Sue Raney and the Neurobiology of Song

Sue Raney, Gene Merlino, Melissa Mackay, three of the five L.A. Voices (John Bahler lives and works in Branson, Missouri, alas, L.A. is a long drive) -- May 31, 2o14 in the presentation hall of Local 47 Musician's Union, Hollywood, for Med Flory's Memorial (Med was the bass in L.A. Voices, a group he formed to accompany his Supersax on their last 3 albums, works of such chimerical evanescence and luminosity their voices are like a diaphanous curtain into another world -- photograph by Mark Weber -- I was sitting with Marty Morgan and had asked if she'd introduce me to Sue Raney, and while I photo'd Sue suddenly over the P.A. comes Supersax + L.A. Voices ( ! ) and Sue tells me that Gene Merlino and Melissa Mackay are there, and next thing I know there they are in front me and they're singing along with their transcendent recordings! It doesn't get any better than this, Med! --- This photo was after The Jazz Wave, Med's big band, under the direction of Lanny Morgan had played -- Los Angeles at its best

Sue Raney, Gene Merlino, Melissa Mackay, three of the five L.A. Voices (John Bahler lives and works in Branson, Missouri, alas, L.A. is a long drive) — May 31, 2o14 in the presentation hall of Local 47 Musician’s Union, Hollywood, for Med Flory’s Memorial (Med was the bass in L.A. Voices, a group he formed to accompany his Supersax on their last 3 albums, works of such chimerical evanescence and luminosity their voices are like a diaphanous curtain into another world — photograph by Mark Weber — I was sitting with Marty Morgan and had asked if she’d introduce me to Sue Raney, and while I photo’d Sue suddenly over the P.A. comes Supersax + L.A. Voices ( ! ) and Sue tells me that Gene Merlino and Melissa Mackay are there, and next thing I know there they are in front me and they’re singing along with their transcendent recordings! It doesn’t get any better than this, Med! — This photo was after The Jazz Wave, Med’s big band, under the direction of Lanny Morgan had played — Los Angeles at its best

ELITE SYNCOPATIONS JAZZ RADIO SHOW

June 19, 2o14 – Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER – KUNM Albuquerque, USA – 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web > KUNM.org – Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)

SUE RANEY AND THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF SONG

There is a close correlation between language, music, and dance. The origins of these defining human characteristics seem to come from the same place.

If singing evolved first, say, as an outgrowth of mating rituals of our hominid forebears, or even before that as fight or flight shrieking in the face of danger learned from birds, or even as a concomitant gestural language and as the gestures fell away only the singing remained and that
eventually became a type of speech that wasn’t sung anymore . . . .

Singing goes back a long ways, dude. Before Bessie Smith grabbed a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. Before the buzzards in music publishing took Stephen Foster to the cleaners with “Oh! Susanna.” Before Cab Calloway did the Hi-De-Ho and before Alfalfa cracked his note. There are creation myths that speak of the human world having been created by sound: waves of harmony and discord: that our world was sung into being.

Either way, singers are fascinating creatures. For someone like Sue Raney, who began singing right out of the cradle, the anthropologists would like to have a little talk with. Meanwhile, we’ll be talking with her this Thursday from Palm Springs, California, via the telephone, over KUNM airwaves.

Please visit her website for a more detailed biography which in brief goes like this: She was born in McPherson, Kansas and grew up in Wichita. When she was in the 2nd grade her family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, circa 1946. Her father had a retail store on 4th Street in the 1950s known as Dick Claussen Appliances (Sue is of German-Danish extraction) and at age 12 she had her own radio show on KOAT, which was sponsored by her father’s business, and by age 15 her own 15-minute television show on KGGM-TV. Bobby Shew remembers her singing with bands during these young years. By age 17 she and her family have relocated to Los Angeles (1955) and she has a singing contract with Capitol Records. Makes dozens of records. She sings at John F Kennedy’s inaugural with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. She records all through the 60s, appears to have taken the 70s off from making records, but was busy with a staggering amount of TV appearances, on Johnny Carson Tonight Show, Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Andy Williams, Mike Douglas, appearing with Henry Mancini, Julie Andrews, Johnny Mathis, Steve Allen, Bob Hope, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, as well as being busy working in a jingle factory (“jingles” = singing product commercials and station I.D.s and suchlike). These years she also toured with The Four Freshman and worked Las Vegas. Wikipedia refers to this period as a “hiatus.”

We’ll talk about all of this and mostly about singing, and her many records, and mostly about Supersax and the L.A. Voices, where Med turned her into a bopper!

And all of her recent projects like the remarkable records she makes with pianist/arranger Alan Broadbent.

Now, here’s the fun part. Sue has a remarkable memory and when I asked if she remembered where she lived in Albuquerque, here’s the list, in what I believe chronological order:

  • 1.  1724 E. Gold Ave. SE — 87106 (in the University Heights neighborhood)
  • 2.  3504 Campus Blvd NE — 87106
  • 3.  223 S. Stanford SE — 87106
  • 4.  3813 Calle del Monte NE — 87110
  • 5.  3002 Wilson Place NE (right off Girard) — 87106
  • 6.  829 Monzano Street NE — 87110

The Jazz Wave under the direction of Lanny Morgan -- May 31, 2o14 -- photo by Mark Weber -- more from the Med Flory Memorial in a forthcoming post -- Note the photo on stage with two cowpokes:  that's Med on the right probably from Bonanza tv series

The Jazz Wave under the direction of Lanny Morgan — May 31, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber — more from the Med Flory Memorial in a forthcoming post — Note the photo on stage with two cowpokes: that’s Med on the right probably from Bonanza tv series

9 Comments

  1. Michael Anthony

    June 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I used to work w/ Sue Raney in the LA studios. The memorable gig I played for her was a commercial for Chevron giving away “Wiki Wiki Dollars.” It was recorded at TTG in Hollywood, the contractor was John O’Seeke. Ask her if she remembers guitarist “Mike” Anthony.
    We are driving to LA right now. (Gig this Tuesday — Guitar Night with John Pisano at new location: Cody’s Viva Cantina, 900 Riverside Drive, Burbank.) Will return next Sat to play with AJO — at the Museum. Cheers, Michael

  2. In The Goosebumps Category:

    The crazy thing is: two of the schools that Sue attended can be seen out the 3rd-story windows of Onate Hall where KUNM keeps its offices.

    Directly to the east is Monte Vista grade school, and to the north is Jefferson Jr High.

    The road known as Campus actually follows the path of an ancient arroyo and if you follow it a few miles upstream you’ll come to Highland High School where Sue spent her first two years of high school. (KUNM is at the corner of Campus and Girard.)

    I’ve been spinning her records for years upon the airwaves of New Mexico within a mere stroll of Sue’s former haunts. The world comes full circle in unknown ways.

    (I also park my truck only a few doors from where Lester Young’s first wife Beatrice worked as a domestic in the home of a physician — they were married in Albuquerque in 1930 — as I walk to the radio station it never fails to amaze me that the Master of Time & Space had to have walked this same sidewalk.)

  3. …here is a great video with Sue Raney.

  4. billy the celloist

    June 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    must have done a few hundred gigs with her in Hollwood.. lots of jingles and some movies..they used singers in movies in those days ! she was the contractor, i.e. she hired the other singers, and she always surrounded her- self with the best available. She was the white Clydie King, plus she sang her ass off. Thanks for the memories. Tell us more about your trip to LALALAND !

  5. When I was in high school, I heard Sue sing at a local sorta jazz festival. She was so beautiful and sang similarly. I fell head over heels in love with her but her mother kept her under lock and key, making it impossible to get close to her. She is still beautiful and know she still sings as great as ever! Carmen Fanzone is a lucky, lucky man!!

  6. Marty Morgan, Lanny’s wife, who’s a publicist, has remarked to me several times about Sue Raney: “She’s a very classy lady.”

    Even the critic Rex Reed could find no fault in Sue Raney — he of the caustic crotchety hilarious movie reviews, he’s so over-the-top you love him, taking to task this overly-CGI world of techno movies nowadays — so, when I saw that he was reviewing Sue Raney I was timid, but then I about fainted, as he came out glowing

  7. billy the celloist

    June 19, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Cip has great hair !

  8. Cip = Gene Cipriano who is on baritone saxophone

    Trumpets: Ron Stout, Pete De Ciena, Bob O’Donnell, Bob Summers
    Trombones: Andy Martin, Charlie Loper, Scott Whitfield
    Saxes: Roger Neumann, Doug Webb, Lanny Morgan, Danny House, Cip
    Piano: Tom Ranier
    Bass: Kevin Axt
    Drums: Paul Kriebich

  9. ————–playlist——————–
    The Talkin’ With SUE RANEY jazz radio show
    June 19, 2o14 —- KUNM Albuquerque
    Host Mark Weber
    1. Sue Raney “My Melancholy Baby” — August 2o10
    cd LISTEN HERE w/ Alan Broadbent
    2. Supersax + L.A. Voices “The Song Is You”
    3. Sue Raney “How Deep is the Ocean” — 1990
    cd IN GOOD COMPANY
    4. Supersax + L.A. Voices “Old Folks” —-1983
    5. LIVE telephone interview SUE RANEY
    6. Sue Raney “Ev’rytime” —1956 — age 17
    7. Sue Raney “It’s Magic” — 2006
    cd TRIBUTE TO DORIS DAY
    8. Sue Raney “Dreamsville” w/Carmen Fanzone, flugel-
    horn solo —- cd DREAMSVILLE, 1988

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