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....



Blogger The Impaler said...

Somewhere in here I have an Essex 78 that was recoorded by the Crickets... it's in pretty darn good shape too.

Just one more thing to dig out & encode :)

12:45 AM  
Anonymous lady domi said...

Spectacular !
And I'm on my way to MoodieToonz, Shellac Shanty and MY(P)WHAE now...

12:56 AM  

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