Breakfast at Barney’s

What do Barney Kessel and Audrey Hepburn have in common? Well, May is a significant month in both of their lives, but for entirely opposite reasons. Hepburn was born May 4, 1929. Kessel passed away after a long battle with brain cancer on May 6, 2004. They are also connected by Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was released in October, 1961, the same month as Kessel’s birthday. Fans of the film’s music may or may not know that in 1961, Reprise Records released Kessel’s own version of Henry Mancini’s iconic score.

The iconic score of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is just one of Henry Mancini’s (above) accomplishments.

It’s not entirely clear how much Kessel was involved in making the original score. However, in the Kessel collection are original orchestra copies of Mancini’s arrangements. These would have been given to the members of the orchestra. Kessel either kept or somehow got these, and then used them to write his own versions of the songs. These items are valuable for music historians and musicians alike first because they are rare, and second because they demonstrate Kessel’s musical genius.

 

 

Mancini original Score

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Here is a brief outline of what Kessel did differently. (Disclaimer: Yours truly is no music expert, and owes thanks to LaBudde Special Collections Graduate Student Assistant and Performance DMA student Anthony LaBat for helping to explain this.) Most noticeably, Kessel changed the instrumentation. He assimilated different parts from the Mancini score into parts for his versions. For example, in “Latin Golightly”, he assimilated the original Alto Sax & Trumpet, and Trombone & Baritone horn parts into a single part, which he played on guitar. Victor Feldman and Bud Shank also played that assimilated part on Vibraphone and Flute, respectively. For the bass, Kessel wrote an entirely new part that may have been modeled from the existing bass track, but was almost completely different in pitch and made rhythmic changes as well. In “Moon River Cha-Cha” Kessel again played the saxophone part on guitar, but he raised the pitch slightly throughout. Kessel was a master at chords, and chord harmonies. He made subtle adjustments like the ones in Moon River Cha-Cha to “revoice” chords. Doing this changed how the different chords in a progression pulled to one-another. In some cases it may have changed the entire progression. He also did this in “Sally’s Tomato” when he combined the trumpet and the alto sax into Bud Shank’s flute part. There was no dedicated flute part in Mancini’s original. Other changes include adding bongos to some of the songs, combining piano and guitar parts into rhythm guitar, using existing trombone fills for guitar fills between choruses, cutting out some bars, and recombining parts of choruses to make his own.

Also in the Barney Kessel collection is an original reference copy of Kessel’s album, which would have been made by the recording studio for band members. The full album was released on vinyl in 1961. Listen to the songs below and see if you can hear the differences, like the flute playing the original trumpet and sax part in Sally’s Tomato.

In Moon River Cha-Cha, compare the guitar, flute, and vibes in Kessel’s version to the saxophone in the original. Also, listen for the guitar playing the trombone fills – it starts at about 1:15 in both videos.

If you want to listen to any of the songs from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we have multiple copies of both the Mancini originals, as well as the Kessel version in the Marr Sound Archives.

Sources:

Barney Kessel Collection, MS295, LaBudde Special Collections, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Discogs

40 Years of Pride – Part 18

As local Pride Celebrations became more commercial over the years, a wide variety of notable musical acts have performed at them.  Here is a sample:

C+C Music Factory, 1997 and 2000

C+C Music Factory, 1997 and 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

En Vogue, 2006, 2010

En Vogue, 2006, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Holliday, 2012

Jennifer Holliday, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaka Khan, 2007

Chaka Khan, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Lisa, 1999

Lisa Lisa, 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pansy Division, 2004

Pansy Division, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

CeCe Peniston, 1999

CeCe Peniston, 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RuPaul

RuPaul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jody Watley

Jody Watley, 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chely Wright, 2011

Chely Wright, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREE event: Chuck Haddix to discuss his recently published Charlie Parker biography

The life and music of Charlie "Bird" ParkerChuck Haddix will discuss his book, Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker, November 6 at 6:00pm in the Jeannette Nichols Forum of the new Miller Nichols Learning Center. The program is free and open to the public and will also feature live performances by Bobby Watson and friends. Complimentary parking is available on the 5th & 6th floors of the Cherry Street Garage. UMKC Friends of the Library proudly sponsor this event as inaugaral program in their new portFOLio series.

Chuck Haddix to discuss his new Charlie Parker biography

The life and music of Charlie "Bird" ParkerWhile it’s not unusual to hear our own Chuck Haddix on the radio, this week he will have an unusual time slot and a different program – he’s appearing as a guest on Up to Date with Steve Kraske to discuss his new Charlie Parker biography and the “Spirituality and All that Jazz”  event scheduled for Wednesday, October 2 at Unity on the Plaza.  The Unity program will feature a narrated musical debut of the book that includes Bobby Watson, Tim Whitmer, and other musical friends, so tune in to 89.3 FM or kcur.org at 11:00am on Thursday to learn more.

The Passing of a “Genteel Englishwoman”

We mourn the recent passing of Marian McPartland, jazz legend and host of the popular radio show on NPR, “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.”  Born in Windsor, England, March 20, 1918, McPartland moved to Chicago in 1946 with her American husband, Jimmy.  She became a fixture of the American jazz scene, first as a pianist in the 1950s, and then in 1978 as the host of her radio show.  McPartland was one of only three women featured in the iconographic 1958 photo A Great Day in Harlem, a b&w group portrait of 57 notable jazz musicians photographed in front of a brownstone in Harlem, New York City by freelance photographer Art Kane, for Esquire Magazine (McPartland is on the front row, standing next to KC native and jazz pianist great, Mary Lou Williams.)

GreatDayinHarlem1958

(Photo c. by Art Kane, reproduction courtesy of Twisted Sifter WWW site)

The Marr Sound Archives on the ground floor of Miller Nichols Library houses many recordings of McPartland.  Check out our library catalog!

One favorite LP located in Marr is the 1977 recording on the Improv label: Marian and Jimmy McPartland and the All Star Jazz Assassins.  Our copy features McPartland’s signature with additional narrative: “Spelled my name wrong as well as putting this lousy cover on the front!”  You judge the cover for yourself!

McPartland1 McPartland2

Always experimental, when McPartland turned 80, she said “I’ve become a bit more — reckless, maybe. I’m getting to the point where I can smash down a chord and not know what it’s going to be, and make it work. And though I’ll never swing like Mary Lou Williams, I’m better at it than I used to be”–Terry Teachout, The New York Times, March 15, 1998.

McPartland passed away at the age of 95 on Aug. 20, 2013 at her home in Port Washington, N.Y.

~ Wendy Sistrunk, Head, Special Formats Metadata & Cataloging Dept., UMKC

The 75th anniversary of Raymond Scott’s music

Raymond Scott2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the public introduction of Raymond Scott’s music! Find out more about events surrounding this occasion at the Raymond Scott Archives blog. And don’t forget to check out what your very own LaBudde Special Collections has to offer in the Raymond Scott Collection donated by Raymond’s widow, Mitzi in 1993.

Web exhibit receives a makeover

Musicians Protective Union Local No 627 bannerWhile technically not a new exhibit, the Local No. 627/Mutual Musician’s Foundation online exhibit has been so masterfully reworked that it really is, indeed, a completely new site. Take a few minutes and check it out for yourself!

Harry Jenks, as remembered by a friend

City Limits by Terry TeachoutIn the Arthur B. Church KMBC Radio Collection, there are a set of recordings plainly titled “Harry Jenks.” The sound of Harry Jenks usually falls between the realms of classical organ or jazzy piano, and there is little that can be inferred about the man based on his music outside of the fact that he was a talented musician. It wasn’t until an internet search revealed City Limits, a memoir written by Terry Teachout, that we meet the real Harry Jenks. Teachout reserves an entire chapter for the man that he describes as his friend, “a man of a singular sweetness of character [but] wholly lacking in personal ambition.”

Teachout met Jenks through a personal friend while Jenks played at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Independence, Missouri. He had been a part of the Kansas City Jazz scene for many years, but as his eyesight started to fail he entered a sort of semi-retirement, only playing a few shows among old friends. Before their acquaintance, Jenks had a productive career in music. He served as the entertainment director of a troop-transport ship in the merchant marine during World War II. After the war, he worked for KMBC as a staff pianist until the station no longer employed musicians. He later became the organ player at the Royals Stadium and continued to play there until he could no longer read the scoreboard.

The strongest character trait that Harry Jenks had, according to Teachout, was his humility. Teachout admits that he himself struggled to understand why such a talented jazz musician like Harry Jenks never produced a single record. Jenks considered himself a “commercial” musician, able to play whatever the audience requested, but never pursued fame. In fact, he rejected it in many ways. Teachout describes an episode where he set up a local gig, but Harry pulled out three weeks before the performance claiming that he was having company and was too busy to make it.

It wasn’t until Harry Jenks’ old age that he and Teachout finally discussed making a record. Unfortunately, Jenks passed away from a bleeding ulcer before his first record could be made. In his book, Teachout remembers his good friend as a man of an older and more humble generation of artists, and wonders how many other brilliant musicians in cities like Kansas city were unknown, yet content. We can gladly say that are helping to preserve the memory of Harry Jenks and his jazz music for posterity’s sake.

Click here for a complete list of Harry Jenks’ music from our Arthur B. Church KMBC Radio Collection.

Chistina Tomlinson, KMBC Project staff/History (MA) student

“Tune Chasing” the past

KMBC Tune ChasersEvery fall and spring since 1989, Johnson County Community College holds the Ruel Joyce Recital series. Offered as a free event for the public, the series brings together local classical musicians from the KC Metro area for a low-key performance. The series was created to honor Ruel Joyce, remembered by many as a talented classical musician and head of the local musician’s federation from 1977 until his death in 1989.

What the public seems to have forgotten is that Ruel Joyce was also a member of the Tune Chasers, a musical group featured often on KMBC radio. Any sampling of the Tune Chasers would demonstrate their versatility as performing artists. The majority of their sound is of a classical or jazz-like nature, but include uncommon instruments like the xylophone and washboard. They covered a number of popular folk songs and silly novelty numbers like “Grandpappy (He’s a champeen a-spittin’ down a crack).”

Additionally, the Tune Chasers contributed to the war effort in the 1940s by singing upbeats songs like “Shut my mouth (for Uncle Sam),” “There’s a helmet on my saddle,” and “Little Bo Peep has lost her jeep.” During the height of their popularity at KMBC, they not only had their own time slot every week, but they also guest starred on other KMBC programs like “Night time on the trail.”

The members of the Tune Chasers also played what I consider to be an abnormally large number of instruments. Ted Painter played double bass, guitar, and banjo. Vaughn Busey played the clarinet in virtually every song, but also played the sax and drums. Our friend Ruel Joyce played double bass, guitar, and sang vocals. The leader of the Tune Chasers, Charley Pryor, played drums, vibraphone, xylophone as well as a customized musical washboard. Playing nine instruments between its members, it is clear that the Tune Chasers had talent.

So why doesn’t anyone remember them? Perhaps their largely instrumental repertoire was a factor. The Tune Chasers played a number of local gigs in the KC Metro area, but don’t seem to have headlined any of them. Very little evidence of the Tune Chasers exists outside of their musical collection. Among the little bit of evidence we have found is a concert review from the February 18, 1948 issue of Variety Magazine. In the review, the Tune Chasers played at an outdoor concert that flopped. At $1 a head, the concert barely made $2000. Further, it seems that the members didn’t go on to bigger things after the Tune Chasers. The only name that actually makes a hit on the internet these days is Ruel Joyce, and that is only because of the local recital series. It’s rather
depressing: a truly talented musical group fades away over the years until all that’s left is a music festival, and the event description doesn’t even mention the group name.

Click here for a listing of Tune Chasers music in the Marr Sound Archives.

Christina Tomlinson, KMBC Project staff/History (MA) student