The recent outpouring of interest in Peter Falk's lost music album "And one more thing... Merry Christmas" has led to a flurry of activity in search of more of this ancient treasure.
Yesterday afternoon I received an exuberant email from a paleontologist at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. While poking around in a tar pit with fellow paleontologists, this excellent explorer of the extinct came upon a strange, hard object stuck in the goopy, sticky tar of site #13.
At first the scientists thought it was a partial clavicle from a triceratops. On further inspection, they determined it to be a plastic cylinder filled with old recording tapes. One of these tapes proved to be a long lost recording of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Unknown to many, the two entertainers stayed in touch in spite of their very public break-up in the late 1950's. A lucky tourist with a keen eye might spy them on a Tuesday afternoon in a darkened booth in the back corner of Musso's, enjoying a late lunch, or shopping for antiques in Topanga.
CUT TO: a hot Sunday morning in 1973. At the request of mutual pal Peter Falk, Dean and Jerry arrive at Falk's Malibu beach house. There, in the garage next to the Bentley, they set up microphones and recorded this classic holiday chestnut.
You can tell it's at the beach. If you listen very carefully, you can just barely hear the sound of seagulls in the distance.
And speakin’ of dino-saurs. Here’s some bonus tracks payin’ homage to the Dino himself!
Until last Thursday, it was only urban legend: that back in the 1970's at the height of his fame as Lt. Columbo, Peter Falk did what many a star of that era did - he capitalized on his celebrity by recording an album of Christmas songs. Rumor had it that some thirty-one songs of the season were committed to tape, featuring many of his close Hollywood pals: Marlon Brando, Wally Cox, Valerie Harper, James Coburn, Brigitte Bardot, Burt Lancaster, Angie Dickinson, Conrad Bain, Ricardo Montalban, and a rising young star named Al Pacino.
Sadly, the album was never released, because the master tapes mysteriously disappeared. It was believed that these tapes were destroyed in a suspicious fire at Universal Studios, so all hopes of uncovering this rare musical gem were dashed.
Until last Thursday. While cleaning out the attic of the West Hollywood home of one Bernice Schwartz in preparation for an estate sale, her grandson "Flip" discovered one tape, weathered and dusty, in a cardboard box along with a half-dozen jars of gefilte fish, a matchbook from The Brown Derby, and a pile of racing forms.
Lovingly digitally restored, here for the first time is the one remaining song from the album "And one more thing...Merry Christmas"
Hi folks. Here's my rendition of Gregory Porter's wise, comforting, beautiful song "Take Me to the Alley," accompanied by my friend Jamie Saltman. Blessings to you all!
Frank Sinatra's hometown was Hoboken, New Jersey. Cyndi Lauper grew up in Brooklyn, a mere eight miles away.
Frank had a hit song called Time After Time. Cyndi had a hit song called Time After Time. And they share a fondness for Fedoras.
Twins separated at birth? We may never know. Regardless and for no good reason whatsoever, here, for the first and maybe last time, the two hit songs are shmooshed together nicely and lightly, like a freshly toasted everything bagel with a shmear.
He's a hugely gifted musician. A singer, a songwriter, an arranger. His unique approaches to songs old and new are always inspiring. In short, it's a good thing I'm much better looking than Harry Connick Jr., otherwise I might be jealous. :) Here's a couple of his songs that are a pleasure to sing. Enjoy!
Take the "way back" machine to 1990:
We Are in Love is an album by American artist Harry Connick Jr., released in 1990. The multi-platinum album features Connick on piano & vocal, Russell Malone on guitar, Shannon Powell on drums, Benjamin Jonah Wolfe on double bass, and Branford Marsalis on saxophone. Here's my take on it with the original crazy big band arrangement:
You remember (If you're over 50-ish). Tom Hanks and his boy, playing on the beach. Meg Ryan is across the street, silently watching from afar. You do know that Harry sang it. But it was composed by: Marc Shaiman and Ramsey Mclean.
While many of my recordings are with pre-recorded backing tracks, this next one is a collaboration with my longtime friend Jamie Saltman. A consummate jazz pianist, a great music teacher, and the owner of a terrific music and sports camp in Maine called Camp Encore/Coda. He and his wife Ellen, co-director of the camp, weren't able to open in summer 2020 due to COVID-19, but they're already making plans for summer 2021 (hint-hint). Check it out. You won't find a finer summer experience for young musicians.
Back to the music, below is a tune Connick wrote called "Nowhere with Love" for his celebrated album from the 90's, Come By Me.
I like this tune for a couple reasons. It's got a great big, swaggering swing sound. An offbeat melody. And I like the message - all about a guy who has no idea what he's doing, but he's doing it anyway. Finding my voice as a jazz singer a couple of decades into my life, I can relate. Jamie recorded the piano part at his home in Massachusetts, and I added my vocal and edited it here in North Carolina. Give a listen.
Here's the title song from that 1992 album....
And finally, Harry's tune "One Fine Thing." I'm joined by Doug Largent on organ,
Casey Overton on guitar, and Donovan Cheatham on the drums.
Music and lyrics by Harry Connick, Jr. Performed by Michael Berliner, vocals, with the Doug Largent Trio: Casey Overton, guitar, Donavan Cheatham, drums, and Doug Largent, organ. We love playing around town - get in touch if you're interested in having us: www.BerlinerJazz.com