Neither vocalist extraordinaireJackie Cain, who died on September 15, nor her husband and musical partner, Roy Kral, ever claimed a particular closeness to the Boston scene. But Boston did them a good turn—it housed the record company that gave them a chance to strut their stuff when they were just starting to make it as a duo act. The two albums they recorded for the Storyville label in 1955 set the tone for the two dozen that would follow in terms of musicianship and choice of material. “Finally,” wrote Jack Tracy in his review of the first of these, “Mr. and Mrs. Kral have been recorded the way they sound on personal appearances.”
The partnership of Jackie and Roy was formed in 1946 in Chicago, where Jackie was singing with Jay Burkhart’s orchestra, and Roy was playing piano with George Davis at a club called Jump Town. Bob Anderson, a saxophonist with Burkhart who had worked with Kral in earlier days, brought Cain to Jump Town to sit in. They clicked. Soon Cain was the regular singer, and people noticed. Bandleader Charlie Ventura was one, and he hired them both in late 1947. Jackie and Roy were on their way.
Fast forward to May 1954, with Jackie and Roy in Boston for a week at Storyville, where owner George Wein signed them to his Storyville Records label. In late 1954 or early 1955, the duo recorded Jackie and Roy (STLP 322) as part of the Storyville Presents series. Their backing was excellent: Barry Galbraith on guitar, Bill Crow on bass, and Joe Morello on drums. The 10-inch LP featured eight tunes, a now-famous Burt Goldblatt cover photo, and glib George Frazier liner notes. (more…)
Teddi King, born in Revere, Mass. on September 18, 1929, was all of 22 when Nat Hentoff proclaimed in Down Beat that she was “the most gifted vocalist this city has ever produced.” The list of serious contenders wasn’t that long—Peg LaCentra, Evelyn White with the Sabby Lewis band, and of course Frances Wayne—but the definitive statement resonates.
Her father was a song-and-dance man, a vaudeville veteran, and her mother a singer. Teddi came up in the postwar 1940s as a singer with Boston big bands, first with trumpeter Georgie Graham (Al Vega was the pianist), then Gene Jones, Jack Edwards, Ray Dorey, and finally with Nat Pierce.
King made her recording debut in May 1949 with the Pierce Orchestra, on “Goodbye Mr. Chops” (Motif M003A), a record she never liked; it wasn’t her kind of tune. It was the first of five records she made with the Pierce Orchestra, although it would be almost 30 years before we heard all of them. (more…)
June 9, 1954: Jazz Night Born at the Boston Arts Festival
Jazz Night was first included as part of the program during the Third Boston Arts Festival, in 1954. Jazz happily took its place on the festival stage in the Public Garden on the festival’s third night, following Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and preceding Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness.
Jazz Night came about though the lobbying efforts of Father Norman O’Connor, the Jazz Priest from Boston University, George Wein of Storyville, and John McLellan of WHDH radio. They, and their allies, convinced the Brahmin-heavy Board of Trustees to try jazz for one night to see how it went.
They started the night with an erudite panel discussing some flavor or other of “is jazz serious music.” Panelists included O’Connor, McLellan, and Wein, as well as Rod Nordell from the Christian Science Monitor and Prof. Klaus Liepmann, head of the Music Department at MIT. The panel asserted that jazz could indeed be taken seriously. (more…)