Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got those strings.

I'm sure that line has been used many times before, but I like it. Here are some more easy strings from the 1940s--luscious yet incisive, mellow but purposeful. (Purposeful?) Time to drop the intro and let the Holiday for Strings begin. Composer David Rose, and his orchestra, from 1942!


And here's Rose's gorgeous Our Waltz (link corrected--sorry!), also from 1942 (and the same slightly-worn EP). Forgive the slight "scritch" in the upper frequencies.


And here's a remarkable Morton Gould track from eleven years later--not quite the hi-fi era, but you sure can't tell from the arrangement. The close-miked pizzicato strings; the show-off-your-speakers sound effects; the Clebanoff-esque orchestration; and the deep, wrap-around echo all suggest a 1960 stereo track reduced to a single channel--but this was made in 1953!


Remember to save (rather than open) the files. Enjoy!


Saturday, May 28, 2005

Early Lounge--Examples #2

For today, some more easy sounds from the pre-hi-fi era. The first file comes from Meredith (The Music Man) Willson's four-78 Decca set of 1942, Chiffon Swing. The album doesn't boast the quietest pressings, but the following is the least noisy of the bunch and the most musically interesting: a charming (and then-novel) treatment of Chopin's Minute Waltz. No arranger is credited, but can we assume it was Willson himself? The major-7th ending chord is a very nice touch.


From the same 78 RPM set, a Willson-penned instrumental called Thoughts While Strolling (from O.O. McIntyre Suite, notes the label). A graceful and sophisticated pop-Impressionistic miniature very much like the "symphonic jazz" works commissioned by Paul Whiteman in the 1920s and 1930s. Willson had the good taste to keep that tradition going.


And, from 1940, two Stephen Foster selections by Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra. These originally appeared in the three-78 album set, The Music of Stephen Foster (Masterworks M-442). The "Kostelanetz strings" are in full aural display on this file, which is excerpted from Beautiful Dreamer:


And there's nothing milquetoast about Kostelanetz' treatment of Old Folks at Home and Camptown Races, which are skillfully combined in a terrific arrangement:


The Music of Stephen Foster stayed in print for a number of years in different formats--from the original 78 set to a 10" LP to the 12" Beautiful Dreamer, the latter also featuring Ferde Grofe's Mississippi Suite and Jerome Kern's Mark Twain (Portrait for Orchestra), which had been commissioned by Kostelanetz in 1942.

More vintage lounge sounds to come! Thanks for listening.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Early lounge--examples #1

When we think of easy-listening, we tend to think of massed strings. (Well, I do, anyway.) Amazingly, this echo-laden, somewhere-in-the-back-of-the-studio sound was not an invention of the 1950s. Rather, it dates back to 1930s and 1940s radio and recordings. Here's proof: released in 1940 (and recorded in 1939, according to the matrix #), this is Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra playing a beautifully syrupy arrangement of Debussy's famous Clair de Lune (misspelled Claire de Lune on my file), with plenty of strings that are plenty far away. Originally released on a thick and heavy 12" Columbia 78!


This next one also came out on a thick and heavy 12" Columbia 78: it's Morton Gould, from 1947, playing the very same arrangement of Beyond the Blue Horizon that appeared on his well-known 1961 RCA Living Stereo LP of the same name. No train effects, but, otherwise, it's the same chart. Long-playing records were a year over the horizon when Gould recorded this classic. Ripped from an original 78 copy.


And here's Percy Faith and His Orchestra from 1949 (on RCA Victor) with a superb version of the exotica standard, Cumana. What this version might lack in exotica, it fills in with energy, volume, and (to borrow a term from Gunther Schuller) orchestrational ingenuity.

(I cheated. This dates from the early LP era.)


Important note: It's best to save each file rather than open it; the latter may not work on your computer (it often doesn't on mine).



Welcome to the Vintage Lounge blog!

The Vintage Lounge blog is about early lounge, exotica, and "bachelor pad" recordings that predate the hi-fi era, Ozzie and Harriet, or (in some cases) even the invention of the LP. It's also about the music that became lounge (proto-lounge, if you prefer, some examples of which have been transcribed from symbols on cave walls). I hope to prove, by way of this site, that lounge and all things exotica did not begin during the hi-fi era, in spite of what we're always being told. I will be posting vintage-lounge mp3s every day, or close to same. This is not the place to find Les Baxter, Esquivel, retro-retro pop, conservative Christian kiddie records from the Eisenhower era, or the Simon and Garfunkel songbook as sung by the Ohio School for ADD Children's Chorus. This is, however, the place to encounter Andre Kostelanetz, Morton Gould, Meredith Willson, David Rose, and other folks who were creating easy/loungey sounds in the days before lounges, hi-fi sets, and Elvis Presley.

I hope this blog is interesting and fun (and relatively historical-error-free).

Lee Hartsfeld, who fancies himself a lounge historian.