Archive for September, 2009

Artist Ray Mc Cray shows the Magruder Piano

September 19, 2009

See to believe! The Piano Adventure.

Opening: October 10, – November 15, 2009

William Grant Still Arts Center
2520 West View Street
Los Angeles, CA 90016-2815

323 734 1164
Open Hours Noon-5p M-Su

Snooky, at 90, a Tribute…

September 19, 2009


Wow….can Mitch Glickman and LACMA put on a party!!!

Last Friday, Sept. 11, LACMA and the LA Jazz Society presented the inaugural “L.A. Jazz Treasure Award” to Jazz trumpet legend Snooky Young. The evening featured a tribute band: Ricky Woodard, Ira Nepus, Chuck Findley, Ed Shaughnessy, Jennifer Leitham and Rich Eames… plus Snooky! As a special treat, guest trumpeters; Rick Baptist, Arturo Sandoval, Charlie Davis and Bobby Rodriguez joined Chuck and Snooky for a riotous performance. Before the standing-room-only crowd. What can I say….we loved it. It was wild beating-hearts and whoopee-time! I was so glad I could be there… besides, I got lots of hugs from so many friends…..

It was a great evening!

I should get out more often…

The Right Notes

September 19, 2009

My Dad fancied himself the “Jazz DJ” in my family’s household as I was growing up.

Django….mmmm, Swing…..yea; Be Bop….wow., Parker-Diz-Miles-Monk…Monk!

When I was about 8 years old, Dad played Monk’s “April in Paris” for me. Being a piano student, I worked hard to play all the right notes. I really gave myself to some serious practice…even at that age. Well, after a couple of listens to that piece…I asked Dad why Monk recorded that beautiful song when it was obvious to me that he didn’t know the “Right Notes”!!

Dad laughed and tried to explain (at my level) that Monk was trying to be creative with the same notes that I knew, but was using them in a different way. Fascinating….! Of course I grew up to lead my own Band, “The Magruder Monktet”. Ta Dah!!!!

When Bears are Be-ahs

September 19, 2009

I remember doing a big USO Christmas Show at the Shrine Auditorium when I was 4. I played the baby bear in a production number of Phil Harris’ jazzy “The Three Bears”. Wearing my auburn curls, and fuzzy bear ears and suit, I was supposed to pop up and sing my part a number of times….on cue. “Be-ah ba ba wee be-ah – said da widdo wee be-ah” apparently was pretty cute and the audience really laughed. Can you imagine….at my age….3000 people reacting to something I did? WOW! The next cues were anticipated by the crowd so I got even bigger laughs. I was hooked…for life.

At the end, reminded of the W.C. Fields’ saying “Don’t work with kids or dogs”…Phil Harris, Bob Hope, and Jack Benny agreed… “Well, we won’t work with this one again!” They did work with me, but it was a while before I realized they were just kidding.

Bill Fulton Band At Catalina Bar and Grill

September 19, 2009

FREE Sampler CD at this Event
Host: Bill Fulton
Album: “About 12 A.M.”

One set only: 8:00 P.M. – 9:30PM
Wed. Sept. 30, 2009
Location: Catalina Bar and Grill, Hollywood
RSVP to this Event

The Piano Adventure

September 7, 2009

This is the weirdest adventure a piano could ever have.
In 1965, John (Magruder) bought a small, 1930’s baby grand from the owner of a Jazz-bar off Central Avenue in L.A. It was in pretty sorry shape, so John refinished and reconditioned it. This piano, through the years in our living room, was played by myself and many luminaries…Horace Silver, Alan Broadbent, Alan Steinberger and lots of others. But it saw its best days as the instrument John used as a composer and arranger.

After John passed away, I realized that if I was going to reform the Monktet, I would need to get another piano. It was a tough decision….this piano had “history”, and I was emotionally attached to it, if that’s possible. But it had to go.

So I traded it in when I bought the bigger Kawai that I have now. It would be used for spare parts, I was sure. What a sad way to end.

But wait….just after the movers left, my friend, designer Greg Dahl said that he and artist Ray McCray were looking for a piano for a new art project. I called the piano company and they said, “Sure, we’ll donate for art’s sake!”. It was taken to Ray’s south Los Angeles studio in August 2003. Since then, it has become an amazing entity unto itself. (See pictures). All the keys have been signed by local and other well-known Jazz Artists. Best of all….the lowest key was dedicated to John. I signed it as did the nine members of the Monktet. A nice touch.

Watching the transformation of our little piano into the wild and truly crazy, unique art piece has left me nearly without words. The bright rainbow colors, the variety of media, the pictures of Jazz-players (John, Monk, Miles, etc.)….well, whodathunk?!!!

The piece is finally complete and will be on display at the William Grant Stills Gallery October 10 through November 15, 2009, it’s worth a visit. Stay tuned for updates.

Whole Notes

September 2, 2009

Some nights are just that way… perfect. August 24, 2009, The Bill Fulton Band played a concert shown live on the internet via Network Concerts. Those of us who were there could feel the energy of this fantastic band… and the music… What can I say… Bill Fulton Rocks!

Most of the music played was from Bill’s new CD “About 12:00 am” and the soloists kept the majority of the audience on their feet the whole evening. Memorable… very memorable. Jazz DJ Scott Willis was the host… they performed at Tim Pinch’s new studio in Glendale. I think everyone left the place happily a-twinkle! Look for more.

Some of you may have noticed… that I have sort of played “favorites” in writing about the Monktet, Bill Fulton and Larry Williams… on purpose. I totally believe that all three deserve the careers of their dreams. Their talent, in a town that’s full of it, needs to be noticed… so, I am dedicated to “tooting their Horns”… in the only way I know. Please support them… They’ll love you for it. You will be enjoyably rewarded for your effort.

Something about Miles
In 1958, just after he recorded “Porgy and Bess”, I met Miles Davis. It was at a private, very exclusive Gun Club owned by Roy Rogers. He came up to me and introduced himself saying… “you’re funny. You look like a play-thing… but you can think and talk… and you can shoot like a mother-f*cker! Will you teach me?” I tried… first with shotguns, then with large calibre rifles. I’m afraid he lost interest after about a month. I introduced him to fellow shooters, such as Clark Gable and Tyrone Power. My first Husband and I maintained a frendship with Miles for about three years.

Shooting… who me? You betcha! From the mid ‘50’s through the early ‘70’s I was an internationally recognized championship shooter (shotguns)… the All American Team, World Championship (4th place), The Pan-American Championship (1st place -twice!) and many others.

When I was a kid, I was never good at sports… I was too decorative, probably. My dad told me not to worry… that I should keep trying different sports and I would find the one that I could do. I did. A surprise to everyone… it was shooting. Not too many women were competing at that level, in those days. I eventually owned my own gun club and even wrote a national Magazine Column, “Babes and Arms”. The title was not my Idea.

Throughout my life, situations or just plain curiosity have caused me to re-invent myself. Shooting was only one… But I always returned to some form of involvement in music… like this very moment. What’s next? Who knows? Stick around.