Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The 12 Days Of Ernie Kovacs, Day 9

Ernie Kovacs loved creating post-modernist special effects on a nonexistent budget and on the fly. Here is a lovely piece of abstract patterns and movement, making one wonder if Ernie was conversant with such animation artists as Norman McLaren.

You're right - this is not the original soundtrack. It's some fairly commercial modern rock by The Cure, way less experimental than the visuals, but the psychedelia of it weirdly fits.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The 12 Days Of Ernie Kovacs, Day 8

I love Kovacs and consider Madness a top-notch British band - and "House Of Fun" is one sprightly tune. Do they work together? That's debatable. . . Me, I prefer Ernie's soundtrack choice, the German recording of "Mack The Knife". But that said, enjoy these brilliant sight gag "blackouts" by Ernie and his excellent ensemble of Jolene Brand, Bobby Lauher, Joe Mikolas and Maggi Brown, from 1961.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The 12 Days Of Ernie Kovacs, Day 4

Sentimental Journey, from The Ernie Kovacs Show (1961) gives the old standard tune a treatment a la Esquivel-Martin Denny-"bachelor pad sounds for lovers". It's performed by a most enthusiastic ensemble consisting of. . . office furniture. An indescribably funny musical piece that could only come from the wondrously twisted mind of Ernie Kovacs. Uploaded by NilbogLAND

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The 12 Days Of Ernie Kovacs, Day 3

The gag-filled closing credits to an episode of The Ernie Kovacs Show from 1961. . . Love that theme song.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The 12 Days Of Ernie Kovacs, Day 1

Today, January 23, is the birthday of Ernie Kovacs, a television and radio comedy innovator only rivalled by the Goons and the Pythons. At this blog, we like Ernie so much that, well, one day just isn't enough. So this is day 1 of The Twelve Days Of Ernie.

And Edie, Tony award winner, wife and artistic collaborator of Ernie, Kovacs archivist (and the comedianne with the best Marilyn imitation) - are you out there on Blogger? MySpace? We'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Burt Bacharach Day

While I'm hard pressed to find something quite as wonderful as Mr. Bungle performing "What The World Needs Now" - well, at least until the Noir City 5 film festival opens at the Castro Theatre in a few days - this month's Burt Bacharach day tribute comes pretty darn close: Holland's grande diva of jazz, Greetje Kauffeld, accompanied by guitarist Maarten van der Grinten, sings my favorite Burt and Hal tune, "Alfie".

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Miracle In Milano: Miles Davis Quintet, October 11, 1964

Miles, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams - in transition from the blistering up-tempo hard bop of the 1963-4 tours into sensual impressionistic ambient textural soundscapes - wax poetic on the skeletal structures of an old chestnut, My Funny Valentine. Miles and Tony, we miss you. Uploaded by Yedi

Monday, January 15, 2007

The remarkable Alice Coltrane departs the earthly dimension

No doubt Alice is doing a lot better with the reality of her leaving this realm than a lot of us are here. With the news of the passings of both Mrs. Coltrane and saxophonist Michael Brecker last weekend, there is big-time mourning in the world of jazz.

I attended her last public performance at San Francisco's Masonic Auditorium on November 4, 2006 - as well as her June 1975 Keystone Korner appearance - and was overjoyed, overwhelmed and transported by the emotional and spiritual power of her music.

Here's the best clip I could find, but a few moments of Alice conjuring amazing sounds from the magic keyboard, in a duo with percussionist Jeff "Tain" Waits at The House Of Blues in L.A., November 2005.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More January Jazz

Gorgeous, expansive and poetic late-night variations on My Foolish Heart by saxophonist George Coleman and The Ahmad Jamal Trio. Thanks a million, MrDrive, for uploading this.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Charles Addams

Born on this date, January 7: the hilarious yet macabre comic genius, Charles Addams (1912-1988).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Oscar Levant Show

Oscar Levant (1906-1972), composer, virtuoso pianist, radio star, author, music historian, actor, wit, talk show host and "the irreligious Billy Graham of Los Angeles", is one of my artistic heroes. His amazing wife, June, is equally a heroine and should have been granted sainthood.

Enjoy the only remaining footage left from The Oscar Levant Show, featuring special guest star Fred Astaire.
While the picture and sound quality really leave something to be desired, it's all we have. Hey, Oscar plays and offers his usual bon mots, Fred sings, June is there for the fun - it's a treasure.

The innovative live television programs of the 1950's were taped over to save money. Essentially, they met the same fate as thousands of historic silent movies on nitrate film, which subsequently spontaneously combusted. In my view, the loss of Oscar Levant's shows and Ernie Kovacs' 1954 Dumont Network late-night shows - just to name two series - is the equivalent of wiping one's bloated rear with the Dead Sea Scrolls. We can thank De Good Lawd, repeatedly, for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who made the shrewd (but then unheard of) choice in 1951 to film their shows!

Had Oscar only written his three splendid memoirs, A Smattering Of Ignorance, Memoirs of an Amnesiac and The Unimportance Of Being Oscar, it would have been enough. Had he only appeared as his wonderful dyspeptic self in the outstanding MGM musicals The Band Wagon, An American In Paris and The Barkleys Of Broadway, his place in the pantheon would be unquestionable. Had he only spent those many Manhattan late-nights jamming on pianos with George Gershwin and Kay Swift, Oscar made the world a better place.