Search Manic Mark's Blog

Saturday, September 7, 2019

You're Hearing The Best Of George Shearing

Hallelujah!
You're Hearing The Best Of George Shearing
MGM Records E3796
Lowes Inc.
1960

From the back cover: It was a difficult choice and a courageous on which led George Shearing to come to America for a brief professional visit in 1945. At home in England, he was the reigning monarch of the keyboard – in America, he was little more than a name known by the inner circle of jazz aficionados. The few engagements he filled were remarkably successful. Americans seemed to like George and George liked America and Americans. He returned with his wife and daughter late in 1947 with the desire to become a permanent resident.

At first, his decision appeared to be a wrong one. Engagements were few and far between. The golden promise of that first visit had tarnished quickly. Then, one of New York's famous 52nd Street jazz clubs asked him to pool his talents with those of Oscar Pettiford and J. C. Heard to form a trio.

George passed from that grouping to many another – and slowly the Shearing fingers worked their magic. Soon, George entered the charmed circle of top flight jazz progressives. Record hit after hit appeared. And the rest is history.


From Billboard - January 18. 1960: Unusual cover makes this LP solid display item. Culled from the catalog are vivid, tasteful instrumental treatments of movie-legit themes, spotlighting Shearing's usual fine solo work. Tunes include "Tenderly," "Easy To Love," "The Lady Is A Tramp," etc. Fine jockey wax.

I Hear Music
Tenderly
There's A Lull In My Life
Caravan – Part 1 & Part 2
Hallelujah!
Easy To Love
The Lady Is A Tramp
Summertime
Don't Blame Me
They All Laughed
Body & Soul
Stranger In Paradise

The Lennon Sisters Today!!

California Dreamin'
The Lennon Sisters Today!!
Arranged by Al Capps
Cover Photography and Design: Studio Five, Inc.
Produced by Snuff Garrett
A Snuff Garrett Production
Studio: Amigo Recording Studio
Mercury Record Company SR 61164
1968

From Billboard April 13, 1968: Lennon Sisters' soft, harmoniously bright singing gives a special bounce to such songs as "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "It Must Be Him" and "Everything That Touches You." Arrangements are right in keeping with the "today" tunes.

Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You
Different Drum
It Must Be Him
Green Tambourine
What The World Needs Now Is Love
California Dreamin'
Everything That Touches You
He's Just My Style
I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
Elusive Butterfly
Have You Heard (It's All Over)

Hawaiian Village Nights - Alfred Apaka

Moonlight And Shadows
Hawaiian Village Nights
Alfred Apaka
A Memorial Album
Orchestra Conducted by Don Costa
Produced by Don Costa
Cover Design by Walter Russell
Cover Photography by Werner Stoy, Camerawomen Hawaii
Recorded in Hawaii
ABC - Paramount ABCS-241
A Product of Am-Par Record Corp.

From the back cover: Accidents can be fortunate or tragic. Those of the fortunate variety have propelled Hawaii's talented Alfred Apaka into the coveted rands of entertainment fame. A star himself, the Hawaiian-Chinese-Portuguese singer can truly thank his lucky stars. It goes without saying, of course, that no amount of lucky accidents could ever benefit an entertainer not possessing the quality of natural talent; and that quality is one of Alfred Apaka's most abundant possessions.

During his senior year at Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Apaka directed and appeared in an Hawaiian revue. As a memento of what he thought would probably he his only participation in show business, he made a record of the song he performed in the revue. The school music instructor accidentally heard the record and insisted that the young singer audition for a hotel singing job. Although harboring an ambition to be a doctor, Alfred Apaka followed his instructor's advice, and was more surprised than anyone when he won the audition over a half-dozen competitors. Right then and there, the winner's thoughts of a career made a sharp right turn from medicine to music. After nine months as guest singer in the hotel, Apaka received another visit from Lady Luck. The guest singer for the network radio show, "Voice of Hawaii," failed to appear, and Apaka was called upon to substitute. His performance resulted in a permanent spot on the show, bringing his voice to the attention of millions throughout Hawaii and the United States. From the Hawaiian radio show, the fates guiding his career led Apaka to the United States, where he appeared for three years as vocalist for the Ray Kinney Band.

Returning to his native isle, the successful entertainer formed his own popular dance band, playing in Honolulu night clubs. However, his devotion to his first love – singing – moved him to disband his orchestra and concentrate exclusively on his career as a Hawaiian vocalist. For the next several years, Apaka was featured on "Hawaii Calls," a network show originating in Honolulu.

His popularity grew to such heights that when Bob Hope visited the Hawaiian Islands for a series of shows, he invited Apaka to appear with him, and subsequently the Hawaiian singer returned to the mainland with Hope, appearing in a number of radio shows. Apaka was given his own television show in Los Angeles, but the call of the Islands again drew him to Hawaii, where he now lives. He continues to make television appearances on such programs as The Ed Sullivan Show.

Alfred Apaka is a direct descendant of King Kaumualii, ancient king of the Island of Kauai. His father was a member of the House of Representatives of the Territory of Hawaii for sever terms.

Henry J. Kaiser, industrialist and builder, has played an important role in Apaka's recent rise to a new zenith of his career. Recognizing him as "Hawaii's greatest singing star." Mr. Kaiser selected him to be his top star and entertainment director for the fabulous Hawaiian Village Hotel vacation center. Apaka features the Island's most popular show in the Tapa Room at the Hawaiian Village Hotel.

This album follows the Apaka formula for entertainment of performing an assortment of Hawaiian and popular numbers during-the course of a program. The recording herein was made in the unique Kaiser Aluminum Dome at the Hawaiian Village Hotel, Waikiki. The first structure of its kind ever built, the Dome is constructed of diamond-shaped aluminum panels geometrically arranged and bolted together, requiring no interior support.

Here, then is that happy victim of circumstances, Alfred Apaka, bringing you in melody the reasons for his rise to fame and popularity; and his establishment as a shining star in the entertainment firmament. – Rick Ward


From Billboard - February 15, 1960: Singer Alfred A. Apaka died here last Saturday (30) of a heart attack. He was 40 years old. At the time of his death he was with the Tapa Room, Henry Kaiser's Hawaiian Village Hotel. Funeral services were held February 7 at the Mormon Tabernacle with burial following at Diamond Head Memorial Park. Survivors are his son, Jeffery; Apaka Sr., and five sisters.

Kawohikukapulani
Moonlight And Shadows
Somewhere In Hawaii
Harbor Lights
Sunset In Hawaii
Hilawe
Red Sails In The Sunset
Ka-lu-a
Blue Hawaii
The Palm Trees Sing Aloha
Tower Of Love
Song Of Old Hawaii

Marimbas Mexicanas - Marimba Chiapas

Quien Sera?
Marimbas Mexicanas
The Favorite Orchestra Of Latin America
Marimba Chiapas
Recorded in Mexico City
Capitol Records T10043
1957

From the back cover: Chiapas is a state in the far southern portion of Mexico, inhabited by Indians who still adhere to an ages-old caste system. Its capitol city is Tuxtla Gutierrez, with 30,000 population, ten miles from the Chiapas River on the vital San Cristobal highway. Some 150 miles distant is the Guatemalan border.

It is this rugged area that the marimba is king. Native craftsmen take months to find the proper chiapaneca wood in the forests and then, slowly, they fashion the handsome planks into an amazingly true-toned musical instrument.

The musicians who comprise Marimba Chiapas have no leader – it is a purely "cooperative" group which no more frequently than twice a year rides up to Mexico City in an ancient bus to perform in theaters and make records.

A majority of the selections offered by Capitol in this unusual album are regional songs, peculiar to Southern Mexico and Guatemala.


El Cha-Cha-Cha-Del Tren (The Cha-Cha-Cha of the Train)
Ven Carinito (Come Little Darling Come)
La Calandria (The Ornith)
Cu-Cu-Rru-Cu-Cu Paloma (Cu-Cu-Rru-Cu-Cu Dove)
Serenata Huasteca (Huasteca Serenade)
Gorrioncito Pecho Amarillo (Little Sparrow With Yellow Breast)
Quien Sera? (Who Will Be)
Tehuantepec
Por Que Ya No Me Quieres (Why Don't You Love Me Anymore)
Piel Canela (Cinnamon Skin)
Los Bueyes ... N (The Oxen ...N)
Que Chula Es Puebla (How Pretty Puebla Is)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Music From Gigi In Jazz - Shorty Rogers

Gigi
Lerner And Loewe's
Music From "Gigi" In Jazz
Shorty Rogers And His Giants
RCA Victor LPM-1696
1958

Personnel:

Shorty Rogers - Trumpet and Fluegelhorn
Bill Holman - Tenor Sax
Pete Jolly - Piano
Larry Bunker - Vibes
Mel Lewis - Drums
Ralph Pena or Buddy Clark - Bass

From Billboard - May 19, 1958: This is one of the tastiest jazz treatment of the "Gigi" score. The arrangements are imaginative and artistic. Rogers and His Giants create a satisfying swinging mood. In addition to Rogers on trumpet and fluegelhorn, personnel are B. Hollman, tenor sax; P. Jolly, piano; L. Bunker, vibes; M. Lewis, drums and R. Pena or B. Clark, bass. It will probably click best with West Coast fans, tho it offers wide appeal.

The Night They Invented Champagne
I Remember It Well
I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore
She's Not Thinking Of Me
Say A Prayer For Me Tonight
It's A Bore
Thank Heaven For Little Girls
Gigi

Pete Fountain - The Sunsetters

Bugle Call Rag
 
 Scherzo
Pete Fountain
The Sunsetters
Wyncote SW-9112

Pete Fountain

Jazz Me Blues
Bugle Call Rag
South Rampart Street Parade
Sensation Rag
Yuppa Tupps (The Sunsetters)

The Sunsetters

Miss Daisy Delite
A Farwell
Scherzo
Sonata Allergro
One Blind Mouse

Hammond Pops 5 - Klaus Wunderlich

Wunder gibt es immer wieder/Let It Be
Hammond Pops 5
Klaus Wunderlich
Hammond - Orgel
mit Rhythmusgruppe
Made In Germany
Royal Sound SLE 14 574-P
Telefunken

Babuschkin
Zwischen Wolga und Don
Das schone Madden von Seite 1

Oh! Lady Mary
Du

Oma, Mama, Bambola
Mah-na, Mah-na
Star meines Lebens

Wunder gibt es immer wieder
Let It Be

Love A Little Bit
Die Maschen der Madchen
Oh, Champs Elysees
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head

Caroline
Ein kleines Gluck
Kilimandscharo

An einem Sonntage in Avignon
Knock, Knock Who's There
Gruezi wohi, Frau Stirnimaa

All Kinds Of Everything
Traume im Wind

Mademoiselle Ninette
Adiole
Bafub im Regen

El Condor Pasa
Madchen gibt's überall
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye

Moments Together - Ray Anthony

Love Is Here To Stay
Moments Together
Ray Anthony
Capitol Records T917
1958

From Billboard - January 13, 1958: Anthony's "Dream Dancing" and other romantic, easy-paced sets have consistently been jockey chart entries and good sellers to boot and this vastest, with an exceptional tasty cover, figures to repeat the earlier successes. Sides include "Love Is Here To Stay," "Careless," etc. Strong jockey material and must dealer merchandise.

Love Is Here To Stay
Careless
Everything I Have Is Yours
Many Faces
Goodnight Waltz
No Other Love
Please, Mr. Sun
The Things I Love
With You In Mind
Oh! What It Seemed To Be
In Time
If I Ever Love Again

Hammond Pops 6 - Klaus Wunderlich

Oh, wann kommst du
Einmal um dis ganze Welt
Hammond Pops 6
Klaus Wunderlich
Hammond - Orgel, mit Rhythmusgruppe
Royal Sound SLE 14 597-P
Telefunken
Made In Germany

Ich Bin verliebt in die Liebe
Alles was wir wollen auf Erden
In einer Bar in Mexico

Oh, wann kommst du
Einmal um dis ganze Welt

Er hat ein knallrotes Gummiboot
Ra-Ta-Ta
Engelchen

Und wenn ein neuer Tag erwacht
Du bist anders
Der nächste Sonntag kommt bestimmt

Fur dich allein
Wir sitzen beide am selben Feuer
San Berndino

A Song Of Joy
Mein Brief an Julie
Teneriffa - Melodie

Hier ist ein Mensch
Candida
Hallo Taxi
Wie der Sonnenschein

Ich hab dich lieb
Alle meine Träume

In The Summertime
Calvados
A Glock'n, die 24 Studen Iaut

Wigwam
ABC

Bigger And Better Than Ever - Sophie Tucker

Take A Look At Yourself
Sophie Tucker
Bigger And Better Than Ever
Mercury Wing MGW 12176
1960

From Billboard - May 16, 1960: Here's a Sophie Tucker album containing a lot of material originally released on the parent label Mercury. On the set Sophie gives out with some homey philosophy on life on one side, and some rather bold advice on love on the other. For Sophie Tucker fans.

Take A Look At Yourself
Be As Big As The World You Live In
Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind
With Your Life You Can Do What You Will
I'm Bigger And Better Than Ever
Love Is My One Bad Habit
The Fountain Of Youth
I'm As Modern As Tomorrow And As Old As Yesterday
Sophie's Matrimonial Mart

The Hawaiians - Henry Mancini

Pineapple Pirates
The Hawaiians
Original Motion Picture Score
Music Composed and Conducted by Henry Mancini
Arrangements by Henry Mancini
Produced by LeRoy Holmes
Engineering by John Norman
Art Direction: Frank Gauna
Recorded at Glen Glenn Sound, Hollywood, California
United Artists Records UAS 5210
1970

Featured artists:

David Ming Yueh Liang - Cheng (Chinese Zither & Hsun (Chinese Ocarina)
Kayoko Wakita - Koto
Patti Shirai - Bass Koto
Art Smith - Chinese Flute
Emil Richards - Santure (Oriental Cymbalum)
Gene Cipriano - Hichiriki (Japanese Oboe)

From Billboard - July 4, 1970: Henry Mancini has taken traditional Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese melodies and blended them into an exotic score full of musical surprises. The sound is enriched by the use of three members of a Japanese concert ensemble whose authenticity helps Mancini get his musical message across.

Theme From "The Hawaiians (Main Title)
Auntie's Theme
Pineapple Pirates
Music For A Japanese Bath
Quiet Thoughts
Fumiko
Molakai
The Streets Of Chinatown
Theme From "The Hawaiians (Homecoming)
Auntie's Theme (End Title)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Los Panchos

Eso Es Ella
Los Panchos
Gil Navarro Y Careres
Con La Orchestra De Luis Cardenas
Orchestra Y Coros De Marcos Lizama
Arreglos Y Direccion De Luis Cardenas Y Marcos Lizama
Producido Por Gilberto Parra
Caytronics CYS 1209
Produced by Columbia Special Products for Caytronics Corp

Perdida
Empate
Que Mas Quieres
Eso Es Ella
Crimen
Liliana
No Eres Tu
El Tiempo
Amistad
Que Tarde

The Gypsy Violins Of Bela Balka

Romany Life
The Gypsy Violins of Bela Balka
Design: Sam Suliman
Coronet Records CX 122
Coronet Records A Division Of Premier Albums, Inc.
1961 (from a notation found on the jacket)

Hora Staccato
When A Gypsy Makes His Violin Cry
Zigeuner
Play Fiddle Play
Gypsy Love Song
Two Guitars
Play Gypsies (Czardas)
Romany Life
Stradivarius
Zigeunerweisen

Touff Assignment - Cy Touff

Cyril's Dream
Touff Assignment
The Cy Touff Quintet
Producer: Dave Usher
Cover Photo: Don Bronstein
Recording Engineer: Malcolm Chisholm
Recording Dates: August 28th, 29th, 1958
Mastering Engineer: Douglas Brand
Argo LP 641

From the back cover: Cy Touff has been at music a long time. He started on piano when he was six "and created a Frankenstein monster" which took years for his parents to become accustomed to. He switched to C-melody sax, then trumpet, the xylophone ("my mother was a fiend for auction sales!") and then settled into the role of trombone player in high school. During his tour of duty in the Army, Cy played in a band with Conte Condoli and Red Mitchell and then on his discharge studied for a while with Lennie Tristano. Prior to joining Herman, he was with such bands as Jimmie Dale, Red Saunders, Shorty Sherock and – here's left field for you! – the New York City Opera Company!

His years with Herman took him all over the U.S. and Europe and made the bass trumpet even more widely accepted in jazz. He played it in the trombone section, because the tone is close to that of a trombone, and he was featured soloist with the Herman group throughout his stay with the band. While with Herman, Touff recorded with a small group Woody led for a time, as well as with his own group. A musician with broad tastes, he is an avid Count Basie fan, digs Dixieland on occasion, and lists his favorite musicians as the late Lester Young, Count Basie, Johnny Mandel and Al Cohn and his favorite record as Basie's "Taxi War Dance."

Although this is not the first LP under Cy Touff's name, I would venture an educated guess that it's the first one over which he has had direction and it shows in the end product. "There never has been a serious musician who is as serious about his music as a serious jazz musician." Duke Ellington wrote in JAZZ, A Quarterly of American Music (Vol. 1, #2) and Cy Touff fits this description perfectly. He has humor, as do all jazz musicians, but he is a serious man given to the reading of Kafka and Sartee and to serious consideration of other arts.

And he was serious about this LP.

For the group, Cy picked the best of Chicago's young jazz men. Sandy Mosse, a veteran of European tours, Woody Herman's big band, the Chicago studios and numerous record sessions, (as well as of his own LP on Argo), plays with a swinging definitiveness that is by no means usual these days. Ed Higgins, the pianist, is another Chicago veteran who has worked extensively in that area with his own trio. Bob Cranshaw, who has played bass with Higgins for some time, joins him here with Marty Clausen, another Chicagoan on drums.

The result is a good swinging jazz. Indicative of the stature of Cy in the world of jazz, is the fact that two original charts to this session: Al Cohn's "Soulville" and "Cyril's Dream," Ernie Wilkins "Kissin' Cousins," and "Tough Touff". Although Cyril (and Sandy Mosse, too) comes through on a ballad with lyric intensity, my personal kicks come from the swinging charts, the Ernie Wilkins blues and "Cyril's Dream," yet it is a lovely interlude to play "How Long Has This Been Going On".

Two sides then to jazz and to the jazz musician: one for each of your extreme moods and many shadings in between. The exuberant one of "Tough Touff" and the reflective, introspective one of the ballads. In either, Cyril James Touff fits, which is the true mark of the the jazz musician. – Ralph J. Gleason - Editor of Jazz and syndicated columnist whose articles on jazz appear in newspapers throughout the country.


Soulsville
Cyril's Dream
How Long Has This Been Going On
Kissin' Cousins
Keeping Out Of Mischief Now
I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
Lamp Is Low
Tough Touff

Top Of The Pops - Volume 33

Skywriter
Top Of The Pops
Volume 33
Hallmark Records SHM 835
Pickwick International, Inc.
1973

Angel Fingers
Skywriter
Rock On
Young Love
Oh No! Not My Baby
Dancing On A Saturday Night
Ooh Baby
Everything Will Turn Out Fine
Angie
Pick Up The Pieces
Monster Mash
The Dean And I

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Jane Powell Sings With David Rose

Dark Is The Night
Jane Powell Sings
With David Rose and His Orchestra
Lion L70111
1959

From Billboard - May 11, 1959: Flick star Jane Powell is featured on some of the tunes that she introduced in past films and selections from shows. Lush backing by David Rose is complementary. Low-price tag should prove a lure. Good item for the racks.

Something Wonderful
We Kiss In Shadow
I Whistle A Happy Tune
Hello, Young Lovers
Wonder Why?
Paris
Dark Is The Night (C'est fini)
L'Amorur Toujours (Tonight For Sure)
I Can See You
I Love You
We Never Talk Much
The Echo Song

Ebb Tide And Other Favorites - Living Strings Plus Organ

Ebb Tide
Ebb Tide And Other Favorites
Living Strings Plus Organ
Arranged and Conducted by Johnny Douglas
Produced by Ethel Gabriel
Recorded In England
RCA Camden CAS-2291
1969

Ebb Tide
My Way Of Life
Dream A Little Dream Of Me
Someone To Watch Over Me
The Impossible Dream
Around The World
Poor Butterfly
It's The Last Time
The Music Played
La Mer

There Goes My Everything - Don Cherry

Band Of Gold
There Goes My Everything
Don Cherry
Photography/Art Direction: Ken Kim
Monument SLP 18075
1967

From the back cover: To those who know him, Don Cherry is frequently referred to as "the easy-going swinger." Whether it is in a night club, on an auditorium stage, in front of television cameras or in the terrible confines of a recording studio. Don comes on with the effort of a guy about to take a nap. The same thing is true on the golf course as he continues to follow the tours each year as a member of the PGA. And believe me, he does make it look easy!

It's understandable when the average fan who's seen him perform is amazed at his effortless, carefree approach too entertaining. But when seasoned musicians who work his recording dates in the studios are equally amazed... then there has got to be something to it! There is... a single six-letter word called TALENT!

This Wichita Falls, Texas "swinger" didn't get where he is overnight. Behind him are many hours in the recording studios, days and days of television shows, night after night of the night club circuit and miles and miles on the golf courses around the country. Yes, Don has the talent, but more than that, he's had the experience. And regardless of how much talent one possesses, without experience it's not worth a plugged nickel.

To those of you who are Don Cherry fans this album is an eagerly awaited addition to your collection. And for those who are just becoming Don Cherry fans, we couldn't think of a better way to start, because in here he really "turns it on" in his easy-going style. – Ed Hamilton


There Goes My Everything
It Isn't Fair
Odds And Ends
Vanity
Lucky Old Sun
I Don't Wanna Go Home
Band Of Gold
I Know Love
Thinking Of You
Serenade Of The Bells
Married

Don Cherry Smashes

Try To Remember
Don Cherry Smashes
Producer: Steve Ponchio
Technician: Brent Maher
Engineer: Tommy Strong
Monument MLP 8049
1966

Ask Her
I Love You Drops
The Story Of My Life
Four Walls
Try To Remember
Don't Change
The Tip Of My Fingers
Anything That's Part Of You
You're The Reason I'm Living
A Thing Called Sadness
All Over Again
Pleasing You (As Long As I Live)

Some Enchanted Evening - Alfred Apaka

Bali Ha'i - Some Enchanted Evening
Some Enchanted Evening
Alfred Apaka
With The Hawaiian Village Serenaders
Orchestra Directed by Axel Stordahl
Decca Records DL 74174
1961

Speak Low
Around The World
Every Hour On The Hour
Night And Day
Here
Love Me Tender
On The Street Where You Live
Medley: Bali Ha'i - Some Enchanted Evening
Hello, Young Lovers
Now Is The Hour (Maori Love Song)
I Could Have Danced All Night

Monday, September 2, 2019

Discussion In Percussion - Mike Simpson

Open Discussion
Discussion In Percussion
Mike Simpson and Orchestra
Perfect Presence Sound Series
Mercury Recording Director: David Carroll
Mercury Records PPS 6004
1961

From the inside cover: The illustrious improvisations and stylists of American popular music – instrumentalists and vocalists – as well-known to the followers of the mass media. The informed jazz fan, for example, can name-drop with the rapidity of a Max Roach drum passage, reciting the accomplishments of guests from Jelly Roll Morton to Cannonball Adderley. The devotees of pop singing know every nuance their preferred singers practice.

In the mad rush toward fame, the successful artist binds his public to him. What the loyalists too often forget in forging their alliance is that few stars exist in a vacuum. The best of them require an arranger to showcase their talent and musicians to frame that talent. Without these aides, the featured performer is as alone and vulnerable as Red Grange would have been without blockers.

In Chicago, when musicians are hand-picked to perform in a record session, when they're selected on the bases of reliability and skill, Mike Simpson inevitably is among them. As a composer, arranger and master of many instruments, Simpson has become indispensable among Windy City musicians.

He is the invaluable studio musician.

In this Discussion In Percussion outing, Simpson's composing, arranging and performing talents are apparent throughout. It is a challenge few musicians could have met. Simpson, however, was more than ready for it, in fact, his diversified career in music has inadequately prepared him to fulfill any professional task.

Born in Winters, Texas – a rural community in the west-central part of that sprawling state – in 1916, Simpson's inspire a definite interest in music. By the time he was 12, he was ready to explore it on his own. He shinned shoes and saved money. For $35 he purchased a clarinet, began studying and joined a band comprising various country merchants.

When his family moved to Dallas, Simpson studied several horns, from tenor saxophone to trumpet to tuba, in high school he began working dance dates with local bands. In 1932, he joined Doc Russ' territory band – a band that also fostered the talents of Jack Teagarden and Windy Manone – and participated in the road routine. When the bank panic gripped the nation, Simpson was in New Orleans, stranded.

The next stop were the territory bands of Chief Gonzales and Harry Diekman and a circuit that included St. Paul, Memphis, Nashville and Louisville. Gradually, Simpson – who was specializing in alto sax in those days – acquired experience.

While he was with Diekman's crew, Simpson received an offer to join Art Kassel's band. Overwhelmed by the swing era, Kassel had turned from jazz-influenced music to Guy Lombardo style. Simpson accepted Kassel's offer, despite his doubts regarding the band's approach. For four years, he recorded and hit the road with the Kassel crew, playing alto, tenor, baritone, clarinet, trumpet and trombone along the way.

After the prolonged stint with Kassel, he study theory with Leo Sowerby in Chicago and Joseph Schillinger in New York (he remembers that the latter's system called for 20-30 hour of homework per lesson).

In 1939, Gene Kruppa was organizing a band, The ex-Benny Goodman drummer invited Simpson to a rehearsal and offered him a post with the band. Simpson accepted, joining the band in Baltimore, but after Schillinger objected and intra-band friction proved annoying, he decided to call a halt to the on-the-road career.

After a brief return to Texas, he resisted Chicago and resumed studies. Once he was assured that his classical background was broad enough, he rejoined the legion of performers, working with Jimmy McPartland's band at the Three Deuces, with Jack Teagarden's band at the Blackhawk and as performer and composer for the Chicago Theatre (when its stage shows, now extinct, were the city's most impressive).

During WWII, Simpson spent more than three years in the Navy Air Corps. At war's end, he married Nova Coogan, than vocalist with Boyd Raeburn's band, and returned to his Chicago Theater post. Seeking post-war peace, he abandoned music and brought and Indiana farm after a few months at home. But, as he recalls, he raised corn that even the crows wouldn't touch.

He arranged for the floor shows produced by Dorothy Hild at the Edgewater Beach-Hotel and played with several Chicago bands – in an effort to support the farm. In 1950, he decided that farming wasn't for him. He began freelancing, working as a member of the pit bands for several national companies of Broadway musicals, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Porgy And Bess. He arranged and played for Ralph Marterie on several of that leader's Mercury singles and LPs.

In 1952, Simpson joined the staff of CBS in Chicago, serving as a mainstay of the music contingent at the CBS outlet – WBBM – for eight years. He headed the jazz combo on the station's Jazz In The Round TV show (a splendid jazz effort that couldn't rise above sustaining status and, as a result, perished), was a vital cog on several live-music AM radio shows and continued to fill key chairs at record sessions.

When live music faded on the station, Simpson decided to head out on his own again. He did so in July, 1960. Since the, he's been offered more jobs that he can fill. Among them have been a slew of TV and radio commercial assignments, transcription and record dates and arranging chores.

The recording of a one-minute spot announcement can be more demanding than a half-hour TV show. Simpson has discovered. Major advertisers often utilize large bands – occasionally more than 30 pieces in size. The companies involved are hyper-critical; they demand precise projection. And, to complicate matters, some firms cut as many as 20 different versions of the same spot – for various regions of the country. But these sessions, which last from one to eighteen hours (some begin in the morning and continue to late evening completion), are lucrative for the musicians who can meet the rigid requirements involved. Simpson is one such musician, respected by his cohorts for his versatile talent.

Ample evidence of his success is the rambling red brick ranch house, surrounded by heavily wooded countryside, in which Simpson and family reside in Half-Day, a pastoral suburb miles from the hectic atmosphere of Chicago itself. Country gentleman, Simpson purchased the shell of the house in '59 and did considerable work on it himself. One son, Manliff Michael, 18, is a student at Harding College in Arkansas; he doesn't plan a career in music. Two daughters – Veda, 10 and Randy, 7 – are studying piano. A pari of sleek cats, Home and Sweetie, prefer to dig.

It's a rare setting and a calm, rewarding life. Simpson didn't discover it on a platter; as the jazz cultists say, "he paid his dues," with years on the road and intensive study – almost 30 years of experience in a vast array of settings.

When this Mercury assignment was rewarded to him, Simpson was ready.

His aim in it was to present sensible interplay between instruments – interplay that would be musically interesting in terms of both specific patterns and overall continuity. In order to accomplish this – to assure the best possible performance – he recorded the LP in four sessions, to give each selection proper attention. He chose the musician with great care, because his arrangements included a slew of difficult matters of tempo and required a devotion to precision. Although he organized the music with board audience in mind, he refused to descend to the banalities so often pawned off in the name of popular music. One example of the meticulous Simpson approach; he delayed the recording 10 days to await the return from California of reed man Howard Davis, a musician whose presence, in terms of Simpson's lofty standards, was essential. Such concern is rare. The results of Simpson's demanding nature – heard here – are evidence enough that such insistence produces first-rate music.


Participating Musicians:
Reeds - Mike Simpson, Howard Davis, Harold Dessent, Victor Vallenari and Lawrence Baileys
Trumpets - Dom Geraci, Rudy Stauber and Porky Panico
Bass Trumpet - Cy Touff
Trombones - Art Sares, Herbert Wise and George Jean
Bass Trombone - Bill Corti
French Horn - Rudy Macciocchi
Tuba - Vince Florino
Piano and Organ - Ken Harrity
Bass - John Frigo
Guitar - Earl Backus
Percussion - Frank Rullo, Howard Agster, Bobby Christian and Jerry Slosberg
Pork Panico arranged Three Little Words and She Didn't Say Yes; all other arrangements by Mike Simpson

From Billboard - December 26, 1960: Mercury will make a major effort in the new percussive sound field with five new Perfect Presence Sound Series albums (popular) and one Living Presence Sound Series album (classical) highlighting its January release schedule.

The label is also planning to introduce a de luxe opera-package album, a new International Series, an a full line of its regular ($3.98) label items.

Announcement followed the firm's recent Midwest distributor meeting here, during which Irving Green announced the label had had a 15 per cent sales increase over 1959, and one of the best years in Mercury's history.

Albums included in the Perfect Presence series include Xavier Cugat, "Viva Gugat"; Frederick Fennell, "Fennel' Conducts Victor Herbert'; Richard Hayman, "Harmonica Holiday"; Mike Simpson, "Discussion In Percussion"; and Pete Rugolo, "Ten Trombones Like Two Pianos." The de luxe line will retail at $4.98 for monaural and $5.98 for stereo.


Say Si Si
Too Marvelous For Words
Takes Two To Tango
It's A Pity To Say Goodnight
Three Little Words
Can't We Talk It Over
Listen To The Mocking Bird
She Didn't Say Yes
Open Discussion
After I Say I'm Sorry
What Is There To Say
Hawaiian War Chant