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Friday, February 2, 2024

Hue-Fi Moods By Maltby - Richard Maltby



Hue-Fi Moods By Maltby
Arranged and Conducted by Richard Maltby
Produced and Directed by Herman Diaz, Jr.
Recorded at Webster Hall in New York on May 23, 28 and 31, 1956
Recording Engineer: Fred Elsasser
Vik LX-1051

From the back cover: If there was any doubt that our ears are just as responsive to the rich splendors and subtle shadings of tonal colors as our eyes are to the awesome kaleidoscope of an autumn sunset or the cool, clear perfection of a winter's sky, Richard Maltby should dispel all quibbles with these unusual and lustrous performances.

Even the most calloused eardrum must be roused by the fascinating sound textures that Maltby has produced as he blends and highlights a thirteen-man brass section, as he spins thirteen reeds through warm, exotic variations and probes the beauties of lovely and familiar melodies with a thirteen-man string team. For the album, Maltby has set aside his regular band and, in its place, brought together three unique orchestras, each built around a baker's dozen of three of the principal types of musical instruments – reeds, strings and brass. Then, with that combination of curiosity and versatility which has led him to such differing works as his intriguing arrangement of St. Lousi Blues Mambo, at one extreme, and, at the other, the scoring for orchestra of a Handel composition for voice, he has set out to see what varied tonal colorations can be drawn from these groups.

Four of the selections feature the string section – Ruby, In the Blue Of Evening, Little White Lies and Azure. Ruby, played by eight violins, three violas, two 'cellos, harp, piano, two guitars and drums, is swept along on a provocative beguine rhythm provided by the two guitars, each playing alternate bars, one using a regular microphone and the other on an echo chamber. The same group, without the piano, glides through Duke Ellington's lovely Azure, but this time the guitars are electrified and they play a sort of contractual boogie beat around and even over the string ensemble. The guitars drop out and the piano returns for In The Blue Of Evening and Little White Lies, the first done as a casual, melodic fox trot, the second bristling with light and airy pizzicato strings.

The Old Black Magic, Tangerine, Green Eyes and Deep Purple are showcases for the brass team – five trumpets, five trombones, three French horns and tuba, and a rhythm section made up of string bass, guitar and a pair of percussionists. The percussionists set up a bongo rhythm for That Old Black Magic as the trumpets, trombones and French horns take turns biting into the sturdy Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen tune. Tangerine swings along on an easy beat with tight, concise passages from the muted trumpets and soaring interjections by the trombones and French horns. The French horns take the lead on Green Eyes which develops into what Maltby characterizes as "a big, sock, swinging thing," while Deep Purple goes in the other direction – a demonstration of the lush, full-voiced harmonic possibilities of an integrated bass chorale.

The reed numbers, Rose Room, The Moon Was Yellow, The Lady In Red and Mood Indigo – introduce a potpourri of instruments played by some of the most versatile reed men in New York. Rose Room holds to a fairly standard group of instruments – four clarinets, four tenor saxes, three baritone saxes, a bass sax and a rhythm section – with the clarinets dominant over a shuffle rhythm. The Moon Was Yellow, done in a tango vein, has the heavier sound of a complete saxophone section – four altos, four tenors, three baritones and a bass sax. For the light and sprightly The Lady In Red, the reed men drop their saxophones in favor of three piccolos, three flutes, three clarinets, three bassoons and a contra-bassoon and carry so much of the rhythm themselves that the arrangement could be played without a Rhythm section.

Maltby's approach to Mood Indigo is a fascinating one, in which the  melody is carried by nine double-reed instruments (three oboes, two English horns, three bassoons and a contra-bassoon) producing a strange tonal color that is wonderfully suited to this haunting tune. The use of so many double-reeds is unique but it is typical of the ingenuity and imagination with which Richard Maltby has used the unusual ensembles he has brought together in this album – John S. Willson

From Billboard - October 20, 1956: A striking cover and an unusual instrumentation gimmick highlight this LP and should add up to healthy sales, particularly among hi-fi fans. Maltby conducts three separate orchestras (of 13 men), each built around an instrument category. Four selections feature the string section; four, the brass team and the remaining four, reeds. Colorful line-up of standards, all preformed with vivid inventiveness, include "The Lady In Red," "The Moon Was Yellow," and "Deep Purple."

The Old Black Magic
Rose Room
In The Blue Of Evening
Mood Indigo
Little White Lies
The Lady In Red
Deep Purple
The Moon Was Yellow
Green Eyes

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