Search Manic Mark's Blog

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Concert Modern - Les Brown


Rhapsody In Blue

Concert Modern
Les Brown And His Band Of Renown
Capitol Records ST959

Leader - Les Brown
Trumpets - Wes Hensel, Conrad Gozzo, Clinton McMahan, Jerry Kadovitz, Dick Collins
Saxophones - William Usselton, Matt Utal, Ralph La Polla, Abe Aaron, "Butch" Stone
Trombones - Roy Main, Dick Kenny, J. Hill, Clyde Brown
Bass - Don Bagley
Guitar - Tony Rizzi
Drums - Lloyd Morales
Piano - Don Trenner
Xylophone & Bells - David Grupp

From the back cover: The Nutcracker Suite is a collection of dances from the score which Tchaikovsky composed for the ballet "The Nutcracker" in 1892. Of course, these melodies have had their greatest popularity in concerts, but a renewal of interest in the ballet itself has emphasized the music's original context.

The second of the eight dances in this recording, called simply "March," is particularly striking in Frank Comstock's arrangement. Its theme occurs in a type of "call-and-response" pattern, and here the first statement is played at the original tempo, the "response" in a jazz-style tempo. Gradually, the syncopated mood wins the debate. The "Arab Dance" takes excellently to Latin rhythms, becoming something new, unexpected and almost domesticated.

Porgy And Bess was George Gershwin's second opera, first produced in 1935, revived often since, and most recently a showpiece of Americana on a widely publicized world tour. The melodies incorporated in the overture reflect what musicologists call a "folk" inspiration.

Theme like "I Got Plenty Of Nuttin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So" fit readily with Les Brown's rhythmic style, and the lullaby "Sunnertime," as interpreted by Roy Main in the trombone solo, reaches a new high in expressiveness.

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue was written as a dance number, the climax of Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodger's "On Your Toes." This musical was produced in 1936 (with Ray Bolger dancing and Paul Whiteman conducting the "Slaughter" sequence), made into a motion picture in 1938, and revived on Broadway in 1954. Probably the best-known version of this piece, however, was the one Gene Kelly danced in the 1948 movie, "Words and Music," based on the careers of Rodgers and Hart.

There's a lot of effective trombone in the recital, and Roy Main's solo on the second theme is an excellent example. The swinging third theme is actually little changed from the way Rodgers wrote and intended it.

Rhapsody In Blue, Gershwin's first concert piece, was originally performed by Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin in 1924. Its melodies and rhythms obviously come directly from the great wealth of American jazz, dance and popular styles.

There has been very little change in this arrangement from the original. The scoring of the lyric theme has been cut down from full strings and brass to feature the trombone section, a simplification that points out the melody's inspiration-source in American song.

An American In Paris was originally an orchestral piece, but possibly its greatest popularity came as the result of Gene Kelly's dazzling "American In Paris" dance sequence, the high-point of the movie named after Gershwin's composition.

The chorale-like second melody is here led by trumpet, then by the ever-effective trombone of Dick Kenney.

From Billboard - March 17, 1958: This is an exciting album, both for idea and execution. It features the great Les Brown ork in performances of concert pieces as arranged by Frank Comstock. Selections include "The Nutcracker Suite," "Porgy And Bess," "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue," "Rhapsody In Blue" and "An American In Paris." Purists may not like modern band versions of these pieces, but with the exception of the "Nutcracker," they come off very well, and the Brown crew's many followers should really take to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!