Saturday, September 29, 2012

Into The Light ...

(Please Note: I hope I've fixed the problem, so please scroll down to the end of this piece, click "Post A Comment", and tell me what you think. -CS)

It's that golden triumphant moment: her chin tilted upward into the light.  She's just successfully navigated a notoriously difficult musical interval, or she's at the end of a phrase, or she's in fact holding the last note of the song.  Her facial expression reveals joy, satisfaction, confidence and exuberance.  She could be any female jazz or cabaret singer of any generation, but in fact, she is me, in San Francisco, early 1980's.

There is a magical power in the light. 

One might pace and even feel stomach-churning anxiety waiting for the signal to walk on stage, but once there, wrapped in rosy illumination, another force of unknown origin takes control.  For example:

I watched Ella Fitzgerald work herself into a perfectly understandable attack of the wobblies on the night she was to perform for the first time with Jimmy Rowles who was playing for her after the twenty-year comfort zone she had enjoyed with Tommy Flanagan ended.  But I also saw her shoulders straighten and the visible gain of at least two inches in height as she strode into the warmth of the light, conveying with her usual charming modesty a genuine eagerness to please. 

On one remarkable night in Dusseldorf, the concert hall filled with 3,000 avid admirers, she was asked again and again for encores.  She didn't disappoint. But then, in her long career, she never, ever did.

I'm telling you this because that b&w "caught in the act" photo now graces the home page of my web site which can be found here, and to let you know that if you visit, you will find a new tab called "Sloane On Sloane" which might be of interest.  My pal Steve Albin, who designed the site, and a veteran journalist/editor friend both suggested that a page containing brief descriptions of some of my past recordings, along with original cover art, might add a somewhat distinctive touch.  I hope you agree.

(Incidentally, the SF photographer remains unknown. He shot continuously but quietly during two sets, and returned with proofs for which he asked an exhorbitant sum. He generously gave me this one, my favorite of the group, but neglected to mark his contact information on the back of the shot. I'd obviously very much like to locate the man.) 

Meantime, and as far removed from the world of jazz singing as one can possibly get, Sunday, September 30 marks the anniversary of the death of Edgar Bergen, a famous ventriloquist whose wooden dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd were wildly popular and famous on the radio and in movies of the 1930's and 40's, very much accustomed to limelight.  I mention this because Mortimer and Mr. Bergen were among the guests on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson one evening when I was the featured vocalist.  When leaving the set after my song, I nearly collided with the pair as they stood waiting for their introduction.  Mortimer (pictured here)

complimented my singing and began to chat me up, as the British say.  He asked if I'd like to have a drink with him after the show.  I was flattered of course, but declined as gracefully as possible.  The weird and sort of creepy part was that Bergen never said a word.  I've read he was fond of the ladies, and this form of attempted seduction would be instigated by either Mortimer or Charlie, while Bergen remained the silent, disinterested observer.

Next up: The equally fascinating story of the time I shared a 35-story ascent in a Wall Street office building elevator with Thomas Dewey, pictured below. 

He never spoke a word either, but he did doff his fedora (a gentlemanly gesture which disappeared when men's chapeau went out of fashion).

Mr. Dewey looked preoccupied and slightly uncomfortable, a decidedly dazed expression of the cornea.  Perhaps he still suffered nightly tremors twenty years after the fact, feeling bitterness and humiliation over his ignominious defeat in 1948, losing the national election to the flamboyantly popular sitting President Harry Truman. 

The Republican party and most reliable polls had assured Mr. Dewey and the electorate that he would be the next POTUS.  Newspapers protected themselves by type-setting two headlines, ready to publish as soon as the polls closed and results were made offical.  It was then that President Truman got hold of one of the "other" copies which he thoroughly enjoyed displaying to the world. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Dewey story reminded me of another elevator story my ex husband, George Mraz, used to tell. He was doing some live tv thing at what was then the Gulf Western building -- I guess Leonard Nimoy was on the same show -- and they all found themselves in the same elevator when it stalled between floors. After a few tense silent moments, George turned to Nimoy and said, " something!"