Raymond De Felitta Jazz


JazzWax: Raymond De Felitta & Peter Bogdanovich

From JazzWax

Peter Bogdanovich’s death on January 6, took me back to my interview with the famed director in 2014. Our conversation was for my Wall Street Journal “House Call” column on Peter’s home in Bel Air where he had lived with actress Cybill Shepherd (go here). Peter, of course, directed Targets, What’s Up Doc?, Paper Moon, The Last Picture Show, Mask, Texasville and other films. My friend, director Raymond De Felitta, put in the ask, thanks to his close friendship with Peter. Raymond directed Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris, City Island, Bottom of the 9th, Booker’s Place, Rob the Mob and others.

With Peter’s passing, I re-listened to the CD Raymond gave me several years ago, Monday Morning Quarterbacks. On the lovely album, Raymond and Peter recorded standards, with Peter singing and Raymond accompanying on piano. The other day, Raymond mentioned in an email that a short film had been made of the recording session and that it had just gone up at YouTube. He sent along a link. 

But before we get there, let me fill you in on the background. Mark Lipsky, the former Miramax, New Yorker Films and Lot 47 executive, picks up the story…

In 2002, Tom Hayes [son of the late Harold Hayes, editor of Esquire in its heyday, who hired Peter to write for the magazine], invited me to a party at Raymond De Felitta’s apartment in Manhattan. Raymond was celebrating the addition of a baby grand piano to his living room. Tom also invited Peter Bogdanovich. At one point in the evening, Raymond and Peter were sitting at the piano—Raymond playing and Peter crooning a series of jazz standards.

They were wonderful together, and I suggested they record a CD. They laughed and challenged me to secure a studio. If I did, they said, they’d play along. So I did, and they played along. The result was a rare and memorable CD entitled “Monday Morning Quarterbacks.” A short film—shot and edited by Tom Hayes—tells the tale. Thanks to Tom, Brian Devine, Raymond and, of course, Peter.

The 18-minute video, entitled Directors Unplugged, not only captures Raymond and Peter recording the album at Gigantic Studio in Tribeca but also features Raymond interviewing Peter plus their banter between takes and during the album’s playback. The Dean Martin section is a hoot. Most important, it’s perhaps the only video I know of in which Peter parks his signature hangdog expression, loosens up and is, in essence, himself. That’s a testament to Raymond’s close friendship with him and the fun they had that day.

Here’s Directors Unplugged & Monday Morning Quarterbacks, on YouTube.