Mediterranean Cocktail at Franco Restaurant with Vasco Cordoni

Now here’s a disc that features singer Vasco Cordoni at the cocktail bar of the famous ‘Franco Restaurant’ in Johannesburg,  specializing in Mediterranean food and spirits

singer Vasco Cordoni must be of Italian origin and born in South Africa. He worked mainly in the restaurant/lounge–circuit in Johannesburg in the 60’s,  singing a well groomed repertoire of Mediterranean origins while specializing in Italian songs.

Vasco Cordoni -La Notte

Vasco Cordoni -Tasseparo na fioume

The album ‘Mediterranean Cocktail’ was released in 1966 while Vasco worked at the ‘Franco Restaurant & Cocktail Bar’. He can be seen on the cover posing happily at the bar, probably with the band that accompanied him, or maybe the guys may have been working at the bar, shaking cocktails.  No credits nor any liner notes to verify that…But the repertoire on this album is pretty and comfortable to listen to, the usual cocktail bar/lounge fare but only more ‘poppy’ at times and with a few unexpected turns in mood and style, like ‘Sha-La-la’ and ‘O Barquinho’, that beautiful Brazilian Bossa Nova….

Vasco Cordoni -Sha-la-la

Vasco Cordoni -O barquinho

Vasco Cordoni -Se to vieni con mico

Vasco Cordoni -Volare


Have a go, order a Limoncello Martini and sip away those blues


  • 1/2 ounce limoncello
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 lemon twist
  • Directions

Shake with ice and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Eve Boswell at Ciro’s

Eve Boswell (Eva Keleti, May 11, 1922, Budapest, Hungary – August 14, 1998, Durban, South Africa) was a successful pop singer in Britain in the 1950s

She was born in Hungary to professional musician parents who toured worldwide. Educated in Switzerland, she studied piano before joining her parents on tour as The Three Hugos. When World War II was declared, the family left England with the Boswell Circus. She married, and as Eve Boswell became a popular singing star in South Africa.

In 1949, she was heard by bandleader Geraldo (Gerald Bright), who persuaded her to return to the United Kingdom as a singer in his band, which was widely heard on BBC Radio. Boswell parted with Geraldo in 1952, and launched a solo career. Her first hit record came that year with “Sugar Bush”, partly sung in Afrikaans. She appeared in the Royal Variety Performance and toured widely with comedian Derek Roy, before getting her own radio-show in 1954

see Eve Boswell singing a medley of her most well-known hits at The Wheeltappers  & Shunters Social Club: “Pickin’ A Chicken”,  “Sugar Bush” and “A-round The Corner”

Her major chart hit came with “Pickin’ a Chicken”, a South African tune with new words, which rose to No 9 on the UK Singles Chart at the start of 1956.  The song, originally sung by Barbara Thomas didn’t do much when it was first released but when Eve adapted it to the taste of her white audience it became a smash…

eve boswell sugar and spice cover front gecomp   Eve Boswell’s first LP, “Sugar and Spice”, on which she sang 10 songs in nine different languages, followed later in the year. A continuous programme of radio work and tours followed, leading to more than one mental breakdown.

She faded from public view as public tastes for pop music changed through the late 1950s and 1960s, eventually returning to live in South Africa. Eve Boswell died in Durban, South Africa on August 14, 1998

‘Eve at Ciro’s’ is  a most unusual find and equally a rare EP that highlights the standard Eve Boswell sets at that most famous nightclub of  Johannesburg; Ciro’s.   During her lenghty career Eve performed many times at Ciro’s and this EP,  although not recorded live on the spot,  is certainly worth a few curtaincalls…

Eve sings in English and Afrikaans and does a really exciting version of ‘Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps tonight”, but this time arranged and recorded as a chacha….

Eve Boswell -Wimoweh Cha Cha

Eve Boswell -if I had a talking picture of you

Eve Boswell -Boegoeberg Se Dam

Eve Boswell -Piccaninny


 see also celebration at Ciro’s Johannesburg

Cabaret at The Moçambique

Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique

Cabaret at The Moçambique

with Elsa Vilar, Moniz Trindade, Maria Adalgis, David Pantoja with Benny Baker’s Orchestra

One fine October morning in 1955 Antonio Amral arrived in Johannesburg from Lourenço Marques, unable to understand one single word he heard around him. Despite language difficulties he bought a restaurant that very day, and soon discerning Johannesburg diners were finding their way to an unostentatious little place in Simmonds Street that served the finest piri-piri dishes in town.


Towards the end of 1958 he moved to this present premises in Noord Street, and it is to celebrate the first anniversary of this new restaurant, “The Moçambique” that he presents this gala cabaret of artists imported from Portugal, specially for the occasion.

Cabaret at the Moçambique

Elsa Vilar is one of the most popular vocalists in Portugal. After only two  years in showbusiness, she is now a top star with the enviable reputation of  making a ‘hit’ out of everything she features




Maria Adalgisa trained under the great Portuguese   singer Tomas Alcaide. A soprano who excels in the   colourful folks music of Portugal, she is equally proficient in classical   compositions


Cabaret at the Moçambique -Kanimambo

Cabaret at the Moçambique -Brincos Vermelhos

Moniz Trindade is one of the world’s foremost interpreters of ‘fado’ songs. Born in Lisbon, the home of the ‘fado’, he is in equal demand in Spain and Portugal for appearances on stage, televison and radio. A well-known composer, he writes all of his own material.

David Pantoja is the instrumentalist of the group. It is his brilliant accordion accompaniments that give the songs their authentic Porguese flavour.

Cabaret at The Moçambique -Fadista Gringa

Cabaret at the Moçambique -Polana A Noite/Cançăo Do Mar/ Uma Casa Portuguesa

The musical director at “The Moçambique” is Benny Baker, British born pianist and band leader. Although better known in South Africa for his recordings of the ‘pop’ type, Benny is a brilliant exponent of Latin American and Continental dance music. He had  his own combination in some of the smartest nightclubs in Europe, and just before coming to South Africa was for two seasons leading the Orchestra of the famous Palm Beach Casinos in Cannes, France.

from the original liner notes of the album “Cabaret at The Moçambique” Gallotone GALP 1067



celebration at Ciro’s Johannesburg

Celebration at Ciro’s

with Dan Hill and his Band

tekening ciro's

…to anyone who’s ever been in Johannesburg, Ciro’s is a magic name which spells the best in Nightclub entertainment.

The magnificent chandelier, the sophisticated atmosphere…and fine food…all make an evening to be remembered. Ciro’s too is noted for the quality of its bands and vocalists. Now here is gathered together for the enjoyment of those who know Ciro’s (and those who don’t), an entertainment of rhythm and song to set the toes itching and make the heart beat faster.

Your entertainment starts with The Joe Kentridge Trio and Joao Tudella. Joe Kentridge is a well-known jazz pianist –and owner of Ciro’s –Tudella has proved himself in several recordings to be a gifted young singer. Born in Lourenco Marques, he studied at the Coimbra University in Portugal. He first won renown as a Fado singer, but has shown himself to be equally adept at dance band music. His rich Latin voice with its thrilling timbre, provides an admirable foil to Peter Lotis who follows with Dan Hill and his Band.

Joe Kentridge Trio -nunca, e spinita

Joao Tudella with Joe Kentridge Trio -quizas, quizas, quizas

Joao Tudella with Joe Kentridge Trio -conceicao, caminhemos, risque

see also João Tudella canta musica de Artur Fonseca-Uma Casa Portuguesa w/ the Dan Hill Quintet

Bill Walker –the likeable Australian who plays with Dan Hill and his band for the Rumba, is another regular Ciro figure. His immediately recognizable brand of magic is also well-known from his recordings, Walker Around the World (Columbia ALD 6249) and Walker Round the Shows (Columbia ALD 6341)

Dan Hill and his band -never on sunday

Bill Walker with Dan Hill and his band -Rumba

tekening ciro's

Of Dan Hill it is enough to say that he is one of the most wanted and popular musical celebrities in South Africa. He has arranged all the numbers on his record –and is a professional to his fingertips. Since 1948, Dan has made recordings that have received plaudits from such authorities as Metronome (USA). He has also arranged movie scores and introduced the public to a number of South African hits including Fanagalo, Hamba Khale, Thabazimbi and Doemela.

From the original liner notes of  “celebration at Ciro’s with Dan Hill and his Band” Columbia ALD 6357

although the club was inspired by Ciro’s Los Angeles, Ciro’s Johannesburg had no direct links with that American Nightclub landmark

celebration at Ciro's

In the 1940’s and 1950’s  Ciro’s nightclub was one of the hottest nightspots in the world.From the early 1940’s until it closed on the eve of the 1960’s, Ciro’s launched countless entertainment icons along the path to superstardom. It was one of the first major venues to host Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin before they took over the comedy world in 1950. A year later, an unheralded opening act called the Will Mastin Trio stole the show from the headliner. This was due in large part to a young entertainer that would before long outgrow his membership in the group–arguably the most talented entertainer in show biz history, Sammy Davis, Jr. After the car accident that cost Sammy his right eye, it was the site of his return to live performing. Countless other top entertainers performed there, from Sinatra sidekick comic Joe E. Louis to Nat King Cole.

The names that frequented Ciro’s were a who’s who of the American entertainment pantheon, starting at the very top with Frank Sinatra and including other A-list stars like Anita Ekberg, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner, George Burns, Jack Benny, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford just to mention a few…they came to drink, to see and be seen among a collection of other Hollywood illuminati, served by leggy cigarette girls in short skirts and heels

ciros los angeles 1

…in a more civilized time, there was a circuit of    world renowned nightclubs that featured the best entertainment in the country in an  atmosphere of indulgent luxury

Peter Lotis with Dan Hill and his band -autumn leaves, petite fleur, c’est si bon

Peter Lotis with Dan Hill and his band-ciao ciao bambino, luna rossa, non dimenticar

In Las Vegas, the Copa Room at the Sands became the place to be in the 1960’s but before that there was The Cocoanut Grove in Miami, the 900 Club in Atlantic City, the Sam Giancanna owned Villa Venice in Chicago.  Even during the early 1940s, Ciro’s was part of this top tier of clubs. What would later become the Holmby Hills Rat Pack was already holding court nightly at Ciro’s, then owned and operated by Billy Wilkenson. From Bogie and Bacall to George Raft and Betty Grable, it was L.A.’s hottest spot. Like most clubs, however, it began to cool off a couple of years later and by 1942 owner Wilkenson was hard pressed to provide worthy entertainment for the celebrities that patronized his club. Customers were defecting in droves to the jungle themed Mocambo across the street. For a time, Ciro’s closed its doors. It wasn’t dark for long when Herman Hoover put together a plan to reopen the club…

Ciro’s LA mid 40’s dance floor

Ciro’s reopened on December 26, 1942 with longtime Sinatra pal Joe E. Lewis on stage and such stars as Mickey Rooney, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Joan Crawford and Cary Grant in the audience. Xavier Cugat (who would later marry a Latin dancer named Charo) became a regular headliner at the club, preceding the arrival of Martin, Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr.

ciro's LA bar

Ciro’s LA bar circa 1941

Eventually Ciro’s closed its doors in 1957 and was sold at a public auction two years later.

The end of Ciro’s also represented an end of the glamor that characterized Los Angeles in the early to middle 20th century. Sunset Boulevard remained a busy main street, but before long became populated with as many strip clubs and tattoo parlors as upscale restaurants and nightclubs. The tradition of launching new stars, however, continues to this day at the Comedy Store which has operated on the Ciro’s site for almost 30 years. A ‘who’s who’ of comedy have gotten a start at the club from Jay Leno, David Letterman and Andy Kaufman to modern comics like David Chappelle and UFC commentator Joe Rogan

about the Author: Ross Everett has written extensively on the history of Las Vegas and the city’s gambling industry

ciro's LA 3

see  ‘Hollywood steps out’, a 1941 short Merrie Melodies cartoon by Warner Brothers, directed by Tex Avery

previously shown on Youtube but withdrawn due to copyright infringement

Derek Gunning at The Caravelle Johannesburg

Derek Cunning at The Caravelle cover

Derek Gunning at The Caravelle Johannesburg

with accompaniment directed by George Hayden

Derek Gunning -autumn leaves

The Caravelle is one of the leading restaurants/night spots in Johannesburg, and its discreet intimate atmosphere provides an admirable setting for the polished entertainment of singer Derek Gunning and pianist George Hayden.

Presided over by charming hostess Olive Lawrence and genial host Freddie Pezold, The Caravelle has become synonymous of good cuisine and is famous for its special dish ‘Rock Lobster Ala Turque’, a tempting concoction that draws gourmets from far and wide.

Truly the ideal combination…a warm, friendly atmosphere…excellent cuisine…and discreet, intimate entertainment.

Derek Gunning -hello young lovers

Derek Cunning foto copy

Derek Gunning -it happened in Monterey

Derek Gunning; 30 years old Derek Gunning has been a leading vocalist in the main night spots of Johannesburg, Durban and Margate. In 1955 he migrated to England where he joined the famous Eric Winstone Orchestra at Butlins Holiday Camp and at the well known Millroy Club in London, and later toured the South of France sharing top of the bill honours with The Trio Los Paraguaro.

Derek Gunning -just in time

He also appeared in several leading TV shows in London, amongst them ‘The 6.5 Special’, ‘Follow the Stars’ (a radio show) and ‘The Late London Show’. On his return to Johannesburg, Derek featured as resident vocalist on a popular Radio Show and was featured with such prominent guest artists as Alma Cogan, Anne Shelton, Eve Boswell, Roy Castle and many others. Derek is now resident vocalist at The Caravelle (Johannesburg) where, with pianist George Hayden, he blends admirably into the intimate atmosphere of this leading restaurant/night spot.

Derek Gunning -the lady is a tramp

from the original liner notes of the album Derek Gunning at The Caravelle (Johannesburg) Rave Records RMG 1161

The Don Albert Combo -Dinner (not breakfast) at Tiffany’s

The Don Albert Combo -Dinner (not breakfast) at Tiffany’s

Restaurant Tiffany’s is represented on the album ‘Johannesburg Night Club Festival’  by a few musical selections,  although not credited, by The Don Albert Combo. Here is a rare album by that group recorded on their turf.  One can hear the usual standards done Don Albert’s style with some unexpected choices like ‘ Soul Bossa Nova’,  ‘The House of Bamboo’ and a twistin’ version of  ‘All my lovin’

The Don Albert Combo -Soul Bossa Nova

In Commissioner Street, known as the ‘Gay, White Way’ of Johannesburg, Tiffany’s -a hop, skip and a jump away from the heart of Theatreland- stands out like a diadem in a crown of jewels. Lush in its comfort, exciting in its atmosphere, under the genial direction of Rene Wildi, that man of international cuisine fame, the most delectable of foods are served and the wine list has available at your command the most selective vintages.

Fully air-conditioned so that diners are comfortably at ease regardless of summer heat or wintry blasts outside, Tiffany’s has the ideal climate at all times. Because of its convivial air, pleasing lightning, carpeted flooring and personal attention service, it has become the favourite nightspot for celebrities and others who have fastidious taste in wining and dining. Music provided by Don Albert and his Combo is a soothing background while you dine, and as the evening draws on becomes exhilarating for those who want to dance or an adventurous, musical experience for those who prefer to listen.

The Don Albert Combo -The House of Bamboo

The Don Albert Combo -Hello Dolly

The Don Albert Combo -All my lovin’

The Don Albert Combo -dancing in the dark

South African-born Don Albert is a musician filled with the spirit of adventure. An accomplished master of the reed instruments, it was not enough to follow the arrangements and style of other leaders in the field of modern, popular music. For Don Albert wanted to create a new sound, a new style and at the same time include much of the traditional of old and new Jazz. By trial and error, after spending hundreds of hours in searching for the right combination, he at last succeeded. Veteran, knowledgeable musicians and critics have described his Combo as the ‘mightiest little band’ ever to come to town. Not only is Don Albert adept at all the reed instruments, but much of the vocals on this LP are provided by him. It was only fitting that Don Albert and his new creative style, his outstanding accomplishments in modern musical performance should be part of Tiffany’s -South Africa’s unusually outstanding restaurant for dining, wining and dancing.

from the original liner notes from the LP

The Don Albert Combo -dinner (not breakfast) at Tiffany’s

Johannesburg Night Club Festival 1964

Johannesburg nightclub festival

mp3 introduction to Johannesburg Nightclub Festival

music for restaurants, nightclubs and lounges in Johannesburg 1964, South Africa

this particular collection of records started mainly for the fabulous covers.  Little by little I started to collect  a musical map of Johannesburg and discovered the music on these albums that were originally released in  the early and mid 60’s in very limited quantities. Of course this selection gives only a restricted view of  the popular music of the 60’s in South Africa. Remember this was pre-1994, long before Apartheid ended. In those days black musicians and artists were simply banned from performing in restaurants, nightclubs and theatres frequented by the white ruling class. Popular black music like Mbaqanga, Zulu Jive, Marabi, Kwela or African Jazz was reserved for the townships or could be heard via local black radio-stations.

All featured artists on the album  ‘Johannesburg Nightclub Festival 1964’ were regulars on the circuit of restaurants, nightclubs and lounges of the big hotels in Johannesburg or working in other big cities like Durban or Cape Town,  or they were residing in  holiday resorts in Lourenco Marques, now Maputo in Mozambique.


mp3  ‘it better be tonight

Little by little I became fascinated with the nightlife of Johannesburg in the 1960’s. It must have been quite a jolly good time for the people who could live and party there at the time.

mp3  one exciting weekend -The Balalaika, The Cockatoo Room


Imagine all the wealth and privileges of the era. The start of  a swinging nightlife based on the customs and culture of  Europe, USA and the rest of the world rolled into one.

the LP  ‘Johannesburg Night Club Festival’ kicks off with an introduction to the music by the bands and vocalists of those restaurants who have contributed to this album.  Due to contractual reasons their names are not credited but the restaurants participating are ‘Tiffany’s’, ‘His Majesty’s Cellar’, ‘The Balalaika’, ‘The Grove’, ‘Dawson’s’ and ‘The Colony’

the colonyNone of these places exist any longer. The original sites have been demolished or renovated and the map of  the nightlife in Johannesburg has dramatically changed since the day of recording these tunes

mp3  ‘my baby don’t care for me’  from The Grove at The Orange Grove Hotel

the grove