When Playboy First opened its pages to a popularity poll in jazz, the editors of this magazine were a bit uneasy about the possible outcome. No one was suggesting that the way to pick the best jazz musicians of the year was to pass out ballots to the million readers of a popular men's magazine (the primary purpose of the poll is to create a greater interest in jazz within the publication and it is an entertaining way of reporting on the current jazz scene), but the general level of the Playboy poll winners would obviously reflect upon the magazine.
From a recent issue of Punch, we note a handy-dandy bit of scientific compression under the heading Spaceupplement: The Busy Man's Guide to Everywhere Else, and hereby pass on some highlights to Busy Men who may have missed it:
Our five-foot shelf of jazz tomes sprouted four more inches this month: The Jazz Makers (Rinehart, $4.95) comprises 21 lengthy portraits of catalytic jazz giants ranging from Jelly Roll Morton and Baby Dodds to Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. Co-editors Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff share in the writing, as do the knowledgeable likes of Orrin Keepnews, John S. Wilson, Charles Edward Smith and our own Leonard Feather. (The Feather piece on Duke Ellington is an expansion of a feature that appeared in the November '57 Playboy.) In the cases of men about whom almost everything has already been documented, one feels that the writers had to strain to find a new approach, but several of the chapters, notably Hentoff's study of Lester Young and the sensitive Keepnews tributes to Tatum and Bird, come off just fine ... Leonard Feather has the field to himself in The Book of Jazz (Horizon, $3.95), a text entirely different in approach from his Encyclopedia and Yearbook. After a series of interviews with some of jazzdom's venerables (in which he proves that jazz was not born in New Orleans), and a unique chapter that details the history of Jim Crow in jazz. Feather serves up a round of chapters titled The Piano, The Trumpet, The Tenor Saxophone, etc., which deal succinctly with each instrument's big men and major developments. For many, though, the most intriguing chapter will be The Anatomy of Improvisation, which puts 15 jazzmen under the microscope for the first time, printing the notes of solos and analyzing in detail just what makes Benny run — and Lester, and Teddy, and a dozen more — and why they hit us in our emotional solar plexus. The final chapter, Jazz in 1984, has 10 men (Duke, Satchmo, John Lewis, Giuffre, Gillespie, Woody Herman, etc.) gazing into 10 crystal balls.
The pic on the liner of The Poll Winners (Contemporary 3535) shows Ray Brown, Barney Kessel and Shelly Manne grinning their heads off. Reason: the three were winners in the 1956-57 PLAYBOY, Down Beat and Metronome polls. (Elsewhere in this issue, you'll see they did it again this time around as far as PLAYBOY'S readers are concerned.) Pyrotechnics are gratifyingly absent in this disc; the guitar, bass and drums make delightful and intricate music (intricate but not that overdone musical embroidery which is too often supposed to be the hallmark of modern jazz) and great charm and good taste characterize the playing on every band. Listen to Kessel's Minor Mood as this trio renders it, or Ellington's Satin Doll, and you'll realize you're in the presence of maestri who love their work.
In addition to starring in Nude with Violin, Noel Coward is also the author and director of this flimsy little comedy. If that sounds pretty much like a one-man show, then you've got the idea: Nude without Noel wouldn't last a week. Back on Broadway after a 20-year absence, Coward plays the part of a black-mailing valet who is aware that his late and celebrated employer was a crashing artistic fraud. From time to time the phony inhabitants of the world of Art catch some exacerbating jabs in the familiar Coward manner, but for the most part the play is a precarious extension of a single, wan joke. At the Belasco, 111 W. 44th, NYC.
No longer content with the small, steady revenue from America's artsycraftsy movie houses, foreign film distributors are making a play for the big cash from the U.S. mass audience, and to reach this audience, they are resorting more and more to the detestable dodge of dubbing. Their reasoning seems to be that the majority of moviegoers will have no truck with printed subtitles on the screen, so they are hiring disembodied American voices to spikka da English on the sound tracks. Dubbing in voices for foreign films is not new, but hitherto it has been restricted to Hollywoodesque trash like Anna, Fabiola and OK Nero; and occasionally a fine film like the French Devil in the Flesh would be released first with subtitles for the art houses, then with dubbed voices for the illiterate. The latest dubbed flick we've suffered through, however, is the third in the charming series which included the undubbed Bread, Love and Dreams and Frisky, and like them, it stars the irresistible Vittorio de Sica. Scandal in Sorrento is admittedly not as good as its predecessors in the series, but it is rendered well-nigh worthless by dubbing. It depends, for what worth it may have, on the high comedic gifts of De Sica. These gifts are roughly one-half vocal. When deprived of his own voice, De Sica seems, for the first time, hollow and hammy: the hack actor who has been hired to mouth the English words cannot "fill" De Sica's stylish, extravagant, Italian gestures and mannerisms. The effect is weird: it is akin to watching this refreshing artist trying to perform through a heavy veil. And — unlike subtitles, to which we adjust with no strain about two seconds after a foreign film starts — the dubbing is a constant irritation that persists throughout the film, leaving us with the distinct feeling of having been cheated. And it's not bad dubbing as dubbing goes: it's just that there is no such thing as "good" dubbing. Despite the attractive presence of Sophia Loren, we urge avoidance of Sorrento on principle. All together now: down with dubbing!
A great welter of sentimental souls throughout Chicagoland took pause recently to face east (toward 610 Fairbanks Ct.) and lift a stirrup cup to the Chez Paree, currently whooping up its 25th anniversary as the nation's oldest and most durable theatre restaurant. The club got its start in the winter of 1932 when Sophie Tucker cracked a quart of champagne against the Chez's nameplate, pranced inside to start the first show and summarily declared, "Revelry is now in order." Down-the-hatch score to date: 210,000 bottles of Scotch; 261,000 jugs of bourbon; and 56,000 quarts of champagne polished off by more than 6,250,000 beaming patrons. What's helped make the Chez a midnight Mecca for Windy Cityites and Visiting Firemen alike has been the club's continuous policy of big-name entertainment, plus a high-kicking, good-looking chorus line called the Adorables. Such show biz luminaries as Joe E. Lewis, Lillian Roth, Harry Richman, Helen Morgan, Benny Fields, Red Skelton. Danny Thomas, Betty Hutton, Danny Kaye, Tony Martin, Jerry Lewis, Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald have done their stuff in the past, and the future line-up looks just as great. Food and fine wines accompany the festivities every night of the week, and it's always smart to phone for a reservation. How do we know all this? The Playboy Building is just around the corner.
The term Beat Generation is an apt coinage to characterize the angry, roving youngsters whom writers like Kerouac have caught in print. But beat is a national phenomenon which knows no barriers of age—or economic or social status. From the dope-addicted frigid cat to the baby-faced imitator wistfully wishing he were vicious, the beat attitude infiltrates all levels of our society. It is examined here by three writers: Herbert Gold analyzes it; Sam Boal takes us to an upper-class beat party in New York; Noel Clad shows us the spiritual glaciation of San Francisco's beatville, a rarefied region of nothing going nowhere, coolly.
The Swinging is Set for seven o'clock but since to be on time – for anything – is definitely not cool, no one will arrive until about eight; but then they will come, these cats. The chicks will arrive mostly in pairs. Once in a while a man will bring a chick but mostly the chicks bring themselves and so do the men.
The Party was swinging by nine, not an early start by Coast standards; by 10 most of the people had arrived except a few stragglers, white collars who'd had tickets to the Civic Center Opera and had gone there either because they still bore a few of the fading earmarks of squares, or because they were so far out that opera gave them some snide, snickering kicks. The place was a ground-floor-through apartment on Green Street near Montgomery, in one of those unidentical, typical San Francisco row houses that stand shoulder to frame shoulder, tilting up the incline of the steep streets like a squad of drunken soldiers at attention on a ramp. Identical bay windows looked out, glazed by the street lights as though they were still afraid of the earthquake of 1906.
The Carefully Dressed Male appreciates the neat elegance of French cuff shirts and dons them for out-of-the-ordinary engagements, be they business or after-dark pleasure. Knowledgeably, he eschews gargantuan cuff accoutrements, adding to his collection only those of conventional size and imaginative design, expressing his individuality (and announcing his hobby) by his choices. The links around us, shown actual size, illustrate what we mean.
The Jordans never spoke of the exam, not until their son, Dickie, was 12 years old. It was on his birthday that Mrs. Jordan first mentioned the subject in his presence, and the anxious manner of her speech caused her husband to answer sharply.
A Round-Bottomed Pin-Up, typical of the cheeky cheesecake that cheered the servicemen of World War II, plays an important part in a new submarine swashbuckler starring Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable, and a contest being sponsored by the film's producers links her to the most popular pin-up of today, the Playboy Playmate.
When Napoleon tried to make his first omelet, he messed it up thoroughly and sorrowfully admitted, "I've given myself credit for much greater talents than I actually possess." Queen Victoria of England was much more realistic about the whole business. She attended a cooking school in London in 1873 where she learned something of the omelet before attempting to create one. Other rulers, too, knew when to pay homage to the omelet. When Leopold II of Belgium arrived in Mont St. Michel in France, and demanded that an omelet be brought to him and served right where he stood on the pavement, the nearby restaurant owner, Madame Poulard, quite properly and proudly refused to serve him. "Tell him he must come inside and eat with the others, or he'll get none of my omelets," she said, and the king yielded.
More than 25,000 Playboy readers made the scene, picking their favorites in the second annual Jazz Poll for a plac e with the 1958 Playboy All-Stars. In selecting the top stars of jazzdom for this dream aggregation, readers proved themselves hip indeed; and comparing the winners with the results of last year's poll confirmed that the champions wear their crowns snugly and it takes a mighty effort to upset them.
Next to Learning how to lose, learning how to win is probably the most important thing in life. I, myself, was illtrained to win as a youth. I belonged to a boys' organization that displayed bravely, in glaring and garish colors, a motto: "He who plays the game straight and hard wins even though he loses."
It is Really Immaterial whether Cheryl Kubert, the disarming skier you see here, is a snow bunny (beginner) or a schussboomer (terror of the slopes); whether she is given to geländeschprungen (dazzling leaps) or snowplowing (tyro tactics). All that really matters is that she makes the cutest sitzmarks we've seen on any ski slope, a talent which must surely cause kindly old Ullr, SchÜtzpatron der skifahrer (the patron saint of skiers) to look upon her with the same approval as we mere mortals. This seems an excellent opportunity to remind everyone that the correct, original Scandinavian pronunciation of "ski" is she. And what sweeter reminder could you wish for than Cheryl?
Edgar and Mary Burton were a somewhat ill-assorted pair, and none of their friends could explain why they had married. Perhaps the cynical explanation was the correct one: Edgar (who was almost 20 years older than his wife) had made a quarter of a million on the stock exchange before retiring at an unusually early age to live the life of a country gentleman and to pursue his one absorbing hobby – astronomy.
APre-Season Check with three of Manhattan's most venerable, yet pace-setting, clothiers has uncovered a handsome quintet of new ideas in raiment for relaxation. The five jackets, you'll note, are way out in front of today's trend toward more color, more variety and a fresh incorporation of detailing that helps spell individuality. All are cut with smart, easy, straight-hanging lines that put the kibosh on exaggeration and make for solid comfort. New, too, are the fabrics employed: roughhewn, husky homespuns; soft tweeds that add the right amount of warmth without weight; shetland wools in District checks; featherweight flannels and luxurious cashmeres. Styling details include lapel piping, unusual linings and slanting pockets — called hacking pockets — borrowed from the traditional hacking coat worn by gentleman riders, all of which help point up the guy who knows how to take his ease while looking his casual best.
Sikkim, in the Himalayas, is now a democracy, one of the youngest in the world. Its first election was in 1953, and its first law in 1955, but, in these few years, the alert Sikkimis have learned not only the outward forms of democracy but many of the realities, subtleties and secrets which, to us in the civilized world, are almost its very soul – parties, platforms, partisan strife, mudslinging, muckraking, windbags, windfalls, major parties, minor parties, pull, plums, padded payrolls, stuffing, roughing, raucous caucuses, brass spittoons in smoke-filled rooms, bosses, losses, lobbies, gobbledygook and gerrymandering, among others. True, some of these practices are not very widespread, but then again, neither is Sikkim itself, its area being 2745 square miles, a bit more than Delaware's. Only a single case, respectively, of stuffing and roughing have been reported in Sikkim. On election day, 1953, a number of voters were roughed up in Psensang, a village, and a ballot box was stuffed in Lhachen, not far away; also it was done inexpertly, and when the ballot box was opened, the ballots were in a wad, and it's clear that Sikkim has further (continued on page 58)Sic Sempen Sikkim(continued from page 55( to go in this particular art. On the credit side, the two major parties, the Nationalists and the Congress, have already struck the perfect attitude of mutual vilification, and the Sikkimi gerrymander puts even New York State's to shame; the Nationalists, who got a fifth as many votes as the Congress, have just as many seats in the Sikkimi Senate. As for lobbies, the most powerful are the landlords'. They held up the Rent Control Bill in 1953, 1954 and most of 1955, but it got on the floor in 1955 and it passed. The first law of Sikkim is a model of the democratic idiom. A random sentence is this one: "Where the landlord recovers possession of any premises from the tenant by virtue of a decree obtained under section (5) and the premises are not occupied by him or by the person for whose benefit the premises were acquired within two months of the date of vacation of the premises, or thorough overhauling is not commenced within one month of the date of vacation of the premises by the tenant, the Sikkim Durbar may let out the premises on a standard rent."
In the Great Empire of Russia, not far from the city of Kiev, there once lived a wealthy moujik who had a son named Peter. The lad was tall and handsome, with a ready wit and a quick smile, but he caused his father no little distress by his apparent unwillingness to work. Instead of helping supervise the sugar beet farm that was the source of the family's well-being, Peter preferred to spend his time basking in the sun or exchanging jokes with the young maid-servants.
Mark this one down in advance: jazz aficionados – scholars, performing cats and just plain toe-tappers – will have an opportunity to make the current jazz scene in Rome, Paris and London via a 17-day tour leaving New York by air on May 1. The romp covers a good sampling of the offbeat bistros and cafes where our Continental cousins blow their brains out nightly and mightily; tour members toting their own horns will get a chance to sit in on jam sessions at all principal joints. Total cost is under $1000.