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Down at the 90th Floor: Dick and Kiz Harp

Dick and Kiz HarpDick 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)
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Lazy Afternoon
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
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Trolley Song
Dick & Kiz Harp — Again! Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
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Inch Worm
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
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Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
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Angel Eyes
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)
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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.

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County Fair
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: midpoint music bed.

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

Notes: Rodgers & Hart song.

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Joey, Joey, Joey
Dick & Kiz Harp — Dick & Kiz Harp at the 90th Floor (90th Floor Records, 1960)

Notes: Frank Loesser song.

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

Notes: Burt Bacharach-Hal David song.

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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.

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  • robert

    I purchased both CDs soon after their release. It was my first time to hear the Harps. I wish I could go to McKinnney Avenue and Throckmorton in Dallas 1959 to pop into the 90th Floor and experience their simple magic. Dick and Kiz were special.

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