Saturday, February 11, 2006

An intensely delightful track from "Ecstasy"

A rather unfortunate album title/cover art combination....

The cover art to 1955's Ecstasy is just a little overdone, though what was merely ridiculous in 1955 now looks downright disturbing--a dazed woman swooning in a dark room, a man's hands gripping her shoulders, an empty couch waiting behind her, and the word "Ecstasy" in large letters above her. Oops.

Some images don't age well.

But some of the music on this Otto Cesana gem has aged not merely well, but superbly. Best of the bunch, probably, is Symphony in Jazz (First Movement), which, like the rest of the material, was composed by Cesana himself.

When I spotted this LP in a flea market several months ago, I could tell by the catalog number that it was from the mid-Fifties, and the titles struck me as old-fashioned for that period. Plus, the playlist (fifteen titles) seemed unusually long. So I should have suspected, right off, that this was a reissue of older material--probably two ten-inch albums' worth. However, I had (in spite of these clues) not a clue. And after years of collecting vintage mood music on LP. Sheesh.

Luckily, I quickly established, via Google, that Ecstasy is a reissue of two 10" Cesana efforts: a circa-1950 Ecstasy (Columbia GL-103) and 1953's Sugar 'n' Spice (Columbia CL 6261). These are the albums that make up Side One and Side Two, respectively. And it just occurs to me that I probably related this boring story already, a number of posts back. Oops.

The moral is, never assume the issue date of a mood/easy/lounge LP has anything to do with the date of the material. That's one of the first LP-collecting lessons I ever learned, though apparently I'm very capable of zoning that lesson out.

Well, nobody's perfect. And no piece of music is without flaws, either, though Symphony in Jazz is still pretty darn good. I was sure it would be a first-rate piece of fluff, a la The 101 Strings (whom I love), and a hodgepodge, like most concert jazz efforts. Instead, the music is lively, interesting, jazzy enough, AND superbly organized. In fact, it adheres very nicely to sonata form, as far as I can tell--the standard form for a symphony's first movement. The liner notes helped me follow every detail, and I'd type them here if I hadn't already gone on too long. Let's get to Cesana's excellent jazz symphony:

Symphony in Jazz (First Movement) (Cesana), Otto Cesana and His Orchestra, circa 1950. From 1955 Ecstasy LP.

And here's a Cesana repeat from 1953: Whirlwind, which originally appeared on the Sugar 'N' Spice LP. Fun, brilliantly-orchestrated mood music:


Um. Rather, let's hear it next time. Looks like I didn't upload the file. Behind the blog, things are very hectic right now, but we expect some calm to return to the picture soon. Whirlwind was probably not the track to be uploading, at least at the moment!

Lee, coping


Blogger Paul F. said...

Hmmm... Looks like a shot from a Hitchcock flick for sure.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Ha! Doesn't it, though?

Maybe an outtake from "Frenzy"!


1:22 PM  
Anonymous Byron Los Angeles said...

I'm just a Vintage Lounge lizard !

2:38 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...


Nothing wrong with that! More stuff coming up really soon, current behind-the-blog difficulties permitting!


9:33 PM  
Anonymous Byron Los Angeles said...

Hi Lee, difficulties, I've got 'em too, I believe I've used up all the space in my 64mb hard drive, I'm going to start backing all the music to a cd-r for the first time, I hope I don't loose all that great music you've played, I've been learning on the net how to do this,
I'm glad they all still play after all this time! I don't want my windows 98 to crash, so I'd better save 'em fast! Thanks for the ears-up on the upcoming new vintage lounge acts.
Byron, Los Angeles

10:08 PM  
Anonymous sleepypie said...

You have truly great music on your site for download. This is the first time I have visited and I love all the music I see here so far.

Though I'm not sure what your problem is with the "Ecstasy" LP cover. I've seen FRENZY maybe thrice, including its theatrical 1972 release, and I never associated the cover here with anything remotely creepy.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...


Glad you're enjoying the sounds! My problem with the "Ecstasy" cover is the implication of, well, unwilling sex. Combined with the fact that Ectasy is one of the better-known date-rape drugs (not so when the cover was made, of course). I don't really have a major issue--I was mostly writing for humor. Though the shot DOES weird me out just a little. Some covers age well, others don't! It has a period paperback look to it....

Thanks for commenting.


7:46 PM  

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