By February 7, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Merv Griffin “auditions” Jim Hall.

In 1965, even with Johnny Carson already entrenched as the king of late night television, other networks kept trying to establish their own bedtime talk shows. One that had relative success was that of Merv Griffin. After a brief run on NBC, Griffin’s syndicated show began in May of 1965. Like all talk shows of that era, Griffin’s had a resident big band, led from the beginning by Mort Lindsay. Like those of his rivals, Merv’s band featured its share of great players, including some well-known jazz musicians, all of whom were glad to have a steady paycheck with no brutal travel requirements. Richie Kamuca and Bob Brookmeyer were just a couple of Griffin’s better known employees, and his original guitarist was Mundell Lowe.

After Lowe left a few months into the show’s run. he was replaced by the great Jim Hall, already well-established as one of a handful of the greatest jazz guitarists of the day. Griffin himself had started out as a band singer, most notably with Freddy Martin’s band, before drifting into television in the early 1950’s. Somewhere along the way, Griffin had picked up some piano chops, and the video here is sort of a gag, wherein he puts new band member Hall through his paces on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”. A fun bit from an era when some truly great players were buried in these TV bands. Although, as we can see here, they were occasionally allowed to shine.

Posted in: Jazz, Odds & Ends, Videos

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