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.