Muralist Richard Wyatt has begun work on "Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972," a mural depicting jazz greats such as Duke Ellington (who would have been 91 on Sunday), Billie Holiday, Nat (King) Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Shelly Manne, and the Hollywood nightclubs they played in.
The mural will occupy the 88x26-foot south-facing wall of the Capitol Records building on Vine Street, according to Teri Merrill-Aarons, founder/president of the Los Angeles Jazz Society, which sponsored the project. "Funding for the mural came from the Los Angeles Endowment for the Arts, and the project was facilitated by Councilman Michael Woo," said Merrill-Aarons.
The design, which is Wyatt's based on an idea proposed by members of LAJS, also includes the likeness of a stone background, on which names of musicians will appear to be etched. "That was a good way to get a lot of people in" without cluttering up the image, said Merrill-Aarons.
Wyatt is working five to six hours a day on the project, which is scheduled to be completed by mid-June. The LAJS plans a free concert during the completion process.
YOUNG WINNING WAILERS: Saxophonists Sharon Hirata and Jerry Moore, pianist Jeff Babko and singers Tamara Moore, Greg Hooper and Maisha Brown are among the winners of the seventh annual Charles (Dolo) Coker Scholarship Fund competition, which benefits high school and college level students interested in pursuing a career in jazz. The honorees will display their wares in a concert Sunday at the Musicians Union, 817 N. Vine St., Hollywood, at 3 p.m. Also on the bill: the Locke High School Senior Jazz Band, and pianists Vernell Brown Jr. and Eric Reed. Chuck Niles, who has emceed this yearly event for each of its seven years, will also be feted for his 40 years in showbiz. Tickets and information: (213) 666-5109, 666-0404.
BUSPERSON'S HOLIDAY: Singer Marion Montgomery, an Angeleno in the '60s and a resident of Great Britain for more than 20 years, pops into the Vine Street Bar & Grill in Hollywood, tonight and Saturday, making her first local engagement in two decades.
Montgomery, who recorded for Capitol records in the early '60s and got a little action with her version of "When Sunny Gets Blue," moved to England after she married pianist/composer Laurie Holloway, who'll accompany her at Vine Street in a program of "mostly standards, though I'll do a few new things," the singer said.
For a time after her marriage, Montgomery returned to the States, working at New York's Basin Street East, the Diplomat in Miami and various rooms in Las Vegas. "Those were the big places. There were a lot of little ones, too," she added with a throaty chuckle.
But then things began to click overseas, where Montgomery has been working steadily in England and on the Continent, doing mostly concerts, and a little TV--her appearances are vocal, rather than dramatic. "I could never get away from music. I'd be scared to death," she said.
Did the move to Britain help or hinder her career? "It's hard to tell," she said. "I was just breaking in then. I know I was very lucky in England, since I started working right away. And maybe if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have done all these concert venues."