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:

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Gerald Wilson, 96

RIP local jazz legend Gerald Wilson, pictured here on trumpet with Irving Ashby (guitar), George "Red" Callender (holding his hands over his ears), Lee Young Sr (drums), and Phil Moore (piano). (Order # 00052121, Security Pacific National Bank Collection)

RIP local jazz legend Gerald Wilson, pictured here on trumpet with Irving Ashby (guitar), George “Red” Callender (holding his hands over his ears), Lee Young Sr (drums), and Phil Moore (piano). (Order # 00052121, Security Pacific National Bank Collection) photo via LAPL Photo Collection

MY INTRODUCTION to musician Gerald Wilson was on the radio.

Not on disc, but as DJ. He was on the jazz station KBCA, later KKGO, the frequency my family’s car and household console stereo was always tuned to while I was growing up. I loved his voice, the “between platter patter.” bigband

Later I learned more about Wilson and his contributions to jazz in Los Angeles in particular. As well as his work as an arranger and bandleader that spanned eight decades, he also taught classes in jazz history and appreciation at college campuses across the city. But what many Angelenoes might remember him most for — if not by name — but a piece of music that has been part of the backdrop/soundtrack of L.A. for as long as I can remember — Viva Tirado — a piece he dedicated to dedicated to bullfighter Jose Ramon Tirado, part of his own long-time interest in Latin culture and its shades of influence.

He’s another one who I thought would go on forever.

Thank you, Gerald Wilson for sorting out and reflecting the true sound of Los Angeles in all of its influences, nuances and moods.

Obits here from Los Angeles Times and New York Times