Spring 2017

2017-04-05 17.11.26 2017-04-05 17.10.58 2017-04-05 17.10.44 2017-04-05 17.10.28Spring has sprung in Ojai!
As Larry and I do our walking commute around town, we are overwhelmed by the explosions of color and scents.
Every tree seems to be covered in blossoms. Greenery and wild flowers are everywhere. Then there are the home gardens…roses of all kinds, pots, planters, and beds of so many different flowers, way beyond just a painterly rainbow.
Even as an avid gardener, I am hard pressed to remember all their names! But in a word, lovely.
Of course, our garden is the loveliest of all!

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Joy’s Monktet


Here are some sample tracks of my record, “Joy Bop” by the Magruder Monktet.

Ron Singer-alto sax /Bob Crosby-tenor sax /Phil Moore-bari sax
Vince Suzuki- tenor sax on “Trite Me Twinks”
Roy Wiegand III- trumpet /Dave Wells- trombone
Rick Fleishman-guitar /Bill Fulton- piano /Paul Morin-bass /George Green- drums

Joy Bop






‘Round Midnight


Ruby My Dear


Trite Me Twinks


Bottom Step


Who Said That?




Blue Joy


Night Song

OR…you can BUY the whole CD HERE

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Carmen ballerinaCarmen

My beautiful talented sister, Carmen passed away 30 years ago this month.

Carmen was a professional dancer, (on stage and TV) and started out at a very young age.

George Balanchine wanted to be her mentor if she could move to New York and join his ballet company. Los Angeles had a very small bellet company in which she was a prima ballerina. She was invited to dance with every touring U.S. and European company when they would come to L.A. Her talent was truly spectacular!

Carmen retired from dancing when she was in her thirties and used her amazing people skills to manage the West Coast Office of a trio of Oscar and Emmy Award winning lighting directors. It was during that period that she refused an offer to be a Playmate of the Month for Playboy.

Never a day goes by that our baby sister Michele and I don’t miss her.

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Easy Come, Easy Go

I’ve written stories before about some of my adventures at a world championship event in Mexico City in 1968. Here is another one.
The American team members were staying at the Mexico City Hilton where we were invited to a very private dinner co-hosted by Barron Hilton, my old friend and shooting buddy. Among the 20 guests were the world
s most elite shooters.
The multi course dinner began with fresh oysters, yum…delicious! But wait…lo and behold…there was a very large white baroque pearl in my first oyster!
I very excitedly passed it around. Since I was wearing a very tight fitting black strapless dress and no purse, I dropped it down the top of my dress. Good and safe…not going anywhere.
After the magnificent dinner, I stayed for cigars and brandy. Happily liquefied, I made it to my room (alone) as I left a trail of stilettos, pantyhose, and finally, dress on my way to my bed.
I was awakened the next morning by the hotel maid. Then, while sipping coffee, I remembered the pearl.
We looked everywhere and under everything.
But NO pearl. Oh well….easy come, easy go.
I came home with a trophy (fourth place)

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Remembering November 19, 2007

I loved going to Ruth Price’s original “Jazz Bakery” in L.A. The music and performers were always excellent. The room was small enough to make the audience feel up close and personal.
When my friend, Greg Dahl called to tell me that I HAD to come [to the Bakery] that night (Nov 19th) to hear the John Rangel Quintet perform. At the time, Greg was Ruth’s assistant at the club. He had just heard the band’s rehearsal and was totally blown away by the trumpet player.
I was too!! When the moment came for the first trumpet solo…I was on the edge of my seat. Barely a few bars were played when I elbowed Greg and whispered, “I’ve GOT to have that guy in my band!!!”
During the break, I asked Greg to introduce us..and the rest is history.
Much later, I learned that there was a video of that performance. How many women can say that they have a video of the moment they first saw the man who would become the love of her life?

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My Red Carpet Days

I’m looking forward to watching the Oscars on TV today. It’s always a fun show but most of all… it brings back memories of the two times I was invited to the Academy Awards Ceremony as a guest.

The first time was as a young actress under contract to Howard Hughes. He arranged for me to be fitted for a new gown he had designed…in the wardrobe department at RKO Studios. (Remember he had famously designed a bra for Jane Russell) I recall it being a peacock blue taffeta dress that “rustled” while I walked. He sent a limo to my home to pick me up. My chaperone for the evening was my drama coach, a once famous stage actress.
What an unbelievable experience! I was 13.

The second time, I attended as a celebrity stylist…a guest of one of my “Hollywood” clients. The invitation came with a special parking pass and I remember following directions and pulling up to the designated parking area in my “regular” car behind dozens of chauffeured limos. The valets in fancy uniforms surprisingly treated me as one of the actual nominees.

My outfit was true Hollywood glam…my auburn hair was long and wavy…A la Rita Hayworth. I wore a skin tight black cashmere sweater with a REAL plunging neckline. (Ah, the long gone bra-less days!)
My long black silk crepe skirt was cut high on each side to show off a lot of leg. High heeled evening sandals and borrowed diamond earrings completed the ensemble. As my daughter and I walked down the red carpet, I couldn’t help but wave at the bleachers full of cheering fans! I even signed a few quick autographs.
Cameras were everywhere…what fun to be a movie star in that moment!
After the show, my daughter and I stopped at Denny’s in Studio City for a snack. (No munchies at the Oscars)
Customers stared at us in our dressy outfits. How I wanted to tell them where we had just been!

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ON NOV. 19TH, 2007-

Greg Dahl invited me to the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, to hear this great band he had heard during sound check. It was the John Rangel Quintet.
The trumpet player in the band was the fabulous Larry Williams. I HAD to meet him, so during the break, Greg introduced us. Little did I know that from that point my life would change forever.
I then of course asked Larry if he would play in my band, the Monktet, to which he said yes, and the rest is history!
We’ve been together ever since, got married last year.
I love this man and his music! Happy Anniversary Larry..

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A Morning Love Song

It was a typical Ojai sunrise…purple, pink and orange sky…coloring to a heart stopping blue.
She knew that she shouldn’t disturb his peaceful sleep…but she wanted to share this moment with him. Otherwise, he’d have to wait another day.
What the hell…she’d do it.
She gently moved in closer to him. He was deep under the bed covers with one foot exposed…eyes closed, making a little noise as he dreamed. She nudged him on the chin. No reaction. DRAT!
She needed to try something more drastic. Feeling his breathing on her face, she gathered enough nerve to touch his closed eyelids with her lips, then uttered the one word she knew would cause a certain response.
Without opening his eyes, Larry reached over and gave Ella a love pat. Satisfied, she curled up next to him and started to purr.
Nothing beats the love shared by a cat and her best buddy.
This morning ritual will begin again tomorrow.

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What an incredible year….and it’s not even Halloween!
After living in my Chandler Blvd. House for 41 years, I made the difficult decision to sell and move on. It was time to leave behind all the beautiful memories….my life with John, all the music happenings….the big band (Magruder Machine) rehearsals every Wednesday night under the chandelier in the dining room…the rebirth of the Magruder Monktet…All the music that John wrote at the grand piano…those amazing Christmas parties and fantastic family gatherings…sharing my home with so many loving friends. I shall hold all these memories close to my heart forever.
It was time.
This decision was not made alone. Larry Williams came to live with me in 2009. He brought with him a new light in my life…a new purpose. As our friendship grew closer…love happened…completely by surprise. We began talking about a future together…starting a new life in our shared dream of living in Ojai, California. In August we bought a great house in this magical village and began our new journey together.
On September 22nd,…barely unpacked…we got married!! What a beautiful ceremony at our friend’s ranch in the hills above Ojai…incredible views from the garden… the ambience was pure magic! We exchanged our vows, sharing happiness with family and friends.
My “Woman of Honor” was my daughter, Debbi, and Larry’s “Best Man” was Byron Fry.
Gregory Dahl, who introduced us six years ago, walked me down the aisle.
Such Happiness!
Then everyone followed us, as in a long parade, down the hill to our new house to celebrate.
What a party! Great food…jolly good fun…many guests brought their instruments and music broke out around the grand piano in the living room. What a day!
Larry and I kept the tradition of sharing the first bite of wedding cake…(making a mess of it of course)
Such a great beginning of our new journey together! We still keep pinching ourselves to make sure that all this isn’t a dream.

Slightly lost in the frenzy of moving and getting married was the release of “PHOTOGRAPHS” (Larry’s first vocal album) Writing these songs together was the basis of our friendship. We are very pleased and proud.
You can buy the CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/larrywilliams8
Currently we’re working on some new songs for the next album project…loving every minute of our musical collaboration.
I hope to record my Monktet’s new album, “YESTERDAY’S CHILD” very soon…which should prove to be very exciting…I really miss the regular rehearsals, but am working on new gigs for the band in Los Angeles. Stay tuned.
Larry has continued to rehearse his band, “Dogg Mansion” every week in the San Fernando Valley, and has already begun the recording process. It will take some time, but it will all be worth it…high energy…amazing original music, great players…can’t wait.
Larry’s other band, “Wilmon”, the classical/jazz/americana chamber group has been on hiatus until he can give it the time it deserves….probably early next year.
His recording studio in the new house has been updated and expanded so he will be able to produce, record and master the music of other artists. He has great creative ideas, fantastic intuition and ears, plus he’s a real techno geek. What a combination!
As you can tell, we are both enjoying our new adventure…keeping busy in doing what we love to do…loving Ojai and all its beauty. A dream come true.
I love being Mrs. Larry Williams!!!

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JAMMIN’ AT JOY’S….with chinese

JAMMIN’ AT JOY’S…with chinese.                                               NOV 12, 2012
My house was built for music. If it could speak…its words would explode with happiness. There is music everywhere …all the time.

All photos courtesy of Greg Dahl.

Between Larry Williams and myself, we have four bands which we rehearse regularly…Larry’s “DOGG MANSION” “JUSTIFIED” and “WILMON WILL” plus my “MONKTET”. From time to time between our respective rehearsals, we invite friends to come over and jam.

Last night was such an event.

Guitarist Byron Fry, drummer, Jay Setar and bassist Rufus Philpot, whom I had just met (what a character!) all answered the call. Of course, Larry brought out his EWI and various percussion instruments of which he designs and creates. So…that was the band…WOW! Greg Dahl and I were the eager audience.

This evening there would be no tunes or charts. The whole idea would be to play out of their heads, outside the box…in other words, free group improvisation.
Ready, set…GO!
Needless to say…they blew the roof off and sent it into orbit!

Players had been asked beforehand to bring their chops, axes, as well as an empty stomach. About 1 ½ hours into the evening, just before everyone got to the “I can’t take it anymore” stage…Larry excused himself and disappeared into the kitchen. He had already prepped the ingredients earlier that day, for one of his culinary specialties…a chinese chicken/veggie stir fry “a la Larry”.
Inspired by a most honorable chinese mother, he has developed some marvelous recipes…a veritable cookbook exists in his head and that in part has earned him the title of “Chief Chef” of this household.
The tantalizing aroma coming from the kitchen lured everyone away from their instruments. They had to see what was going on.
I have to tell you that I think Larry should have his own cooking show on TV. He not only knows what he’s doing but is incredibly entertaining to watch. For example, He talks to the food as he prepares it…sings and dances as he flips and stirs, stomps and claps, clicks and clangs pots and pans for punctuation. In other words, he “plays” kitchen.
Here, the generic adjective “tasty” …goes far beyond its usual meaning.
All around, two and three helpings were the norm. Great friends, great food, great conversation plus great music…what an incredible evening! It was decided that we would have to do it again.
We will. Definitely.


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