jazz singing, but also for her active dedication and involvement in stimulating our
musical community, put together a fabulous concert of about 15 of the L.A. area’s most
prominent jazz singers to benefit the American Songbook Preservation Society, under the
direction of Ron Kaplan. http://www.greatamericansongbook.org
With superb, tasty and swinging trio backup of Karen Hammack on piano, John Hatton
on bass and Kurt Walther on drums, the singers each offered two gems from the Great
American Songbook, complete with sensitive introductions about the songwriter(s) and
the history of their chosen songs. Well, one can say that darn, we only got to hear two
songs each, but then again, we all want to leave our audiences “wanting more” and we
definitely wanted to “hear more” from each and every one of these wonderfully talented
singers! So, as people have asked me. who was my favorite? Very difficult to say, every
singer put their heart and soul into each song, and brought their personality and
distinctive style, so each song provided a new interpretation and thoughtful
improvisations, true to this art form – jazz! And I truly enjoyed each and every minute!
The concert was held at Alan Goldman’s stunning home theater in the hills of Mt.
Washington…(we were all sitting there thinking “In my dreams, I’d have a space like
this!!”) Thank you Alan, for providing this wonderful place to be! The concert was
videotaped by noted documentary filmmaker, Ken Koenig, and his son Eric. It was
recorded for CD as well, so we can look forward to these releases hopefully in the near
Cathy Segal-Garcia introduced each singer, and opened this concert on a gorgeous note
with her beautiful interpretation of “Some Other Time” written by Leonard Bernstein
with Betty Comden & Adolph Green. Cathy’s thoughtful introduction gave us a little insight into the lives of these wonderful musical talents. Cathy then brought up Ron
Kaplan, the Executive Director of the American Songbook Preservation Society. Ron is
the embodiment of the Great American Songbook, living it and heartfelt. he brought the
smooth and elegant aire of Gershwin’s inspiration among us. Ron sang “I Got Rhythm”
and he definitely did!
And so we started swinging, on to Gina Eckstine, who sang “I Could Write A Book” by
Rodgers & Hart…. and indeed she could! As the youngest daughter of the great Billy
Eckstine, what a story she can tell! Gina followed with “My Foolish Heart”, a song by
Victor Young and Ned Washington which was originally introduced in the 1949 movie of
the same title. The power and emotion in her voice was awesome, and she wowed us with
a double ending doing it her way and then Mr.B’s! What a treat, thank you, Gina!!
Dini Clarke took over the mic next and kept on swingin’ with “Just In Time” by Jule
Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Dini followed with “Moment To Moment” by
Henry Mancini from the 1965 movie of the same title, and showed his full range of
talented interpretation and feeling for the music.
Kevyn Lettau was next and brought us an energetic and swinging version of “Almost
Like Being In Love (Lerner & Lowe) with a great scat… followed by an interesting bossa
interpretation of just about every jazz-lovin’ couple’s favorite song, “My One and Only
Love”, written by Guy Wood & Robert Mellin. Kevyn set up the song with a percussive
scat-influenced introduction which was a real departure from most interpretations of this
After a brief break, Jack Wood opened the second set, and we heard a v-e-r-y smooth
“Time After Time” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. Jack has great phrasing, and he’s
swinging, warm and velvety smooth (was Frank in the room smiling?) Jack followed with
Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema”, and again, very tasty!
Talk about being surprised at every turn! Cheryl Barnes got up next and gave us “That
Old Black Magic” (by Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer) and at every turn we heard a new
invention as Cheryl found another place to take this classic song, and we all grooved right
along! Great scatting by Cheryl with her incredible range! Followed by a tasty bossa
version of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” by Rodgers and Hart. What command,
Charming and cool Mark Winkler got up and brought us some swingin’ and hip Bobby
Troup songs – the first was Bobby’s best known hit for Nat King Cole, “Route 66”. Mark
gave us a great introduction on Bobby’s first meeting with Nat and how “Route 66” came
to be inspired and written. Mark followed with one of Bobby more obscure tunes, “I’m
Such A Hungry Man”, (a song I’d certainly never heard). Mark delivered this clever song
well with it’s amusing lyrics, and made us all laugh! Yeah, Mark – Bobby was proud, and
Julie was smiling!
Next, another rare treat – Pinky Winters! Pinky knows so many tunes from the Great
American Songbook, and always brings us some of the lesser heard gems. She sang
“Nice ‘n’ Easy” by Marilyn & Alan Bergman and Lou Spence (who just passed)… and
with her subtle swing and great artistry made it all sound just so – nice and easy! And
Pinky followed this wonderful song with “A Beautiful Friendship” by Donald Kahn and Stanley Styne, and just about took everyone’s breath away. So sensitive, Pinky, incredibly
touching, & simply, Wow!
Dewey Erney followed Pinky – so perfectly, with “All Or Nothing At All”, composed by
Arthur Altman, with lyrics by Jack Lawrence. Dewey’s smooth voice caresses the lyrics
and the melodies he so obviously loves. Then Dewey sang one of my favorite songs “I
Thought About You” by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, complete
with the beautiful verse, thank you! I learned from Dewey’s introduction that Johnny
Mercer did not fly until late in life, so all his travel was done by trains and therefore, the
imagery of those trips is apparent in this song and a few others! I love to hear the stories
behind the songs!
We took one last brief break, then Cathy introduced another wonderful vocalist, Ann
Mack. When Ann hits those deep and sultry contralto tones, my heart is hers! I was truly
blown away the first time I heard her, in a workshop at Cathy’s – and later Ann leaned
down and sang the opening line to “There’s No You” in my ear! “Unforgettable – in every
way!” and I became her undying fan! Ann started her set with a swingin’ version of “Star
Eyes” by Gene de Paul, and followed with a warm introduction of the great “William
Thomas” Strayhorn’s tender ballad “Daydream” and what a Tour de Force it was for Ann
with her sensitivity and gorgeous voice!
Next came Bili Redd, who sang a swingin’ bossa version of “Willow Weep For Me”,
which finally gave the bass player, John Hatton, a chance to stretch with a groooovin
chorus…. and Bili continued the groove with some wonderful improvisations on this tune
which he clearly loves, as well as the following “For All We Know”…. (which I dearly
love as well!) Bili’s version was one of the nicest I’ve heard of this touching song, which
was written in 1934 by Sam M. Lewis and J. Fred Coots.
Let me not go a word further without commenting on the superb playing of Karen
Hammack on piano. Not only a fine and sensitive player, Karen is a wonderful
accompanist and has the ability to bring out the best in each song and vocalist. I know
there was no rehearsal and yet Karen played everyone’s charts beautifully and provided a
warm and swinging musical canvas for these great singers to paint the lyrics on. Karen
shines on bossas, swings with the best, and is sterling on slow ballads as well.
Cat Conner came up next, beaming and bouncing and bringing in the great cosmic spirit
of Edward Kennedy Ellington with a swingin’ “In A Mellow Tone”. Cat related some
personal experiences digging Duke’s band live, and then sang a unique medley of “I Got
It Bad And That Ain’t Good” interwoven with “Solitude”. The moods of the songs fit
beautifully. Great arrangement, Cat!
I’d been eager to hear Denise Donatelli live, and I wasn’t disappointed!… She began with
a song by one of her, and my, favorite composers – Cole Porter, in a bossa interpretation
that I think suits it beautifully – “I Concentrate On You”. Karen Hammack, again, really
set up a beautiful bossa mood and played a gorgeous solo. Denise then took Matt Dennis’
“Angel Eyes” with a slightly funky groove that also worked beautifully and gave the song
a nice lift and set up another opportunity for John Hatton to get down with a bass solo.
Last but not least, Jimmer Bolden got up and in his charming and gracious manner
thanked us all for being there to support this music and all the singers… then Jimmer gave us a swingin’ rendition of a gem by Fats Waller and Andy Razaf, “Honeysuckle Rose”.
Jimmer took several choruses, each more swingin’ and inventive. He closed his set with
one of his favorite songs written by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes -“That’s All” – that
started as a beautiful ballad, and ended up swinging; a nice and unexpected tempo change
that worked great with Jimmer’s voice.
Cathy Segal-Garcia and Ron Kaplan closed the show, Cathy with a lovely rendering of
Rodgers & Hart’s “There’s A Small Hotel”. Cathy related that the song was probably
written about the Montecito Inn, in Santa Barbara. Renovations to the hotel in the 50’s
replaced the wishing well, mentioned in the song, by a floral fountain. So much for
historic preservation, but the beautiful song remains, and Cathy caressed it with her
velvety voice in a swingin’ bossa mood. Ron Kaplan then set us up for a contemplative
ride home with “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” by Harold Arlen and
Johnny Mercer. Warm and beautiful, Ron!
Someone had a fun idea to close this wonderful concert with 15 singers getting up to sing
“Our Love Is Here To Stay”, which, coincidentally, was also an ending for the great
George Gershwin, being the last composition he wrote. Dewey Erney provided the verse
and things took off from there, a swinging first chorus with everyone trading twos,
followed by everyone scattin’ the next one, and a unison third! You should’ve heard the
last note!!! The universe did!
So thanks to all who created this wonderful concert, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Ron Kaplan,
Alan Goldman, all the singers who brought their heart and soul to the music, and Karen
Hammack, Ron Hatton and Kurt Walther, for their solid musical underpinnings, and to
Ken Koenig and crew for documenting a great day!
Did I say swingin’ too many times? I’m sorry, but it WAS Swingin! For anyone who had
to miss it, hope my notes and pics help bring forth the spirit of the day! It was a great
confirmation that the legacy of Jazz and the Great American Songbook is alive and well!
I know I was so inspired I could hardly wait to get home and start diggin out all these
wonderful songs to learn them myself!
Please, everyone – get out and support all these talented musicians and singers, and hear
by Julie Cresswell
Dateline: November 27,2006 … Aptos, CA
Contact Phone: (831) 687-0278 or (831)295-3672 cell
Contact Fax: (831) 685-2609
Web Address: http://www.GreatAmericanSongbook.org
APTOS, CA November 27,2006 The American Songbook Preservation Society, a not-for-profit Foundation, flew a plane with banner in tow around the corporate headquarters of Oracle in a plea for a charitable donation from CEO Larry Ellison on November 2, 2006, in Redwood Shores, CA. The monies would endow the Foundation, in perpetuity, to fulfill it’s mission: to preserve our cultural treasure known as the Great American Songbook, by presenting this music to the public at home and abroad as Ambassadors of Song. The request comes as a result of a 2005 settlement requiring Ellison to dispense $100 million within 5 years to the charities of his choice.
According to Ronald Kaplan, founder and Executive Director, $25 Million Dollars will endow the Foundation in perpetuity and keep
this music in front of the American Public and the world for the next 100 years and beyond. But on November 17, 2006, the Foundation had received their reply from Oracle Corporation that there would be no funds available as the $100 million has already been designated.
“Had our ‘out of the box’ guerilla marketing attempt succeeded, it would have endowed our non-profit foundation in perpetuity. My intention is to find a suitor to underwrite our Foundation and allow me to build an organization to keep this music in front of the public for the next 100 years and beyond. I had received a pledge of support from Wynton Marsalis early on and at the advice of Nat Hentoff, who thought the organization was a wonderful idea,” said Kaplan.
Hentoff referred Kaplan to the Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts where, he discovered that the NEA no longer gives
endowments. Phoebe Jacobs of the Louis Armstrong Foundation, a protégé and confidant of Duke Ellington and his family said the
concept of the GreatAmericanSongbook.org is very patriotic.
“We are looking for donors who believe in the American Cultural Legacy and want their name or business associated with the Foundation in perpetuity as we fulfill our mission. The end of the 2006 tax year is rapidly coming to a close. We are asking that concerned individuals help us make this happen with their support, and as the Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and Oscar Hammerstein II song goes, ‘Give Me A Kiss To Build A Dream On'”.
For more information, contact:
American Songbook Preservation Society
Ronald Kaplan, Executive Director
9051-A Soquel Drive
Aptos, CA 95001
Phone: (831) 687-0278
For Immediate Release
Singer Ron Kaplan will be performing a benefit concert on behalf of American Songbook Preservation Society…Singing the Great American Songbook at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar Street in Santa Cruz on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 7 PM. Doors open at 6pm, with dinner served as part of the Cookin’ @ The Kuumbwa series. For details, visit www.kuumbwajazz.org or call (831) 427-2227. Tickets cost $10 in advance or $13 at the door and are available at Logos Books & Records.
The show begins at 7pm and will feature Ron with Master Musicians, Pianist Marshall Otwell and Bassist Stan Poplin, performing songs from such legendary composers as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George & Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn, Harold Arlen, Hoggy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren and others.
This concert is in support of www.GreatAmericanSongbook.org , a 501(C)(3) non-profit, of which Ronald Kaplan serves as Executive Director. His charge is to build a national organization to keep this music in front of the public for the next 100 years and beyond.
The mission of the Foundation is: To preserve our cultural treasure known as the Great American Songbook by presenting this music to the Public at home and abroad as Ambassadors of Song.
Ron Kaplan’s style is reminiscent of the great singers of the 1950’s. Critics note his sophisticated phrasing, tone, diction and ability to get to the heart of a song with his own mark of musicianship.
“Easygoing swing and a sensibility without artifice are the hallmarks of what Kaplan holds dear with a special fervor. Ron Kaplan is an original personality in the world of jazz vocalists and he has managed to put his name into that previously closed inner circle. He has breathed new life into it by the sheer force of his style, for as you know, ‘the style is the man himself’ “
… Jean Szlamowicz
Editor Jazz Hot
Paris October, 2006
Accompanying Ron are Pianist Marshall Otwell and Bassist Stan Poplin, both of which have appeared on numerous recordings, and have played with some of the biggest names in show business. They have each honed their talents over decades of dedication to the craft of playing and accompanying artists in the genre of Jazz and the Great American Songbook.
The American Songbook Preservation Society, a not-for-profit Foundation flew a plane with banner in tow around the corporate headquarters of Oracle in a plea for a charitible donation from CEO Larry Ellison on November 2nd, at Redwood Shores California. The monies would endow the Foundation in perpetuity to fulfill it’s mission, and thus become a National Institution preserving this music for future generations by offering concerts for the public benefit. The request comes as a result of a 2005 settlement requiring Mr. Ellison to dispense $100 million within 5 years to the charities of his choice.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ronald Kaplan
(831) 687-0278 phone
(831) 295-3672 cell
GreatAmericanSongbook.org floats trial balloon by flying Airplane Banner around Corporate offices of Larry Ellison and Oracle in plea for endowment donation.
Donation will endow Foundation and its mission in perpetuity
Redwood Shores, California November 2, 2006 11 AM – The American Songbook Preservation Society, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit Foundation, is flying a small aircraft with banner in tow, around the Corporate headquarters of Oracle in an outside-the-box, guerilla marketing strategy to attract the attention of Larry Ellison CEO of Oracle, to endow the ASPS in perpetuity by donating 25 Million Dollars, so as to fulfill it’s mission: To preserve our cultural treasure known as the Great American Songbook, by presenting this music to the public at home and abroad as Ambassadors of Song.
According to Ronald Kaplan, founder and Executive Director, $25 Million Dollars will endow the Foundation in perpetuity and keep this music in front of the American Public and the world for the next 100 years and beyond.
This zenith of American Songwriting includes such luminous composers as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, George and Ira Gershwin, Dorothy Fields and Jimmy Van Huesen, Yip Harburg, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Hogey Carmichael, Al Dubin, Harry Warren and many others.
“This is about keeping this truly American music going beyond America’s Ambassador of Song, Tony Bennett” says Kaplan. “My intention is to build an Organization to stand the test of time. I have chosen to make this my personal mission as a labor of love, and am thrilled and honored to take up the task as “keeper of the flame,” and I will spend the rest of my life attending to this endeavor.”
This conception of this event was the result of a dream by new board member Judi Robert in contemplation of assisting Kaplan in achieving his mission. All donors are welcome.
Our Mission: To preserve our cultural treasure known as the great American Songbook by presenting this music to the public at home and abroad as Ambassadors of Song.
Allstate agent Ron Kaplan’s Volunteer efforts for the American Songbook Preservation Society has been rewarded with a $500 grant to the organization. The funding comes from the Allstate Foundation’s Agency Hands in the community program, which began in 2003. Kaplan, of Aptos, is the founder and executive director for the American Songbook Preservation Society, which performs classic musical works from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The grant will underwrite the presentation of free and low-cost concerts in the community and throughout the country.
Help Local Man Save Our Music
I’ve been listening to Dennis Murphy’s new album, “Rediscovery,” a collection of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra.
The Salinas bass player does a wonderful job on such vocals as “Come Fly With Me,” “Lady is a Tramp,” “The Best is Yet to Come” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Unless you’re a Sinatra fan or you listen to a radio program that plays these standards, you don’t hear them very often.
They’re part of the American Songbook, a large group of songs that include Tin Pan Alley tunes and the great New York and Hollywood musicals, a period from the 1920s through the 1960s.
Like a lot of Americana, this cultural legacy seems to be fading from the nation’s collective consciousness. How can we keep it from fading into black?
Enter Ronald Kaplan, founder of the American Songbook Preservation Society. The Aptos insurance agent and jazz singer has launched a quest to raise $25 million to do just that.
“It started out about me and became more about the music,” said Kaplan, who has his own record label. “It’s something bigger than me. I’d love to spend the next 25 years of my life making this a really solid proposition.”
Kaplan has laid the groundwork for the American Songbook Preservation Society. He received a certificate of nonprofit management and has organized as a nonprofit in California. And he has received pledges of support from jazz writer Nat Hentoff and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.
He now is courting a major donor, and the manager of the Algonquin Hotel in New York also has pledged his support. The plan is to make the hotel a home venue for the society and for young singers to perform there.
“I’m very excited about that,” Kaplan said.
Other plans are to present singers of the American Songbook in high-profile concerts and jazz festivals throughout the United States and overseas and to work for lower ticket prices.
“I feel like somebody in the world has to step up and make it happen,” Kaplan said. “That’s my great hope, to keep this (the songbook) alive in perpetuity.”
If it all unfolds as Kaplan believes it will, new generations will come to know and appreciate the music of such great American songwriters as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein, Duke Ellington and many others.
“It’s our gift to the world,” Kaplan said.
Make a donation to the American Songbook Preservation Society and find out more about it at www.greatamericansongbook.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shelly Taliani
Allstate Agent Ronald Kaplan Receives Community Award
Donation will aid in preserving the Great American Songbook
SANTA CRUZ, Calif., August 8, 2005 – Local Allstate agent Ronald Kaplan has been awarded the Agency Hands in the Community Award for his commitment to volunteering in the community. With this award comes a $500 grant from The Allstate Foundation for the American Songbook Preservation Society where Kaplan acts as Executive Director.
So passionate is Kaplan about preserving and nurturing the rich artistic legacy of the Great American Songbook, that he founded the American Songbook Preservation Society.
The society’s mission is to preserve the cultural treasure of popular music from the 1920’s to 1960’s by presenting this music to the public at home and abroad as Ambassadors of Song.
“People around the world are familiar with this music and honor it as a true American legacy,” Said Kaplan, “The Preservation Society will expose young audiences to jazz singers committed to the Songbook.”
“Community outreach is more than a commitment for Allstate Insurance Company; it’s a passion. That dedication is demonstrated through charitable giving and volunteerism”, said Hank Barge, field vice president of the California Region.
In California, 201 Agency Hands in the Community Awards will be awarded this year with over $100,000 in charitable contributions being made to non-profit organizations.
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent corporation funded by contributions from the Allstate Insurance Company. Grants are awarded to non-profit organizations that seek to improve the quality of life in communities across the country.
The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by the Allstate Corporation. The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®” slogan, Allstate provides insurance and financial investment products to more than 16 million households and has approximately 12,300 exclusive agents and financial specialists in the U.S. and Canada. Allstate and The Allstate Foundation sponsor community initiatives to promote “safe and vital communities”; “tolerance, inclusion, and diversity”; and “economic empowerment”. The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America’s families achieve their American dream.