Ted Sommer and Bill Lavorgna – Cole Porter in Pleasing Percussion

Today’s record which was $6 brings together to favorites of this blog, Cole Porter and percussion.  An added bonus is the promise of organ on the cover.  A bit on the pricey end, but this is the way things are post-2017.  If you have not heard, I moved by upper spending bound from $5 to $8.

I am continually amazed from doing this blog of the span and reach of Cole Porter’s music.  He was truly one of America’s greatest song writers and perhaps one of the greatest of all time.  It is hard to accurately place one on an infinite line of tine and space.

Ted Sommer, born in New York City in 1924, is a jazz drummer who worked with such greats and blog guests as Dick Hyman and Terry Synder as well as Zoot Sims, the inspiration for the Muppet’s Zoot.

Bill Lavorgna, born in Patterson, NJ in 1933, was best known for his work as a musical director on Broadway.  A Korean war vet, upon return he worked with such greats as Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Dizzy Gillespe, and Frank SInatra.  Lavorgna past on in 2007 at the age of 74.

The Lowrey Organ, made by Fred Lowrey in Chicago, was the most popular brand of organ in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Lowrey made it’s one millionth organ in 1989.  Also apparently, Chicago is the hotbed for organs as the Hammond was invented there as well.

Well, here they are on this album which features the skills of both men pitted against the illustrious work on Porter. I am not sure what year this came out.  I am guessing late 60’s.  It was released on budget label Pickwick under the Grand Prix Series.  Decent enough album.  Pretty good light jazz interpretations of popular Porter songs.  Nice little organ parts as well as good percussion breaks.  Songs include favorites such as “I Love Paris”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, and “It’s D’Lovely”.  However, for a sample, I went with “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” as I feel it capitulates everything this record was trying to do, which it largely accomplishes for the most part.


Ray Conniff- ‘S Continetal

Welcome to a new month and a new year of that Show known as the Donkey. Happy 2017.  Kind of glad not to be doing the travelogue I did last month.  That took a lot of time which is a precious commodity these days.  Anyway, for January, I wanted to do theme weeks.  After recording the songs I kind of had regrets about doing this as it robbed the site of the one thing I think makes it good: diversity.  Well,  too late to turn back now.

This week’s theme is Continental Music.  Webster’s dictionary defines continental as being of or pertaining to a continent.  It also says it describes things from Mainland Europe.  I think Continental Music may pick up a bit on the latter. There is a jet-set/ high roller association as well, mostly from Christopher Walken on Saturday Night Live.  Either way, that is the theme so no better (or easier)  way to start then an album with the theme in the title. This was 80 cents.  I probably bought it for said title.

Ray Conniff (1916-2002) was a band leader and arranger who put out a crap-ton of records.  His music was used in the film Something About Mary.  He put this out in 1962.  It is a pretty good collection of tunes, a lot of which have a European influence.  “Tico Tico”, “The White Cliffs of Dover”, “my Bioshock favorite “Beyond The Sea”, “The Poor People of Paris”, “Lisbon Antigua”, and “African Safari”.  Critics say this was one of the last from his best period of work.  I think the Hollywood arrangements are probably what shifted the true definition of Continental Music.

Overall, it was an OK .  I was happy with the songs on the album.  I think I was a bit surprised did not have more songs to choose from for a sample.  I guess it was a bit on the slow side for me. So why split hairs, here are the two songs I really liked on the album, “Tico Tico”, and “African Safari”.  I may have liked “Beyond The Sea” as well but I probably axed it since I play it a lot.

Well there that is.  What is it with bandleaders and small dogs? What about the record, you say? Overall, meh.  Sorry. Had higher hopes.

The Jay Gordon String Orchestra- Music For A Lonely Night

dscn5544Been awhile, huh? This was a dollar. I found the title funny.  Not sure to whom this album is marketed to.llli

This record was released in 1957, a year before the label, Tops merged with PRI Records. I am guessing these guys were a budget label.  I could not find anything on Jay Gordon other than there are a handful or records under his name.  He may or may not even exist.  It could be the label’s house band for all I know.dscn5545

Anyway, the album itself is okay, although I do not see how it fixes a lonely night.  The songs are well orchestrated and the arrangements are pretty silky smooth.  2fimage2f3212372f936full-de-lovely-poster

For a sample, I went with Cole Porter’s classic, “Begin the Beguine”.  I have been somewhat influenced this month by the movie De-lovely, which has been playing on cable as of late.  It is the story of Porter and his marriage to Ashley Judd.  Kevin Kline plays Porter.  It also features several artists of the 2000’s singing Porter standards.  Overall, I thought it was a decent movie.

“Begin the Beguine” sung in the movie by Sheryl Crow, is one of Porter’s most popular songs.  It has become a pop standard and has been covered by many artists.  It is known for its complex structure. Porter wrote the song in 1935 while on a cruise between  Indonesia and Fiji.  Here is the Jay Gordon String Orchestra’s take on the classic.  I particular like the woodwinds at the beginning.  Overall, it has a very exotica sound to it.people_20131122_dark

Meh.  I mean this is better than some of the budget orchestra albums I have bought over the years but it does not have enough merits for me to rate it any better.

Henry Mancini- Music From Mr Lucky

DSCN5059 (1024x1008)Welcome to another month of the Show.  I felt really positive about picking this month’s records when I first did it but lately when I listen to them, I feel that I might have gone flat this month a bit.  Oh well.  Got to get the junk out sometime.  Anyway, this was a buck.  If memory recalls, I found this first before I got the Latin version, which is better known. gRfez-1445970227-418-list_items-cats_mrlucky

Mr Lucky Goes Latin Link

Mr Lucky, the TV show was developed my frequent Mancini hirer, Blake Edwards.  It ran one season in 1959-1960.  John Vivyan played the title role.  cast

This record was released in 1960.  The title track  was the lead single and went to # 21 in the charts.  It was successful enough but not as much as the Peter Gunn soundtrack before it or the Mr Lucky Goes Latin after.  But the songs are decent enough, filled to the brim with the Mancini touch. I do agree with the critical assessment, however.  There is nothing on these as driving or interesting as the other albums mentioned in this paragraph.DSCN5060 (1020x1024)

For a sample, I was stuck between “Tipsy”, “Floating Pad”, and “One Eyed Cat”.  After much thought and listening, I was still pretty stuck.  All three songs were okay and had good parts but there was nothing conclusive that made any one stand out against the others.  At the end of the day, I went with “Tipsy”.  I think the organ part is what finally won me over.TV series

As far as this album, meh.  Check out the Latin version.  It is much better.

Don Jenkins- In Case You Hadn’t Heard…

DSCN4280This was $1.99.  I was shopping with my friend Tracy when we came across this album.  We made a dumb joke about the title.  I though that this was enough to buy the record.

Not Jenkins nor the 1790
Not Jenkins nor the 1790

In case you hadn’t heard, Don Jenkins plays the organ, the Kimball 1790 to be exact.  This album comes off as more as a promotion for Kimball.  After some time searching (but not too much), I came up with nothing on Don Jenkins and other than some schematics, nothing on the Kimball 1790.  The music is cheasy organ covers of popular songs, covering the range of sounds emitted by the 1790. The record itself was produced by Hal Leonard Publishing, so there must be a music instruction tie in somewhere.DSCN4282

It really came down to either “Mah-Na, Mah-Na” from the Muppets or “Tijuana Taxi”, made famous by Herb Alpert.  In the end, despite loving the Muppets, I went with “Tijuana Taxi”.COL2_099_grande

Meh for this album.  It gets old quick.



The Mary Kaye Trio- ST

DSCN1506Another 25 cent score. Decent songs on this was worth taking a chance for.  Turns out I got a pretty good deal.

300x300The Mary Kaye Trio is credited with starting the Vegas Lounge Scene and are among one of the founding members of the lounge act.  Mary Kaye (born Kaaihue) was born in 1924 in Detroit.  She grew up in St Louis in a musical family.  A descendent of Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalami, she played with her brother in her father’s Hawaiian Band as a youth.  Breaking away from their father as well as Hawaiian music, Mary and Norman would start playing in bars and lounges along with Frank Ross and the Trio was born.  At some point, they brought their act to Vegas and fit in with the dawn to dusk crowd. Often playing in the wee hours until 6am, they created the lounge scene.  Celebrities such as Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and Chuck Heston were among fans.  The band grew to popularity in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, playing many shows and releasing a dozen or so records.  The act would dissolve in 1966. According to Norman, Chuck Heston cried on hearing the news. Mary would pass on in Las Vegas in 2007. Norman passed on in 2012.

A-1775054-1301549021_jpegSometimes known a the “First Lady of Rock and Roll”, (mostly because of Fender’s marketing efforts), she made the above ad for the guitar company, and although she did not play this model often, the Mary Kaye Strat has become a collectors item.

mary_kaye_stratThis album really swings and brings the Vegas Late Night Lounge Scene to the listener’s living room.  Mary, Norman, and Frank interweave their vocals thru these tunes.  They switch from solo numbers to unison choruses.  The back up vocals are also very good.


For a sample, I went with “Man’s Favorite Sport” and “Sleeves of Green”.DSCN1507

This is a Top Rated album for me, mainly because I got it for 25 cents.