Lennie Hayton- Jamaica

So I got this because I saw Jamaica in big letters followed by this white guy so I thought this would be a funny album to listen to.  As it is my habit to not read the back covers of the albums I buy, I did not know that this was an interpretation of the Broadway musical, Jamaica.  So that is two musical albums in two days, despite the fact that I swore off musical albums after October.  Oh well.  This was one Yankee dollar.

Jamaica was a Broadway musical, written by EY Harburg, Fred Saidy, and Harold Allen, the team behind Finian’s Rainbow. It tells the story of an tropical island overrun by consumerism, set to Calypso music, which was quite popular at the time.  It was supposed to star Calypso’s greatest star at the time, Harry Belafonte, but Belafonte grew ill at the time of production.  The emphasis was then shifted to Lena Horne.  Also staring Ossie Davis and Ricardo Montalban, the show opened on Broadway in 1957 and ran for 558 performances, which was quite impressive at the time.  It was nominated for a good amount of Tony’s but had the unfortunate distinction of coming out the same year as Music Man and West Side Story.

Lennie Hayton, was an American conductor and composer, born in New York City in 1908.  Wikipedia points out that he was known was wearing a captains hat.  His work included stints for Bing Crosby as well as the musical director for MGM. Hayton would arrange the music for Singin’ in The Rain as well as win an Oscar for his work on On The Town.

Incidentally, Hayton served as Lena Horne’s musical director at MGM and the pair got married in 1947.  While Horne admitted that she got married to advance her career and cross the color line in Hollywood, the pair separated for most of the 60’s.  Hayton died in 1971 from heart disease brought on by heavy drinking and smoking. He was 63.

So here is this album from Roulette Records in 1958.  Pretty decent stuff.  Tried to digest the story of the musical but I don’t think it matters much. Yep, vacation laziness strikes again.

For a sample, I went with “Ain’t It The Truth” as well as “Hooray for the Yankee Dollar.”

Eh.  Decent enough to garnish a satisfactory rating.

Stan Kenton- Hair

You though I was sick of posting Broadway albums after October, right?  Well think again.  Here is this, which I purchased for $1.20.  I think it the time, I was amassing various cover versions of Hair and this one popped up. Still on vacation at the time of you reading this so lets hope it went OK.

Stan Kenton has been on this site before.  Twice I believe.  One good record.  One not so good record.  Well here is this released in 1969, a year after the musical had become a sensation.  Pretty good stuff which by the way is my standard response when I do not want to put much effort into this.  Half the songs have vocals or at least a chorus.  The others do not. Musically, this is a pretty entertaining.  Could have really gone either way as when classical. old school band leaders interpret modern music, the results can be mixed.  Fortunately for Kenton, this record does well.  Key musicians include Bud Shank, Gene Cipriano, Jack Sheldon, Bill Hood, and Gil Falco.

For a sample, I thought “Colored Spade” was really funky.  So here it is.

Satisfactory record.

Robert Goulet- On Broadway Vol 2

I know.  I know.  I said I was burned out on Broadway.  Well this is still true.  Yet I decided to slip this one in here that I picked up for $3.  Either you love him or you loathe him (Will Ferrell) but regardless, the man had talent.  Well I guess that statement really depends if you are on the love or loathe side.

Myself, I am on the love side.  The Canadian who burst onto the US scene in Camelot, has a smooth voice as well as delivery. He was also one Oscar short of completing the ever coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). But what ultimate tribute can one have than to have the American Mustache Institute name a trophy in memorial after you, The Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year, given to the person who best represents or contributes to the mustached community for the year.  Notice I said person and was not gender specific.

This record, came out in 1967.  As the title would suggest, this is his second album of various Broadway tunes.  Some pretty good numbers on here.  Works include such productions as Cabaret, Man of La Mancha, Mame, Brigadoon, and I Do, I Do.

For a sample, I went with one that is one of my favorites that I spoke of last month but did not post, from Man of La Mancha, “The Impossible Dream”.

Would of preferred more songs that I knew or really liked but good enough record for me, satisfactory.

Original Cast Recording- Annie Get Your Gun

And with this, we are done with our month long salute to Broadway. Overall, it went OK although I must say, I was unable to post what is my favorite musical Guys and Dolls.  Also painfully omitted is The Music Man which I already posted some time back  Other than that, here is this which has been all over this blog this month.  Well, saving the best for last with this original cast recording.

This has been the end of my month long salute to that old Broad, Broadway.  Despite really being sick of musical records this month, I learned something interesting about the evolution of musicals while doing this post.  You had the early 20th century musical theater in which you had either follies or songs that are separate and really highlight the performer rather than the story.  That is why I can name about a dozen Rodgers and Hart songs but none of their musicals (with the exception of Pal Joey but that is more because of the movie with Frank Sinatra).  Then you have the Golden Age of 1940-1964 with the book musical I have been mostly highlighting.  During this time as well as the last era, the songs were American popular music.  But the story’s and the musicals themselves were just as important.  Then finally in 1964, we saw yet another shift.  Rock and roll and other forms had pushed Broadway music out of the pop charts.  However, the works themselves had become bigger than ever.  This is still evident today as you can look at Les Miserables, Phantom of The Opera, Chicago, and so on, but would be pressed to name a song from any, despite the music is just as good as it ever was.  In short, it would seem the music and the overall work over the last century were on two different trajectories which existed together during that middle golden age. At least that is how I see it.

The original production which opened in 1946, ran 1,147 performances.  For more information, check out the video below as I am exhausted on the subject of Annie and musicals in general. I must again say, I got a lot of mileage out of these videos and found them quite enjoyable.

For a sample, I went with what is perhaps one of the greatest duets ever to grace the stage, not to mention one that I threw up several times this month, “Anything You Can Do”.

Satisfactory.  Another month done. No more Broadway for awhile.

Orignal Soundtrack Recording- Cabaret

I can almost taste freedom from what has been Donkey Show’s month long tribute to Broadway.  This record , the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, was in the collection of records I got from the estate of Big Al Pallister.

Cabaret was a revolutionary production when it hit Broadway in 1966.  With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff, the production, based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel, Goodbye to Berlin, chronicled the rise of Nazi Germany against the backdrop of the Kit Kat Klub as well as two romantic story lines.  The story combined the club’s revue along with its society in a interweaving narrative, lead by the Master of Ceremonies, originated on Broadway by one Joel Grey.

Based on its success, the musical was adapted into a movie in 1972.  Grey remained in his role, but the parts of Sally Bowles and Brian Roberts were played by Liza Minnelli and Michael York (switching the nationalities of the actors from the musical).  A good chunk of songs from the stage were discarded and new songs, again written by Kander and Ebb were provided.

The movie made a superstar out of Minnelli for sure.  It also won 8 Oscars.  Director Bob Fosse pulled off the rare feat that year of winning the Triple Corwn of directing (an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony in that category). The following video has a lot of good information regarding the career of Fosse.

For a sample, I went with one of the new songs composed for the film, “Mein Herr”.

Nice little album.  Satisfactory. I realize I should probably state more about both the musical and the movie but I am really burned out at this point.

 

Bravo Pops Symphony Orchestra- Gigi/ My Fair Lady

Only three more posts for this Broadway salute.  This record was only a dollar.  It contains two works of the Broadway team of Lerner and Lowe, the film the dup composed Gigi, and perhaps their most famous work, My Fair Lady.  For the purposes of this post, we are going to pretend the Gigi side does not exist, despite the fact that the duo would covert the movie into a Broadway musical in 1973.

I posted the Original Cast Recording for My Fair Lady a couple months back and had a pretty lengthy write up so I am not going to rehash many of the specifics here other than the fact that it ran for 2,717 shows, which at the time (1956-1962) was the longest Broadway production.

On the last post,  I noted that I am not a huge fan of this piece.  That has not changed.  Still do not find it believable.  I mean Professor Henry Higgins clearly prefers the company of men.  

This album is credited to the Bravo Pops Symphony Orchestra under the direction of John Senati.  Senati, the orchestra and Bravo records did a series of musical albums in the late 50’s/ early 60’s.  Broadway musical albums that is.  I get that all music is musical.

But despite my feelings about this work, “The Street Where You Live” is still one of my favorite songs.  Here it is as a sample. 

Meh.  Could have used some vocals. Also, maybe at this point, I am just sick of listening to musicals.

Original Cast Recording- Little Mary Sunshine

All most done this month.  So close.  Keep focused.  Let’s get this done.  This record was $3.20.  Not sure why I bought it other than I wanted to check out a musical I was not familiar with.  Maybe the Mounties in the gatefold influenced me as well.

Little Mary Sunshine, with book, music, and lyrics by Rick Besoyan (1924-1970), was a throw back to the old timey operettas of earlier times.  Besoyan, himself, cut his teeth in performances of Gilbert and Sullivan.  The production itself, which opened in 1959, was an off-Broadway affair and is perhaps among one of the most successful, running for 1,143 shows. A West End production followed in 1962.  Today, this piece remains popular by small time/ amatuer groups.

The original production was directed and choreographed by Ray Harrison.  Eileen Brennan stared in the title role with William Graham as Captain Warington and John McMartin as Corporal Jester.  The stage production consisted of two pianos but an orchestra was added to this cast recording.

Set in the Colorado Rockies, the play involves Native Americans and Little Mary Sunshine in a land dispute with the Gubermint led by the Mounties (the play calls them Forrest Rangers which is more American but come on man, look at them.  they are clearly  Mounties). Trouble, conflict, hilarity, and love then ensue. 

The musical numbers hark back to those earlier romantic operettas and are very tongue in cheek as I am told.  Besoyan was highly influenced by the duets of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald as well as lyrical waltzes, and counterpoint medleys. All of which are here on this album, recorded and released in 1960.

For a sample, I went with what Wikipedia seemed to highlight, “Playing Croquet” which unfortunately has become annoying stuck in my head. So listen at your own risk.  I also like “Mata Hari” as well.

Descent album.  Satisfactory.

Original Cast Recording- George M.

At last  My last week of riding this train wreck of a month I devoted to Broadway.  Not a bad idea to start but I am quite sick at this moment of listening to showtunes.  Also, not to bright of me to leave the works I am less familiar with to the end.  Oh well, lets burn thru these.  Here is this that I bought for $4, probably to dedicate some space to the subject matter.

 

And what better way to celebrate a month of Broadway than to pay tribute to its very own bard, George M. Cohan.  An Irish American born to vaudevillian parents in 1878, Cohan went on to write and perform in more than three dozen musicals, beginning with Little Johnny Jones in 1904.  An early pioneer in the book musical which most of these posts have been celebrating this month, Cohan wrote over 300 songs including “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “You’re A Grand Old Flag”, “Over There”, “45 Minutes to Broadway’, and “Mary Is A Grand Old Name”.

Perhaps, Cohan is best known today (or last century) by his portrayal by James Cagney in the bio movie Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Cagney, who was a former vaudevillian and dancer, was a good fit for the role, although Cohan, an advisor to the film, preferred Fred Astaire.  Nevermind that the film was a good old dose of Hollywood bullshit of things that did not happen as true as they are presented.  It remains one of my favorites. Cohan himself, who was in ill health, would pass shortly after its release in 1942.  As tribute, he has a statue in Broadway.

This production, based on Cohan’s life, opened on Broadway in 1968 and ran for 433 performances.  Driven by actor Joel Grey, who was coming off the success of Cabaret, the music, of course was Cohan’s with the book by Michael Stewart, John Pascal, and his wife Francine. The cast also featured Bernadette Peters.

Reviews were mixed.  The book was called a mess but the directing work of Joe Layton as well as the performance of Joel Grey were generally praised.  Layton won a Tony for choregraphy for his efforts with this and a television adaptation was produced in 1970. Grey was nominated for a Tony but alas did not win.  Did you know Joel Grey is the father of Dirty Dancing‘s Jennifer Grey?  This is the fun fact I learned with this post.

Could have gone in many directions with this, but ultimatley decided to go with the Epilogue number, which is a medley of some of Cohan’s songs along with an audio of his famous signoff, “My Father Thanks You, My Mother Thanks You…..Etc”.

Not a bad little album.  Satisfactory.

Original Cast Recording- Gypsy

Yay.  It is Saturday and one more week of the Broadway theme I have driven into the ground.  This was $4.  It has been described by critics as the perfect mid 20th century American book musical.  Quite a bold statement.

This production, based on the memoirs of old timey stripper Gypsy Rose Lee was a project of producer David Merrick and actress Ethel Merman.  With direction and choreography from Jerome Robbins, a book by Arthur Larents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show opened in May of 1959 and ran 702 performances.  It also starred Merman, Jack Klugman, and Sandra Church.

Known as musical theater’s King Lear, the production is as much a testament to the lead character, Rose, the demanding stage mother who is either a saint or a monster, depending on what critical analysis you buy into. Regardless, the songs have become popular standards.  Various revivals have gone on over time.  The film version which was posted earlier this month also was released in 1962.

This album itself, won a Grammy. Here from that effort is the catharsis moment for the ultimate stage mother in “Rose’s Turn”.

Satisfactory.

Original Cast Recording- Fiddler On The Roof

This Broadway gem was $4. This is the second appearance of this production this month.  If you want to learn more about its legacy, I would suggest doubling back to that post, watching the video below, or just going straight to Google for your queries.

 

As the video so neatly states, Fiddler came out at a precarious time for musicals (1964).  With the arrival of the Beatles, rock and roll became the dominate force in popular American music.  Before this, pop music was musical theater.  It was a tectonic shift of sorts but as a result, musical theater would re-invent itself in the second half of the sixties as well as later decades. Anyway, despite this trend, the songs from Fiddler were a smash hit (along with the musical itself) and remain so to this day, a testament to their place in Broadway history.

Zero Mostel originated the role of Tevye on the stage.  However, during rehearsals, Mostel feuded with director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, due to Robbins testimony in front of the House on Un-American Activities Committee.  The original production also featured Maria Kanilova as Tevye’s wife Goldie as well as Bea Arthur as the matchmaker.

The show, which opened Sept of 1964,  was a massive success with a run of 3,242 shows, the first Broadway production to run over 3,000.  For awhile, it became the longest running show on Broadway. Today it ranks #16 of all time.  The production also won 9 Tony’s including Best Musical.  Numerous revivals and productions have been staged around the world as well.

For a sample, I went with what is probably my favorite song from the production and one that due to being an ensemble piece, does not make it on many of the Fiddler records I find.  That would be “Tevye’s Dream” whereas to convince his wife let their daughter marry the tailor, Tevye concocts a dream whereas their dead relatives come back from the dead to warn of ill consequences should their daughter marry the butcher.  Pretty macabre stuff.  Again,  there were a lot of great moments on this record but I fear a may not get another chance to post this song again.

Satisfactory record.