Celluloid Improvisations logo Jazz on Film Mark Cantor

Cal Tjader Quartet “Crow’s Nest”

Stars of Jazz, the fabled Los Angeles television series hosted by Bobby Troup, survives in roughly fifty kinescopes. This is certainly a disappointing number when one considers that the show was on the air for two-and-a half years during the 1956-58 seasons. Most of the surviving kinescopes are in only fair shape. The focus is often soft, and the image somewhat “muddy,” although most of the problems center on distorted soundtracks. Luckily, there is a solution to the problem, and this is a current attempt at a “repair.”

As it turns out, many of the programs were broadcast by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service and the soundtracks were crisp and clear. Music from the series was bootlegged on a LP series issued by Calliope Records … soon withdrawn after the producers were sued by Troup. More recently, the bootleg tradition has continued with releases by the Fresh Sounds CD label from Spain. Because the recorded soundtracks are identical to those on the 16mm prints …. only the sound quality varies from source to source …. I was able to remove the soundtrack for this clip, and replace it with a clean copy from a broadcast transcription.

Cal Tjader was an early proponent of blending Latin sounds and instrumentation with bebop harmonies and phrasing. This particular number, however, is straight ahead jazz. The song is a Tjader composition titled “Crow’s Nest,” a modern jazz foray using basic blues changes.

Tjader’s combo includes some real jazz heavyweights:

Cal Tjader, vibes;
Vince Guaraldi, piano;
Al McKibbon, string bass;
Bill Correa, drums (Mongo Santamaria is in the group, but he sits out this title.)

The performance swings from beginning to end, and I suppose that we should not complain about quality, and just be thankful that this program has survived.

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