I am an L.A. Native. Gee!

Since I have been in the middle of much of the L.A. music-jazz scene for almost 40 years, I thought it might be fun to blog about the people I know, things that I see and the music that surrounds us.

A little about me… I started playing piano at age 3-1/2. My Dad, Dick Coates, played guitar and sang for Woody Herman’s “The Band that Played the Blues” (pre “Herd”) and Tex Beneke’s Band. My Mom Josephine, played violin. Her maiden name was Monteverde. My middle name is Cecilia, after the patron saint of music! So both jazz and classical music were part of me at birth.

I grew up in show biz. As an actress and a model, I spent a lot of time at studios and on sound stages. Music was everywhere. Later, I decided that I preferred to “create the magic” behind the camera. I became a hair stylist and make-up artist to many celebrities and well-known musicians and singers.

Elvis connection: Priscilla Presley was a client. I did her hair, most secretly, for their Las Vegas Wedding!!!

In 1972, I married John Magruder. He was a composer, saxophonist, bassist and educator. We started an 18-piece Big Band, “The Magruder Machine” that rehearsed under the chandelier in our dining room for 30 years. I became his copyist, contractor, manager and muse.

In 1988, he formed “the Magruder Monktet” as a challenge to himself as a writer and to each of the nine players. He played the tenor chair. Music was everywhere… -all the time. I loved it!

Unfortunately John passed away in April 2003. I couldn’t bear not having a house full of music and musicians so I re-formed the “Monktet” in August 2003. It is a straight-ahead-bebop nonet that plays John’s original pieces and the music of Thelonious Monk. We are active in the L.A. area and have just finished recording our second album “Joy Bop.” We plan a late September 2009 release. I’ll keep you posted.

Bill Fulton plays great piano in the Monktet. But oh… he does soooo much more!

He has a brand new CD, “About 12:00am” with his octet, “The Bill Fulton Band.” It’s fantastic! Check out the link to his website. You’ll see what I mean. He also has a 17-piece big band. He composes, conducts and plays in both bands. An Amazing talent… plus he’s a nice guy.

I am so lucky… Larry Williams plays trumpet in the Monktet. As a player, he is phenomenal! He stretches and bends notes to form sounds I’ve never heard before. No one can play a ballad like Larry. He can make me cry. He is also a composer. His New CD, “Tales of Wilmon” features Larry on trumpet and Evi. As Wilmon Will, he also plays guitar… magnificently.

I will let you know when “Tales” will be released. You can visit his website and hear some of this remarkable album.

I am awe-struck by the talent that surrounds me! To watch as this music is created… to be a part of it… makes my life so very special.

Last Monday, four musician friends (is there any other kind?) and I ventured to Santa Monica’s Typhoon Restaurant. (Typhoon is to be commended… it has great jazz on Monday nights!!) We went to see “Elvis Schoenberg’s Orchestre Surreal.” Wow! We had heard much but were not prepared for what we got. Combine the highest level of crazy and talented players with the most originally written music and singers and dancers and a weird sense of humor and you get a great evening of fun… and I haven’t even mentioned the fashions. Red haired bari player Terry Landry wore a pink and blue mu-mu with teal pants and a pink maribou scarf… very Valley Juicy-Fruit chic. Larry Williams’ hysterically groovy hippie get-up made you almost want to say, “cool-duuuude!” Everybody obviously dressed themselves, totally without supervision.

Leader/composer, Ross Wright’s wild suit of tails had it’s own tales to tell. What a brilliant and imaginative concept! This man is a true genius. As if this wasn’t enough, Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) sat in and played an incredibly wild and wonderful solo intro with the band. Amazing… A once in a lifetime happening. You must catch this group next time they play. You will not be disappointed.

L.A. Jazz Scene’s Bob Comden is a lovely man. We like to reminisce about the 50’s jazz clubs that showcased the birth of “West Coast Cool” Jazz. Being a trumpet player, Bob is a Chet Baker fan. I once told him that I liked Chet’s playing but not his singing. So now, whenever I run into Bob, he sings Chet Baker songs in my ear! I have not changed my mind… but Bob is still a good guy.

After a performance:

Woman to Joy (pointing to the Monktet)… “We’ve been wondering, which one is yours?” Joy to woman (with a grin),  All of them J (true story)

Composer/saxist Phil Moore, bassist Adam Cohen, and trombonist Andrew Lippman all have talented daughters. Even at their young ages (3 – 3 and 2), They are totally connected to music. Phil’s little girl, at this moment, seems destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Dana Reynolds is an accomplished singer and actress. One never knows… my older granddaughter Kayla, is starting college next month – on full scholarship. She is just 15!! I am so proud.

Multi-talented graphic-artist, Greg Dahl has been busy with the design and photography of the Monktet’s new album, “Joy Bop.

I’m so excited… wait ’till you see. He also helped me get this blog started. I love you too, dahling!

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