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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Lover's Portfolio Vol. 1 - Jackie Gleason

Some Day I'll Find You / I Can't Get Started
Lover's Portfolio Vol. 1
Music For Sippin' / Music For Dancin'
Jackie Gleason
Produced by Dick Jones
Capitol Records W 1979

From the back cover: During these past few years, all of my albums have been designed to create a special mood. And not infrequently, a thoroughly contented individual assures me that my music has provided the background inspiration for a romantic interlude. This always gives me a decided, if somewhat vicarious thrill. For to me, one of life's more satisfying roles is that of Dan Cupid.

But this album goes a bit further than my previous efforts. Here we have assembled, in chronological steps, the musical ingredients for a complete and memorable evening of romance, varying the moods and styles to suit each particular portion of the evening. It is music designed to stimulate your imagination and your creative instincts. For after all, inspired improvisation is the real key to delightful romance.

Here, then, is my "Lover's Portfolio." – Jackie Gleason

I'm not sure what to make of this Gleason set. I'm fond of the many projects he generated for Capitol,  however, on this set he divides the concept between side one which plays through as light mood small combo piano lounge and side two which is arranged to sound like a champagne dance orchestra. The two approaches, to my ear, are not complimentary in any way.
Music For Sippin'

Side One

The Cocktail Hour

As the evening begins, the ice must be broken, literally and figuratively. This is get-acquainted time, when subtle compliments are exchanged. Candlelight, a properly mixed cocktail, perhaps an early dinner... and in the background, the smooth stylings of piano, with bass and drums, provide an intimate atmosphere that's just right.

Medley: Some Day I'll Find You / I Can't Get Started
Remember It Well
I See Your Face
Before Me
Allez Vous En / Lovely To Look At
The Touch Of Your Hand / What Is There
To Say
I'll Follow My Secret Heart / If I Didn't Care / Some Day I'll Find You

Music For Dancin'

Side Two

Late Evening

What's an evening without dancing? After all, it really takes two to capture the feeling of romance. This exhilaration, this quickening of the pulse, turns the conversation to the universal subject: Love. At the moment it is light and frivolous, but there is an undertone of more serious feeling. Lush ballads played in dreamy dance tempos serve to heighten the atmosphere.

Medley: I Could Have Dance Al Night / Love Is Here To Stay / C'est Magnifique / Mad About The Boy
It's All Right With Me / Just In Time / How High The Moon / East To Love
I Concentrate On You / All Of You / Our Love
One The Street Where You Live / I Love Paris / Come Rain Or Come Shine / It All Depends On You
So In Love / A Foggy Day / By Myself / The Party's Over

Friday, May 3, 2019

Holiday For Strings - Living Strings

Holiday For Strings
Played By Living Strings
Arranged and Conducted by Johnny Douglas
A&R Coordinator: Ethel Gabriel
Recorded in England
RCA Camden CAS-760

From the back cover: In effect, this album is a salute to David Rose and Leroy Anderson, two composers, arrangers and conductors who have influenced a whole style of popular music. Both are big-band specialists, writing lovely, sweeping mood melodies or intriguing novelties that make full use of massed strings, whole brass choirs – instrumentation in the largest sense.

This is music which precisely and beautifully fits the style of the famed Living Strings – and consequently the Strings have never been better than in the thrilling performances in theses grooves. Eight of the album's ten songs are Rose or Anderson originals.

The opener and our title song, Holiday For Strings by David Rose and Sam Gallop, was an instant hit in 1943. In many ways, it inaugurated a whole era and influenced a generation of arrangers and conductors.

Three other Rose originals, reflecting changing musical moods, are excitingly explored by the Living Strings. In Dance Of The Spanish Onion the familiar "lush" middle theme has been lengthened in this album, brightening the effect of this lovely music. The Strings then turn lush and romantic for the tender Our Waltz, written in 1943 by Rose with Nat Burton, and the lovely One Love, a 1946 composition with words by Leo Robin.

Among the four Leroy Anderson originals in Blue Tango, here given a gentle swing treatment. Popular music fans will remember the song as a big single-record hit as performed by Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra in the early Fifties. It was written in 1952 with a Mitchel Parish (Stardust) lyric.

The Anderson-Parish Fiddle Faddle is arranged with a lush string sound replacing the familiar pizzicato middle section.

Serenata, written by Anderson in 1949 with a lyric by Mitchell Parish is intriguingly arranged here as a Bossa Nova. Sleigh Ride, another Anderson-Parish collaboration (1950) is vigorously updated in Twist rhythm.

Movie fans will recognize one of our selections as a two-way hit. When You Wish Upon A Star, a 1940 hit written by Ned Washington and Leigh Harline, was later the highly popular theme of Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," for which it received an Academy Award.

Holiday For Strings
Our Love
When You Wish Upon A Star
Dance Of The Spanish Onion
Our Waltz
Fiddle Fiddle
Blue Prelude
Sleigh Ride
Blue Tango

Thursday, May 2, 2019

For The First Time - Brenda and Pete

Mood Indigo
For The First Time
Brenda and Pete
Vocals with Clarinet and Orchestra
Directed by Charles Bud Dant
Produced by Owen Bradley and Charles Bud Dant
Cover and Liner Photos: Hal Buksbaum
Decca Records
A Division of MCA Inc.
DL 74955

From the back cover: The time was the spring of 1960, The place was historic New Orleans. The occasion was the opening of a brand new night club – The French Quarter Inn.

It was a memorable evening, particularly for Pete Fountain. This marked the opening of his own club, and a multitude of his friends and fans gathered to pay their respects and wish him sell. Seated in the audience was Brenda Lee, who had a night off during an extensive one-nighter tour and, being a fan of Pete's had decided to join the well-wishers on this night.

Brenda was introduced to the audience by Pete, and the sustained applause that resulted led to some unrehearsed, on-the-spot singing by her with Pete and his band. Thus began a mutual admiration society, and the friendship and respect each has for the other have grown over the years since their first impromptu duetting in New Orleans – years that have brought great and lasting success individually to these two talented artists. (For the record, Brenda and Pete had never met met personally before that night, and it is doubtful that either of them – or anyone else in attendance – imagined that not too many years later they would join forces in this exciting and unique album.)

From Billboard - March 28, 1968: Brenda Lee and Pete Fountain apparently were made for each other. In this "first time" paring, Miss Lee's singing and Fountain's clarineting complement each other splendidly. The rhythm numbers have an easygoing catchy flow while the blues ballads get a dramatic musical punch. "Cabaret" and "Basin Street Blues" are excellent samples of their wide range.

There's A Kind Of Hush
Basin Street Blues
Night And Day
One Of Those Songs
Mood Indigo
Can't Take My Eyes Off You
The 59th Street Bridge Song
Anything Goes
I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues

The Soul Of Spain Vol. 3 - Monty Kelly

Danaz Ritual Del Fuego
The Soul Of Spain
Volume 3
Arranged and Conducted by Monty Kelly
Photography by Tommy Mitchell - Hollywood, California
An Alshire Production
Recorded in London - 1970
Under the supervision of Jack Dorsey
A Sequel To The 101 Strings Multi-Million Seller - Soul Of Spain, Vol. 1
Alshire S-5225

Well executed Classical Folk/Pop/Lush Stings Mood package. Book-fold jacket.

Medley: La Boda De Luis Alonzo, El Baile, La Boda, Zapateado
Danaz Ritual Del Fuego
Ante El Escorial
Las Gaditanas
Fiesta Flamenca

On The Sunny Side Of The Street - Lush Orchestra

On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Lush Orchestra
Custom Records CM 2034

On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Boogie Woogie
Hawaiian War Chant
Somebody's Knockin' At My Door
Every time I Feel The Spirit
Green Eyes
I'll Never Smile Again
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Wade N' The Water

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Reflections In Blue - Brenda Lee

If I Had You

Reflections In Blue
Brenda Lee
Vocals with Orchestra
Directed by Bud Dant
Produced by Owen Bradley and Charles Bud Dant
Cover Photo: Hal Buksbaum
Decca Records DL 74941 (stereo & mono covers)

From the back cover: For over fifteen years, Brenda Lee has been a professional entertainer. For eleven of those years, she has been a recording artist for Decca Records. These facts might normally be considered as trivial, were it not for her youthful twenty-three years of age. During her career on records, Brenda has amassed more than a score of best-selling singles and albums, three of which garnered gold records for her because of sales of more than one million copies, each.

She has appeared in concert halls, and night clubs all over America, including New York's famed Copacabana, Blinstrub's in Boston, Hollywood's renowned Cocoanut Grove, the Fairmount Hotel in Miami Beach, the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, the Jersey, just to name some of the best-known entertainment meccas. She has also appeared in Europe, Australia, the Far East and in Latin America. Many of these clubs have been the scene of repeated triumphs for Brenda, after her initial appearance in them established her as a star of great magnitude.

Like vintage wine, Brenda Lee has matured and mellowed with age, if such a cliche' can be accorded this young and talented performer. But the fact of the matter is that she has matured and mellowed, as this album will plainly attest. Here is a side of Brenda that many of her record fans may not be familiar with – poignant, plaintive, provocative – songs that have become memorable standards in popular music, accompanied by full and effective orchestration, including a string section featuring sixteen violins.

From Billboard - October 28, 1967: Brenda Lee's blues ballad mood is a highly attractive one. She sets up a gripping mood with a belting style that gets right to the heart of the matter. "Am I Blue," "Little Girl Blue," and the more current "I Will Wait For You" are some of the tunes that will help draw lots of spins and sales her way.

Here's That Rainy Day
You'll Never Know
Baby, Won't You Please Come Home
I'll Only Miss Him When I Think Of Him
Am I Blue
If I Had You
Little Girl Blue
I Will Wait For You

Conniff Meets Butterfield

All The Things You Are
Conniff Meets Butterfield
Columbia CL 1346

From the back cover: The initials B. B. What do they mean to you?

If, quick-as-a-wink, you say Billy Butterfield, and you're classified as masculine in gender, even our man Billy might suggest that you must either be obsequious or kidding.

Let's face it: Our Billy isn't in the same league with BB, the fabled Bardot of French cinema. (He's older, that's why.) And he's not in the same financial bracket with that "other" BB, Barney Baruch. (Hates those drafty old park benches.)

But if you are at all at ease in the jazz combos, the initials should quickly translate themselves subliminally and sublimely into the name of Billy Butterfield, the Brobdingnagian-toned trumpeter from Middletown, Ohio. And this album, in which Billy teams with arranger Ray Conniff, presents a full-sized demonstration of their brilliant musical talents.

Because Ray Conniff is a renowned musical innovator who specializes in crisp, fresh and intelligent sounds, and Billy Butterfield never sounded better, the pairing has produced an album that is, musically speaking, as easy and pleasing an alliance as similar musical ententes by Messrs. Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe.

Actually, Connie met Butterfield long before this recording session in New York City. These cats go back to the famous Bobcats of Bob Crosby, a little more than 20 years ago.

Born in Attleboro, Mass., Ray was taught to play trombone by his dad, who also taught him the rudiments of arranging, aided by a mail-order course. In 1936, after two years' gigging in and around Boston, Ray was added to the legendary Bunny Berigan band. And if you've seen reading Hear Me Talkin' To Ya by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, you know that group was like, musically and socially. How times have changed, Anyhow, it wasn't until Ray joined the Artie Shaw band that he came into his own as an arranger, turning out such precious baubles as 'S Wonderful, and Prelude in C-Sharp Minor. You still hear these numbers today. During his four-year hitch with Shaw, Ray could find time to study arranging at the Juilliard School of Music and fill in with radio shows. He joined the Harry James crew as an arranger – no trombone _ after World War II service.

Apart from his aptitude for sizzling big band arrangements, Ray also has a gift for orchestrating and conducting pop tunes for such performers as Johnnie Ray, Don Cherry, Guy Mitchell and Rosemary Clooney. Singin' The Blues, with Guy Mitchell, was a Conniff soundtrack that made a noise a few seasons back. (Ray also has recorded as a singer. And not bad, at that.)

Billy Butterfield's career is intertwined with that of Conniff's. He was A growing lad of about 20 when he came into prominence as Bob Crosby's "new" horn. His fame spread still father when he and bass player Bobby Haggart wrote What's New. Like Ray, Billy also was a mighty cog in Artie Shaw's music machine and doubled as a member of the famous Gramercy Five. He followed this with a chair in Benny Goodman's band and, after serving in the armed forces, became one of the most sought-after sidemen in the land. This happy circumstance enabled Billy to pick and choose his own spots, and he preferred to play for the radio bands in New York. After being prevailed upon once again to travel – this time with his own band – Billy came back to New York and settled down to being one of jazzdom's most renowned horsemen, thank to that wide-open tone, a no-nonesense sound that is undiluted by watery voices that have trickled into the trumpet bells of some less gifted musicians. – Notes by Fred Danzig

Beyond The Blue Horizon
You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
All The Things You Are
Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'
Time On My Hands
Something To Remember You By
What A Diff'rence A Day Made
South Of The Border
Can't We Be Friends
A Love Is Born
I Found A Million Dollar Baby

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Nat King Cole Sings - George Shearing Plays

Nat King Cole Sings
George Shearing Plays
With The Quintet and String Choir
Arrangements by George Shearing and Ralph Carmichael
Produced by Lee Gillette and Tom Morgan
Cover Photo: Capitol Photo Studio - Ken Veeder
Capitol Records W 1675

Available from online vendors so I will not be posting a sample. Presented here to share the cover art and jacket notes.

From the back cover: Both Nat King Cole and George Shearing have enriched the world with marvelous music-making for a considerable while, without ever pairing up professionally. Here they extend a friendly acquaintance of long standing into some never-to-be-forgotten musical teamwork.

In two relaxed and easy pre-recording sessions, Nat and George ran through each memorable number together. Nat contributed ideas, while George worked out the arrangements, investing each with the fabulous Shearing touch. These were then orchestrated by the album's gifted conductor Ralph Carmichael.

The scores were designed lilting backgrounds for Nat's warm, romantic style, sparked by swingingly creative punctuations by George and the Quintet. Nat sings, as he has always sung, with a deeply masculine gentleness that is intimately expressive of the language of love. Backed by the Quintet and string choir, he gives rich meaning to such haunting ballads as A Beautiful Friendship, September Song, Azure-Te, and exciting new arrangements of two songs that Nat made famous in earlier version; I'm Lost and Lost April.

As might be expected when two jazz-rooted stars get together for the first time, there's an undercurrent of gently-swinging mood throughout – even in the slower tempos. Yet it all occurs within a tasteful context of romance – a musical style at which both artists have long since been proven masters.

From Billboard - March 17, 1962: This pairing seems almost a natural for heavy action, radio and store-wise alike. Cole warbles in his usual polished, professional manner against Shearing's fine, often gospel-styled piano here, all of it augmented neatly by a choir of strings, "September Song," "A Beautiful Friendship" (once recorded by Ella Fitzgerald) and "I Got It Bad" are among the tracks of Cole and another six by Shearing, from earlier albums by each, which should assure success.

September Song
Pick Yourself Up
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
Let Her Be Love
Lost April
A Beautiful Friendship
In Other Words
I'm Lost
There's A Lull In My Life
Don't Go