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Monday, April 23, 2012






The Stars of Jazz television series debuted in Los Angeles on June 25, 1956, a production of channel 7, KABC television.  All of the professional staff involved in the creation of the series were jazz fans and it became a labor of love for all involved in the weekly series.

Two jazz artists were presented on the premier program, the Stan Getz Quartet with Stan Getz, tenor sax; Lou Levy, piano; Max Bennett, acoustic double bass and Gary Frommer, drums presenting modern jazz.  The show also presented New Orleans style jazz with Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band including Alvin Alcorn, trumpet; Kid Ory, trombone; Phil Gomez, clarinet; Cedric Haywood, piano; Wellman Braud, acoustic double bass and Minor Hall, drums.

The primary producer for the series was Jimmie Baker who had a musician background having led dance bands during his college years.  Jimmie would work from a shooting script for each show that included the entire thirty minute program with dialogue for the host, beat by beat outlines for every musical number by instrument, pauses for commercials, etc.  Jimmie taught each cameraman to count measures so that they could focus and aim their camera precisely at the right moment a solo was taken by a designated jazz artist.

The lighting for the series was designed by Vince Cilurzo and created a revolutionary look for the program that would be documented in books written to teach stage lighting and design.  The lighting also provided the perfect backdrop for still camera work and the show attracted numerous jazz photographers who attended the show on a regular basis. 

All of the shows were professionally recorded by the sound technician on 1/4” 10.50 inch studio reel-to-reel tape.  In addition the shows were recorded on kinescope, but the majority of the shows were erased in order to reuse the tapes.  Jimmie Baker rescued some of the programs before they could be erased and donated them to the film archive at UCLA.

Arrangements were made in 1976 for some of the audio to be released commercially provided that all legal clearances were secured from organizations such as the AFM and that artists or their authorized representatives would likewise be contacted to obtain clearances and paid appropriate fees for their performances.  

These agreements were not secured and production of the Calliope LP series was halted after thirty six LPs had been produced and released.  The liner notes for the LPs did not list personnel other than the leader of the group and many of the dates were not correct, partially due to the series going on national broadcast where the date of broadcast rather than the filming date was used.

This blog will detail each Stars of Jazz program that was released on Calliope presenting the album front cover, back liner, record labels, and the shooting script from KABC.  The Calliope albums will be presented in numerical order beginning with this post examining Calliope CAL 3001.

The first shooting script, detailed below, is of interest as it reveals the evolution of the writing for the program.  Note that Jimmie Baker has hand written the breakdown of each tune on the script pages. Future scripts would devote a typewritten page with the breakdown for each tune.  Jimmie Baker would meet with each scheduled musician a few days before the broadcast to review the tunes to be performed and breakdown the tune progression with opening, solo spots, closing, etc.


Calliope Records Production Credits:
Executive Producers: Heyward Collins, Rick Donovan, Lee D. Weisel
Production and Coordination: Jim Pewter
Technical Assistance: Mike Jordan for Krishane Enterprises
Mastering: Jack Skinner for Keyser-Century Corporation
Art Direction and Photography: Jeffrey Weisel

Herb Ellis, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown

SHOW #35
March 4, 1957
Oscar Peterson Trio
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, p; Raymond Mathews Brown b; Mitchell Herbert Ellis, g.
1. “Gal in Calico, A” w. Leo Robin, m. Arthur Schwartz
2. “Time After Time” w. Sammy Cahn, m. Jule Styne

Jane Fielding, vcl; Bobby Hammack, p; Raymond Mathews Brown b; Mitchell Herbert Ellis, g.
3. “If You Were the Only Girl in the World” w. Clifford Grey, m. Isham Jones
4. “Something I Dreamed Last Night” w. Herb Magidson and Jack Yellen, m. Sammy Fain

Oscar Peterson Trio – (same personnel).
5. “Seven, Come Eleven” m. Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman 

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: Bruce Lansbury
Director: "Hap" Leo G. Weyman
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: Jack Denton, Sal Folino
Technical Director: Gene Lukowski
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: George Hillas

Gerald Wiggins

SHOW #44
May 6, 1957
Gerry Wiggins Quartet
Gerald Foster Wiggins, p; Eugene Joseph Wright, b; William V. Douglass, d; Jackie Mills, bgo, cga.
1. “In My Merry Oldsmobile” w. Vincent P. Bryan, m. Gus Edwards
2. “How Long Has This Been Going On” w. Ira Gershwin, m. George Gershwin

Terry Morel, vcl; Gerry Wiggins Quartet
3. “But Not For Me” w. Ira Gershwin, m. George Gershwin
4. “What Is There to Say?” w. E. Y. Harburg, m. Vernon Duke

Gerry Wiggins Quartet
5. “Fifth for Frank, A” m. Gerald Wiggins and Cal Tjader

The following shooting script does not include the pages with the detailed bar by bar breakdown of the music.  It is provided on the Show #35 script for illustration, but as seen, many pages are blank with only a few bars indicated at the top.

Production credits for this show:
Host: Bobby Troup
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Writer: Bob Arbogast
Director: "Hap" Leo G. Weyman
Audio: Chuck Lewis
Cameramen: Bob Haley, Sal Folino
Technical Director: Gene Lukowski
Lighting Director: Vince Cilurzo
Video: George Hillas

I plan on updating this blog with one or two LPs per week, so in thirty five weeks, at most, I should have all of the albums up with details similar to those seen in this first post.

There were a total of 130 shows produced and broadcast on television.  Somewhere along the line KABC most likely counted weeks that the show aired, but some of those weeks no show was broadcast due to holidays, election nights, so their count on the shooting script does not always match the actual number of that program in order of sequence. No big deal!


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