Bert Kaempfert and his Orchestra – Dreaming The Blues

Sleeve Notes:

Over several years and many records, musicians have searched for that elusive, different — and commercial — ‘sound’. And one or two of them have even found it. Glenn Miller, as a notable example. He truly struck gold in the big band field with those distinctive and so individual arrangements. But that Miller Magic was born many years ago and few, if any, bandleaders have been able to emulate him since.

Few bandleaders, that is, with the exception of the remarkable Bert Kaempfert. For the Hamburg-born musician did a Miller and hit upon a unique, inspired may in which to blend and voice the instruments under his command. A way which produced an overall sound — the dominant bass line, the regimented swing of the beat, the muted brass, and the general air of quality — that quite literally grabbed the public by the ear. All of which is very evident from the many millions of Bert Kaempfert LPs which have delighted record listeners the world over.

Bert Kaempfert became interested in music at a very early age —when he was discovered trying to make tunes on the old piano in the parlour. His parents encouraged him by sending him for private lessons and later he was enrolled at the Hamburg School of Music from which he graduated with flying colours.

In addition to piano, he learned to play clarinet, saxophone, and accordion. And, before long, his talents as arranger and composer began to emerge. His recording career began effectively in 1960 when the ‘single’ of his own song, “Wonderland By Night”, topped the American charts and became a million-seller. And there were to be many more successes along the way — notably his “Strangers In The Night” composition, which he wrote for a film and which gave Frank Sinatra a long-awaited Number One hit, and “Bye Bye Blues”, his British chart debut record.

The Bert Kaempfert talents are all contained on this LP, with many of his own compositions, like “Happy Trumpeter”, “The Bass Walks” “Explorer”, and “Catalania”, sharing the honours with such well-loved ‘standards’ as “Blue Moon” and “Cherokee”.

The Kaempfert Sound, in fact. And for a musician’s work to be that instantly recognisable must be satisfaction indeed to the man whose brainchild it was in the first place.

Syd Gillingham

Bert Kaempfert and his Orchestra - Dreaming The Blues

Label: Contour 2870 441
Photograph: Michel Leguens
Sleeve Design: Jack Levy

1970 1970s Covers

Bert Kaempfert – Bert Kaempfert Special

Sleeve Notes:

SIDE ONE TENDER MELODY (Knofel) JERSEY BOUNCE (Plater-Bradshaw-Johnson) HORIZON (HORIZONTE ) (Lara) CHA! BULL! (Leiber-Stoller) MASON DIXON LINE (Eddy-Hazlewood)


Bert Kaempfert comes from Hamburg and his pre-war life was spent solely in his home country. After a spectacular career at the Hamburg School of Music, during which he mastered piano, accordion, clarinet and saxophone, he embarked on his musical career by joining a popular band of the day run by Hans Busch. His ability soon earned him regular national radio work.

In the United States Kaempfert’s single of ‘WONDERLAND BY NIGHT’, released in 1960, staggered the record business. No-one could have forseen the fantastic effect his music had on the paying public who bought over a million of this single and sent it to No. 1 in the American charts. His orchestra was voted ‘Up and coming Orchestra of the Year’ in 1961 in a Cash Box Poll.

Bert Kaempfert - Bert Kaempfert Special

Label: Contour 2870101

1971 1970s Covers

Bert Kaempfert – Dance Time

Sleeve Notes:

The prima, function of any first-class orchestra should be two-fold. Firstly it must create musical sounds which are a pleasure to listen to, and secondly its leader must show an awareness of tempo that meets the needs of dancers.

Few orchestra leaders in the world today are capable of succeeding on both levels as effectively as Bert Kaempfert. This helps to explain why the Kaempfert orchestral style has become one of the most imitated in the world. Nothing, of course, can ever match the original and when the Kaempfert crew swing into action there is a supreme sense of exhilaration which is usually lacking in the imitators.

Kaempfert’s gift for tempo and mood is quite vividly illustrated by the selection of music on this disc, an attractive and colourful mixture of standards and originals. The free, spontaneous communication which exists between Bert and his many fans is somehow a natural culmination of the music itself. His approach is always an honest one. Take, for instance, his interpretation of the Vincent Youmans classic, written in 1930, Time On My Hands. Here we have Kaempfert the orchestrator at his best, giving full emphasis to the excellent melody and at the same time bringing it solidly up to data by applying a modern approach to the rhythm, all of which makes the song sound even better—particularly for dancing. Like most Kaempfert recordings this disc carries a generous quote of Bert’s own compositions. Especially good are Living It Up and The Happy Trumpeter. The former contains all the best elements of Kaempfert’s approach to big band orchestration while the latter is typical of the composer’s sense of musical fun. Amongst the other titles one could single out are Stompin’ At The Savoy, a well-known big band standard recalling the heyday of the famous Swing Era in general, and the great Benny Goodman in particular. Bert’s treatment is, of course, identifiably Kaempfert in style while remaining faithful to the original in spirit. Indeed the same could be said of The Sheik Of Araby, a well-loved tune stemming from an even sadist period in popular musical history. Kaempfert clearly had a ball recording this one and combining the tune’s originalatmosphere with his own distinctive musical personality.

It’s the same delightful pattern of melodic and percussive flair that Kaempfert displays throughout all the twelve tracks presented here. Dance Time with Bert Kaempfert is an exhilarating experience – and one to repeat often, whether you’re a listener Or a dancer.

Bert Kaempfert - Dance Time

Label: Reader’s Digest GEKL 8A/S3

1970s Covers

Bert Kaempfert – Safari Swings Again

That’s Bert Kaempfert on the back cover in all his magisterial fineness, running the show, producing, arranging, making the teas. Like all pragmatists Bert thought better of pasting a large image of himself on the front cover. He knew the benefits of featuring a pretty woman there instead, not least of which is the opportunity to shift many more units.

Bert Kaempfert - Safari Swings Again

Label: Polydor 2310 494
Design: Jill Mumford
Artwork: Wadewood
Photography: Martyn Goddard

1977 1970s Covers

Bert Kaempfert and his Orchestra – A Swinging’ Safari

Sleeve Notes:

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.

Bert Kaempfert and his Orchestra - A Swinging' Safari

Label: Polydor 237 584

1962 1960s Covers

Bert Kaempfert – The World of Bert Kaempfert 1

Reader’s Digest is a publishing concern of global proportions. One of its sidelines was the compilation record box set of which this particular release was once a component. Bert Kaempfert’s records are some of the most obvious contenders for inclusion into the Cover Heaven galleries. To see more of his output check out these covers.

Sleeve Notes:

Popular music these days is very different from what it used to be In the old days, say twenty or thirty years ago, when America ruled the world markets it was quite common to see the same records becoming hits in every country in the world. But today with listening tastes varying from country to country, and with hit records becoming more and more localised in appeal, it is pretty unusual to find an artist whose records are best-sellers all over the world. Such an artist is Bert Kaempfert. Because Mr. Kaempfert’s music does sell all over the world – not only in huge quantities but consistently year in and year out – rivals are forever trying to analyse and probe the secret of his success. But the amiable Mr. Kaempfert modestly claims that he has no secret. He simply selects – or in many instances composes himself – songs with a strong melody line and then arranges them so that nothing gets in the way of the melody. He believes that everyone, irrespective of which country they live in, will always respond to a good tune especially if it is well played and the tempo right for dancing to.

But the Kaempfert musical philosophy really sounds too easy to be true. If all one had to do was to choose popular tunes and arrange them attractively then every bandleader in the world would soon be as popular as Kaempfert – and this just doesn’t happen. So you might reasonably argue that there has to be something more to Bert Kaempfert’s popularity than the ability to make good music Indeed. there IS one other ingredient in Kaempfert’s musical make up. Sincerity.

Bert is a hundred per cent sincere about his music. He really enjoys a good melody. Thus, Bert gets as much fun out of making his records as his many followers do out of listening to them.

This particular disc, which contains a truly international musical programme, illustrates perfectly the reasons for Bert Kaempfert’s world-wide popularity in addition to presenting such permanent favourites as Poinciana,. Skokiaan. Wirnoweh and A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, it contains three massive hits from Kaempfert’s own pen as well as a few other compositions closely connected with him) – the infectious Swingin’ Safari, the gently rhythmic Danke Schoen and the hauntingly beautiful Spanish Eyes. This latter song which was a big hit for Al Martino has also been successfully recorded by other singers such as Andy Williams and Engelbert Humperdinck, and is now an accepted standard.

Other ports of call in this spicy musical journey are Portugal (The Portuguese Washerwoman), Germany (Wiederseh’n), Tahiti (Tahitian Sunset), Brazil (Cha Cha Brazilia) and Japan (Japanese Farewell Song). Each delightful track is a firm testament to the broad appeal of Bert Kaempfert – an artist who, although German by birth, is indeed very much a world citizen both in temperament and popularity.

Label: Reader’s Digest/Polydor

1968 1960s Covers