Werner Muller and his Orchestra- Germany

This was $2 and purchased with the slew of other German records in accordance with the upcoming Oktoberfest celebrations.  Well maybe not so upcoming now, but at the time of writing and purchasing, yes.

This is a very interesting album brought to you by those fine folks at London Records.  Mixed in recorded in phase 4 stereo, this album is a smorgasbord (yes I know this is a Swedish term) of German music.  from Wagner to Weill, from marches and polkas to schlager and night club ballads, this record has a piece of everything.  The exact kind of thing this blog encourages.  Conducted by Berlin born, Werner Muller (1920-1998), this was released in 1965.

Muller’s Space Age Pop page

For a sample, I was drawn to Wagner’s “Ride of The Valkyries”, partly due to the fact that I mentioned it in an earlier post this week, but mainly in tribute to Bugs Bunny as well as that beacon of tolerance, Elmer Fudd.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Bert Kaempfert- The Best of Bert Kaempfert

This double record set was $5.  I bought this some time ago , maybe even two Labor Days ago so I might have got 20% off .  So here I am, writing posts for September  at the same time as I am recording songs for  October, all the while it is in reality August and I am awaiting Harvey which by the time you have read this, will have already passed.  Perhaps I should add these current events to more timely posts.  Well, this is in retrospect, I guess.  The benefits to me of being ahead of posts as opposed to writing these day to day outweigh keeping these timely.

So with Oktoberfest currently going on and after a few days of more conventional German music, here is a regular fixture to this blog, Bert Kaempfert with a greatest hits compilation.  Not much to say about this.  Two albums of some of his more popular compositions as well as arrangements.  Not only it is impressive just how many great songs Kaempfert had a hand in composing.  The cover songs  on this show just how gifted an arranger he was.

For samples, I went with” The World We Knew (Over and Over)”.  Why not Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” as I always seem to post this one?  Well, I already posted it last month.

Satisfactory

Baptista Siqueira- Nordeste/ Jandaia

This was $2 with discount.  I got it for some flavor of Northern Brazil which musicaly is quite different from the parts I have been to.  Why two foreign classical records in the same month you may ask? I am not sure myself.

The Northeast Region of Brazil, affectionately known as Nordeste was the first to be discovered and inhabited by Portuguese colonists.  Known for its hot weather and rich culture and folklore, it also has some of the prettiest natural sights as well as some of the hottest weather in the country.  The region makes up 18% of the coutnry, 28 % of the population and 13% of the GDP.

The composer of these pieces, Baptista Siqueira (1906-1992), was a musicologist and composer that source lists from Paraiba in Nordesste  His father, who had the same name, was a conductor as well. He studied music in Rio de Janerio, wrote books on music, and composed at least three operas, three symphonies, three symphonic poems (which I believe this is one), and a ballet among other works. according to one badly translated source, it is generally noted that the son had a better  life than the father. He also had a brother who was a composer and musicologist.

A link where I got information about this and Siqueira

This is a collection I am guessing of two pieces.  The first piece “Nordeste”, a symphony for the solo piano,in three movements, which I am guessing is a musical tribute to the fore mentioned region and is probably technically more of a concerto.  The second side features a symphonic poem, “Jandaia”, which is a municipality on the state of Golas which is in the center west region of the country. The piano, at least on the first side, is provided by Murillo Santos.  Henrique Morellenbaum acts as the regent.  I am not sure what the role of the regent is but as I am too lazy to take this up any further, I am leaving it at that.  The Orquestra Sinfonica Do Rio de Janerio provides the rest of the instrumentation. Other than this is a Brazilian record from Rio, I am unsure of anything else about it.

Truth be told, I was really taken by both compositions so I included the introduction and first movement of “Nordeste” as well as “Jandaia”.  Both seem to paint a rather lush picture of climate, topography, and geography which I would imagine the region to contain, whether accurate or not.

Anyway, decent little pickup.  Satisfactory.

Buddy Morrow and his Orchestra- Night Train

This gem was $1.50.  Maybe something about the cover caught my eye, or maybe it was the version of “Night Train” which despite never being able to find a version that even comes close to James Brown’s, does not discourage me from trying.  This record once belonged to one Jimmy Blarbsher, I believe.

Buddy Morrow was a tromboner whom New Haven, Conn.  Born in 1919, he gained fame with big bands led by Eddie Duchin, Artie Shaw, and Tommy Dorsey among others before leading his own band.  He also was in the Tonight Show Orchestra, although for Jack Paar or Johnny Carson, I am unsure (98% sure it was Carson but too lazy to confirm).  Known for his skill in the upper range, Morrow died in 2010.

Morrow’s Spage Age Pop Page

 

“Night Train” was Morrow’s first hit as a band leader and is probably the most third most famous performer of this song after Brown and the original performer, Jimmy Forrest.  Morrow’s blended big-band/R&B version, released in 1952, went to #27 on the charts.  This record, released on Mercury Records in 1959, seems to capitalize on the success of this single. It has a pretty good collection of songs which seem to continue to wander slightly into R&B territory without leaving the big band sound.

For a sample, I went with “One Mint Julep”.

I am in a decent mood this week so satisfactory record although it was slow at times for my tastes.

 

Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra- Saturday Night Fiedler

This record, normally $6, was bought during Half Price Book’s Memorial Day Sale so with discount, it came out to $4.80.  Call it inflation, but I have realized an increase in second hand records over the last year.  So I am in the ethical quandary of either raising my spending limit to $6 or lying about the prices of records.  Anyway, I got this on the suggestion of sorts from my friend Scott.

Yes, my friend Scott told me about this record as this as well as the Ethel Merman disco album (posted on this blog in 2014 I believe), were in his father’s record collection.  So when I found a copy, I took it up to legendary Houston spot Dan Electro’s, (where Scott is also a co-owner) and we gave the record a spin.  It was insisted by Scott that we listen to both sides.

This led to a pretty decent conversation regarding pop orchestras, in which I theorized that pop performance, for the most part will get scant attention and effort from classical symphonies that perform them.  This is based on articles I have read for this blog from conductors of orchestras focused solely on pops.  Oddly enough, I ran into a woman later than night whose mother was in the Houston Symphony.  She confirmed what I had thought, that pops was just something they were contractually obligated to play and that is where it ends (although I had 10 minutes of what may have been the second most asinine conversation of recent times to get this answer).

As Scott would say, this was probably Arthur Fiedler’s ultimate album.  The liner notes were written on June 9, 1979.  A month later Fiedler wound die of cardiac arrest.  He had been in failing health for some time.  Part of me wonders if he would have liked something more traditional to end his career with.  The other part of me thinks that this is probably as good as any way for the most famous pop conductor to go out on.

Anyway, this record, recorded live at Symphony Hall in Boston Mass, features long standing pops conductor Fiedler and his Boston Pops with their take on the disco craze of the time.  Fiedler always did have a knock for translating current popular music in the orchestrated form. This record came out while the genre of disco was in decline.  But here it is, regardless.  Side one contains a medley of songs from the disco high watermark moment, the movie Saturday Night Fever. The second side contained a disco-esque arrangement of to Bach classic’s, “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” and “Air for the G String”.  Interesting stuff.

For a sample, I went with the latter, which I think Scott really liked anyway, simply titled “Bachmania”.

I do not like posting Fiedler’s record due to the high amount of auto correct I get on his last name but decent enough album.  Satisfactory.

Enoch Light and his Orchestra- At Carnegie Hall Play Irving Berlin

This was a dollar.  I jump on Command Records whenever I can find them.  This is the album this month arranged by Lew Davies. Should have done a better job vetting these I guess but at this point, it is too late.  

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was perhaps America’s greatest song writers, having penned over 1,500 numbers as well as scoring 19 Broadway productions and 18 films. His first hit was “Alexander’s Rag Time Band”.  He also penned “God Bless America”, “White Christmas”, and The Gong Show’s Chuck Barris’ Christmas favorite, “Easter Parade”.

This album is a collection of Berlin tunes recorded in Carnegie Hall on 35/mm film (which according to a previous post, produced a high quality output).  I believe their is no audience as this sounds like s studio recording.  Anyway, this is the typical wonderfully arranged, orchestrated and recorded record one would expect from Command.  It was also released in 1962.  Not really feeling writing this week so I will keep this one brief.

For a sample, I went with “How Deep Is The Ocean”, written by Berlin during what Wikipedia says was the low point of his career in 1932.  It is one of the few of his songs to be introduced on radio rather than stage/screen.

Anyway, as always a good little record from a good label.  Satisfactory.

The Melachrino Orchestra- Music For Two People Alone

This was originally 50 cents but with discount, came out to a lean 40. Why did I get it?  Can not remember anymore.  Most likely price.  

This record, released by RCA Victor in 1954, is from the Melachrino Orchestra, led by George Melachrino.  Born in London from Greek and Italian roots, and proficient on a variety of instruments, he worked in bands before becoming an army musician in WWII.  After the war, he lead his own orchestra with records, performance, and soundtrack work. His series of  “Moods” albums became pop staples but may be better known today for their covers rather than the actual content. Melachrino died in 1965 but the string orchestra under his name continued after his death for another decade at least. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

Melachrino’s Space Age Pop Page

Anyway, this is a collection of songs for two people alone and draws from a diverse source of material including Hammerstein-Kern, Rodgers-Hart, Gershwin, Gonzalo Roig, Lew Pollack, and Hoagy Carmichael.  

It is Carmichael’s selection that I used for a sample.  Here is his composition, “Two Sleepy People”. On the whole, this record put me to sleep.  Meh.

Gordon McCrae- The Seasons Of Love

This was $3.  I got this for the singer, Gordon McCrae, singer and actor.  Born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1921, McCrae started on Broadway in 1942. A singer career followed as well as the big screen, which he first appeared on in 1948. After roles in such musical hits as Tea For Two, and By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, McCrae landed the biggest two roles of his career in two Rodgers and Hammerstein film adaptations, Oklahoma and Carousel.  His love interest in both was Shirley Jones.  Oddly enough, they get married in both. One marriage does not work out.  Anyway, McCrae continued with tv, radio, and performances until his death of pneumonia in 1986.

It is the R&H movies in which I became aware of McCrae.  And on that note, I find it interesting as I really liked Oklahoma as a kid.  Carousel, on the other hand, was quite lame.  First off, I am sorry your marriage to a carny did not turn out to be the bed of roses it would appear to be.  Second,  the male protagonist really does not go through any deep change other than dying.  I think he could have done more for his daughter and the fact that when he comes back to earth for redemption, he strikes her is indicative of his character.  Finally, despite having one of the most recognizable and inspirational songs from Broadway, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, I found the music overall to be quite singular in use and limited.

But time and tastes do change.  Today, I rather like Carousel.  I still think Billy Bigelow is a jerk and it could have ended a bit better, but  the story has grown on me some as well as the music aside from  the fact that the movie omits “The Highest Judge of All”.  In comparison, I now feel the portrayal of Judd in Oklahoma, is unfair and borders on class resentment.

This record came out on Capitol Records in 1959, after the success listed above.  Conducted by Van Alexander, the album contains songs mostly about seasons.  It is the slow crooning style that I guess he was known for.  Songs include “Indian Summer”, September Song”, “Autumn Leaves, ” and “I’ll Remember April.”

For a sample, I went with “I’ll Remember April” because I remember April.  It was last month.  Seems like a just paid rent for that month and here we are again.  

Decent enough record.  I mean not my cup of tea on all points but I knew what I was getting into when I bought this. 40’s/50’s style old school crooner with the moderately deep voice singing slower romantic tunes.

VA- Curtains Up! Music and Plunk, Tinkle, Ting-A-Ling

This was a dollar.  I like percussion-esque albums as well as orchestra pops.  This combined both. Internet service is still intermittent at best in my apartment.  This leads to brevity for today’s post.

This is a collection of various symphony orchestra’s conducting various numbers with a focus on various mood effects, mostly percussion.  The conductors on this album include Howard Hanson, Antal Dorati, and Frederick Fennell.  The composers on the record include Leroy Anderson, Percy Faith, Cole Porter, John Phllip Sousa, and Bela Bartok among others.  It was released by Mercury Records in a series of Curtain Up! Releases.  My guess is it was released sometime around 1958 to 1960.

I really liked this album.  A bunch of good interpretation of songs.  Musically, it covers a large span of sounds.  A lot of goods spots.  I had to pick two.  I went with Anderson’s “The Typewriter” and Porter’s “My Heart Belongs To Daddy”.  But I did like a whole lot of other songs on this album including “From The Diary Of A Fly”, “The One-Hoss-Shay”, and “Butantan”.  But I felt Porter’s song was the best on the album and “Typewriter” has that gimmicky appeal that I do love so.

Great little record.  Satisfactory. Probably deserves more writing on this post but not happening this week.

Robert Shaw Chorale- Operatic Choruses

This was a dollar.  Lot of opportunities to have fun with this post.  Well, time is kind of limiting that this week.  time and bad internet connection at the house.

Oddly enough this today, I am going to see the last of the Ring Cycle, Gotterdammerung and yes, it has bothered me every year on some level that I am watching the work of a rabid anti-semite.  Well, the Houston Grand Opera has been doing a piece from the cycle every year and I have been all in up til this point.  After I went to the first part, Das Rheingold, I started getting season tickets.  The first year, I only went to two operas, but after that, I have been arguably attending most shows a season and have really enjoyed them.

As far as this production, it is OK.  Technically, it has been great.  Production-wise, I am not a fan of the modern set and custom although many people are raving about them.  I also felt the dragon in last year’s Seigfried was clown shoes. It looked like a rubik snake.

For this record, I was going to ask my pal Scott for his thoughts about operatic chorus as he served some time in the Houston Grand Opera’s chorus.  However, he has been busy , re-opening Dan Electro’s Bar in Houston.  And likewise, I have been to busy to drive to the Heights to see him.  Well,  if you are in Houston, check out the bar.  It is a Houston classic spot. I am sure if I got around to asking him, Scott would say something to the effect of the importance of the chorus to opera and its role in the production.  Here’s an idea, why not go to Dan Electro’s and ask him?

Well, there is this album from the conductor, Robert Shaw (1916-1999).  Released in 1956, I think by RCA Victor, it is a collection of popular choruses and is quite good.  Good song collection that culls famous work from the French, German, and Italians.  A lot of decent tunes including, Bizet’s Carmen, Gounod’s Faust (which I saw at the HGO within the last two years, Verdi’s Nabucco, and Wagner’s Lohengrin.  On that note, I did not realize that Wagner wrote “Here Comes The Bride” until I heard this album. That means most married folk now have an ethical dilemma as well. Turns out your drunk uncle was not the only anti-semetic thing at your wedding.

For a sample, I was stuck between a bunch of songs, but ultimately decided on Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore.  Yeah, I like the simple effects.  If you have watched any type of TV for the last 20 years, you know this song.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  I really wanted to do more with this post but , what can you do.