Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much hot and sizzling fish after a day of heat that broke every record, CD, cassette, and 8-Track in this city’s history. I mean, do we think it’s normal for the temperature in the San Fernando Valley to be 117? Because that, dear readers, is exactly what it was in Van Nuys. Here in the Oaks of Sherman we had it much better, only 116. It was stultifying and gross and thankfully I was only outside for about ten minutes total for the entire day. I hate having the air conditioning in the house on but it was on all day and evening and in fact it took all of that time to get the temperature down to even seventy-four. I gotta tell you. All you want to do is plotz when it’s like this. In any case, I am sitting here like so much fish listening to the brilliant Bill Evans – one of my favorites of his many albums for Verve, when he was at, for me, his absolute peak, From Left to Right, meaning he plays BOTH a Fender-Rhodes electric piano and a grand piano during each track. It’s a fun experiment, but what makes this album really special is there’s an orchestra and arrangements by Michael Leonard, one of the great unsung songwriters, if you ask me. He wrote one big flop musical, The Yearling, but for a big flop it had pretty great songs, several of which were quite popular with the populace – Why Did I Choose You, I’m All Smiles, My Pa, and two that I recorded on one of the Unsung Musicals albums – Everything in the World I Love and One Promise Come True. I was close to doing a studio cast album – I’d met Mickey (as he was called) Leonard at a dinner and he loved my Drat! The Cat! recording, and then another producer got in the way and I walked away instantly and of course it never happened with the other producer, whereas I was ready to go. This same producer caused my recording of Lolita, My Love to not happen, and he did Sherry when it should have been me, as that’s what the composer wanted – and the result with Sherry was terrible and I know the composer regretted being forced to go along with the change by the disgusting James Lipton and this other producer. You reap what you sow, as the expression goes, I think. Anyway, both I’m All Smiles and Why Did I Choose You are on this great CD in gorgeous orchestrations by the composer. I have two pressings of this – a Japanese import and the Verve US pressing – the US is better by a bit, but I’m guessing that the very rare and impossible to find SACD is, like Conversations with Myself, going to sound great, so I’m always on the prowl for that one.
Yesterday, as you’ve heard, was 116 degrees in the shade only there was no shade, only the 116 degrees. I got eight hours of sleep, got up, began organizing and got times we can rehearse next week and got that ball rolling.
Then I’d forgotten that our very own Kay Cole was coming over so she did and we had a very nice one-hour meeting about her show at 54 Below, which I’m hoping many of you East Coast denizens will go see so you can see what a fun show we came up with. After that, I got in my motor car and motored over to the mail place and picked up a package, then stopped at Gelson’s and got some chicken enchiladas and rigatoni pasta from the hot food bar, came home, and ate it all up – very filling, but actually pretty calorie friendly. After that, it was listening to lots of music whilst doing work on the computer. I had a few telephonic conversations, Grant scanned some album covers for me of some upcoming releases, and then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.
Last night, I continued on with the Dietrich/von Sternberg set, this time with the incredible The Scarlet Empress, one of the most unique films ever made. The detail, the sets, the costumes, the performances, the dialogue, the direction – you’ve never seen anything like this film, I guarantee you. Dietrich is unbelievably great, Sam Jaffe is frightening as a half-wit, and Louise Dresser almost walks away with the entire movie. But it’s the style of it – it’s just mind-boggling, really has to be seen to be believed. I’m told it was such a bomb that it almost broke Paramount, but it’s pretty magnificent, and the transfer is very, very good.
After that, I went to Ralph’s and got some low-calorie ice cream to combat the heat – even at nine in the evening it was still over 100 degrees. And then the rest of the evening was Bill Evans, and Bill Evans is a very pleasant way to end an evening.
Today, I’ll sleep in, and then I have stuff to do, rehearsals to schedule, more casting to do and songs to assign, I’ll hopefully pick up packages, and then I may or may not be having an early dinner – waiting to hear. If not, I’ll eat mid-afternoon and then watch the final Dietrich and von Sternberg film, Devil Is a Woman.
Sunday I’m not sure what’s happening, and then this coming week’s first three days will be some folks rehearsing for the Sherman event, one or two each of those days, and by Monday I will have hopefully locked in the entire cast save for a couple of people we won’t know about until the eleventh hour, and I’ll start to figure out the show structure, but as I said, I know the four important things – beginning and end of act one, and beginning and end of act two. That’s always very helpful. I also have meetings and meals and going and doing and doing and going.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, sleep in, schedule rehearsals, cast, packages to hopefully pick up, and then either eat or wait and have an early dinner. Then I’ll relax and watch Devil Is a Woman. Today’s topic of discussion: Who are your favorite piano players – classical, pop, easy listening, jazz. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, where it will hopefully not be 116 degrees in the shade.