Marilyn and the Muses of Music

The first time I met somebody who was somebody, was when Marilyn took me up to the Hollywood Hills to meet her good friend, Les McCann, a world famous Jazz Artist. While Les played for us, I looked at my fifteen year old girlfriend – my first lover – and out the window at the light of the city below. This is it, the life I wanted, the life of a Bohemian Artist.

Seeing that we were in love, when Les finished his composition, he looked sternly at me and said;

“You better take care of my little girl here!”

Les and his French wife had adopted Marilyn, her sister Shauna having married Les’s drummer, Ron Jefferson. Marilyn had lived with the McCann’s the previous summer. Marilyn was taking piano lessons in Brentwood, and I went with her to one lesson and sat in the entry of a beautiful home doing a sketch of a cat while my lover’s melodious notes filled my soul. This was the soulful and creative life I dreamed of.

When we broke up wo years later I did a haunting painting of Marilyn and her mother. These women had known poverty. Marie was taking clothes off a line as rain clouds advanced. Her five year old daughter is by her side, watching a man with a black umbrella walk away from them, down the road, into the storm. I knew I would find this little girl in the photos Marilyn handed me yesterday because Marilyn had described this image. That painting hung in my first art show at the New Balladeer, a coffe shop that was once a tea house Marioyn and I discovered. We went there after school. I drew my young lover as classical music played on hidden radio. My life’s course was set in stone. What could ever go wrong?

It was at the New Balladeer that sixteen year old Melinda Frank met Sky, her first lover. One day two men in trench coats came in and threw Sky up against the wall and told him to get out of town – or else! A week later he was found dead with is face burned off with a blowtorch. Sky looked just like Jesus. When Melinda saw
my death mask Bill had made, she had to have it. She kept it by her bed. She was in love with it. Bryan wanted me to break up with Melinda, he blaming her for his good friend’s death. He would go on the play with the famous rock group, Love, the first racially mixed rock and roll group.

A year later I and Christine are living in a famous San Francisco commune with Nancy Hamren and the Zorhtian sisters. Their father was a famous Beat Artist who was a good friend of Charlie Parker. I dropped acid and partied at the Zorthian Ranch in 1966.

In 1979 I married Marianne Thoraldson, who lived with the famous author, Thomas Pynchon, for several years. They went to Cornell, and were close with the famous musicians, Richard and Mimmi Farina, who my artistic wife did a portrait of. Pynchon was into Jazz, and refers to Charlie Parther in his novels. Marilyn made the dress Maryanne wore at our wedding. Bryan was in attendance, and sang several of his songs. Marilyn- cried.

These people are the peers of a beautiful brother and sister who everyone believed would love each other till the day they die. Then my sister became a world famous artist, and then – they came and attached themselves to Fame, and any fame would do, because these are not creative, musical, or artistic people. They drove wedges between my sister after they captured her – to this very day!

Jon Presco

Copyright 2011

Born in Beverly Hills, 1946, Bryan’s father was an architect to the Hollywood stars and his mother an artist and a dancer.  Neighbor Frederick Loewe of the famous Broadway composers Lerner & Loewe recognized him as a melodic genius at the age of three as he doodled on the piano.  Bryan’s early influences were more Billie Holiday and George Gershwin rather than Robert Johnson, although
he confessed a strong obsession for Elvis Presley.  During his childhood he wore out show music records from ‘Guys & Dolls’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘South Pacific’ and ‘West Side
Story’.  His first girlfriend was Liza Minnelli and they would sit at the piano together and sing songs from ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  He learned to swim in Elizabeth Taylor’s pool and his father’s best friend was Robert Stack from T.V’s “The Untouchables”.  At 17, Bryan encountered the Beatles, “Before the Beatles I had been into folk music. I had been showing my art work at a panel shop (I wanted to be an artist in the bohemian tradition) where we would sit around with banjos and do folk music. But when I saw ‘A Hard Days Night’ everything changed. I let my hair grow out and I got kicked out of three high schools.”
    Bryan started playing guitar in 1963.  He got a job at the New Balladeer in West L.A., playing backup, and it was here that he met the pre-Byrds Jet Set and became fast friends with David Crosby.  He moved away from home and by early 1965 he became road manager for the Byrds on their first California tour with the Rolling Stones.  He managed one more cross-country tour with the group after they hit big with “Mr. Tambourine Man”, but the exhausting 30 one-nighters broke him physically and when the Byrds left for their first U.K. tour in the summer of 1965, they left Bryan behind.
After an unsuccessful audition for a part in “The Monkees”, Bryan got into a car on Sunset Strip which Arthur Lee was driving.  Arthur had a band called the Grass Roots doing a residency at the Brave New World club and being street-wise, knew Bryan’s ‘connections’ with the Byrds.  He knew that all of the scene that followed the Byrds would follow Bryan if he invited him to see the band play at the club, as the Byrds were out of town.  And sure enough, after a couple of weeks the crowds were lined up and down the street for blocks.  Bryan desperately wanted to join the band and he said, “I’d give my right arm to be in your group,” to which Arthur responded “No – you’re going to need it!” The Grass Roots became Love when another group registered a hit with the name.

Les McCann(born September 23, 1935, Lexington, Kentucky) is an Americansoul jazz piano player and vocalist whose biggest successes came as a crossover artist into R&B and soul.

1 Biography
2 Discography
3 Appeared on
4 Samples
5 References
6 External links
[edit] Biography
McCann’s main career began in the early 1960s when he recorded with his trio for Pacific Jazz Records.[1]
In 1969, Atlantic Records released Swiss Movement, a recording of McCann with regular collaborator and saxophonist Eddie Harris and guest trumpeter Benny Bailey at that year’s Montreux Jazz Festival.[2]The album contained the song “Compared To What,” and both the album and the single were huge Billboard pop chart successes. “Compared To What” featured political criticism of the Vietnam War. The song was not actually written by McCann; fellow Atlantic composer/artist Eugene McDaniels(A Hundred Pounds of Clay) wrote it years earlier. “Compared To What” was initially recorded and released by soul vocalist Roberta Flack. Her version appeared as the opening track on her debut recording, First Take (1969).
After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann — primarily a piano player — began to emphasize his rough-hewn vocals more. He became an innovator in the soul jazzstyle, merging jazz with funk, soul and world rhythms; much of his early 1970s music prefigures the great Stevie Wonderalbums of the decade. He was among the first jazz musicians to include electric piano, clavinet, and synthesizer in his music.
In 1971, he and Harris were part of a group of soul, R&B, and rock performers — including Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers, Santana and Ike & Tina Turner — who flew to Accra, Ghana for a historic 14-hour concert before more than 100,000 Ghanaians. The March 6 concert was recorded for the documentary film Soul To Soul. In 2004 the movie was released on DVD with an accompanying soundtrack album.
McCann discovered Roberta Flackand obtained an audition which resulted in a recording contract with Atlantic Records.
A stroke in the mid 1990s sidelined McCann for a while,[1]but in 2002 he released a new album, Pump it Up.

Drummer Ron Jefferson was fixture of the postwar New York City bop landscape, collaborating with giants ranging from Lester Young to Coleman Hawkins. Born in the Big Apple on February 13, 1926, Jefferson begin his career as a tap dancer before turning to drums, touring and recording with a who’s who of bebop greats that also included Charles Mingus, Freddie Redd, and Roy Eldridge. He also spent a number of years in support of Oscar Pettiford, and with fellow Pettiford alums Charlie Rouse and Julius Watkins formed the Jazz Modes in 1957. When the trio split two years later, Jefferson signed on with Les McCann before settling in Los Angeles. There he cut his first session as a leader, the Pacifica date Love Lifted Me, in 1962, in addition to playing behind Groove Holmes, Zoot Sims, Carmell Jones, and Joe Castro. Jefferson also toured with the Roland Kirk-led Jazz and People’s Movement, and spent a number of years in Paris, drumming behind Hazel Scott and teaching music for the U.S. Embassy. In 1976, he also cut Vout Etes Swing! for the Catalyst label. Upon returning to New York, Jefferson hosted the cable TV series Miles Ahead with fellow drummer John Lewis. Despite a steady work schedule, he never attained the visibility or renown of many of his contemporaries, and after a brief illness died in Richmond, VA, on May 7, 2007. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

American jazz drummer Ron Jefferson died Monday, May 7, 2007 at age 81. He had been in St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, New York since late April, due to an debilitating illness.

Ron Jefferson was a bebop-schooled drummer who performed and recorded with many artists during the 1950s and ’60s.

Among these eminent players are Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Randy Weston, Freddie Redd, Joe Roland, Joe Pass and Oscar Pettiford.

In the late 1950s the drummer was member of Jazz Modes, a group with Charlie Rouse and Julius Watkins. Other artists Jefferson worked with include pianist Les McCann’s trio, organist Groove Holmes, Lou Rawls, Zoot Sims, The Joe Castro Trio, Tricky Lofton and Victor Feldman.

In the early 1960s Jefferson relocated from Los Angeles, US to Paris, France where he took part in the lively jazz community. While giving a free concert with his Jazz Choir group in Paris during the mid-’60s, Jefferson met Ms. S. Jenika, whom he would later marry.

Ron Jefferson had made two recordings in France, ‘The Speaker’ and ‘Every Little Bit Helps’, but due to a lack of promotion these release never got the attention they deserved. It made Jefferson return to New York with hopes that Jefferson’s music would garner more attention and acclaim, but to no avail.

Ron Jefferson is survived by three daughters and one son, his former wife Ms. Jenika (they divorced in the 1970s), and Ms. Maxine Smith, his companion for the past 15 years. His funeral was held on May 14 at Joseph Jenkins Jr. Funeral Home in Richmond, Virginia.

 Artist links

Ron Jefferson

Bryan MacLean (September 25, 1946 – December 25, 1998) was an American singer, guitarist and songwriter, most known for his work with the influential rock band Love. His famous compositions for Love include “Alone Again Or” and “Old Man”.

1 Early life
2 Early music career
3 The Grass Roots
4 Love
5 Spiritual conversion and solo music career
6 External links
[edit] Early life
Bryan MacLean’s father was an architect to the Hollywood stars and his mother an artist and a dancer. Neighbor Frederick Loewe, of the composers Lerner & Loewe, recognized him as a “melodic genius” at the age of three as he doodled on the piano. His early influences were Billie Holliday and George Gershwin, although he confessed to an obsession with Elvis Presley. During his childhood he wore out show music records from Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, South Pacific and West Side Story. His first girlfriend was Liza Minnelli and they would sit at the piano together singing songs from The Wizard of Oz. He learned to swim in Elizabeth Taylor’s pool and his father’s good friend was actor Robert Stack.
At 17, Bryan heard The Beatles: “Before the Beatles I had been into folk music. I had wanted to be an artist in the bohemian tradition, where we would sit around with banjos and do folk music, but when I saw A Hard Day’s Night everything changed. I let my hair grow out and I got kicked out of high school.”
[edit] Early music career
Bryan started playing guitar professionally in 1963. He got a job at the Balladeer in West Hollywood playing folk and blues guitar. The following year, the club changed its name to the Troubadour. His regular set routine was a mixture between Appalachian folk songs and delta blues, and he also frequently covered Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues”. It was there he met the founding musicians of The Byrds, Gene Clark and Jim McGuinn, when they were rehearsing as a duo. Bryan became good friends with Gene Clark. During that time, Bryan also became friends with songwriter Sharon Sheeley, who fixed him up on his first date with singer Jackie De Shannon.
With MacLean as equipment manager, the Byrds went on the road to promote their first single “Mr. Tambourine Man”. By the time the Byrds left for their first UK tour, MacLean was exhausted and stayed behind.
After an unsuccessful audition for a place in The Monkees, Bryan got into a car on the Sunset Strip that Arthur Lee was driving. Lee’s band, The Grass Roots (not to be confused with the popular rock band of the same name), was the house band at a club called the Brave New World. Lee knew that the colorful dancers and the scene that had followed the Byrds would follow Bryan, if Bryan joined his band, so Lee took Bryan to sit in with them at The Brave New World.
[edit] The Grass Roots
The members of the Grass Roots were Arthur Lee (vocals, harmonica, guitar, keyboards, drums), Johnny Echols (lead guitar, vocals), Johnny Fleckenstein (bass), Don Conka (drums), and Bryan MacLean (rhythm guitar, vocals). Despite the success of Lee and the others at the Los Angeles club, another Los Angeles band led by P.F. Sloan was first to record under the name the Grass Roots, which spurred Lee to change the name of his band to Love.
[edit] Love
Jac Holzman’s Elektra Records signed Love, and they had a minor hit with their version of the Bacharach/David tune “My Little Red Book” and released their debut album Love to which Bryan contributed the melodic “Softly to Me” as well as co-writing two other songs. He also contributed The Byrds’ arrangement of “Hey Joe”, which he performed live.
In 1966, Love hit #33 on the US national chart with their pre-punk single “7 & 7 is”, followed by their second album, in March 1967 Da Capo, featuring MacLean’s critically acclaimed “Orange Skies”.
In November 1967, amidst the destruction of the band by an addiction to hard drugs, the main line up of Love held together long enough to create their third and final album, Forever Changes, which is considered one of the finest rock albums ever, e.g., #40 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the top 500 albums of all time, #6 on NME ‘s (New Music Express) 100 Best Albums Of All Time (2003) and #11 on Virgin’s All-Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).
MacLean’s “Alone Again Or” is the opening track with Arthur Lee providing the lead vocals. The test of time has shown that MacLean’s composition (as well as the recording itself) has become a true classic.

Jirayr Zorthian was born in Turkish Armenia in 1911. As such, he was fortuitously positioned to experience the Armenian Genocide, which followed soon after. He and his immediate family, although psychically scarred, miraculously survived the experience. They immigrated to the United States in 1922 settling in New Haven, Connecticut.

Jirayr, the oldest sibling of three boys, was clearly talented as an artist and his parents encouraged him to develop this ability at an early age. His capacity flourished through his teenage years until he was granted a full college scholarship to the Yale School of fine arts.

Following his graduation from Yale he was granted a fellowship to study abroad and he traveled around Europe and North Africa for several years in the 1930s, studying art, architecture and experiencing the rise of fascism in Italy, Germany and Spain. He returned to participate in Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA projects for artists, becoming a muralist of some note. A number of his murals survive to this day in State capitals and in Post offices on the East Coast and in the south.

During World War II Jirayr was inducted into the U.S. army where he produced propaganda posters for the war effort and a 157-foot long mural for the pentagon, which he considered to be his crowning achievement as a fine artist. Following the war Jirayr and his first wife, Betty Williams, came to the Los Angeles area where they purchased 27 acres in the foothills of Altadena. Jirayr began the process of building structures on the property and began to pour more of his energy into creating architecture from materials that were discarded by builders and local municipalities.

Jirayr received the property as part of his divorce settlement from his first wife in 1954. Several years later he married his second wife Dabney and they purchased 21 more acres below the upper property. This brought the total acreage owned by the Zorthians to 48 acres. Jirayr and Dabney Zorthian also ran a summer camp for children at the ranch, for over 25 years.

Over time Jirayr created a number of different buildings and assembly spaces which reflect the unique esthetic that he developed; building with concrete, river rock, broken concrete and telephone poles.

Beyond his talent as an artist, Jirayr was intensely social and had a wide and diverse circle of friends. The Zorthian ranch was the site of many parties and other events including jazz performances, retreats, and movie shoots.

Jirayr died January 6, 2004 at 92 years old after having spent the past 57 years working on his ranch. His wife Dabney died 2 years later. He is survived by his children Barry, Seyburn, Toby, Alan and Alice. His son Alan is living on the property.

Jirayr Zorthian was a painter and sculptor whose large ranch was known for wild parties attended by hordes of intellectuals, artists and naked women frolicking about. Thus it’s easy to see why Charlie Parker wound up there in 1952. This concert captures a moment that is mentioned in every serious Parker discography, but is only available now for the first time.
This session was not a formal concert performance, but rather an informal musical party, and thus featured plenty of relaxed improvisation and witty musical quotes. These are also the only existing recordings of Bird playing with tenor saxophonist Don Wilkerson, who would later make a name for himself on the Blue Note label, and alto saxophonist Frank Morgan. Chet Baker also makes an appearance on one track (and again, no surprise to see him there). The various combinations of musicians run through the usual suspects, like “Au Privave, “Scrapple From the Apple and “A Night in Tunisia, all for a crowd that was probably too drunk or stoned to care much about what was going on (although they seem quite invigorated by a strip tease performed during “Embraceable You ).

The Thomas Pynchon Connection
Thomas Pynchon(1937 – ) isa contemporaryAmercianauthor of the first rank, creator of several marvelously intricate novels. Pynchonalso seems to have spent some time listening closely to jazz in the late fifties,and the inclusion ofallusionsand echoes of that jazz scene providesadditional enjoyment for those of us whoalso know jazz.
Pynchon’s first novel V(1961) includesa minor character named McClintic Sphere. Pynchon introduces him ina remarkable section (page 47 in my Bantam edition) witha whole series of links,allusions, echoes,and satirical reflections of the late 1950’sand Ornette Coleman’s legendary Five Spotappearance in Greenwich Village.
The section starts with several of the New York castarrivingata Greenwich Village nightclub called the V-Note:
1. V for the title of the novelandan elusive woman, object ofa novel-long search by one of the characters.
2. Vas in the Roman Numeral for Five = Five Spot. This famous club featured Thelonious Monkand John Coltrane (1957) ina legendary engagement; itwas the nightclub where Ornette Coleman first opened in November 1959 (and where he playeda number of times over the following years)
3. V-Note. The Note = Half Note.Another Greenwich Village club,andanother venueat which Coleman played during the period
McClintic Sphere is playing onstage when the group enters. Sphere is Thelonious Monk’s middle name (Monkwas a frequent performer in the villageat the timeandas noted is closelyassociated with the Five Spot). McClintic may bean echo of Coleman’s unusual first name. (The only jazz musician witha somewhat similar first name would be Kenny Dorham, whose given first namewas McKinley. He performed regularly in New York during that periodand may beassociated with groups that played the Five Spot).
p. 48 “He blewa hand-carved ivoryalto saxophone” Obvious reference to the plasticalto saxophone which Ornette used in the late fifties, evidently because itwas cheaper thana metal saxand because it gave hima more flexible sound. “…witha 4 1/2 reed”Alsoa reference to the 4 1/2 strength reed which Ornette used in LosAngeles (described by Don Cherry ina famous passage inan interview with Joe Goldberg).
The next paragraphs include some nice descriptions of the reactions in theaudience, from those who simply left, to those from other groups who were unwilling to reject it, to those few who liked it. This directly echoes the reports in down beatabout Coleman’s firstappearancesat the Five Spot in 1959.
“The group on the stand had no piano: itwas bass, drums, McClinticanda boy he had found in the Ozarks who blewa natural horn in F”. This isan echo of the Ornette Coleman Quartet,and the natural horn may bea reference to the unusual pocket trumpet which Don Cherry favoredat the time. (Cherrywas of course from LosAngeles). “The basswas smalland evil-lookingand his eyes were yellow with pinpoints in the center”. I have no idea which of Ornette’s bassists this refers to-possibly David Izenzon? The bassistat the time of coursewas Charles Haden, by no means smalland evil looking. The next paragraph isa biting description of some of those in theaudience, “mostly those who wrote for Downbeat magazine or the liners of LP records…”. (Reader Clay Thurmondalso points out that Sphere’s playing is described hereas “something else”–which is the title of Coleman’s first LP on Contemporary Records recorded in 1958).
On the next page (p.49): “Since the soul of Charlie Parker had dissolvedaway intoa hostile March wind nearlya year before…”. This is too early for Ornette, but only by three years. Parker died in March 1955 which would make this early 1956. In 1956 Ornettewas stillan unemployed, unknown musician in LosAngeles. He did notarrive in New York city until the fall of 1959,and the controversy, the club namesand the rest of theallusions belong to that specific period. On the same page: “He playsall the notes Bird missed”, somebody whispered”.Anotherallusion to the impact of Ornette, who receiveda lot ofattentionas the nextalto saxophonistafter Parker to move the music forward…
(McClintic Sphere reappears elsewhere in the novel, specifically startingaround page 326, but thereare no directallusions to Ornette Coleman or other jazz figures).
Incidentally, several other Pynchon works contain references to jazzand its practitioners. Therearea number of sections dealing with Charlie Parker in Gravity’s Rainbow(1973)and the short story Entropy (first published in the Kenyon Review) shouldamuse those enamored of the original Gerry Mulligan Quartet.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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