Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The roots of easy

And, so, we've observed (aurally) that acres-of-strings easy listening existed in all of its massed magnificence at least as early as 1939. But where did it come from? Are there yet earlier examples of easy-esque pop? Music that was taking the EZ way out as far back as, oh, 1923?

Of course not. EZ roots from the early Flapper Era to the early 1930s? Ridiculous!

Then again, light classics, symphonic-style pop, and string-laden arrangements were very much a part of recorded popular music of the 1920s and 1930s. Almost makes us wonder why such stuff was greeted by music critics of the mid-1950s as a new (and, of course, unwelcome) development.
When Day is Done, Paul Whiteman and His Concert Orch., 1927 (probably arranged by Ferde Grofe). Add some strings and some echo, and... instant Andre Kostelanetz!
Edward MacDowell's famous 1896 mood piece, To a Wild Rose, arranged by Ferde Grofe and played by Paul Whiteman's Chester Hazlett (with Roy Bargy on the piano). From a 1929 Columbia 78.
Song of India, Paul Whiteman and His Orch. (a 1926 remake of an earlier acoustical recording).
A Hunt in the Black Forest, Victor Concert Orch. (1926 or 1927). A Pops-concert staple, from a 12" 78.
In a Clock Store, Victor Concert Orch. (1926 or 1927). Also a Pops-concert staple, from same 12" 78. Great sound effects.
Dreams of India (Percy Wenrich), The Benson Orchestra of Chicago (1923). From a Victor 78 in reasonably decent condition.
Where the Ganges Flows, The Great White Way Orchestra (1923). More concert pop/way-early exotica from Victor.
Deep Purple, Paul Whiteman and His Concert Orchestra (1934). I'm guessing the arranger to be Roy Bargy. From a 12" Victor 78.
Liebestraum, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, 1936. Mega-famous Liszt piece, as very effectively performed by Guy and the gang. From (you'll never guess) a Victor 78.
Kiddie Kapers, Victor Arden-Phil Ohman and Their Orchestra (1928). Sophisticated, charming novelty typical of the era, and very lounge in its sound. From a (yes) Victor label 78.
Dance of the Demon (Eduard Holst), Victor Arden and Phil Ohman, piano duet (1923). Further proof that keyboard lounge goes way back. Note that the Holst who composed this was not Gustav Holst--completely different people. That had confused me, at first. (From a worn 78 on the, um, Victor label.) Best heard with a silent film running.

Enjoy these ten (no, wait--eleven) tracks. Save files for best results! And lounge on!!!



Blogger mrdantefontana said...

Interesting stuff. All new to me.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Thank you! It's amazing, isn't it, how new that old things can be?


4:43 PM  
Blogger mrdantefontana said...

lee - Exactly. I find "new" stuff every day.

8:10 AM  

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