This album, needs very few words of explanation. To millions it’s another superb package of mood music to add to a record collection that probably includes several, if not all, of Jackie’s previous albums.
For over the past few years Gleason has established himself rather firmly as the undisputed master of a special kind of “listenin’ music” — lush instrumental music that not only helps to create an atmosphere of relaxation, but also frequently proves to be the ideal complement to a quiet, romantic setting.
Once more it’s the unmistakable sound of the famed Gleason strings — here, two string orchestras — imparting their rich, full-voiced beauty to a dozen lovely ballads. Solo phrases are exchanged from opposite sides of the Stereo stage by piano and celeste on some tracks, mellow trombones and trumpets on others, and each orchestration is varied in mood and color, even as the moods of love so often vary from smoldering embers to bright-burning flame.
It’s music in the very best Jackie Gleason tradition, smooth arrangements designed to suit an evening of dancing, romancing, or easy listening.
Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” provided its composer with one of the greatest triumphs of his short lifetime; this event took place about six months after the world premiere in Vienna on the 1st May 1786, when the opera was performed for the first time in Prague.
“The enthusiasm (of the Prague audience) was on a scale hitherto unparalleled,” wrote a contemporary. “It was impossible to hear too much of it.” In consequence Mozart received a commission to write another opera for Prague. “Don Giovanni” is therefore a result of the success of “Figaro”, which, like its later sisterwork, had its origin in a literary work which was very skilfully adapted to form its libretto. “Figaro” is based on the comedy, full of social criticism, “Le mariage de Figaro ou la folle journee” by Beaumarchais, which had appeared in Paris two years earlier. In Vienna this satire on the age was banned, but Mozart’s librettist Lorenzo da Ponte was clever enough to overcome the difficulty by means of diplomacy and his acting ability.
In da Ponte’s version the barbs of the “storm-bird of the revolution”, as Beaumarchais’ “mad day” had been called, were clipped a little so as to appear harmless. The libretto nevertheless follows the play in its tensions between members of different classes of society. This is the second of three loosely linked comedies. In the first of them, “The Barber of Seville”, which has remained alive on the musical stage through Rossini’s masterly setting, Count Almaviva, with the assistance of the sly Figaro, abducts the beautiful Rosina from her guardian’s house. The “mad day”, as the first part of the original double title indicates, concerns the marriage of Figaro, who has been promo, ed to become the Count’s personal servant, to the Countess’s maid Susanna, who has to foil the Count’s designs on her. In this apparently superficial comedy of intrigue expressed in music there is embedded a fundamental conflict between social superiors and inferiors. While Figaro, as the Barber of Seville, was a colleague, a fellow-schemer with the Count, now that he is a personal servant he challenges his master, who has become a rival favoured by birth and position, to “dance to his tune”.
Lorenzo da Ponte described his libretto for Mozart as “un quasi nuovo genere di spettacolo”, a virtually new kind of stage work; he called this comic opera a “commedia per musica”. Indeed Mozart’s opera buffa goes far beyond the bounds of Neapolitan operatic farce such as Rossini was to create three decades later in its purest form. Comedy and tragedy, the marionette-like mechanics of the buffa tradition and genuine, deep human emotions, heightened by music, have never been more fully integrated in the sphere of comic opera than in “The Marriage of Figaro”, this early yet perfect comedy of character in music.
Johnny Keating’s Kombo -The Donkey Serenade, Ted Heath And His Music – Johnny One Note, Los Machucambos – Granada, International “Pop” All Stars – The Poor People Of Paris, Stanley Black Orchestra With Women’s Voices – Caravan, Eric Rogers And His Orchestra – Tiger Rag, Rudi Bohn And His Band – Mack The Knife, Edmundo Ros And His Orchestra – My Old Kentucky Home, Ronnie Aldrich And His Two Pianos – Unforgettable, Werner Müller And His Orchestra – You Are My Lucky Star
“So Much in Love!” offers a refreshing and different Conniff approach. This time, the Ray Conniff singers step out from the orchestra to sing twelve great love songs which are paired off so that each medley tells a musical story about people who are “so much in love”. For example, in the first medley, the girls sing the nostalgic “Autumn Leaves”, recalling a lost or distant love. The men answer with “Just Walking in the Rain”, as they find themselves in pretty much the same situation. The two songs are interwoven to complete the story in song. As you listen, you may even find yourself remembering romantic situations suggested by these songs… after all, hasn’t everybody, at one time or another, been “So Much in Love!”
When André Previn was a little boy in Berlin, where his father was a lawyer and amateur pianist, he would sit under the piano at family musicales while his father and friends played for their own amusement. “I was involved unconsciously with music as far back as I can remember. The father left Germany to get out of the way of the Nazis and took his family to California, where André was unceremoniously deposited in a public school without possessing a single word of English. He felt terribly embarrassed and awkward; it must have been a traumatic experience. Yet, to compensate for what he felt, he turned to music as a means of showing his worth.
In his early teens he began hanging around radio stations, playing piano and, when he was allowed to, arranging for house bands. (The conductors allowed him to do this free. “I didn’t have to pay them for the experience,” André says, ironically.) Presently someone at MGM heard of “that kid” and, sent for him to do some arrangements for Jose Iturbi, who was to play jazz piano in a picture but hadn’t the slightest notion of how to do it. That assignment led to his doing the scores for about thirty films, including Three Little Words, It’s Always Fair Weather, Invitation to the Dance, Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Bad Day at Black Rock, Elmer Gantry, and most recently, One, Two, Three and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Scoring for films is only one of his many activities. He conducts and appears as piano soloist with symphony orchestras across America, he leads a jazz combo in nightclubs, and in concert appearances, he composes “heavy” music as well as popular, and he and his wife are working on a musical comedy. It is my suspicion that somewhere in his busy schedule he also finds time to make his own music paper and ink.
That, in a paragraph, is André Previn, who is as near to being the young Leonardo of the music world as anyone we have and don’t go away sore, Leonardo Bernstein. You’re older than he is, and this is his record.
Indeed it is. Here is Previn playing the piano against what my favourite living American author, W. Thornton Martin, unquestionably would term “a lush back-ground of strings.” The music is brooding and wistful, nostalgic and full of longing and, here and there, touched with syncopation as well. It is all in that superb taste we have come to expect from this young man, who is I have said it before and here it is again a prodigious talent. Yet Previn is not arrogant about dis-playing his virtuosity. Listen to Gone With the Wind, which is my favourite. It begins with the strings and André playing together. Then he states his theme, after which he gives way to the strings; but after they have had a few bars to themselves he seems to become impatient and more insistent it is almost as though his ability is about to race out of control. It never does. Previn must be exasperating to his peers, for he has managed the rarely seen ability to be free yet controlled, to experiment yet stay within bounds. He is always in charge, always authoritative. He knows where he is going but is delighted to find that some part of him is leading him into unexpected areas. All these selections are like that. What a break for the rest of us that that little boy in Berlin climbed out from under the piano and sat down at the bench.
Music of romance seems invariably to draw forth the most rapturous melodies composers can offer, and Percy Faith’s arrangements of the tunes in Exotic Strings are undeniably in keeping with their mood of moonlight, romance and rapture. Probably no other conductor-arranger is so successful in the presentation of romantic music, keeping the sound tastefully rich and – at the same time allowing full outpouring of the melodies.
The Faith technique is stunningly evident in the present collection. To the fifty virtuoso strings comprising his orchestra, he has added exotic rhythm instruments to enhance the sonorous depth and breadth of his arrangements. The immense Hollywood recording studio where this album was made is ideally suited for capturing the flowing components of orchestral voices and countermelodies.
The repertoire of Exotic Strings offers fine Broadway and Hollywood ballads by Alexander Borodin (by way of Robert Wright and George Forrest’s musical version of ‘Kismet’), Arthur Schwartz, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Vincent Youmans. And in addition to such favourites as Poinciana, Nightingale and My Shawl, Percy has included an original composition, Chico Bolero. The unusual effect of plucked strings playing in countermelody against soaring strings is one of this selection’s particular delights.
In Exotic Strings, the Faith sound is gloriously displayed. The music provides a splendid medium for orchestral enchantment, and the enchantment, in turn, enhances the music in a way that is both intimate and expansive.
Composer-conductor-arranger Bert Kaempfert created a sensation with the million-selling hit recording of the hauntingly beautiful WONDERLAND BY NIGHT. With it, he almost single-handedly reestablished the popularity of the big band, and in so doing became one of its most popular and vital forces.
WONDERLAND has been followed by a bright succession of Kaempfert hits the most recent of which, and perhaps the most significant being AFRICAN BEAT together with the title song of this album, and THAT HAPPY FEELING. All these three titles are original Kaempfert compositions, and they represent with their brilliant trumpet passages and beautiful intrusions of massed strings one of the most rhythmically exciting and melodically imaginative sounds ever conceived by Mr. Kaempfert or anyone else on the scene today.
Mr. Kaempfert, like many other modern young men of music, has long been fascinated by the music of Africa; and in particular by the unique rhythms and “penny whistle” sound that is the result of the mergings of Europeon and African negro elements in South Africa. Thus, this album is the outcome of much research and study. Its moods range from softly sentimental to almost boisterously swinging. The sound is characteristically rich.
In this record of great film melodies you will find a selection that will recall memories of many notable films, all made within the last decade.
That’s Entertainment, a tune that has become a show Dietz business Howard zu.th classic, 1931I le Band Wagon” which starred Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Jack Buchanan.
Gigi was composed for the film of the same name by Allan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The title role was portrayed by Leslie Caron and her suitor by Louis Jourdan; Maurice Chevalier and Her-mione Gingold played supporting roles in this delightful film.
Audrey Hepburn starred as the unforgettable Holly Golightly in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. The waltz Moon River, written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini received the 1961 Academy ‘Oscar’ Award as “the outstanding tune composed for a motion picture” In that year.
Like so many of the stage shows for which Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the music, “Flower Drum Song” was converted Into a film starring Nancy Kwan, James ShIgeta and Miyoshi Umeki. In the film it was Nancy Kwan who sang / Enjoy Being A Girl.
“West Side Story” was another stage show to become an equally successful film with Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn as the stars. The music, including the tune Tonight, was composed by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.
The world-famous waltz Fascination was written by F. D. Marchetti in 1908. It was featured In the film. “Love in the Afternoon”, with Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper and Maurice Chevalier in the leading roles.
The theme song La Dolce Vila (The Sweet Life) was composed by Nino Rota for the controversial Italian film of the same name. The international cast included Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastro, anni.
One of Hollywood’s most eminent lyric-writers, Paul Francis Webster collaborated with Dimitri Tiomkin to compose the enchanting song Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love) for the film of the same name starring Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire. The Greek film “Never on Sunday” is certainly one of the most successful continental films of recent years, and it co-starred Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin (who also directed it). The catchy theme song Never On Sunday (sub-titled Les enfants de Piree) was written by Manos Hadjidakis.
James Mason, John Mills and Herbert Lom are the stars of the 1962 film “Tiara Tahiti. and the theme music for this was composed by Philip Green and Norman Newell.
The brilliant musical score of the stage and film musical “South Pacific” was another triumph for Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The film starred Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor, and from it we have recalled the tune Happy Talk.
Max Steiner was the composer of the theme from “A Summer Place”, a film which starred Richard Egan, Dorothy McGuire, Sandra Dee, Arthur Kennedy and Troy Donahue.
It Might As Well Be Spring was written in 1944 for the first film version of “State Fair” with Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes as the stars. This Rodgers and Hammerstein tune is also included in the 1962 film version, which stars Pat Boone. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly were the stars of the memorable film “High Society”, for which the music was composed by Cole Porter. It was Frank Sinatra who sang You’re Sensational in the film.
Hi-Lili. Hi-Lo was the haunting waltz written by Helen Deutsch and Bronislau Kaper for the film “Lill”, which starred Leslie Caron, Mel Ferrer and Jean Pierre Aumont.
Our final melody A Woman In Love was specially composed by Frank Loesser for the film version of “Guys and Dolls”. The stars were Marlon Brand, Jean Simmons. Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.
All these tunes have been superbly arranged by Brian Fahey, and will recall different memories for many people. Victor Silvester considers that these sixteen songs, played by the thirty-three members of the Silver Strings, deserve to be included among the great film melodies of our time.
George Albert Shearing was born totally blind in London, England on August 13th, 1919. Studying piano by the Braille method at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind, he developed a solid classical technique and a lasting affection for Bach and Debussy.
After graduating from Linden Lodge, he toured with a band of blind musicians, discovered jazz and settled into a solo piano career.
During the War, he was featured with the Ambrose orchestra, starred on his own B.B.C. radio show and wrote arrangements for top English bands. He was voted Britain’s outstanding pianist for seven straight years in polls conducted by the Melody Maker.
He paid America a brief professional visit in 1945 and two years later moved his wife and small daughter there to stay. His unique Bach-to-bop piano stylings were soon adding to the excitement on New York’s 52nd Street.
In 1949, a quartet (composed of piano, clarinet, bass and drums) with which he had been working was approached to make records. At the last moment, it was discovered that a previous contractual agreement prevented the clarinettist from playing the record date. George quickly put together a new group, substituting vibraphone and electric guitar for the clarinet.
The group’s first recording for MGM produced September in the Rain. It and the new “Shearing Sound” were an overnight sensation. Nightclub, theatre and concert offers poured in as the George Shearing Quintet turned out hit after hit. The rest is history.
The “Shearing Sound” flows effortlessly from a mellow blend of piano, vibraphone, electric guitar, bass and drums. It floods ballads and up-tempo numbers with warmth, humour and an abiding respect for the melody. It keeps a fascinating balance between liquid-smooth ensembles and glittering solo work. It makes new material sound “lived in” and more familiar material shimmer and sparkle with surprise. Rhythmically, it never pushes – it floats. As a most functional and flexible kind of mood music, it soothes or stimulates – as unobtrusive background music or, for those who prefer to probe more as an unfailing source of absolutely first-rate collective and individual musicianship.
This collection of favourites by the quintet includes some of its most compelling performances. Sit back, relax and get to know the soft and silky “Shearing Sound”. As your ears will lose little time in telling you, familiarity breeds content.
Listen to mellowness incarnate from George Shearing