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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hawaii Goes Percussion

Swinging Palm Trees
Hawaii Goes Percussion
Cornet Records CXS 162

The title found on the back cover and label is Hawaiian Moonbeams. I might make the assumption that Coronet changed the name to "Percussion" to capitalize on the early 60s percussion trend. However, this isn't a percussion record.

There isn't a mention on the cover of who the artists are. The album focuses on someone who can rock the steel guitar.

I just found the same album with the "Moonbeams" title...


A Revue Televison Productions Starring John Cassavetes
Strikingly modern background music composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein
Capitol Records T1287

From the back cover: Johnny Staccato is a private detective. He works at it because it pays well and he likes to spend money. But for sheer pleasure he's a jazz pianist – highly regarded buy other musicians, but not interested in actually working as a musician.

A fantastic jacket story should make for some fantastic music. The music is "private, playing jazz for dames and drinks, detective" cool.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jackie Gleason Presents - Night Winds

Jackie Gleason Presents
Night Winds
Capitol Records W717

This album scored Gleason a Top Ten spot for '56. And the set, of course, is another terrific album amongst the many "romantic mood" entries found in the Gleason catalog.

Hawaii - A Musical Memento Of The Island

Mahina Hoku
A Musical Memento Of The Islands
GNP Gene Norman Presents

This is a compilation album that was "Recorded In Hawaii By Hawaiian Artists".

How Sweet It Is!

How Sweet It Is!

From the back cover: This is a Promotional album designed for programming; it is not for sale.

This album was created to promote Gleason's early work from radio programming.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carlos Salzedo

Carlos Salzedo Plays Music For The Harp
Original Compositions And Transcripts With Lucile Lawernce
Mercury Classics MG10144

I love the beautiful cover illustration that graces this vintage Mercury album.

From his wikipedia page: Salzedo remains one of the greatest harpists in history, a virtuoso player unparalleled, a virtuoso pianist and conductor, and a primal teacher. He was a progressive spirit, seeking new resources in the harp, inspiring and creating new works and creating new styles of music. His composing progressed from French Romantic to Impressionist to a new style uniquely his own.

The last track on the B side, Steel, is especially "modern" sounding compared to other tracks.

Great Organ Hits - Eddie Layton

By The Waters Of The Minnetonka
Great Organ Hits
Out Of This World
Eddie Layton At The Hammond Organ
Mercury Stereo SR 60639

The September 4, 1961 Billboard gave this album "Moderate Sale Potential".

Read about Layton on his wikipedia page.

This album has a few nice space age moments. Mercury might have engineered the sound with a little more depth. The music doesn't sound as though the music was mixed right to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Return Of James Bond In Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever
The Return Of James Bond In "Diamonds Are Forever"
And Other Secret Agent Themes
Roland Shaw And His Orchestra
London Records 2 BSP 24

This album was the last in a series of "spy" albums made by Roland beginning with Themes from the James Bond Thrillers in 1964. That record was released to coincide with the American release of the film Goldfinger. This record led to More Themes from the James Bond Thriller and Themes for Secret Agents.

Side one gets off to a slow start, but the secret agent business soon picks up and by the end of side two I found it hard to choose a sample.

Sounds Unlimited - Marty Gold

Sounds Unlimited
Marty Gold And His Orchestra
RCA Victor LPM-2714

This album was yet another attempt to market RCA's "Dynagroove" technology.

The cover features a nice space age vibe which attracts collectors. But, as with New Thresholds In Sound by Sid Ramin (1963), this album fails to accomplish what I think RCA set out to do and that is to make "Dynagroove" seem new and cool.

For a 1963 release, when so many other labels, both large and small had been releasing exotica, bachelor pad, space age, light pop, percussion and other experimental forms of music, this record comes across as dated sounding. That's not to say that the music isn't pleasant listening... but RCA needed to do something way more dynamic if they intended to impress audiophiles.

Historically, "Dynagroove" was not well received. The engineering on this album is good, but not sparkling good.

The Sounds Of Adventure - Les Baxter

The Sounds Of Adventure
Les Baxter
Capitol Record Club Exclusive

This is a two record set, book-fold jacket design.

This nice Baxter collection holds together musically. The jacket notes explain that Baxter experimented with rock and roll, but you will not find any of those tunes here. This is a mood set.

Quiet Village
Paris Interlude
Lost In Meditation
Dawn On The City
A Distant Star
Our Kind Of Love
Moonlight Stroll
Love Is A Fabulous Thing
Autumn Leaves
Blue Mirage
The Enchanted Sea
Dancing Diamonds
Hong Kong Cable Car
Blue Tango
The Other Side Of The Moon
Tom Dooley
Blue Jungle
Bustin' The Bongos

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Caramba! - Richard Hayman

Richard Hayman And His Orchestra
Exotic Sounds Of The Americas
Mercury Records SR 60103

I have several Hayman albums, including his exotica LP titled Voodoo! (Mercury). You might also want to sample his album, Only Memories (Mercury) or a later album on The Command label, Cinemagic Sounds.

This album sports a sparkling and vibrant cover! The music, on the other hand is far from "exotic". The tracks are nice, but not up to par with many similar albums on the market at the time. Buy this one for the cover art.

Music For Hi-Fi Bugs - Pete Rugolo

For Hi-Fi Bugs
Music For Hi-Fi-Bugs
Conducted And Arranged By Pete Rugolo
Recorded from July 9 through July 11, 1956
EmArcy MG 36082


Pete Rugolo
David Klein
Ronald Langinger
Harry Klee
Gene Cipriano
Dave Pell
Chas. T. Gentry
Don Paladino
Maynard Ferguson
Walter P. Candoli
Ray S. Linn
Milton Bernhart
Frank Rosolino
Herbert Harper
George Roberts
John Cave
Vincent de Rosa
Clarence Karella
Shelley Manne
Lawrence Bunker
Jos. Mondragon
Howard Roberts
Russell Freeman
Marion Childers

From the back cover: In case there may be a few bugs for whom the hi-fi title was an attraction while the Rugolo name remained unfamiliar, let us recapitulate briefly a few facts that are, to most jazz fans, part of Chapter One in any course on modern jazz. Born in San Piero, Sicily in 1915, Pete came to the U.S. at the age of five, when his family settled in Santa Rosa, Cal. The product of a family that included two sisters and one father in music, Pete earned his MA at Mills College, where his teacher was Darius Milhaud. From the late 1930s he was pianist in various dance bands around San Francisco and Oakland; later, around 1940 - 41, he was sideman with Jimmie Grier and Johnny Richards.

It was during his Army service, which lasted from Nov. 1942 until late 1945, that Pete submitted a sample arrangement to Stan Kenton. After holding on to it for several months without looking at it, Stan belatedly observed signs of latent talent in the manuscript, made a transcription of the arrangement, and put Pete on staff as soon as his civilian life was resumed. From then until 1949, when he left Kenton and became free-lance writer (he has been living in Los Angeles since 1950) Pete Rugolo was a guiding force in the shaping of the Kenton band style during its peak era of popularity.

During his recent years as a Hollywood independent, Pete has assumed a variety of responsibilities – everything from vocal backgrounds to jazz sessions to movie soundtrack work has come his way, the film assignments including "Everything I Have Is Yours," "Easy To Love," "Latin Lovers," "Glory Alley" and "The Strip." With this variegated background, Pete was ideally equipped to live up to the instructions, or rather, the lack of them, when Bob Shad told him that on his first Em-Arcy album he could do anything he liked, with complete freedom as to choice of material, personnel and size of orchestra, and style of the interpretations.

Accordingly, the first side starts out with the title number, tailor-made by Pete for the occasion, designed to show all the highs, lows, and middles of the frequency range as well as to exhibit the finesse of the orchestra in both ensemble and solo capacities. Note the use of tympani by Larry Bunker in the introduction, the alto sax work by Ronny Long, the muted trumpet by Pete Condoli, the piano work of Russ Freeman.

One additional note from the back cover: An interesting aspect of the session for hi-fi bugs is the system of recording. Only one microphone was used – a counterrevolutionary procedure in these days of multiple mikes, tape tricks and recording gimmicks.

From Billboard - December 1, 1956: Pete Rugolo can always be counted on for a provocative listening experience – and he has planned an LP here that will be the talk of many strata of Jazzville. He has a big band composed of leading West Coast "modern" jazzmen and he puts them thru a number of highly original, and sometimes pungently dissonant, exercises. There is a variety of instrumentations and voicing that keeps the ear ever alert to the goings-on. Material consists of several originals and off-beat standards. Personnel include Shelley Manne, Maynard Ferguson, Dave Pell, Frank Rosolino, etc. Good listening for it's own sake – but an added kick because of its brilliant sound reproduction.

For Hi-Fi Bugs
Once In A While
Fawncy Meeting You
These Foolish Things
Later Team
Oscar And Pete's Blues
Dream Of You

101 Strings - The Soul Of Mexico

101 Strings
The Soul Of Mexico
Somerset P-17000

Here's a 101 Strings album that features an attractive colorful cover. Again, all of the songs found on this album can be downloaded online.

I don't believe this one is worth your buck a download price. It's nice, but there are a number of fine 101 albums out there, including one titled Que Mango! by Les Baxter that I would download first.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jackie Gleason Presents - The Torch With The Blue Flame


Jackie Gleason Presents
The Torch With The Blue Flame
Cover Photo: Peter Fink
Capitol Records W 961

Jackie Gleason Presents
The Torch With The Blue Flame
Cover Photo: Peter Fink
Capitol Records  E.M.I. Records Limited LCT 6161
Recording first published in 1958
(Glossy Cover)

From Billboard - March 17, 1958: Gleason spotlights a new romantic sound in his latest effort. Lawrence Brown's mellow and legato trombone stylings are given lush support from a large ork which inludes marimbas, harp, guitar and other rich orchestral sounds. The selections provide a relaxed, listenable mood. The standards include "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face," "My Heart Reminds Me" and "Fascination." This should easily go as well as his previous hits.

Let's Face The Music And Dance
Dream A Little Dream
Just In Time
But Beautiful
Hey There
Love Letters
My Heart Reminds Me
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
My Silent Love
I Don't Want To Cry Anymore
Alone In The Crowd

Felix Slatkin - Fantastic Percussion

Caravan (LRP 3150)
Caravan (LST 7150)
Fantastic Percussion
Felix Slatkin
Producer: Si Waronker
Engineer: Bill Putnam
Photography: Garrett-Howard, Inc.
Cover Design: Pate/Francis & Associates
Liberty Records LRP 3150 & LST 7150

From the back cover: Conductor Felix Slatkin makes an auspicious debut into the field of popular music with this excellent display of the drummer's art. He is no stranger to percussions, however, having recorded two pervious classical albums in that vein.

His history and background are mainly classical – and to such a degree of mastery that he won two "Grammy" awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1958. One was for the best orchestral classic recording, won by Mr. Slatkin and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra which he conducts. The other was for the best chamber music recording, awarded to him for his Hollywood String Quartet.

This album is the fulfillment of a long awaited desire of Mr. Slatkin. "When I first wanted to do an alum like this," he says, "the limits of technical achievement in the recording field made it impractical. But because of the recent advances in electronic engineering, we can now reproduce the true sound of these various instruments, heretofore very difficult to record and, only a few years ago, impossible to record. Now, in either hi-fi or stereo, the total sound and the individual instrument sounds are present in a clarity and balance that must satisfy even the most discriminating perfectionist."

The following types of percussion instruments are heard in these arrangements:

Drums – snare, tenor, bass, tympani, concert bass, bongo, conga, tom-tom. Accessories – cymbals, rhythm log, glass bells, woodblocks, gong, tymbalis, claves, triangle, gourd, tambourine, orchestra chimes. Instruments – glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone. Exotic – Kenya hand drums, Chinese dinner gong, bamboo wind chimes, Sarna bells, boo-bass, Balinese ceremonial bells, finger cymbals, crotales, loo jon drums, Indian ankle bells, Korean temple blocks, Indian rattles.

From Billboard - January 18, 1960: The accent on these inventively arranged standards is on percussion and Slatkin serves a listenable and attractive adventure in sound and listening. The set has been well recorded to take full advantage of the exciting orchestra. Sound addicts will enjoy for the range in sound, and pop fans will also find the music to their liking. Numbers include "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "Autumn In New York" and "Opus No. 1."

I Get A Kick Out Of You
A String Of Pearls
The Happy Hobo
I Love Paris
Autumn In New York
Blues In The Night
April In Paris
On A Slow Boat To China
Opus #1
Blue Tango
Night Train