Formed in 1957, the vocal trio of Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross brought something entirely new to jazz: a heightened hipness and swing based on taking big band instrumentals and adding words to them. Until Ms. Ross left the ensemble, roughly five years, in 1962, they were as the title of their first Columbia album proclaimed The Hottest New Group in Jazz.
Dave Lambert died in 1966 at age 49 –the result of a highway accident in which he was trying to help someone—but his two partners, Jon and Annie are very much still on the scene. At 84, Annie continues to sing on Tuesday nights at the Metropolitan Room in New York and just released a new album, To Lady with Love. The Metropolitan Room recently held a tribute to her, in which singers and musicians took to the stage to sing her praises, and her longtime friend and fan Tony Bennett was in the house. Jon continues to write songs and to sing them, often in the company of his daughter Aria—in an updated version of the original group—Jon Hendricks and Co.; he just celebrated his 93rd birthday with his debut at the Cafe Carlyle.
LHR, as their fans call them, were major favorites of Hugh Hefner. They appeared no less than three times on Playboy’s Penthouse:
October 31, 1959 – with Larry Kert and the cast of Broadway’s West Side Story.
February 13, 1960 – with Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Count Basie and the Basie rhythm section, as well as comedienne Phyllis Diller.
April 16, 1960 – a real all-star show, which also co-starred Tony Bennett as well as The Jonah Jones Quartet, The Four Freshmen, Bob Newhart, harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, folk singer Pete Seeger, and the team of Dick Haymes and Fran Jeffries.
We’ve been able to find five numbers by Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross on Playboy’s Penthouse, and, based on Annie’s dress, they all appear to be from the February 13, 1960 show, just a short while before the opening of the first Playboy Club in Chicago.
Here are all five (compiled from three different sources) in a YouTube playlist:
LHR used it as the leadoff track on:
1.26  Playboy’s Penthouse: Air-dates:
16Apr1960 WBKB-7, Chicago, Sat. 11:30pm-12:30am (Chicago Tribune)
21May1960 WOR-9, NYC, Sat. 11:30pm-12:30am (New York Times)
Clancy Hayes (guitarist)
Lenny Bruce (comedian)
The Jonah Jones Quartet (jazz musicians)
The Four Freshmen (vocal band, quartet)
Bob Newhart (comedian)
Larry Adler (harmonica virtuoso)
Ann Henry (singer-dancer)
Dick Haymes and Fran Jeffries (husband-and-wife entertainers)
Pete Seeger (folk-singer)
Tony Bennett (singer)
Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (vocal jazz trio)
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with actress, singer, and dancer Mitzi Gaynor recently. Gaynor began her career in 1942 as a dancer in Song Without Words. During the late 1950s, she landed a slew of sought-after roles that paired her with Hollywood’s leading men, including Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor in Anything Goes (1956), Gene Kelly in Les Girls, and Frank Sinatra in The Joker is Wild (both 1957).
In 1958, Gaynor won the plum role of Nellie Forbush in the eagerly anticipated film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. She then hosted a string of successful annual musical TV specials in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Her best performance was arguably her show-stopping appearance at the 39th Academy Awards where her singing and dancing “Georgy Girl” stopped the show. The Academy had a hard time getting the audience to sit down and stop applauding.
Gaynor is now in her 80’s and still touring!
I had to share some stunning photos of Gaynor from her role in Les Girls and more. It is clear why she is known for her legs!