From 1986 to 2000, Jim Rollins had the wonderful opportunity to be performer, bandleader and music director at the world famous Pump Room Restaurant, located in the Ambassador East Hotel, in Chicago's beautiful and swank Gold Coast area. In 1996, he decided he would do a tribute album to this glorious venue filled with history. This CD encompasses a broad scope of musical styles: jazz, big band, cabaret and adult-contemporary. It is fully orchestrated, of the highest quality, digitally recorded, and made in collaboration with some of the finest musicians and arrangers in the United States -- some of whom have worked for Frank Sinatra and Gloria Estefan.
"Photographs on the Walls of the Pump Room" is, without a doubt, a timeless recording to be enjoyed and appreciated by even the most discriminating listener.
Chicago's Pump Room Restaurant was fashioned by its originator, Ernie Byfield, after the famous Pump Room in Bath, England. Opened in October, 1938, it has hosted literally thousands of celebrities - all famous, some infamous. Its dark, wood paneled walls are covered with 8x10 glossies of many celebrity faces that have dined at the landmark restaurant.
In 1938, Gertrude Lawrence, a famous actress in her day, was appearing in a play in Chicago. She came to the Pump Room for dinner one evening and loved it so much, she returned every evening for the entire duration of the play's 90-night run. She even had the same table every night, which ultimately became known as Booth One. She would bring along many of her famous show biz friends as well. Every night became a party. Soon the Pump Room became the place to see and be seen.
Over the years, the Pump Room also became the place to celebrate, be it a birthday, an anniversary, or a wedding. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married in Booth One. Many a love-sick man proposed marriage to his steady girl, arranging with the staff to have the engagement ring hidden in the champagne or on the Baked Alaska dessert. Some gentlemen would have the band play the couple's favorite song while he, with great trepidation, would get down on one knee in the middle of the intimate dance floor and say those magic words to his blushing, soon-to-be fiancée, "Will you marry me?", while the other dancers and diners looked on in breathless anticipation. Resounding cheers and applause throughout the entire restaurant greeted the teary-eyed, affirmative response. And to the best of our knowledge, no young lady ever declined!
From 1938 until the turn of this 21st century, the Pump Room was about dining, dancing and romance. One was always assured of an elegant, memorable evening. There was also the good possibility to rub elbows with the rich and famous -- from the local politicians who put the "Windy" in the name, Windy City, to the Chairman of the Board himself, Ol' Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.