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Harry Babasin's Jazz In Hollywood


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Hello organissimo - thanks for hosting such a great jazz board.

To introduce myself, my name is Von Babasin, I am a working bassist in the L.A. area, a 20+ year affiliated composer with BMI, a 10+ year member of Musician's Local #47, a voting member of NARAS, and I'm an advisor to the board of directors of Los Angeles Music Week. I have an extensive background in all aspects of film and video production and direction as well. I am also the son of one of the most innovative and creative jazz bassist-producers in Hollywood, Harry Babasin, who made his most significant marks in the forties and fifties.

I've read some very cool comments here in relation to the Nocturne Record label - it's heart-warming to see there's still support for west coast jazz out there. Some of you have actually visited my Jazz In Hollywood website. We have recently received our official 501c(3) non-profit status from the IRS so I am starting to write grant proposals to raise money to remaster the archives I've spoken about on our site. Yes - they are different from the releases by Fresh Sound and Fantasy - they span four decades - recording all of Harry's and Roy's friends that would come through town.

Even more significant, I have been accepted for fiscal sponsorship by the New York Foundation for the Arts to produce a documentary film about my father's life and his contributions to west coast jazz history. "Harry Babasin's Jazz In Hollywood" is a sponsored project of The New York Foundation for The Arts (NYFA). NYFA is a 501c(3), tax exempt organization founded in 1971 to work with the arts community to develop and facilitate programs in all disciplines. NYFA will receive grants on behalf of "Harry Babasin's Jazz In Hollywood", ensure the use of grant funds in accordance with the grant agreements, and will provide program or financial reports as required.

They have set up a page for me on the NYFA website at -


This will be a film much like the jazz documentary series produced by Ken Burns, but specifically feature the west coast jazz community, and more specifically, my father's contributions. I submitted a 20+ page proposal to NYFA and their quoted response was, "we agree that this is a film that needs to be made". I will now be operating under the umbrella of their non-profit status to raise funds to make the film, with their endorsement, of course. I intend to continue producing a series of films, highlighting the lives of prominent west coast jazz musicians that made an impact.

I have submitted proposals to more than 400 Foundations that support arts and culture.

If any of this inspires you in any way - if you know of anyone you could recommend who might support this type of project - please let me know or have them contact me at:


I hope this doesn't seem to be too 'promotional' of me and the admin lets it stay here. This really is a very significant project - not just a son trying to honor his father - I'm trying to honor all those great musicians and help define an entire artform.

In time, I'll try to get around to some of the questions some of you have asked on various threads on these boards.

Thanks again,

Von Babasin



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Good luck. I very much enjoyed the Jazz in Hollywood set. I also hope to see Command Performance w/ Red Norvo released on CD one of these days. It would be better for a "legit" release, but I'd probably get an EU version if that was the only route.

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Thanks for the well wishes, GA Russell!!!!

Thanks to you too, ejp626!

I would dearly love to release a box-set of the entire Jazzpicker recordings - the first official release was on Mercury/EmArcy, For Moderns Only, which features Buddy Collette on flute and Bob Harrington on vibes. It's really a wonderful album. I found a copy of the commercial release of this album on a seven inch reel-to-reel, complete with the cover on the box and liner notes on the back. The second is Command Performance, with Red Norvo, another Mercury/EmArcy release. It does have Evening in Azerbaijan on it and is indeed a tribute to Parker's Night in Tunisia as mentioned on another thread. The third was the Mode release, remastered on CD by V.S.O.P. Records, Harry Babasin and the Jazzpickers, featuring Terry Gibbs on vibes. This release is called the best of Harry Babasin on the All Music Guide.

I also have an early Jazzpicker recording, the first, that was the original experiment of the 'pickers' group. I also have a series of rare recordings that were made in 1958 called "The Navy Swings", produced as a Navy recruitment series. It's hosted by George Fenneman and it features Charlie Barnet and Jeri Southern, with Harry on cello as part of Charlie's orchestra. George talks about how wonderful the Navy is and then talks with Charlie or Jeri as they bring in the next tune. The curious thing is all the songs that Charlie Barnet plays are from the three Jazzpicker albums - many of my father's original tunes, played with horn arrangements. It's the only time I've ever heard the Jazzpicker catalog with horns - VERY COOL!!!!

And - yes - there's even a version of Evening in Azerbaijan...

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Welcome aboard, Von. Best of luck with your project. I think you'll find a few filmmakers and/or Hollywood types on the boards who might be able to offer help or advice - but it sounds like you know what you're doing.

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Seems like I did well to snap up those two original EmArcy Jazzpickers albums at quite a moderate price on eBay a couple of years ago. Listening to them from time to time (along with the third Harry Babasin album on Mode), I enjoy them very much each time.

Good luck with your projects, and I'd love to see any unreleased material from the Nocturne vaults (beyond of what's on that Nocturne box set on Fresh Sounds) too.

Edited by Big Beat Steve
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Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

In this cultural cesspool that we live in, that's dominated by media created pop stars, it's nice to find a haven of those who still appreciate true instrumental virtuosity...

RDK - thanks for your vote of confidence. I have quite a team of professionals behind me in this production. Plus, I have a lifetime of experience in many different aspects of film and video production and direction. My main drawback is financial - that's where the sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts will help - eventually. In their history, they've given some extremely prominent artists their starts in their various artistic disciplines. The two most prominent filmmakers listed on their site are Spike Lee and Zana Briski. Ms. Briski won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary with her film, Born Into Brothels. So, to have NYFA behind me in this film is huge validation for my life's work.

Steve - the vaults have some rare gems in them. Of course, not every recording is priceless, but each one still helps define west coast jazz over decades of Jazz in Hollywood. And, we intend to build an internet broadcast facility that will help nurture its continuing evolution.

As for sidewinder's comment, it was indeed the Jazzpickers you saw at the Ken Poston event. Though, it wasn't the same group on any of the released vinyls. As with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, whoever played with my father in that setting was then a member of the Jazzpickers. I'm in negotiation to use some of that footage for my father's documentary.

Jazzbo - Mark - and Sal, or should I say, Chewy - thanks for the support!

I'll try to post updates as I plod forward...


Edited by jazzwestcoast
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This is great news! Just a couple of years ago I discovered your father's album on Nocturne with Bob Enevoldsen & also the Steve White session and Herbie Harper that he's on. It's exciting to hear that a documentary is in the works (and more releases too.)

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the Nocturne stuff is excellent, and I do talk about it in my 1950s jazz history which will probably never see the light of day - but that's another story - however, I was wondering if in your archives there is any unreleased Al Haig -

Edited by AllenLowe
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Thanks Quincy - glad you like my dad's work. In an interview with the International Musician magazine back in 1982, Harry estimated he had appeared on roughly 1,500 recordings.

I'm finding more and more each day...

Allen - you are a rare one. It always blows me away when I pick up some book that claims to be a complete history of jazz and not find a single reference to my father. Though, that is changing - the hard copy the most recent printing of the All Music Guide actually has a timeline of cello in jazz and credits my father as the true pioneer. It's very gratifying to see the history books getting rewritten.

Adam - you have quite the filmography! Very impressive. Thanks for your offer of help. First things first, though, I have to get the funding in place. I am due to get some interesting press over the next month that may help spread the word. The key is my NYFA sponsorship. Though, so far, it hasn't made a difference to the 442 foundations I've written to. It's a challenge - I just missed on a Guggenheim Fellowship. After a six month process, they told me they only had 189 Fellowships with 2,800 applicants. Still, I thought my father's story compelling.

They say nothing truly worthwhile comes easy... I just become more resolute in my determination to do what I feel is my destiny...

Thanks again!

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Hi there - I've been away for a week on vacation/research -

Allen - sorry for glossing over your Al Haig question. I do believe we have some recordings of him somewhere. They may have gone over to Fresh Sound but I'm not sure.

Thanks montg - I saw that David Brent Johnson responded to your question about our archives. Some of these recordings were released by Harry and Roy under the label name Jazz Chronicles in the seventies. You can occasionally see them pop up on eBay. Quite a variety of players...

chewy - nice to meet you. Funny thing about west coast jazz - as is anything in Los Angeles, the jazz scene was a melting pot of styles that migrated here through the years. Take my father for instance - he was born and raised in Texas - schooled at North Texas State alongside Herb Ellis and Jimmy Giuffre - toured all over the country for a decade before settling in Hollywood. So many great players came to L.A. in those years - it truly was a hot bed for jazz and has never really got the recognition it deserves...

I'm gonna change all that... ;)

Hi Jim - sorry if you thought this thread misplaced. It may not receive the same attention here but it's your board.

Appreciate you letting me be a part of your community...

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