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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shearing In Hi Fi

Shearing In Hi Fi
George Shearing Quintet
MGM Records E3293

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

Holiday In Cuba
In Mambo Tempo
The Cuban Orchestra
Halo 50231

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.

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
Manufactured by MGM Records

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

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

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hi-Ho - Mary Martin

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

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
DS 2395

Percussion Orientale - David Carroll

Orientale (PPS 2002)
 Orientale (PPS 6602)
Percussion Orientale
David Carroll And His Orchestra
Mercury PPS 2002


Percussion: Bobby Christian, Frank Rullo, Richard Schory, Jerry Slosbery
Piano: Bob Acri
Guitars: Earl Backus, Johnny Gray
Bass: John Frigo, Harold Siegel
Concertina: Vince Geraci
Trumpet: Bill Babcock
Trombone: Earl Hoffman
Harp: Edward Druzinsky
Woodwinds: Howard Davis, Wally Pressung, Mike Simpson, John Cameron, Bob Tootelian
Strings: Fritz Siegal, Herman Clebanoff, Theodore Silavin, Joe Goodman, Dave Chausow, Art Tabachnick, Shirley Tabachnick, Harold Kupper, Al Muenzer, Harold Klatz

The solo flute passages are by Wally Preissing, solo oboe passages by John Cameron. When two ones play, Bob Tootelian joins Cameron. The Bakoura solo on Twilight In Turkey is by Mike Simpson. The solo violin passages are by Fritz Siegal

Mike Simpson arranged Caravan and Twilight In Turkey. All other arrangements by David Carroll.

From the inside cover: Mercury's David Carroll is a stereo devotee. He's a well-trained, quality conscious musician, too. This combination enables him to create albums of musical worth and stereo satisfaction. He's not concerned with stereo gimmicks, filling speakers for the sake of filling speakers. and his devotion to music is sufficiently vital to prevent him from recording first-rate music with inferior presence. His albums for Mercury have stressed the blend of top-notch stereo and meaningful music. In his Let's Dance, Let's Dance Again and Latin Percussion sets, his insistence on high standards is evident. It's obvious again in this impressive package, Percussion Orientale.

In A Persian Market
Harlem Dance
Ballet Egyptian
Twilight In Turkey
Scheherazade Themes
Dance Oriental
Dance Of The Slave Maidens

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
Recorded under the direction of D. L. Miller
United Recording Studio, Hollywood, California
Cover Photo: George Pickow
Cover Art: Will Dressler
Somerset SF-26100
Somerset P-11000

From the back cover: Les Cinq Modernes, with guest Paul Horn, capture the wonderful mood of Europe with a unique jazz simplicity that is unequalled for moving you to the Rome-Paris scene – and with someone very special.

Petite Fleur
Blanc Sur Blanc (White On White)
St. Germain
Moritat (Mack The Knife)
Petite Fantasy (Slightly Out)
La Violetera
Arrivederci Roma


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

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


Latin Dance Party
Rodriguez And His Orchestra
Cover Design by C. Arnold Carlson
Golden Tone C4016

Goza Cha Cha
Mambo #5
Asi Asi
Tico Tico
Las Suegras

Olga Guillot

Olga Guillot
Adria AP-30

This album appears to have been recorded in the early 60s and pressed on a budget label. Olga Guillot 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 Cuba due to her opposition to the socialist dictatorship. She was an activist for a free Cuba until her last days.

Soy Tuya
Me Contaron De Ti
En Monsotros
Aunque Tu Me Olvides
Porque Te ConocĂ­
Yo No Se Que Me Pasa
Estuve Pensando
Estamos En Paz

Down Jamaica Way - Count Owen And His Calypsonians

Down Jamaica Way
Count Owen And His Calypsonians
Kalypso FR 1001

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.