Friday, November 04, 2005

A hint of Esquivel; roots of Ray Conniff?

This single was in my "to listen to" pile for about a year, and I'm glad I finally got around to spinning it--it's in my "to be sorted" pile now. We'll start with the flip side, One Kiss, which begins and ends in pure Juan Garcia Esquivel mode (courtesy, mainly, of the uncredited vocal chorus), with the mellowest kind of EZ big-band in between. Exotica and over-the-top "wordless" vocalizing on a Tommy Dorsey record! The kind of find I live for.

One Kiss (Romberg--Hamerstein II), Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, 1953. From Decca 45.

Actually, One Kiss appears to have been the plug side. But it was The Most Beautiful Girl in the World that made the Top 40--a side that, for want of an echo chamber, would have been right at home on Ray Conniff's 1956 'S Wonderful album.

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (Rodgers--Hart), Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, 1953. From Decca 45.

And these two tracks have convinced me that I was right, after all, about the Ray Conniff sound of Hugo Winterhalter's chorus of the late 1940s and early 1950s. I had decided I was wrong on that score ("Apologies Due" post), but now I realize that my ears and memory weren't fooling me. So nice, to be able to trust both again.

To celebrate that happy reconciliation, let's hear Hugo Winterhalter's chorus and orchestra, from 1950, with the highly Conniff-esque The Third Man Theme:

The Third Man Theme, Hugo Winterhalter's Orch. and Chorus, 1950. Columbia label.

I guess this means that Conniff didn't invent the idea of voices trading off with instruments. Of course, Winterhalter most likely didn't, either. I wonder how far back that pop tradition dates? (This is a job for Vintage Lounge!) The point is, musical features are not things invented by any one arranger or orchestra leader; rather, they evolve over time. A concept that flies in the face of most pop music scholarship, true, but one that Vintage Lounge holds to in spite of any, and all, intelligent-design scenarios to the contrary (such as, Elvis inventing rock, Benny Goodman inventing swing, Link Wray inventing power chords, etc.). And this is why we find "later" features popping up years before they were supposed to have happened. Proof that changes occur over time, and often when and where we least expect them. (Oops--I forgot to subtitle this paragraph Conclusions.)



Anonymous Steven Strauss said...

On the subject of musical evolution I can heartily recommend Richard Hadlock's illuminating book, "Jazz Masters Of The Twenties." His chapter "The Chicagoans" is explicit in its delineation of congruent and overlapping spheres of musical influence, and provides a wholly unrelated perspective on the usual "Sonny Rollins returned from exile with a mission burning white hot..." claptrap. Music is created in community, and the sounds so created owe their identities to the music that had previously passed through the players. Like any language, music can only be understood to the extent that listener and player share points of reference.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...


Thanks! I've heard of that book but I've never read it. Perhaps I should do so.


10:20 PM  

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