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<!---##CCI#[Text Tag=head Group=All]--->Saluting 50 years of songs from Rosie<!---##CCI#[/Text]---> Saluting 50 years of songs from Rosie




This will be good news for those of you who have asked if there is ever going to be a musical tribute to my sister Rosemary Clooney in our part of the world.

One week from tonight at the Singletary Center on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the night will be filled with 50 years worth of Rosemary's music.

As some of you know, there have already been tributes in Los Angeles, New York and other cities, but this one is in the tri-state. It will be topnotch music, too, with the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra and featured singer Mary Ellen Tanner.

I'll be there to add a few comments, but this concert is the work of a number of admirers of Rosemary's career, including Dick Domek, co-director of the orchestra. Dick has been on the phone with me regularly for months, but I had nothing at all to do with selections or the line-up. My only contribution was to recommend Mary Ellen as a featured artist, after which Dick made the arrangements.

Let me tell you, the arrangements are interesting. The first half of the program will be a salute to Rosemary's earliest years, starting out with our sister Betty at WLW and then on the road with Tony Pastor's band. Dick Domek has painstakingly transcribed musical arrangements from obscure recordings the band made more than 50 years ago.

In that first half of the show, we will hear, in addition to the fine big band sounds of the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra, young singers from the university. Jennifer Zehnder will take Rosemary's part; Teri Thompson will be Betty; and Brian Gill will portray not only Tony Pastor, but Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, too.

Mr. Domek has chosen some remarkable songs; many of them will be familiar because they were Rosemary's mega-hits. Several, however, did not outlast their brief moment in the 1940s. I nearly dropped the-program when I saw "The Click Song" on the list.

Where in the world did Dick find that one? It is a perfect choice to recall a specific time in Rosemary's life and career

The Click Club was a night-life mainstay of downtown Philadelphia in the 1940s and 1950s. Like many night clubs all over the country in those days, it was said to have ties to "da mob," but that was not the concern of the performers. For them it was just a class venue in which to make music.

When Rosemary and Betty joined Tony Pastor's band in 1946, they were 18 and 15 years old respectively. Our uncle George, himself only 24, had come back from service and had become their legal guardian so they could go on the road. All three were wide-eyed as the band went from big dance pavilions to fairs to hotel ballrooms coast to coast.

The Click Club, however, was another story. It was a real night club, just like in the movies, with tiered tables, plush art-deco appointments and a revolving stage.

It was easy to imagine Fred and Ginger twirling on the shiny, glass-like surface. This place was so hip it even had its own song. Not many people outside Philadelphia ever heard of it, but you'll hear it in Lexington next Friday.

The second half of the show will feature Mary Ellen Tanner, which would please Rosemary very much. My sister was an admirer of Mary Ellen's talent and took any opportunity to hear her sing.

Mary Ellen will salute Rosemary's jazz connection, both with the big band and with her own fine trio which includes pianist Lee Stolar, drummer John von Ohlen and Scott Ritchie on the bass. World-class at every position.

Among the songs Mary Ellen will sing are two from the album Rosemary did with Duke Ellington, "Blue Rose."

The Singletary Center is an excellent music hall. Rosemary worked there a few years ago and, as I recall, I introduced her. It seats about 1,400 people and Dick tells me there are tickets available at $25, or $10 for students. The box office number is (859) 257-4929.

I hope to see you next Friday.

Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write to him in care of The Post, 125 E. Court St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. E-mails sent to Nick at postliving@cincypost.com will be forwarded to him via regular mail.


Publication Date: 04-18-2003




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