is proud to present the adventures of Ben
very own Renaissance man: author, broadcaster, and former senior
editor and writer at Rolling Stone Magazine. This guy's our hero!
Ben was a featured character in the movie "Almost Famous,"
the Oscar and Golden Globe-winning film by Cameron Crowe.
If all goes
well, which it rarely does in the recording industry, the Larry
Ching CD I produced should be available by early June.
It’s been a
long journey, getting Larry recorded, learning the ropes of the
record biz, and getting the CD out.
As Larry and
I, along with a great support crew, give birth to the recording,
called Till the End of Time, I’m going to let you in behind
the scenes of the making of a record.
I’d like to
begin by giving you what I’m sending to radio, TV, newspapers, magazines
and Web sites. Although this is a very small project, just about
everyone who’s heard Larry’s story wants to know more about him.
So I’ve put together a fact sheet. With designer Kelly Low (of Treehouse
Studio in San Francisco) and Web developer Jennifer Breese, I’m
also helping build a home page for Larry, at www.larryching.com.
There, beginning in early June, you’ll be able to see stories about
Larry and the CD, hear sample tracks, see a video of him in the
studio, and learn more about Forbidden City, the all-Chinese nightclub
where he came to prominence in the Forties.
Ching in the Forties, flanked by admirers.
This CD was
created as a tribute to a true entertainment pioneer.
just in: The CD is available, and you can get it, at a special discount,
For now, here,
as written for the media, are the facts.
At age 82, the “Chinese Frank Sinatra,” as he was billed when he
was a star performer at the legendary Forbidden City night club
in San Francisco in the Forties and Fifties, has made his first
album. It is entitled Till the End of Time.
Ching, backed by his regular pianist, George Yamasaki, and by veteran
bassist Dean Reilly (Vince Guaraldi, Carmen McRae) and drummer Jim
Zimmerman (Cleo Laine, Dianne Schuur), recorded the album in February,
2003, with music journalist and broadcaster Ben Fong-Torres serving
as producer, and with long-time audio engineer John Barsotti at
and George Yamasaki at San Francisco State, 2002. Photo:
The session took place in the studios at San Francisco State University.
Besides the 12 songs recorded there, the album includes four tracks
of unknown origin. Ching recorded the songs (including the title
tune, “Till the End of Time”) “sometime in the Forties,” he says.
But he does not recall exactly when, where, or with whom he made
the recordings. They were found on two 78 r.p.m. acetate disks,
and excerpts were first heard on Forbidden City USA, the
documentary about the club by Arthur Dong.
Ben Fong-Torres, the music writer, broadcaster, and former Rolling
Stone magazine editor, met and heard Ching sing when Fong-Torres
co-MC’d the world premiere of Forbidden City USA at the Palace
of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1989.
The two met
again when Ching and Yamasaki performed at a mutual friend’s wedding
in 1993. “I loved his voice, and I was intrigued by his story, his
becoming a nightclub singer in the Thirties, and the fact that he
continues to sing whenever and wherever he can. I wanted to get
him down on record, for his friends, his family, and whoever else
might like to hear American standards the way they were sung before
they became standards.”
jobs and other projects kept Fong-Torres from pursuing his idea,
but late in 2002, he was invited to MC an event marking the DVD
release of Forbidden City USA. Once again, Ching and Yamasaki
performed, and Fong-Torres was more determined than ever to get
Larry Ching into a studio.
with Ben at the DVD gala at SF State, 2002. Photo: Frank
When John Barsotti,
a friend and veteran record producer who teaches audio engineering
and production at S.F. State, offered his services, along with studio
time, Till the End of Time was finally underway.
- I’m In the
Mood for Love
- I Only Have
Eyes for You
- Once In a
Wedding Song (Ke Kali Nei Au)
- All of Me
- Blue Hawaii
- Smoke Gets
In Your Eyes
- It Had to
recorded in the 1940s:]
- How High
- Too Young
- That’s For
- Till the
End of Time
do not know how this could have happened, but, shortly after learning
that I was being inducted into the San Francisco State University
Alumni Hall of Fame, the big U called and said I was also their
choice as Alumnus of the Year. When you consider that SF State was
established 102 years ago, there’ve got to have been at least several,
uh, thousands of alumni, so this is quite an honor.
Speaker Nelly Puiyee Lau, Class of 2003, San Francisco State
The honor included
addressing the Class of 2003 at the commencement exercises on May
24th, along with Peter Yarrow, who received an honorary doctorate,
and Student Speaker Nelly Puiyee Lau, a top honors student in electrical
engineering who earned a National Science Foundation Graduate fellowship
and is headed for Stanford. She had more than a few words of wisdom
to offer. Don't be limited by society's stereotypes, she advised.
She recited a proverb in Mandarin, then translated: “Learning is
like rowing upstream. If you stop rowing, you are bound to go backwards.”
And, addressing a class that has weathered September 11 and the
Iraq war during their time on campus, Nelly noted: “Almost all intentional
tragedies are a result of misunderstanding, selfishness and hatred.
We must resolve conflicts in a civilized way.
It was encouraging
to hear young voices like Nelly’s, and more seasoned voices like
Peter’s. He mixed a passionate call for peace and compassion with
a couple of songs, ending with a joyous singalong to “Puff the Magic
Thanks to the
Alumni Association and to SFSU President Robert Corrigan for a wonderful
weekend, one that made me more proud than ever to have attended
a big Boz Scaggs fan, wants to know what I think of his latest CD,
But Beautiful. Here, Boz breaks away from his rock and blues
menu and gets into jazz and American standards. Wait a minute –
he’s copying Larry Ching! Thing is, Boz has always traversed the
great American musical landscape, from blues and soul to country
and rock to jazz and pop. On Fade Into Light, a 1996 CD released
in Japan, he did a gorgeous version of “Harbor Lights.” And in recent
years, he’s captivated audiences with a silky reading of “My Funny
Valentine.” Unfortunately, that chestnut is not in this collection,
but “What’s New,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Sophisticated
Lady,” and a lucky seven others, are filtered through the singular
Scaggs voice. If you’ve dug Boz through the years, and understand
that, in a sense, he’s always been a jazzer—improvisational, eclectic,
spare, and capable of making the voice a musical instrument, part
of the ensemble—you’ll find the new recording a little different.