Sinatra bassist?

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by AADUNTOV, Apr 11, 2014.


  1. AADUNTOV

    AADUNTOV Supporting Member

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    Anyone know the identity of the bassist(s) in the Nelson Riddle band? I did a cursory search and didn't find anything. I'm specifically interested in knowing who played so beautifully on "Summer Wind".
  2. spanndrew

    spanndrew

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    Bump

    I'm curious as well
  3. iona bass

    iona bass Supporting Member

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    Sorry, the Local 47 contract referenced in my original reply earlier today, was for the Track "Strangers in the Night", NOT the Album "Strangers in the Night". My Mistake.
    I will keep looking.
    Thanks,
  4. AADUNTOV

    AADUNTOV Supporting Member

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  6. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton

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    My money's on Joe Comfort.
  7. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

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    When Sinatra played the Uris Theater in NYC, along with Ella Fitzgerald and the Basie Band (1975?), he was using Gene Cherico.
    I don't know if he ever recorded with him, or with Riddle, for that matter.
    I've never heard it, but I think there was a "cast" album from the two week (?) engagement.
  8. iona bass

    iona bass Supporting Member

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    gerry grable,

    I wonder if, back in 1966, (the year of the release of the album "Strangers In the Night" that included the track "The Summer Wind"), the Studio musicians would have subbed out the "Road" gigs. I believe it would have been financially impo$$ible for those Studio players to have left Los Angeles for 2 weeks of "Road" money. Some of the players listed on the Local 47 contract from the session that recorded the track "Strangers In the Night", LIVED in the studios.
    In the Sinatra/Riddle case, I would guess that there were "2" Nelson Riddle Orchestras - 1 that recorded and 1 that "toured".
    Maybe somebody can clarify or confirm this?
    Thanks,
  9. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton

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    You guys, the bassist on the "Summer wind" track is more than likely Joe Comfort, which I most subtly hinted at in my post. I can't prove that because personnel was never listed on those sides, but he was a favorite bassist of Frank's during that recording period, along with my mentor, Red Mitchell and Ralph Pena (pronounced, pain ya). Frank called Joe, "little Joe" because of Joe's stature and as a put on, because Joe had a huge sound. Of course, none of these guys went on the road with Frank because of the bucks they were making in those years in the studios. As an example, Red was principal bass in the MGM Studio Orchestra at this time......big $'s and Joe had a fear of flying, so that was out. As Gerry mentioned, Gene Cherico was the "go to guy" for road stuff and TV specials which you can enjoy on some old youtube clips of Frank's TV shows. My bet's still on Joe as I said in my post, which was totally ignored, typical for talk bass.
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  10. iona bass

    iona bass Supporting Member

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    Mr. Warburton,

    No disrespect intended, but the Local 47 contract, for the Track "Strangers in the Night", shows Chuck Berghofer, (but not Joe Comfort), as the bassist. Yes, there could have been a different rhythm section for different tunes on the album "Strangers In the Night".
    The OP was asking for a definitive answer - I don't think we have one yet.
    I didn't ignore your post, I just thought you were guessing, most educated-ly , of course.
    I appreciate your expertise and input.
    Thanks,
  11. MR PC

    MR PC

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    If folks are betting on Frank Sinatra bassists as ponies, I'll pin my money on Jim Hughart.
  12. AADUNTOV

    AADUNTOV Supporting Member

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    I'm loving the details. Thanks for the input, everyone. It must have been a huge deal to play on a Sinatra tune and an exercise in serious restraint. You wouldn't want to step on that guy's vocals with busy bass playing.
  13. MR PC

    MR PC

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    Yeah, otherwise you might end up with a date in a cement mixer.:D
  14. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

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    Come on now. That's a bunch of crap!
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  15. MR PC

    MR PC

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    Well, it's going to be pretty hard to pin a name for the bass seat on any given Sinatra recording. So many sessions, so many great musicians, such great arrangements. I'd bet that there could be two or three different master recordings of some of his '60's tracks cut with different players before the final track was selected for release. Richard Davis recorded with him..but on what record in what year? One of my favorite Sinatra bass players is the guy who played on "Angel Eyes". Masterful. I always imagined that was some great old Italian bass that practically played itself. There is a studio film on youtube for the making of "It Was a Very Good Year" that features Sinatra hamming it up, with all his family and business associates as a studio audience. There are a couple of shots including the bass player standing behind some baffles. Hardly the star of the show...
  16. MR PC

    MR PC

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    Googled Joe Comfort. Seems that he is likely the "Angel Eyes" bassist, as he was Nelson's Riddle's bassist from the mid '50's on. Sinatra's favorite often in that period too. Gave Mingus some early bass lessons. Married to Mady Comfort who is said to have been the inspiration for "Satin Doll". Post WWII Los Angeles up 'til 1960 was very interesting, really fertile ground for new popular music and entertainment in general. Looking at the history of '60's L.A. studio recording, and the emerging importance of visuals and youth culture in the entertainment industry at the time..Joe Comfort would seem pretty unlikely as a first call Sinatra studio bassist. I'd sure like to know more about him.
  17. kscbass

    kscbass Supporting Member

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    Someone told me that the bassist in "Songs for Swingin' Lovers" was Milt Hinton. Love that record.
  18. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

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    I was curious too, so I looked at the "Sinatra Family Forum" (Yes, there is such a thing!). Disclaimer: I tried to put a link in for that forum, but the new TB would not let me post a link. The link looked something like this:
    sinatrafamily co m/forum/frank-sinatra-recordings-25/strangers-night-reprise-1966-a-8162/index2.html

    A poster there put this up:
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Here are the details for the album personnel of the "Strangers In The Night" sessions.

    11.4.1966, 6-8 pm
    Hollywood, United Recording
    Session producer: Jimmy Bowen
    Sound Engineer: Eddie Brackett
    Orchestra conducted by Ernie Freeman:
    Vincent de Rosa, Henry Sigismonti, Gale Robinson, Richard Perissi (french horn); Bill Green, Andreas Kostelas (flute); Sidney Sharp, Lennie Malarsky, William Kurasch, Ralph Schaeffer, Israel Baker, Arnold Belnick, Jerome Reisler, Robert Sushel, John De Voogdt, Bernard Kundell, Tibor Zelig, Gerald Vinci, William Weiss, James Getzoff, Harry Bluestone, Victor Arno (violin); Harry Hyams, Joseph Di Fiore, Darrel Terwilliger, Alex Neiman (viola); Joseph Saxon, Jesse Ehrlich, Emmet Sargeant, Armand Kaproff (violoncello); Bill Miller, Michel Rubini (piano); Alvin Casey, William Pitman, Glen Campbell, Tommy Tedesco (guitar); Chuck Berghofer (bass); Hal Blaine (drums); Eddie Brackett jr., Emil Richards (percussion)

    Reprise Master # J 4195 (take ???) - Strangers In The Night
    Arrangement by Ernie Freeman

    11.5.1966, 8-11 pm
    Hollywood, Western Recorders, Studio 1
    Session producer: Sonny Burke
    Sound engineer: Lee Herschberg
    Orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle
    Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Cappy (=Carroll) Lewis, Ray Triscari (trumpet); Dick Noel, Tommy Pederson, Tom Shephard (trombone); George Roberts (bass trombone); Chuck Gentry, Bill Green, Justin Gordon, Harry Klee, Ronny Lang (saxophone, woodwinds); Victor Arno, Ralph Schaeffer, Paul Shure, Gerald Vinci (violin); Stanley Harris, Paul Robyn (viola); Justin di Tullio, Elizabeth Greenschpoon, Armand Kaproff (violoncello); Bill Miller (piano); Artie Kane (organ); Al Viola (guitar); Ralph Pena (bass); Irving Cottler (drums); Emil Richards (percussion).

    J 4234 (take 5) - My Baby Just Cares For Me
    J 4235 (take 4ic3) - Yes Sir That's My Baby
    J 4236 (take 3) - You're Driving Me Crazy
    J 4237 (take 7) - The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
    All arrangements by Nelson Riddle


    16.5.1966, 8-11 pm
    Hollywood, Western Recorders, Studio 1
    Session producer: Sonny Burke
    Sound engineer: Lee Herschberg
    Orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle:
    Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Cappy (=Carroll) Lewis, Ray Triscari (trumpet); Dick Noel, Tommy Pederson, Tom Shephard (trombone); George Roberts (bass trombone); Chuck Gentry, Bill Green, Justin Gordon, Harry Klee, Abe Most (saxophone, woodwinds); Victor Arno, Ralph Schaeffer, Paul Shure, Victor Bay, Israel Baker, Alex Beller, Hermann Clebanoff, James Getzoff, Anatol Kaminsky (violin); Barbara Simons, Paul Robyn (viola); Justin di Tullio, Elizabeth Greenschpoon, Armand Kaproff (violoncello); Bill Miller (piano); Artie Kane (organ); Al Viola (guitar); Ralph Pena (bass); Irving Cottler (drums); Victor Feldman (percussion)

    J 4238 (take 7) - Summer Wind
    J 4239 (take 5) - All Or Nothing At All
    J 4240 (take 6) - Call Me
    J 4241 (take 9) - On A Clear Day
    J 4242 (take 4) - Downtown
    All arrangements by Nelson Riddle.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    So — Ralph Pena, if we want to take this info at face value.
    This *seems* like it could be correct, although I don't know the source.

    Maybe Don or Paul have thoughts about this. Don already alluded to the "Pena possibility."
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  19. iona bass

    iona bass Supporting Member

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    Hi John,
    Stellar Investigative Chops! The Riddle has been solved!
    It does look like Ralph Pena was the bassist on "Summer Wind".
    Just to be fair - Paul Warburton, (not me), gets the credit for mentioning the "Pena Possibility", although, he did put his "money" on Joe Comfort. ( I had erroneously referenced the Local 47 contract that listed Chuck Berghofer as the bassist on the track "Strangers In The Night").
    Thanks for your time and expertise, as usual.
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  20. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton

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    kscbass, that's Joe Comfort See?........

    http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=1109168&style=music&fulldesc=T
    Sorry for the dust-up, Don, and thanks for the credit on the possible Ralph Pena shot I took. We can always depend on John for taking the time to find good, solid info, so thanks John. I have to admit a personal admiration for Joe Comfort because he's a favorite big band bassist of mine. BTW, John and everybody, TB has apparently finally ironed out the bug in terms of dropping links in because I made this post yesterday and it just sat there until today, then was finally able to post it today so thanks to boss, Paul.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
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  21. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

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    Adduntov: You piqued my interested, so I went back and listened to a few of the tracks, like "Strangers In The Night" with Chuck Berghofer (and Hal Blaine on drums) of Wrecking Crew fame. The thing that makes that take for me (other than Mr. Sinatra) is the solid groove that Berghofer and Blaine lay down behind all of the swooping strings. The strings sound great for what they are, but the element that inspires a romantic slow dance is that simple rhumba groove that the rhythm section plays.

    Ralph Pena has such a great two-beat feeling on the beginning of "Summer Wind." His notes ring without many rhythmic embellishments — he lets Irv Cottler and the band jump on the hits while he just floats, not getting excited, staying cool in his two-beat. In the 2nd chorus when they go into 4, he starts to put in a few more skips and triplets drops — but only when Cottler is playing straight 4 with no accents. Great drummer & bassist teamwork.

    Ralph Pena was off my radar — although I was aware of him, I always assumed that most of the Sinatra '60s albums were with Joe Comfort.

    Paul: Thank for the tidbit about Ralph being afraid to fly (as a reason he preferred not to go on the road). I know other musicians like that in the same *uh* boat.
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