The Troy Street Observer

Jan 16: Very Vega

I’m a little early on this posting… January 26, and not the 16th, marks the 61st anniversary of Al Vega recording his LP, The Al Vega Trio, for Prestige (PRLP 152). His was the house trio at the Hi-Hat at the time of the recording in 1953. Vega was joined by Jimmy Zitano on drums, who was soon to leave for Serge Chaloff’s group, and Jack Lawlor on bass.

Lawlor was quite active among the modernists in early 1950s Boston, but not much is known about him. He toured with Chet Baker in 1955 (Metronome reviewed a Baker Quartet concert at Carnegie Hall that spring, with Lawlor aboard), and after that he’s absent from the scene. I once read he died at age 35, but I haven’t been able to verify that.

The Vega trio recorded “Very Vega,” penned by Al himself, on the Prestige album, and I just uploaded it to YouTube:

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  1. My grandmother was a singer around this time and in this area with these people. She went by a few different names. Marie Parris, Kit Shaynor and Nya O’Connor. She had two other female singers as roommates, Shirley Devine and Terry Swope . They used Shirley’s boyfriends Cessna to get to gigs. I’m currently working on a project about my grandmother’s life . I have a lot of photos and stories, but looking for more especially recordings!

    • Hello Naome, I’ll have to do some digging to see what I have on your grandmother’s stage names. Do you know if she sang with Al Vega? Terry Swope I do know about, she was on the jazz scene for quite a few years and was living in Boston in the late 1950s. I’d love to see a picture or two of your grandmother, I’ve only seen grainy newspaper headshots of Kit Shaynor. Good luck with your project.

  2. I just found the masters from the “88 over 88” CD that I produced from a live date at Lucky’s Lounge. We recorded it on Al’s 88th birthday. I am thinking of sharing the outtakes that were not included on the CD. If you have any interest in hearing them, feel free to contact me.

    • Steve, you should be proud—the sound is gorgeous. It’s Al with Dave Zox on bass and Rick Klane on drums. Fans of piano music should definitely check this out. Thanks for the link!

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