Tapes from the Continental Restaurant

  • Back in the 1970s there was a Restaurant in Fairfield called the "Continental", owned and operated by Bill Ratzenberger. Bill was a good trumpet player who also manufactured and sold "Jet-Tone" mouthpieces for trumpet and trombone. On Friday evenings Bill's house band performed good jazz for dining customers to enjoy along their fine dinners. If I remember correctly the regular members were Ed Graf on alto sax & clarinet, Bob Harey on piano, Vic Valente on bass, and Gene Burkhart on drums. Bill often joined the quartet on trumpet, and Vic often sang a number. But the best part was the series of special guest who were featured with the band. They were almost always the biggest names from NY, but the GJB did get invited once or twice.
    We didn't know it at the time, but most of those sessions were recorded. I recently inherited several boxes of those reel-to-reel tapes, and have begun editing them and making them available from HERE:
    Right now you can listen to and/or download recordings featuring Dick Wellstood, Clark Terry, Dick Hyman, Bill Watrous with Bernie Leighton, Doc Cheetham with George Masso, Ruby Braff, and Teddy Wilson. Eventually some of those will be replaced to make room for others.