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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shearing In Hi Fi

Shearing In Hi Fi
George Shearing Quintet
MGM Records E3293
1955

According to the Wikipedia Shearing Discography this LP was the last one Shearing made for MGM before going to with Capitol and onto some of his best known covers featuring sexy sophisticated women.

This cover is a great atomic age design but I don't know if this design captures the content. The cover is pushing the new age of "Hi Fi" rather then what Shearing was all about. As usual, this is a great Shearing light jazz.  The last track, Drume Negrita, is a touch exotica.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Holiday In Cuba In Mambo Tempo

Cuca
Holiday In Cuba
In Mambo Tempo
The Cuban Orchestra
Halo 50231
1957

Here is an obscure record on an obscure label. I only found one other post of the cover online.

The back cover features only Halo's period catalog.

The music is quite good for a budget release.

An Arabic Party - Mohammed El-Bakkar


An Arabic Party With Mohammed El-Bakkar
Orient SLPO161
Rashid Sales Co., Brooklyn, N.Y.
1979

Aside from the curious cover photo shot at Darvish International Restaurant & Supper Club, 23 West 8th Street, New York, N. Y. there is an interesting story behind this recording.

Apparently (from the back cover), the original recording was made in 1957 with "additional overdubs" being added in 1979 when this album was finally pressed.

A man referred to a Albert Rashid "discovered" El Bakkar who was popular in Egypt in 1930s. Albert, who imported records and movies into the U. S., wanted to introduce El Bakkar to the American market. WWII interrupted those plans. Recordings were made later after the war (1957?). But then emerging stereo technology effectively shelved the project.

Enter Alber Rashid's son, Ray. Ray Rashid remastered the original tapes for this pressing adding "additional pieces of music". Ray is also credited for percussions and Arabic drum.

Ray also autographed the back cover. You can find a photo of Ray with his family celebrating Christmas with with El-Bakkar on this website.

Researching further, I found that there are a number of El-Bakkar recording released in the U.S. with some of the best cheese cake covers I've ever seen.

El-Bakkar died at the age of 46 in 1959. He was stricken while he was preforming in the Broadway stage hit, Fanny.

I was wondering when these other recordings were made (the other albums found online)? And why the tapes featured on this 1979 album were shelved so long? And why, on this late release, are there no mentions any of this history?

Computer Music For The University Of Illinois

Computer Music From The University Of Illinois
Hiller/Isaacson/Baker
Manufactured by MGM Records
1967

Purchased on impulse this recording turned out to be very interesting. I found a mention of the album in Billboard as a "Low Price Classical Special Merit."

I don't know enough about who, at that time, might have been competing for attention in "computer" music. A "discount" nod from Billboard may be as much as the creators could have hoped for. The recording must have been considered "novelty" and the distribution was limited.

Think back to when you finally had access to a computer. For me it was in the 80s when I was got my hands on the Mac Plus. That was an expensive machine back then and could be consider the first, after the Apple Lisa, truly user friendly computer.

Then go back to 1967 and consider what type of computer was available. The album cover illustrates the answer to my question and that is a computer driven by card data. That meant that a person had to, basically, create a "punch" hole on a card board card and feed the card into a machine. I don't know for sure... but possibly a very large surplus U.S. military machine.

The point is that it took a lot of work and creativity to make this recording.

Side one is very nice, with added "real" strings (violins) to the second section of that side. This music seems like an attempt to "mask" the nature of the sounds the computer could make. To create music that may sounds a touch more as if it was produced by "real"instruments. To do so was a challenge, to be sure. I would have been satisfied with that approach, but side two offered up a pleasant surprise. The creators allowed the short staccato notes or tones the computer was good at producing to shine through. They made music that must have seemed "futuristic" at the time. For me, today, it is great retro science fiction music but also, if you know anything about technology of the day, a real achievement in sound.

Sorry that I can not post a sample, the Computer Cantata, or parts of it from side 2, are available for download on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Folklore Of The South

Folklore Of The South
Songs From Mexico To The Argentine
Los Machucambos
London Intenational Series
TW 91199
1959

Billboard gave this album three stars along with a favorable review. This is the only mention that can find on this album.  The Billboard review was dated 1959 which was the year that this group was formed. The group made a number of records for U.S. release and the songs from this album are available for download online. I wonder if this was their first release and if these song are to be found on a later, more widely distributed album?

The set is a strong effort. The songs are well crafted and have a nice vintage pop feeling which keeps them from being too "folk" for my tastes.

Plant Music

Silver Queen
Plant Music
Baroque Bouquet
Amherst AMH9001
Transcontinent Record Sales
1975

The back jacket contains references to 1960s plant/music studies.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hi-Ho - Mary Martin

Hi-Ho
Mary Martin
Mary Sings And Mary Swings
Tutti Camarata His Tumpets And Orchestra
Disneyland Records WDL-1038
1958

I'm not much on collecting Disney, but I liked the whacky cover art. And of course, the song When You Wish Upon A Star brought back a few memories.  This is a fun vintage pop record for adults.

Somewhere My Love - Dan & Dale

Blue Hour
Somewhere My Love
The Sensational Guitars Of Dan & Dale
Diplomat
DS 2395

Percussion Orientale

Orientale
Percussion Orientale
David Carroll And His Orchestra
Mercury PPS 2002
1961

Inventive and terrific all the way through!

Typical, excellent Mercury engineering.

Pleasant Percussion

Easy To Love
Pleasant Percussion
Music Of Cole Porter
Ted Sommer and Bill Lavorgna
International Award Series AK-151

Here is a curious "Percussion" album. The "Percussion" trend was started by Enoch Light on his Command Label. Competing companies soon tried to copy the musical style along with the cover look of Light's jackets. If you think designing a minimalist cover using basic shapes and type faces is easy, you need to look at Command jackets. This jacket is lame by comparison.

The music is a curious blend of organ music, sometimes a bit jazzy and other times a bit exotic. The music seems thin at points, the engineering is lacking and some phrases don't appear to be well thought out. But, for me, that is part of the record's charm. And, thanks in part to the cheesy organ sound, the record never loses that weird light hearted 60s vibe.

Cafe Continental

Petite Fantasy
The Moods And Music Of Cafe Continental
The Romance Of Paris And Rome At Night
Les Cinq Modernes
Somerset SF-26100
1960

I keep reading online that Somerset is a budget label. That may be, to some extent, but I keep finding Somerset albums that appeal to me and seem creatively substantial. When I bought this album I thought that I was scoring some cheesy easy listening fair. But the music is very fine light jazz produced by a quintet that included pianist Pete Jolly and reed man, Paul Horn. Billboard gave the album three stars and said: "(referring to the artists) ...may be more interesting than the ordinary title for an album.

Calypso

Goombay - Alice Simms
Calypso
Waldorf Music Hall
FDR MHK 33-1217
1958

The album cover features a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines logo in the lower right hand corner. There must have been some marketing association with KLM. The music on the LP found inside of the "folk" looking jacket seems white bread to me as if the airline was promising an "authentic" visual experience, but didn't want to weigh down prospective clients with more traditional folk music. I don't think the Dudes on the cover are gonna be cranking out this version Goombay! The guy with the donkey seems to have wandered into the picture by accident.

Latin Dance Party - Rodriguez And His Orchestra

Brazil
Latin Dance Party
Rodriguez And His Orchestra
Golden Tone C4016

Great cheesecake cover art on this budget release from Golden Tone. These tracks are likely recycled from another release. But that doesn't mean, in this case, that the music is lame. The music is attributed to "Rodriguez" who is lost to history or simply a made up name for some reason. Who knows? Fun stuff!

Olga Guillot

Olga Guillot
Enamorada
Adria AP-30

This album appears to have been recorded in the early 60s and pressed on a budget label. Olga Guillot isn't a lost to history artist, she has many recordings to her credit.

She was an anti-Castro Cuban who got out of the country in 1961. Her work was and or is still banned in that country due to her opposition to the socialist dictatorship. She was an activist for a free Cuba until her last days.

I don't understand a word she is singing... but she is a great vocalist.  The album has a hip, sort of laid back big band lounge or late 50s bachelor pad vibe to it.

Down Jamaica Way - Count Owen And His Calypsonians

Down Jamaica Way
Count Owen And His Calypsonians
Kalypso FR 1001
1960

Fun score today on an original copy of this album which features great art work and fun music.  Is the banjo an instrument that one might expect to find on a 60s vintage Calypso record? I didn't expect it, but there is banjo work on every track.

Here's a webpage with more information on Count Owen.