Search Manic Mark's Blog

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Latin And American Piano Rhythms - Barclay Allen

It Happened In Havana
Latin And American Piano Rhythms
Barclay Allen
Tops L-1597

From the back cover: Handsome, debonair, charming and gifted enough to be a sensation in any phase of the entertainment contest, for over 15 years Barclay Allen has been recognized as one of America's foremost piano virtuosos. Before forming his own highly successful orchestra early in 1948, Allen was a mainstay of the Freddy Martin band, having contributed to its recorded hits such Allenuggets as Cumana, Sabre Dance Boogie and many other valuable tokens of his versatility and technical brilliance. Matter of fact, Barclay Allen has the rare distinction of being featured on over 3,000,000 records before he even decided to organize his own orchestra. He was starred with the Martin aggregation on more that 40 sides; the rest were recorded with his own Rhythm Four for a west coast independent label of the late 1940's. The original Rhythm Four consisted of Barclay on piano; Stan Black, guitar; Sid Fridkin, bass; and Merle Mahone on drums. When the Barclay Allen orchestra was formed, the leader maintained his small group as an integral band-within-a-band and utilized it as backing for a further series of hit records – St. Louis Blues, It Began In Havana, Barclay's Boogie, Nola, Tea For Two, Loch Lomond and others.

As composer also, Barclay Allen, has enriched modern music with dozens of tunes, same of which became hits. Cumana and It Happened In Havana are but two of the better known melodies from his prodigious pen.

While still of pre-school age, Barclay, under the tutelage of his mother, a well known Denver, Colorado pianist and teacher, was performing with élan at recitals and for friends in the mountain city, his hometown.

In high school he formed his first orchestra. After graduation Barclay entered the commercial music world, joining the staff of Denver radio station KLZ. The culmination of several years of KLZ for Mrs. Allen's son was the position of musical director – at the antiquated age of 22.

While conducting the dance band in Denver's Cosmopolitan Hotel, Barclay acquired further exposure via broadcasts on the NBC network through station KOA. This led him to seek broader fields in music, so in 1946 he made the broadjump from the Rockies to Hollywood where he joined station KLAC as musical director and was featured in his own radio shows with the Rhythm Four.

Before long the sharply attuned ear of maestro Freddy Martin detected something more – much more – than average in the playing of this youth from Denver. So impressed was Martin, in fact, that he signed Barclay to a contract calling for one of the largest salaries ever paid a sideman with a name band. A transcontinental theater tour followed, with Allen gathering critical raves wherever the band played. And, of course, the Martin band's long engagements in Los Angeles' Cocoanut Grove established the featured pianist's reputation with the chic "Hollywood crowd." Such a favorite did he become, moreover, that years later he was again engaged to play solo piano at the Ambassador Hotel, home of the famed Grove.

When the Music Corporation Of America persuaded the young piano virtuosos to form his own orchestra, it was a wise move indeed. The opening engagement at swank Ciro's on the Sunset Strip proved that this new Barclay Allen band could follow with ease such predecessors as Xaviar Cugat, Carmen Cavallero and other top rankers...

It Happened In Havana
September Song
At The Crossroads
Green Eyes
My Adobe Hacienda
The Whole World Is Singing My Song
Old Lamplighter
For Sentimental Reasons
That's My Desire

1 comment:

  1. My Dad was Merle Mahone (Drummer). As a small child I spent many happy hours sitting quietly at KLAC while the Rhythm 4 played their regular show. Cumana was originally recorded with the Rhythm 4 on the VanEs label. Named for his wife, Van and the wife of his lyricist, Rock Hillman, Esther. Barclays son, Ron, is now the Senior Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. His daughter, Peggy, is married to a hospital Chaplin and lives in Portland, Or. The bass players son is a Chiropractor living in Arizona. His daughter also lives in Arizona. I still keep in regular contact with the "band brats"

    Gary Mahone


Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!