Sessions

The Wrecking Crew — Hal Blaine on Drums via LMU Magazine

How much or little work you got was a constant calculation. Denny Tedesco grew up watching his father, Tommy, a prolific session guitarist, practice what he preached. “He kept guitars in the trunk. He had four phone lines in the house. The first thing he’d ask when he hit the door: ‘Any calls?’ ” Conversation wasn’t about that day’s gig, rather always about tomorrow.

from my piece up at LMU Magazine. To read the rest click here.

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Out of the wings …

Guitarist Tommy Tedesco

Guitarist Tommy Tedesco

LIKE MANY, I had been long waiting for a look at filmmaker Denny Tedesco’s documentary about the L.A.’s famed group of session musicians, The Wrecking Crew.

Earlier this week, I got a chance to speak with Tedesco, son of session guitarist Tommy Tedesco, about his 19 years behind-the-scene efforts to finish the film and secure the music clearances. I wish I had had unlimited space because Tedesco can spin and loft an anecdote like his father. And there were many.

Like any company town, L.A. had it’s own factories. Evidence of work was everywhere. But instead of smoke stacks churning out soot, Los Angeles’s airwaves were full of the fruit of their labor — music.

“They were in a factory town and they were pumping out music and it was fast,” Tedesco says, “But some factories make Rolls Royces while others make Pintos.”

While the decades-long gig kept him close to home, Denny’s father lived a life on the road — L.A. surface streets, freeways and canyon passes. Paging through his father’s old work books were enlightening. Though Denny says he felt his father was around much of the time, it was, he now realizes, an impression of presence, looking back at all the dates, pages and pages of 10, 13, 15 hour days. “My Dad kept his guitars in the car. Always. We had four phone lines at home. And he had an answering service. This was 1968! There was no way someone was going to get a busy signal. The first thing he’d ask when he hit the door: ‘Any calls?'”

It was all about staying a float. 

My piece goes up tomorrow — I will post it then — but until then here’s the film’s trailer:

“Los Angeles Plays Itself” Is Ready for Its Close-up

I CAN’T express how happy I am to finally hear that Los Angeles Plays itself, Thom Anderson’s inclusive all over the map — literally– look at L.A. on film will finally be available for purchase this Fall.

from Alissa Walker’s post on Gizmodo:

If you haven’t seen it before, Los Angeles Plays Itself is innately entertaining as a cinematic experiment, even to the Angeleno-agnostic. Narrated with Andersen’s own commentary, the documentary features over 200 clips from films about Los Angeles, examining everything from the stereotypes surrounding the city’s automobile culture to an oft-repeated thesis that villains live in modernist houses (below). In short, it’s probably the most important media study ever conducted on the city—maybe any city!—and no one has been able to see it.

When I was teaching my “Telling L.A.’s Story” course, I used the film as a sort of red carpet into a Los Angeles my students hadn’t seen. My hope too was that it would at the same time get them thinking a differently about the city they traversed and interacted with daily. City as set. City as City. Each semester though, I had to hunt around for links because they would often be removed — only to be replaced by others. It will be great to have this sprawling moving canvass at the ready.

I feel a series of “Plays Itself” viewing parties in our near future…

Les Blank, 77

From the San Francisco Chronicle lesblank

Les Blank, the poetic documentary filmmaker who gave voice to the obscure and gap-toothed, died Sunday at his home in the Berkeley hills.

. . . .

Over a span of 40 years, Mr. Blank averaged a film a year. He covered topics ranging from Afro-Cuban drummers to Appalachian fiddlers to flower children to a search for the perfect tea leaf in China. One work, 1980’s “Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers,” was screened accompanied by an in-theater roaster, introducing the phenomenon of “Aromaround” to theater audiences.

More here
From his New Orleans documentary, Always for Pleasure:

(top image via Amazon)