Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cows in the lounge, Part 2

Finally, the remaining five tracks from this excellent cowboy-song collection. The delay has been due to 1) lots of stuff going on at my other blog and 2) troubles with uploading these files. Home on the Range, for instance, required three tries!

But that's all water under the, er, trough....

I'm an Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Riders in the Sky (Stan Jones), Morton Gould and His Orch.

Home on the Range (Trad.), Morton Gould and His Orch.

Buckaroo Blues (Gould), Morton Gould and His Orch.

The Last Roundup (Billy Hill), Morton Gould and His Orch.



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Frenchman in St. Louis" and the Not-Quite-101 Strings

I posted Jack Pleis' Pagan in Paris at my other blog, and here's the flip, a take-off on George Gershwin's An American in Paris by way of W.C. Handy's St. Louis Blues. You'll hear snatches of Rhapsody in Blue as well as American, and you'll hear some fine piano playing by Pleis. As a piece of concert lounge, this rates a B+ in my book. Not quite a classic, imo, but close enough:

Frenchman in St. Louis (An Arrangement of St. Louis Blues) (W.C. Handy) (Arr.: By Jack Pleis), Jack Pleis and His Orch., 1955. From the Decca 78.

Just a guess, but I'm assuming that Pleis' Gershwin quotes weren't lengthy enough to cause any copyright issues? I wonder....

And, from 1954, here are two fun sides by long-time 101 Strings arranger Monty Kelly, albeit three years before the 101 Strings (as such) showed up. As we will hear, the 101 sound was already there, or darned near (more like 79 or 80, perhaps). Thanks, Barry Stoller, for the info on this one. (Visit Barry's excellent 101 Strings site when you have a moment!)

Tropicana (Bernie Wayne), Monty Kelly and His Orch., 1954. From an Essex label 78.

Life in New York (Bernie Wayne), Monty Kelly and His Orch., 1954. From same 78.

Wow--I was just reading that Life in New York was used as the theme music for the TV show I Am the Law. Far out. And you might remember Bernie Wayne as the man who gave us the theme music to Miss America. Wayne provided some original material for The 101 Strings early on, reports Barry--including half of Night in the Tropics. Far out, again.

The Essex label was owned by D.L. Miller, the man who (I guess we could say) invented The 101 Strings. Essex is remembered mainly as the label for which Bill Haley recorded Crazy Man Crazy and Rock This Joint, among other pre-Decca Comets numbers.

Now you know how Bill Haley, the Miss America theme song, and the 101 Strings are connected. And you probably didn't even know that they were. Pop music history can be (and usually is) pretty weird....


Monday, April 17, 2006

South American Tangos, Nat-Shilkret-style

Today, for our vintage-lounge pleasure, we have two 1928 gems by the International Novelty Orchestra under the direction of (who else?) Nat Shilkret. The first was arranged by Leonard Joy, and the arrangement is... a joy. El Choclo (1913), composed by Angel G. Villoldo, is much better-known as Kiss of Fire:

El Choclo--Tango Argentino (A.G. Villoldo), International Novelty Orchestra, dir. by Nat Shilkret, 1928. From Victor 78.

The flip is almost as cool--another Tango Argentino, this is Y Como Le Va? (1911) by Joaquin Valverde:

Y Como Le Va?--Tango Argentino (J. Valverde), International Novelty Orch., dir. by Nat Shilkret, 1928. From same Victor 78.

In case we thought the Latin American music craze started in/with Fifties pop, now we know better....


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cows in the lounge--selections from Morton Gould's "Wagon Wheels"

Morton Gould's Wagon Wheels LP, released on Columbia in 1954 or 1955, is the usual superior Gouldesque easy listening. And I can't believe I just typed "Gouldesque easy listening." (I did. ) Ohhh-kay. We'll just move on.

So, what do I mean by "Gouldesque"? I guess I mean light orchestral music as streamlined as the smoothest 1940s Andre Kostelanetz, yet as big-sounding as early-1960s Mantovani. I don't know how Morton managed to pull off both gimmicks at once, but it made for an interesting contradiction in style(s). We like a little conflict in our easy.

Especially Mantovani-esque (ooo, I love that!) is the LP's first track, High Noon. And, you know, looking at this track line-up, I have to wonder if these weren't actually recorded around 1953 and not released until later. Just a guess, but seeing as how Morton moved to RCA in 1955, do you suppose Columbia might have had him record a bunch of stuff so that their Gould catalog wouldn't suddenly run dry the moment he departed? (Such as Victor did with Paul Whiteman before he moved to Columbia?) So, I'm guessing this stuff is more like 1953.

No matter. Whether it's from 1953 or 1955, the big, big sound of this track is way ahead of its time. In my opinion, anyway:

High Noon (Tiomkin, arr. by Morton Gould), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954/55. From the LP Wagon Wheels.

Here are three more Western-lounge gems from that Columbia LP:

On Top of Old Smoky, Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Wagon Wheels (Billy Hill-Peter De Rose), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Tennessee Waltz (Redd Stewart-Pee Wee King), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Riders in the Sky didn't survive the transfer from my Dell to, so we'll start with it next time. More cows in the lounge to come....


Friday, April 07, 2006

Three loungey "Light Classics" from George Melachrino

From 1958, and in terrible stereo, here are three high-class lounge concertos (lounge-certos?) written in the 1940s. Well, the first two were, anyway--and I'm guessing that the third (Copper Concerto) hails from the same period. It sure sounds like it. Donald Phillips' Concerto in Jazz was a Melachrino concert staple, and it's a lot of fun. Donald couldn't have guessed that, years alter, the 101 Strings would be recording entire LPs that sounded like this:

Concerto in Jazz (D. Phillips), The Melachrino Orchestra, 1958. Pat Dodd, piano solo. (From Light Classics, ABC-Paramount ST-90665)

Look on the Internet, and you'll probably find a year of 1943 for Artie Shaw's famous Concerto for Clarinet. Or you might discover it was written for a 1940 movie. I discovered both. So, I'm thinking that maybe it assumed its present form in 1943, that Shaw revised it sometime after its film premiere. Dunno. Shaw fans might hate me for this, but I consider the work to be lounge through and through. And boring, but that's just my opinion:

Concerto for Clarinet (Shaw, Arr; W. Hill Bowen), The Melachrino Orchestra, 1958. Gordon Lewin, clarinet solo. From same LP.

Copper Concerto, credited to "Melachrino, Ewing, and Durandeau," is my favorite of the three concertos. It's lighter than light, but the best lounge usually is. I wish I could find out something about this work. The last section has a John Williams sound--must be the flutes and the enigmatic I to II progression, which has become such a Hollywood cliche that it barely registers anymore:

Copper Concerto (Melachrino, Ewing, Durandeua), The Melachrino Orchestra, 1958. From same LP.

Great stuff, but such awful stereo is not something we expect from ABC-Paramount. And they were capable of much better. Maybe there's a story behind the awfulness of the two-channel sound, here.

Another longe-certo coming up!