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Artist of the Month, February 1998

Richard Olsen

The surprising fact Behind Richard Olsen, leader of San Francisco's suavest, swingingest Big Band, is that he first entered the music scene as a founding member of the original San Francisco hip rock band, the Charlatans.

Although the legendary band was never known far beyond the provincial confines of the Avalon and Fillmore ballroom scenes, Olsen, in the band's regulation Edwardian finery (straw hats, spats, etc.) belonged to the first generation of the same tribe that also included the Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

But jazz was always one of his first loves, just as the clarinet was one of his first instruments, so his emergence as a kind of nouveau Bobby Darin, leaning into those cool, relaxed vocals, in front of rippling brass and throbbing rhythm section, is hardly the unqualified left-field move it might seem for people who only know Olsen for his connection with the Charlatans.

Over the past couple of years, today's cool youth gather at spots like Haight Street's Club DeLuxe÷ironically mere blocks from where Olsen and George Hunter first put together the Charlatans÷or the 30's Art Deco elegance of Bimbo's 365 Club in North Beach, to dress up in vintage finery and dance the night away; jitterbug-style, to the retro-swing of the Richard Olsen Big Band and other jump-minded aggregations.

Through all the changes, Richard Olsen has stayed with his profession, a working musician who has done it all÷from the psychedelic ballroom of the '60's, to tap dancing on Union Square (a bit of business that survives in his act÷and this CD÷to this day). As he gravitated toward building steady work as a dance band leader, he tripped across the burgeoning cultural movement, the young and hip swing kids grooving to the sassy, brassy sounds of Sinatra, Darin, Louis Prima, Louis Jordan and all the others.

Poised with a blasting book of bright, rippling charts and sturdy songs, all finger snapping good, Olsen found the sound÷a sensational big band beat that has all today's San Francisco hipsters digging it the most.

Text by: Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle

Richard Olsen, Vocals, clarinet & tenor sax
Shota Osabe, Piano
Pat Klobas, String Bass
Steve Mitchell, Drums
Dave Weeks, Guitar
Harvey Wainapel, Alto sax
Colin Wenhardt, Alto sax
Ray Leockle, Tneor sax
Johnny Bamont, Baritone Sax
Marvin McFadden, Trumpet
Steve Campos, Trumpet
Jeff Cressman, Trombone
Edgardo Cambon, Percussion
Eric Rangel, Percussion
Carl Perazzo, Percussion
Kim Cataluna, Vocals
Cary Sheldon, Vocals

Recorded & mixed by Gary Mankin Tracks 9 & 12 mixed by Fred Catero
Recorded at Studio D, Sausalito, CA
Additional recording and mixing: Wellhasuen, Boomtown, & Music Annex
Produced by Richard Olsen for Fifth Avenue Records
CD Designed Illustrated By: Susan Pilborough Olsen
For Information & booking contact:
Fifth Avenue Records 751 40th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94121
Fax: (415) 831-3995


1. Saturday Night is the loneliest Night of the Week

2. Mack the Knife
(Weill Blecht-Blitzstein)
Chalo Eduardo- Bongos

3. Let The Good Times Roll
(Spo-De-Ode/F Moore/S. Theard)
Tenor Sax solo Richard Olsen

4. Memories of You
(Eubie Blake)

5. Moo La Lah (Melao De Cana) (Mercedes Pedroso)

6. Smack Dab in the Middle
Tenor Sax solo-Ray Loeckle

7. El Cumbanchero
(Rafael Hernandez)

8. St. James Infirmary
Solos: AIto-Jim Rothermel; Tenor-Ray Loeckle; Trumpet-Steve Compos; Trombone-Kevin Porter

9. Clarinet a La King
(Edie Sauter)

10. Up A lazy River

11. Sing, Sing, Sing
(Louis Prima)

12. As Long As I'm Singing
(Bobby Darin)


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