Doug Webb, Gene Cipriano, Gary Foster — May 31, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber
THE RABBIT HOLE JAZZ RADIO SHOW
July 3, 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)
GENE CIPRIANO THE MAN FROM YO
Today we’ll talk with Gene Cipriano via the telephone from Los Angeles, the very definition of a studio musician with total mastery over all the woodwinds, the flutes, the clarinets, even contra-bass clarinet, the saxophones, double-reeds, even the bass oboe. Maybe because he started music at such an early age, and had innate talent, and his early association with Henry Mancini as bandmates in Tex Beneke’s Orchestra, or whatever, but Hollywood needed people like Gene Cipriano in the studios: guys that could take down a piece of music cold in the first take. He’s one of those guys you could release a jar of ants onto the sheet music and he’d read those!
He first comes into discographies in the bands of Tony Pastor and Tex Beneke in the late 1940s, a band that included Billy May, John Graas, Dick Nash, Jack Sperling, and Mancini, all who would be colleagues in the studios of Hollywood in the years to come. In 1951 he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and it was on tour with TD that he got his first wiff of what Los Angeles could be like and stayed — that was 1954 or 55. Went to work immediately, with Dennis Farnon, Patti Page, Ray Anthony, Pete Rugolo, Ernie Andrews, Erroll Garner,and branches out in the years to come on hundreds of movies: Mancini’s Days of Wine & Roses; and the The Sandpiper; West Side Story; he plays the saxophone parts for Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder) while Tony is wooing Marilyn Monroe. Continues with Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and I’d suppose Frank Sinatra, we’ll ask. He’s worked on my favorite Frank Zappa albums, Lumpy Gravy, and We’re Only In It For The Money; on Miles & Gil’s Quiet Nights, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.
Buell Neidlinger tells the story that when he was a student at Yale Johnny Glasel brought a band in for a dance that included Bob Wilber, and that Gene Cipriano showed up fresh off the road with Woody Herman, or someone, and that Johnny invited Gene to sit in and Gene proceeded to take down the house with a fabulous clarinet solo after which, when he was done he set his clarinet down reached for his pocket comb and combed his hair. “It was great! I’d never seen that gesture before!” Is that cool or what? [telcon w/ Buell 23june2o14
The next time Buell ran into Gene Cipriano was fifteen years later when Frank Zappa flew Buell out from Boston to work on the KING KONG sessions (March 1969) for Jean-Luc Ponty and that Gene & Vince DeRosa (“The greatest classical French horn player as far as I’m concerned”) urged Buell to move out to the coast, that there was need for someone who could read as well as he did on Fender bass.
I asked saxophonist/clarinetist Marty Krystall, who has worked with Gene Cipriano, often, and lunches regularly with Cip at Langer’s Deli to tell us a couple Cip stories:
“My favorite Cip story is during the Academy Awards when Barbra Streisand won for best song. This was back in the 60s I believe. Johnny Green, the composer of Body and Soul, was the music director, and he was wearing his headphones. So Barbara wins and walks to the stage. As she passes Cip, down in the pit, he shouts “Yo Barbra!” Barbara looks down and smiles at Cip, acknowledging the yo, and goes to the podium on live TV. Johnny Green slaps his headphones off, looks around, and says “What was that?” Cip says, “I was just Yoing Barbara.” Exasperated, Johnny says to the orchestra, “There will be no Yo-ing in my pit!” The entire orchestra breaks up laughing.
Cip has a million of these.
The best part of Cip is, he remembers everyone who played anywhere. You could ask him the personnel of any big band, or who was on staff at which studio orchestra, who played the alto or tenor or clarinet or oboe solo on which picture from 1950-1980. Oftentimes, Cip will be on a record date doing a remake of a classic, and it turns out he played on the original in 1955 or whatever. Ask him how many of those he encountered.
I saw Cip play last month at a club. He sounded so beautiful, like Prez. And his clarinet playing was awesome. Some of the best clarinet playing I ever heard. Dick Nash, the trombonist sat in (he’s a year older than Cip) and he sounded like JJ Johnson. Chuck Berghoffer and Sinclair Lott were the rhythm, so they were swinging hard.” [Marty Krystall email 30june2o14]
You smile when you hear Gene Cipriano — on his new cd FIRST TIME OUT his tenor is incisive when needs be (“Indiana” he quotes Charlie Parker) or languid on clarinet, back to blowsy tenor, effortless, fluffy like a bed pillow your mother has fluffed-up for you, articulate in the most infinitesmal degree. I was driving up to Santa Fe last Sunday afternoon and while listening to “Don’t Take Your Love From Me,” I realized I had slowed down to 55mph when I should have been going 75, it was so languid and mellow. Then, when Pete Christlieb joins Cip for a double-tenor gladiatorial on “The Preacher” (Horace Silver) I’m getting reckless as Christlieb pops a wheelie, peels out, fish-tailing all over the place, with Cip in hot pursuit. What a great record!
Remember on the Smothers Brothers television show Tommy introduced his Philosophy of Yo — it had something to do with drifting into the Zone while spinning your yo-yo.
Gene Cipriano holding down the bottom on baritone saxophone in Med Flory’s big band, The Jazz Wave, under the direction of Lanny Morgan — May 31, 2o14 — Med Flory Memorial at Musician’s Union Local 47, Hollywood, California — photo by Mark Weber ——– 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, Gene Cipriano —- Rhythm: Tom Rainer (piano), Kevin Axt (bass), Paul Kreibich (drums)
Gene Cipriano & Gary Foster — I asked them to put on their shades so they could look like The Blues Brothers — May 31, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber
Gene Cipriano & Gary Foster — hear them on Gene’s new double-cd extravaganza FIRST TIME OUT on the standard “How About You” arranged by Gary where he interpolates Lennie Tristano’s line “All About You” — tenor and alto saxophone interlaced and latticed like a vine going up a trellis, such beautiful purity of lyricism — photo by Mark Weber
Gene Merlino, Lanny Morgan, Gene Cipriano — May 31, 2o14 — photo by Mark Weber