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!



Blogger The Impaler said...

Concerto for Clarinet... yep, boring! It was on the original release, anyways... I always thought of Artie Shaw as a classical player trapped in a jazz player's body, he was never happy in the swing mode, to the point that some of the things he recorded (especially his own compositions) were, well, phoned-in. There were some pretty lackluster performances. But, when someone ELSE did Shaw's classical-feel swing charts, they could SWING them! Which probably made Artie mad as hell :)

2:56 AM  
Anonymous David Federman said...

Hey, Impaler, give Artie Shaw more credit. He dreamed of Third Stream music long before anyone else and paired with lots of great people--including William Grant Still--to achieve it. His restlessness with swing resulted in records that pushed the envelope as far as the Duke did.

And, Lee, stop neglecting this site for weeks at a time.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...


Maybe so, but Concerto for Clarinet is still tedious and Gershwin-lite--I go with Brad, here. And I've got stuff ready to go, though it's... um....

Well, it's a bit in the Western mode. And not in the History of Western Music sense. But it's great stuff!


4:55 PM  
Blogger The Impaler said...

Lounge-western? Would that be like Martin Denny performing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"?

I'm ducking under the desk now...

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Sol Goldberg said...

Sorry, Shaw bashers. He was Benny Goodman's biggest rival for the Swing King crown. As for Concerto in Jazz, listen to to unashamed lifting of the solo violin bridge passages from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue ! I have an old 12" 78 rpm of the Jazz, on Decca, played by the old pre-Binge Mantovani orchestra - and that's musical corn !

7:41 AM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Hey, I love Shaw--I think he was an even better technician than Goodman. Just his Concerto I have problems with--too mundane. That Mantovani version sounds like something to hear, corny or not! in fact, the cornier the better.

Thanks for commenting. Once I get them ripped, some "Classical" big band numbers coming up at my other blog.


2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hartsfeld! (Sorry for this way but couldn't find Your e-mail.) --- With great pleasure I found in your blog Artie's Clarinet Concerto w Gordon Levin I've serched many times ago. But the link is dead: file is removed! (I've heard it first in early 60s at/in the Hungarian Radio - w a little interesting: they named him "Fordon Levin"(sic!) - and in the 70s could I catch it w a mono recorder. Since then - nothing!) --- So I beg You: could You be so kind to repost the file, or - don't dare to ask - send me it in e-mail?
(It's time is only ~6:30, not too big file - even encoded(?).)
Hoping Your kindness, best regards István (67)

6:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home