Music hath had charms to soothe savage breasts, soften rocks and bend knotted oaks even before William Congreve pointed it out back in 1697. In 1959, the national magazine (outside the music field) that is doing the most to advance breast-soothing, rock-softening and oak-bending in the modern manner is Playboy. No other brings its readers such complete and definitive coverage of the jazz scene, Playboy's Jazz Editor, noted authority Leonard Feather, regularly contributes articles and reviews; musicians Dave Brubeck and Benny Goodman have written for us, and so has Newport's skipper, George Wein; personality sketches of Sinatra, Satchmo, Bernstein, Bird, Kenton, Mabel Mercer, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis, The Dorsey Brothers, André Previn and other musical luminaries have appeared; such powerful storytellers as James Jones and Charles Beaumont have even wrought strong, evocative fiction on jazz themes for Playboy -- stories so authentic that two were chosen for the book Eddie Condon's Treasury of Jazz. Playboy's annual Jazz Poll is the biggest, most successful music poll ever conducted, and certainly the most significant statement on popular taste in jazz available anywhere. The Playboy All-Star LPs (produced on Playboy's own label) are spinning on turntables all over the country. For the results of the third annual Playboy Jazz Poll -- plus a new note, a polling of the All-Stars themselves to pick the All-Stars' All-Stars -- please modulate to page 47 of this swinging February number.
If you are given to scanning shipping registers in your idle moments, you may already have noticed, along with the Queen Mary and the United States, the following entry in the register put out by Lloyds of London:
It doesn't rank with their finest efforts, but Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, in Flower Drum Song, have come up with a lively, good-looking, and professionally expert entertainment. Using C. Y. Lee's best-seller of the same name, Hammerstein and Joseph Fields fashioned a conventional plot that revolves around the conflict between the orthodox old and the brash young in San Francisco's Chinatown. A boy (Ed Kenney) wants to marry a girl (Pat Suzuki) who is a stripper, and mistress of the strip-joint's owner (Larry Blyden). The boy's father (Keye Luke) and aunt (Juanita Hall) want him to marry a docile import from the Old Country (Miyoshi Umeki). The manner in which the situation is resolved is less valuable for its emotional impact than for the opportunity it gives the writers to make the best of two possible worlds. Gene Kelly directs briskly, Carol Haney's choreography is probably the best of the year, the Oliver Smith sets and Irene Sharaff costumes are opium dreamy, and Rodgers' score is as varied as a Chinese-American dish should be. At the St. James, 246 W. 44th, NYC.
The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker, like many a fulsome lather, is inordinately proud of his large brood of children. His staid neighbors in the Philadelphia of the 1890s feel something less than admiration for his fecundity when they learn he has sired his flock by servicing two wives concurrently. Clifton Webb is his usual happily snotty self in the title role, and Walter Reisch's screen treatment of Liam O'Brien's play turns out to be almost daring. Unfortunately, Webb's conflicts with his upset Philly wife and other disapproves are resolved in a somewhat soapy manner, but Henry Levin's spirited direction and Webb's ingratiating arrogance compensate for the weepiness. Others in the cast are Dorothy McGuire and Charles Coburn. It isn't a Captain's Paradise, but it's amusingly buoyant bigamy nevertheless.
MGM has spawned a new and highly vocal infant, name of Metrojazz Records. Of the two initial releases -- both cut under the aegis of our own Leonard Feather -- the one more likely to become a conversation piece is Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass (Metrojazz E1002). On one side of the disc the fast-soaring young tenor man is backed for the first time (and about time, too) by a big band. Arrangements and conducting were left to the capable pen and baton of Ernie (ex-Basie) Wilkins, who made unusual use of a tuba (Don Butterfield's), which plays parallel lines with the tenor. Sonny's own tune, Grand Street, boasts about as boisterously exciting a big-band sound as anything we've heard lately.
Saul Bellow, who scored a beat on the Beatniks in The Adventures of Augie March, is still swinging way out and wild in Henderson the Rain King (Viking, $4.50), which might be subtitled "On the Road in Darkest Africa." At 52, Gene Henderson, a plush lush with a build like Carnera and neuroses to match, having gone through two marriages and turned his estate into a pig-farm, heeds an inner voice which keeps saying I want (but won't tell him what), and next thing we know he's juggernauting through the jungle. A knight-aberrant, he does all the right things with all the wrong results. He's loved by an African Queen--but she's barrel-fat; he tries to solve her domain's water shortage with gunpowder--but it blows up in his face; and though he qualifies as Rain King for another tribe, he discovers that being in line for the Kingship means satisfying 20 women--on pain of strangulation. So he sees the handwriting on the kraal and blasts off for home, having learned that being, not becoming, is the true goal. It's all heavily freighted with symbolism, but Bellow pays the freight with high-pressure prose, a strong overlay of sardonic humor and jet-propelled narrative drive. If it's a little like sitting in on an existentialist's nightmare, at least it's something you won't soon forget.
The Lean young man in Ivy stepped into the spotlight on the small stage of The Cloister in Chicago. "We have some celebrities with us in the audience this evening," he said. "Sitting ringside are two boys in show business who got their start right here in the Windy City--the wonderful Loeb and Leopold.
The most serene Republic of San Marino, an awesome, almost impregnable mountain of rock in northern Italy, is not only the oldest and smallest democracy in the world but, in the strictest sense of the word, is the only one. A short time ago, it had a Communist government and, as everybody surely knows by now, it had a civil war and has thrown the rascals out. The reaction to this in the American papers was one of almost eleutheromaniac joy. The Christian Science Monitor called it "a victory"; The New York Times called it "an unprecedented triumph"; and what with all the hullabaloo, you'd think the Sammarinesi had finally fought their way out of slavery -- out of the salt mines, perhaps. Well, I was in San Marino when the Communists were there, and damned if I could see what the shouting was about. San Marino wasn't a police state by any means. The people I saw were happy and unafraid and seemed to be running their own affairs, peacefully and rather well. I was told, in San Marino, that the Communists there are not really Communists but something else, and the people who told me were apparently right. The "Communosts," who had been running the place a dozen years, still hadn't nationalized the industries (continued on page 38)Postage Stamp(continued from page 29) or collectivized the farms -- "It would hurt production," they said. Their ties, if any, with the International Communist Conspiracy, or even with the U.S.S.R., were pretty tenuous: they had a consul general in New York City but nobody at all in Moscow, and I learned that the U.S.S.R. abstained from voting when, in 1953, San Marino was approved for the International Court of Justice. There was an opposition party in San Marino when I was there, the Christian Democrats, who flourished. Nobody in the Christian Democrats had been tortured, tried, shot or sent to a labor camp, although a lawyer of theirs was stopped by the police in 1949 and asked to open his briefcase; he told them to mind their own business, and they did. After much digging and prying, I was able to learn from the Christian Democrats a few cases of what they would call Communist tyranny. At times, the Christian Democratic newspaper had been censored, once after saying the government was led by "traitors and infidels who have prostituted our country to evil and corruption and have caused the bones of our patron saint to tremble in his grave." An Italian priest who said the same men were murderers and assassins was told to go home. Signor Guidobaldi Gozi and two friends were put in jail after a Fascist demonstration; Signor Giuseppe Righi and a friend were put in jail after slandering the foreign minister; all of them were let out shortly after. Signor Cesare Bonelli, a tourist, was put in jail, and everybody was red as a beet. That is all. It's true, of course, that nobody is wholly free when any of this can happen, but even the most zealous of the Christian Democrats I saw agreed that things were considerably worse in the Russian satellite countries.
"Brigitte Bardot is the dream woman of all middle-aged married men." When I read this, in an advertisement of her latest cinema striptease, I fell into deep thought. Sometimes I fall into shallow thought, but this time I went all the way down and have not been able to surface for several weeks.
French Chefs who sneer at German cooking are taken down a peg or two when they are reminded that some of France's most famous foods are really of German origin: frogs' legs, for instance, and even paté de foie gras, which turns up on German menus as Gänseleberpasteteschnitte. In our own country (without even mentioning the ubiquitous hamburger and frankfurter), it can be pointed out that the oldest and most individual of all regional cookery are the dishes brought to America from Germany several centuries ago and still served by the Pennsylvania Germans, who are often mistakenly called the Pennsylvania Dutch. A skillful German cook must have vinegar in his veins. The tart accent appears in everything from beer soup with lemon juice, to sauerbraten, to the wild mushrooms from the Black Forest served in a sour cream sauce. But sheer sourness is by no means the whole story. When you cook sauerkraut, for instance, you don't just dump the kraut in the pot and forget it. Neither do you press it in the pot, nor do you beat it, lest the individual shreds be broken. You cook it over a gentle slow fire, tossing it lightly with a long fork until it's soft but not mashed. Invariably, some cut of meat with a unique flavor like corned spareribs or smoked loin of pork (known in this country as Canadian bacon) is placed in the pot, the primary purpose being to groom the sauerkraut rather than to cook the meat. For flavor embellishment, a minced onion, grated apple, grated potato, a few caraway seeds or even a touch of ginger will be added to make the blend as cozy and mellow as possible. Sometimes a counterbalancing sweet ingredient is called for. For instance, when wine vinegar is added to red cabbage, a spoonful of currant jelly goes in at the same time.
Among the Ancient mysteries of Zen which today's beat Buddhists are rediscovering is the contemplation of one's navel. But even the beatest of the beat have not yet formulated the precise nature of the enlightenment which is deemed to ensue on this downward dwelling.
A lovely-visaged valentine to brighten the short drear days of the year's shortest month, Eleanor Bradley became our February Playmate almost by accident -- or was it fate? A small-town girl from the Midwest, she'd looked forward with excitement to her first West Coast vacation, to the wonderful time she'd have in sun and surf. And fun she had; but what Eleanor didn't anticipate -- and what proved to be the high point of her vacation -- was that our photographer would discover her strolling the glistening strand, and that this would lead to her becoming our valentine Playmate. We believe our readers will share our feeling -- after gazing on her tawny beauty -- that fate was kind indeed to bring us this sweet siren by the sea.
To keep both magazine and readers in closer touch with the ever changing jazz scene, Playboy has added an exciting innovation to its annual poll. We went to the jazz artists who were chosen a year ago for All-Star honors and asked them to pick their own favorite performer in each category. As a result, this year sterling silver Jazz Medals are being awarded to the 29 men and a girl who won a place on the 1959 Playboy All-Star Jazz Band, plus a special group of 16 All-Stars' All-Stars selected by the musicians themselves.
Ed Baker Stayed Dumb, though puzzled, to the last -- which was when Randal Wilcox put the last can of microfilm in the suitcase. Randal had to lift up the sheaf of papers to fit it in, and Baker recognized the one on top and he gave a startled squeak. He put out one hand. "The Project Director ----" He said that much before Randal Wilcox shot him.
There are a whole host of ways to make like a host, whether you're entertaining a single dark-haired, sloe-eyed lovely, throwing a formal dinner party for six or supervising a giant cocktail fest. In each case, you'll naturally want the correct accoutrements: plenty of ice, sparkling glassware, tempting foodstuffs and an ample supply of booze to help create an atmosphere of conviviality. And as host, you'll want to don duds that set you off without ostentation.
Romantic meandering among nature's glories -- as they flourish on the urban scene -- is a proper pursuit for the frisky fellow who wants to do his share to make the world go round. But like anything worth doing well, whether it's the taming of shrews or the happier occupation of stalking delicate prey, there are certain perils involved. Luckily, these are not too hard to avoid and may be quickly charted as a ready guide to the amorous huntsman. In general, the fairer the game, the more alert you must be. The gambit is to win over the wild creature without yourself being won. Many's the unwary chap who has complimented himself on his skill at attaining his ends, only to discover, too late, that the hunter was the hunted, that he had set his snares so cunningly that it was he who was ensnared. This is not necessary; the ancient rules of the chase may be applied with equal effectiveness to today's quarry.
Those who really savvy Spain make it their travel headquarters in April, when its cove-nicked Riviera is at its best. It's all available in one or another of the package tours (for example Cordova, Seville and Granada in eight days for $200 including the best of everything through Andalusia); but we prefer a circuitous route of our own: by plane via Lisbon to Tangier where the luxury of the sheiks waits at El Minzah hotel. An Arab guide will show you the way through the winding little streets of the teeming, pungent Casbah with its open-front stores, where you'll sit on rich carpets and sip tiny, burning cups of coffee while bargaining for an Arabian dagger or inlaid damascene ware.