get up on the stand and all I'd see would be people selling things. I never thought about all the loot that has to go out before any rolls in.

"What's been wrong with the night club business for so many years, as far as jazz is concerned, is that there's been too much of an atmosphere of pressure. People don't like to feel they are being forced to do anything—buy a drink, or favors, or food, or even listen to the music. In our place I think we let the audience and the musicians enjoy themselves. When the band is really swinging, even the non-jazz people in the audience know it. But I never want to establish a concert hall atmosphere or make it so rigid that people are afraid to feel at home!”

"As far as my own playing is concerned, I feel much freer in The Manne-Hole than I have ever felt in a club before. Working here for me has been one of those gigs where you literally can't wait to get there and start playing. And the band has gotten a freer and more exciting sound, partly I think as a result of the room!'

The Manne-Hole's manager, a stockholder in the corporation, is Amsterdam-born Rudy Onderwyzer, an ex-accountant. Rudy had all the qualifications except one: at the outset he had little sympathy for the modern sounds, and was, in fact, a traditionalist who liked to play tailgate trombone. But in a very short time, he says, "just by working at Shelly's I got a whole education in modern Jazz.”

The Club

SHELLY'S MANNE-HOLE at 1608 North Cahuenga Boulevard is in what could be called (except by those who write it off as a heartless, impersonal town) the heart of Hollywood. Providing incandescent evidence that Hollywood has a warm spot in its heart for jazz, The Manne-Hole immediately impresses the visitor as friendly, intimate, and relaxed.

Suspended from a beam halfway across the room is a large key on a chain, the kind seen outside keymakers' shops. On the walls are many of Shelly's Contemporary album covers, as well as a variety of relics: old newspaper clippings, faded photographs, all kinds of drawings, paintings, murals, and tapestries. Just beyond the bandstand to the left as you enter, a ladder painted on the wall leads up to a painted manhole cover, its lettering in reverse on the ceiling. Another manhole, looking more like a painted drumhead, has Shelly's photographed smile welcoming you from the rear of the room, over the legend "Founder and Owner. 1960 A. D"

The bandstand is clearly visible from all the booths, or from the row of barstools at a counter facing it; and the music, thanks to a first-class public-address system installed by Contemporary engineer Howard Holzer,. is eminently audible.

The Manne-Hole opened its doors November 4, 1960, with the same policy that is currently in operation. Shelly's own quintet works there every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with an outstanding singer as an added attraction. Among those who have played a series of week ends are blues singer Big Miller, Helen Humes, and Ruth Price, who was recorded at The Manne-Hole during the nights when these sides by Shelly's group were taped. The results can be heard on Contemporary M3590, stereo S7590.

The musical policy of The Manne-Hole is unique in that a different combo can be heard each of the four weeknights Manne's group is not working. Among the groups featured have been those of Frank Rosolino, Terry Gibbs, Joe Maini, Jr., Phineas Newborn, Jr., Russ Freeman, Paul Horn, Teddy Edwards, Dexter Gordon, and Barney Kessel.

The Manne-Hole attracts listeners who are genuinely interested in jazz, from teen-agers just shedding their rock and roll cocoon to older enthusiasts who remember Shelly as that promising young lad who took Dave Tough's place in the Joe Marsala band in 1940. No hard liquor is served at The Manne-Hole; beer and wine are available along with an assortment of soft drinks and, welcome surprise, edible food.

The Men

SHELDON (SHELLY) MANNE was born June 11, 1920 in New York City. His father and two uncles were drummers. Alto sax was Shelly's first instrument. He studied drums with Billy Gladstone. He made his professional debut playing on trans-Atlantic liners, and made his first record with Bobby Byrne's band in 1939. In the next three years, before entering the U. S. Coast Guard, he played in the bands of Joe Marsala, Bob Astor, Raymond Scott, Will Bradley,and Les Brown. He played in Stan Kenton's band off and on from 1946 to 1951; during this period he also worked with Charlie Ventura, Bill Harris, Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic, and Woody Herman. Settling in California in 1952, he worked with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars and with the Shorty Rugers-Shelly Manne Giants. After his appearance in The Man with the Golden Arm, for which he also instructed Frank Sinatra in the drumming sequence, he formed his own combo. Since late 1955, he has divided his time between this group, movie and TV work (including occasional appearances as an actor), and free-lance recording studio work of all kinds. He has also begun to compose and is responsible for jazz scores of two feature films. Shelly and his wife, Flip, a former dancer, live in Northridge, California, where their acreage also provides a home for three of their six horses.

SECONDO (CONTE) CANDOLI was born July 12, 1927 in Mishawaka, Ind. He studied trumpet with his brother Pete, who is four years his senior. He came to prominence in the Woody Herman band of 1945-6. He visited Scandinavia in 1947 as a member of Chubby Jackson's sextet. Heard with Stan Kenton in 1948 and '52-4, he was also with Charlie Ventura in 1949, led his own group in Chicago for a time, and for a long while was at The Lighthouse with Howard Rumsey. He has done extensive freelance work in Hollywood in more recent years and has been in great demand for studio record dates.

RICHARD (RICHIE) KAMUCA was born July 2.1, 1930 in Philadelphia, where he studied at the Mastbaum School of Music. Long a West Coast resident, he has played in the bands of Kenton, 1951-2; Herman, '51-5; Chet Baker and Maynard Ferguson, '57; Howard Rumsey, '57-8; Shorty Rogers, '59; and since then with Shelly's Men. Heard on records with all the above groups as well as with Al Cohn, Bill Perkins, Johnny Richards, and Manny Albam, he has developed during the past year or two from a capable musician into a performer of marked originality.

RUSSELL DONALD (Russ) FREEMAN was born in Chicago May 28, 1926. Long a favorite among Hollywood jazz musicians, he has worked for the combos of Howard McGhee and Dexter Cordon (in 1917), and with Art Pepper, the late Wardell Gray, and Rumsey's All-Stars when Shelly was in the group. After playing with Chet Baker and the Rogers-Manne Giants, he joined Shelly Manne in 1955 and has been with him continuously except for brief trips to the East Coast and Europe with Benny Goodman in 1958-9. CHARLES

CURTIS (CHUCK) BERGHOFER was born June 14, 1937 in Denver. Although he has studied with Bob Stone and Ralph Pena, he is mainly self-taught. Raised in Los Angeles from the age of eight, he played tuba and trumpet in high school, took up bass at eighteen, and made his professional debut
with Skinnay Ennis. He also worked with Pete Jolly, and was with Bobby Troup for a year and a half before joining Shelly in 1960. Shelly considers him one of the best young bassists in jazz today.

The Music

Love For Sale • The 1930 Cole Porter standard (from a show called The New Yorkers) has long been used as a backbone for jazz improvisation. Here Shelly sets the pace with his up-tempo vamp, and Conte offers a free yet faithful delineation of the theme, while Richie adds side comments and takes over for the release. Richie's long solo builds slowly during the first chorus into a continuously swinging groove that is later maintained by Conte and Russ. The solid underlining of Chuck's bass, as well as his walking solo, are conspicuous features of this track.

How Could It Happen To A Dream • This Ellington standard, originally cut by Duke's band in 1946 under the more Brooklynesque title It Shouldn't Happen to a Dream, offers a graceful vehicle for Richie's ballad thoughts. Russ has a gentle but firm solo in which the harmonic idea developed at the beginning of his last eight bars is especially effective. Conte has a spare, discreet, muted solo before Richie takes it out.

Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise • Conte, whose solo is a highlight here, has a particularly effective passage in which he hangs onto a repeated F against the C minor chord at the end of one chorus and during the suspended rhythm passage leading into the next. Shelly's interlude with sticks swings as tastefully as does his ensemble work, and Chuck has a remarkable Pettiford-like solo.

The Champ • Shelly, pursued closely by Chuck, sets the brisk pace for what turns out to be a ten-minute series of blues solos with the 1951 Dizzy Gillespie riff as a framework. A sense of tension and release is ingeniously established throughout as Chuck, at one point during each of the solos by Richie, Conte, and Russ, lays out to let Shelly provide the sole accompaniment.

On Green Dolphin Street • One of the first jazz recordings of this Bronislau Kaper movie melody was in 1957 by Contemporary's Poll Winners — Barney Kessel, Shelly, and Ray Brown (C3535, stereo S7010). The tune has also been closely associated with Miles Davis, and is now a staple in the repertory of many jazz combos. Despite the unusual length of this track, continuity is established and mood maintained by the device of launching each solo (muted trumpet, then tenor, then piano) with a chorus in which the first and third eight-bar strains are played against a pedal-point bass effect. Playing these comfortable changes, Kamuca offers a solo that is rich in dynamic and rhythmic variety. Chuck and Shelly have solo contributions that adhere carefully to the overall mood before the theme returns.

What's New? • First recorded by Bob Crosby in 1938, the music was written by Bob Haggart, then bass player with Crosby. This attractive melody is unique in jazz, in that it consists of the same eight-bar strain repeated four times, the third statement being played a fourth higher. That its harmonic structure carries it is made clear again in this slow-tempo treatment. Note Shelly's subtle variations between straight four and double-time, and the eloquent contribution of Conte, which gives the whole a beautifully dramatic, climactic mood. Aside from the difference in personnel, this is in complete contrast with the up-tempo version of the same tune in Shelly Manne & His Men at The Black Hawk, Vol. 2 (Contemporary M3578, stereo S7578).

If I Were A Bell • The Frank Loesser song from Guys and Dolls (1950) is furnished with an effective head-arrangement device through the varying support of Chuck Berghofer, who accompanies each of the soloists in two, for a single chorus, before bursting into a free-flowing four. Russ Freeman, who lends the appropriate touch of tintinnabulation to the introduction, is also responsible for an exciting, consistently pulsating solo, reminding us yet again that he is one of the most rewarding soloists in modern piano jazz. The series of eights traded by Richie, Shelly, and Conte is another high spot, preceding Conte's muted recap of the melody.

Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye • The Cole Porter song from a Broadway show called The Seven Lively Arts was introduced to jazz ears by Benny Goodman in 1944. Russ is notably melodic in his solo; the first eight bars sound as if he had composed a new theme based on these changes. Richie's sound and phrasing, and the mood of this melody, are well suited to each other, as the opening and closing choruses indicate.

A Gem From Tiffany • Once again Bill Holman's original provides a closer for a Shelly Manne set. The longest previous workout on this foundation was heard in Volume 4 of The Black Hawk series (Contemporary M3580. stereo S7580). The time-honored "and-then-there-were-none" routine is followed as the men leave the stand one by one until Shelly, solo, makes the final statement.”

—Leonard Feather Notes reproduced from the original album liner.

These liner notes are also used in At the Manne-Hole, Volume 2 (OJCCD-715-2), a second volume of Shelly Manne's Contemporary recordings; the notes make reference to tracks in both discs.