Night Lights Classic Jazz

Dick and Kiz Harp: Down at the 90th Floor

The story of a husband-and-wife jazz duo who ran and performed in a Texas nightclub in the late 1950s. The two LPs they recorded have won them a cult following.

Play Episode (Real Audio)
Dick and Kiz Harp

Photo: Album cover art.

Harp friend and record producer Bruce Collier joins Night Lights this week for a program about this tragically short-lived duo.

Dick and Kiz Harp were a husband-and-wife, piano-and-vocals duo who ran their own nightclub (converted from a warehouse and called “The 90th Floor,” after a lesser-known Cole Porter song they performed) in Dallas, Texas at the end of the 1950s. They’ve developed a cult following among jazz-vocal aficionados on the basis of two obscure LPs. The Harps, influenced by artists such as Sylvia Sims, Anita O’Day, and Dick Marx’s Chicago trio, came up with their own sound—a blend of cabaret, torch song, and Midwestern camp—riding strongly on Kiz Harp’s magnetic stage presence and slightly hoarse, soulful voice (a listener described her as “Jeri Southern smoking two packs a day”). Their career ended suddenly and tragically in 1960. We’ll hear music from both of their albums (available again at 90th Floor Records) and we’ll talk with Bruce Collier, the founder and owner of 90th Floor Records, who recorded both Harp LPs.

Music Heard On This Episode

Lazy Afternoon
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Lazy Afternoon
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Trolley Song
Dick & Kiz Harp — Again! Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Inch Worm
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Angel Eyes
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Fugue for Tinhorns
Dick & Kiz Harp — Again! Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: With Reinie Press as the third vocalist.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
County Fair
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: midpoint music bed.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most
Dick & Kiz Harp — Again! Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Too Good for the Average Man
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: Rodgers & Hart song.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Joey, Joey, Joey
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: Frank Loesser song.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
If I Should Lose You
Dick & Kiz Harp — Again! Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Winter Warm
Dick & Kiz Harp — Again! Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: Burt Bacharach-Hal David song.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

View all posts by this author »

  • Katie

    I’m interested in purchasing a Dick and Kiz Harp cd, but can’t seem to find one. Any recommendations? (Amazon has one, but it’s from a secondary source and I’m a bit nervous about that.)

  • http://nightlights.blogs.wfiu.org/ David

    Katie,
    You can purchase both CDs by the following the link for 90th Floor Records in the post above–it’s the website for Bruce Collier, the original label owner and interviewee in the program. Both CDs are great, although you might want to try the first one (simply titled DICK AND KIZ HARP AT THE 90TH FLOOR) if you want to get only one right now (Bruce knocks the price for each down several bucks if you buy them both at once). If you heard a particular recording in the show that you wanted to get, you can check the playlist–it lists which CD each song came from.
    Hope that helps!
    David

  • Candace

    When I first started dating my husband, he had the album of “Dick and Kiz at the 90th Floor”. It was winter, we had roaring fires and he would play this record for me. We were in our early 20s and it sealed the deal.

  • Richard

    Having bought these two CDs some time ago, may I add my recommendation? The singing is great, the repertoire unusual and a relief from the rather repetitive choice of songs on most jazz vocal records, and the recording, considering the circumstances, is fine. These discs – both of them – are essential. WARNING: once you’ve heard them, you’ll end up buying more for your friends. Please don’t hesitate.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Night Lights Classic Jazz:

Support For Indiana Public Media From

About Night Lights

Search Night Lights

where to hear night lights

This Week On Afterglow

Mr. B: The Billy Eckstine Story

Photo of singer Billy Eckstine

Billy Eckstine was a cultural pioneer who became one of the first black male solo singers to find success singing love songs.

Read more »

Afterglow is WFIU's weekly program of jazz and American popular song hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Afterglow »