The brothers Eddie and Charlie Beal were both skilled jazz pianists from the '30s and '40s, the former originally a drummer before he decided to forsake the stool for the bench. The brothers were part of the Los Angeles music scene of that era, but Eddie Beal really seasoned his jazz chops quite some distance away during a three-year stint with trumpeter Buck Clayton in Shanghai, China, of all places. He came back to California in 1936 to freelance and became known as an arranger. From 1941-1943 he was busy making arrangements for Uncle Sam, coming out of the service to work as a pianist for vocalist Ivie Anderson. This job with one of Duke Ellington's many featured vocalists lasted "for a minute," as they say in jazz lingo. Beal's own trio worked regularly beginning around this same period, becoming something like an old general in its persistence on the California jazz scene. When Billie Holiday went west, the vocal star chose this trio as her backup unit. Beal played in the Spirits of Rhythm, was a vocal coach, and still had time to form his own publishing company. Of course, this last venture would make perfect business sense for anyone with his talent as a songwriter. Beal's tunes include "Softly," quietly recorded by Holiday, and "Bye and Bye," a musical greeting that wore well for the Turbans. There is a marvelous spot of Beal on film in a piano duo with the great Earl Hines, during the sleazy 1951 film noir entitled The Strip. Mickey Rooney plays a drummer in this film, but it is really Cozy Cole heard on the soundtrack. Beal is also part of the group heard on the soundtrack recording, which also includes vibraphonist Red Norvo and the orchestras of both Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden.
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