In our previous post, we chronicled Louis Armstrong’s bout with bronchial pneumonia in May and early June 1967 and his initial rehearsals with the All Stars that took place on June 23 and the morning of June 24, mostly done to get Pops’s chops back up and to welcome the group’s new clarinetist Joe Muranyi. Jack Bradley was there with his camera and wrote up what happened next in his Coda magazine column:
“On June 24 the band flew to Sandusky, Ohio for a one-nighter and returned the next day, rushing from the airport to start rehearsal for the premiere of NBC-TV’s Kraft Music Hall series (which will be aired September 13),” he wrote. “For the next three days they rehearsed and taped the show – sometimes this means 8 or 10 hours a day. On June 28 Louis played a one-nighter in Highland Park, Ill.”
Yes, Louis was back in the thick of it after six weeks off, but fortunately, Bradley was there for all the rehearsals and the taping of the Kraft Music Hall. None of his photos were published at the time so he doesn’t appear to have had a magazine assignment; usually that would embolden him to shoot more images. But whatever the reason, between the rehearsal photos we’ve already shared and the Kraft Music Hall images that will be the focus of our next two posts, Bradley shot literally hundreds of photos of Armstrong between June 23 and June 28, 1967–and we’ll be sharing the bulk of them here.
This particular episode of the Kraft Music Hall would be titled “And All That Brass.” The host would be none other than Herb Alpert, then at the height of his fame with the Tijuana Brass, who would perform throughout the episode. In addition to Armstrong and the All Stars, comedian Jackie Vernon would do a bit with his prop cornet, Robin Wilson would sing “What Now My Love,” and the Peter Gennaro Dancers would do a routine set to “Music to Watch Girls By.” Nothing like 1960s variety shows!
There would also be a large orchestra band on stage for one of the segments with many of the studio brass heavyweights of the time, including trumpeter Joe Wilder, Don Butterfield on tuba, and a score of other musicians who probably performed on every soundtrack of the 1960s. Some will be visible in these posts so if anyone sees someone they can identify, please leave a comment!
We’ll open with some of Bradley’s best shots of Armstrong and Alpert, going over sheet music, playing duets, and singing together:
Clearly feeling the music, Bradley changed his angle to capture these shots of Armstrong really emoting:
Giving his all took a lot of work; Bradley also captured these shots of Louis looking serious and tired:
But then it was back to work, rehearsing his duet with Alpert; a third man is visible in these photos but I have yet to identify him. He looks like he might have something to do with the show or at least with the music; more on the behind-the-scenes crew in a moment, but first, the photos:
The show’s head writer, John Aylesworth, can also be spotted in the background of these next photos:
As for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, that group featured at the time, drummer Nick Ceroli, trombonist Bob Edmondson, trumpeter Tonni Kalash, vibraphonist Lou Pagani, guitarist John Pisano, and bassist Pat Senatore. For identification purposes in some of the photos below, here’s a very helpful publicity photo from the A&M Music website taken in 1967, most likely to help promote this show:
Bradley one took one photo of the band in action from this particular rehearsal:
But now we come to our final series from this rehearsal, with Bradley capturing not only Armstrong and Alpert, but a whole gang of on-lookers including members of the Tijuana Brass and the studio orchestra (Joe Wilder is clearly visible), but those involved with the show itself. Before getting to the images, a rundown of the crew might be helpful.
This particular episode of the Kraft Music Hall featured music arranged and conducted by Peter Matz, who did a lot of work with Barbra Streisand in this period; multiple reports describe him as “bespectacled” so he’s most likely one of the fellows with glasses in the photos below. The Choral Director was Dick Williams, but Louis didn’t do anything with the chorus so I don’t believe he’s in these photos. The Director was Dwight Hemion, who is in these photos; Hemion also co-produced the show with Gary Smith, who I believe is the man with glasses sitting and staring at Louis behind a music stand. The Associate Director was young Dave Wilson, of later Saturday Night Live fame, and he might pop up some of the images, but I’m not certain. Finally, the show was written by the famed Canadian writing team of Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth (creators of Hee Haw) with assistance from comedians Jack Burns and Pat McCormick; Aylesworth is definitely there but the others might have been present, too. There’s also a woman making notes on what appears to be a script; she could be, judging by the credits, either Assistant to the Producer, Peggy Lieber, or Production Assistant Maxine Lengel.
The previous paragraph should hopefully serve as a scorecard for what we’re about to share–some of those folks might be present, some might not, but those are the folks who put the episode together.
In this first photo, that’s Director-Producer Dwight Hemion in the white shirt with his arms folder and I’m pretty sure that’s producer Gary Smith with the glasses sitting behind the music stand.
As Armstrong begins to play, a crowd begins to form with members of the Tijuana Brass and the studio orchestra slowly making their way over:
Bradley didn’t get any shots of the All Stars head on but you can spot part of Joe Muranyi’s glasses in the lower right hand corner of this show:
And in this photo, you can spot one of the trumpeters in the orchestra–does he look familiar to anyone? Also, I believe the man with the glasses with his back to Louis is Music Director Peter Matz:
The man smoking the cigarette might be Dave Wilson, judging by his 1970s SNL photos, but I’m not entirely certain:
Soon, all eyes start turning towards Armstrong. In the next series of photos, you can slowly see those hardened show business professionals start to smile:
As stated above, I believe that’s Music Director Peter Matz joining the party, his hand to his mouth, wearing glasses and standing behind the mystery man:
Finally, Louis has the whole room smiling–the power of Satch!
The next day, it was time for another rehearsal, this time in what appears to be a new location. Bradley didn’t take as many photos as he did at the first one, but this time he captured Jackie Vernon rehearsing with the Tijuana Brass (All Stars drummer Danny Barcelona is clearly digging it in the background to the right of the photo):
And then we finally get some photos of the All Stars proper as they were featured during the broadcast performing “Cabaret” in addition to playing with Alpert’s group. Once again, that’s Joe Muranyi on clarinet, Tyree Glenn on trombone, Marty Napoleon on piano, Buddy Catlett on bass, and Danny Barcelona on drums:
And then it was time for Armstrong and Alpert to work on their duet again, once again with the one unidentified mystery man hanging close by:
Alpert and Muranyi look a little tired in this next one, but the indefatigable Armstrong seems like he’s still enjoying himself:
We’re going to call it quits at this point, but we’re only halfway there. There’d be a recording session to pre-record some material for the broadcast, there’d be a rehearsal on the stage, and finally, the taping–and Jack Bradley would be there every step of the way. Those photos will make up our next post coming up next week–til then!