Los Angeles Update
The Hollywood music scene

Peter Matz

Los Angeles, Sunday, 14th October, 2002

I had the distinct pleasure, last Friday evening, of taking a wonderful trip down Memory Lane. There are times, as you well know, that these trips can be nauseating, leaving us amazed that we at one time actually enjoyed that nonsense. However, Friday evening's trip was just wonderful.

To be specific, it was an event entitled "Rugolomania," featuring the music Pete composed for the Kenton band in the immediate post-war years.

When I was a youngster in Manchester and first heard the Ted Heath band, which featured Don Lusher playing "Night Train" and "Lush Slide", I knew, in an adolesent way that my destiny was to replace Don in the Heath band. However, some neighborhood ruffians confronted me one day and made me listen to the music of Stan Kenton, which featured Frank Rosolino, Milt Bernhart and Kai Winding. This was followed by "okay 'otshot, can you play 't trombone like that?"
I guess you might say they were in my face.

Looking back on that incident, I can now see what happened. Since puberty had just arrived, when I heard the wonderful Heath band, my brain took it all in, but when I heard those Rugolo compositions played with such fire by the Kenton band another part of my body took over. The majority of the guys in the band had just come back from World War II and were all feeling their oats. It all seemed to have come from another planet, and I wanted to be there and join in.

Over the ensuing years that type of music has been ridiculed by many, including me, so much that I attributed my youthful enthusiasm to just that, my youth. Assuming now that I had completely grown out of it.

Fast forward to Friday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Chrysral Ballroom to be precise, (sound grand enough for you). The music was sensational and I was transported back fifty years to Manchester, listening to those 78's.

I now realize that Pete in the late forties, was Stan Kenton's Billy Strayhorn, and was way ahead of his time. The unique use of the trumpets, trombones and saxophones sounded magnificent.

This is the personnel who all got onto the spirit of the evening and gave Pete, who is now well into his eighties and somewhat frail, the respect and accolades he richly deserves. So much so that, in private, John Williams, suggested a future Carnegie Hall concert.

Incidentally, one of the high-points of the evening was "Sorrento" featuring the robust tenor saxophone of "Vido" Efford.

The complete personnel was:
Trumpets: Frank Szabo, Buddy Childers, Pete Candoli, Carl Sanders, Steve Hufstetter;
Trombones: Alan Kaplan, Andie Martin, Jack Redman, Maurice Repass, Bryant Byers;
Saxes: Kim Richmond, Brian Scanlon, Tom Pederson, Bob Efford, Bob Carr;
Piano: Herb Mickman; Guitar: Al Viola; Bass: Don Bagley; Drums: Chuck Flores

I thought you might enjoy these wonderful stories:

The Tommy Dorsey Band was playing a one-nighter in Nebraska, when one of the tenor players collapsed on the bandstand with a life-threatening apperitonitis attack. Dorsey immediately bemoaned his own luck by crying "how come this has to happen to me?...Where can we find a replacement in this God-forsaken place?" At that moment the fourth trumpet player, wishing to please the red-faced leader, volunteered "We can get Vinnie Paparelli". Dorsey yelled "Is he any good?" the response was "He's really a nice guy." Dorsey: "DON'T BRING ME A NICE GUY...BRING ME A PR...K THAT CAN PLAY"

When I told this story to George Graham, he told me this one.

John Philip Sousa announced to the entire Sousa band: "HERBERT L. CLARK MAY BE A SON OF A ..., BUT HE WILL ALWAYS PLAY FIRST CORNET IN MY BAND!"

Pete Myers

Copyright © 2002, Pete Myers. All Rights Reserved