Friday, January 14, 2011

Art Ford's Jazz Party (1958)

If you lived in the greater New Jersey area in 1958 and could get your self to a television at 9 PM on Thursday night, you could catch Art Ford's Jazz Party. A 90-minute program, broadcast by WNTA-TV on Channel 13, it lasted from May 8th until December 25th of that year. In an era where television was good to jazz music in general and particularly to Modern Jazz, it offered a unique mix of musicians from nearly all streams of the music - from New Orleans through Swing, plus some Modernists. Recorded sessions were reportedly conducted without rehearsals or set-lists and featured rare glimpses of both legends and obscure stylists.

A kinescope transfer of most of the September 18th broadcast is currently up on YouTube and below for your viewing pleasure. Several other clips have surfaced over the years in varying degrees of quality. What I like particularly about this episode is the appearance of guitarist Mary Osborne, who is sadly overlooked by many if not most jazz historians due in no small part to her relatively small recorded output, and perhaps more so due to the fact that she was a woman. She was one of Charlie Christian's most talented disciples and actually knew the legend during his lifetime. She definitely deserves more ink, virtual or otherwise, so in addition to reading this month's Vintage Guitar magazine, do your self a favor and search around the 'net a bit.

Guitar Geek Note: it looks to me that Mary is playing an extremely rare Stromberg G-5 made in the early-1950s in ridiculously small batches. It could be one of only a dozen of these guitars made. There are some beautiful photos of a slightly earlier, but similar, Stromberg here. Add to that the rarity (and admitted something of an oddity) of a Gibson-manufactured "finger rest pick-up" (aka the Ted McCarty Pick-up) being used to amplify the guitar, and you have quite a sight (and sound) indeed. Incidentally, Jason Lollar is making a reproduction of the McCarty Pick-up for those that might be interested. Enjoy!

Personnel Note: be sure to click through to the 'Tube for some fairly detailed personnel notes as well as some interesting comments. If you want a more concise listing of personnel, click here and scroll down to September 18, 1958.


Indeterminacy said...

I found this to be a well written article documenting Jazz Party. Was watching some of the videos from the archive and wondered about the background. Too bad only a few of these programs survived today.

Nick Rossi said...

Thank you for the comments. I agree wholeheartedly!

Jazzrealities said...

Are there really one two programs on youtube? I tried without success to find the others.
I have some on homemade audio CD's

Nick Rossi said...

I just did a quick search on YouTube for Art Ford Jazz Party and the number of clips seems to have increased since the date of this post. However, I have seen some pulled down and put back up over the years. I believe shows are available through the grey market in DVR, but have not dove to deep into that myself.