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.


Dick Hyman- Provocative Piano

Welcome to another month of the good ol’ Donkey Show.  After half a month of Ocktoberfest music and a full month of showtunes, I decided to go back to posting good (or at least interesting) records.  So what a better way to start than with a selection from Command Records and their Provocative series.  This was $4.00. I buy pretty much any Command record I come across at a decent price. I realize this is on the high end.  Also, although I wanted to cut down on the number of gatefold albums this month, I still choose this one to start the month rolling.  Command Records being known for their love of gatefold, perhaps I should have reconsidered.

On that note, I guess this is a good time as any to announce the administrative change to this blog. Starting this month, I am setting my upper spent limit to $8.00.  This is quite a jump from the previous $5 but I am finding that record prices have increased slightly over the last year and in order to get in decent stuff, the increase had to be made.  I have mixed feelings about it but the decision has been made and I am prepared to move on from it.  Please note though that the preference will still be on the $1 albums.

Dick Hyman, jazz pianist of renown, has been on this site before.  I would think his association with Enoch Light’s Command Records would speak for itself and put him in an upper echelon of musicians of the period.  Besides his work in jazz, Hyman did some very important work in electronic music as well as soundtrack work for movies and TV.

This year, Hyman will be named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.  That is if it has not happened already or if the program’s budget has not been slashed yet.

Dick’s Space Age Pop Page

Anyway, this record, produced by Light, came out in 1960 and features Hyman’s piano pretty prominently.  A good mix of songs from “Canadian Sunset”, Autumn Leaves”, and “Miserlou” as well as works from Chopin and Tchaikovsky. As with most Command Records, I enjoyed it.

For a sample, I decided to play favorites and go with both “Polonaise” and Miserlou”.



The Stereo Brass Choir- Stereo Dialogue for Brass

This gem was only 50 cents.  A lot of songs I like on this.  When I wrote yesterday’s post, I was somewhat unsure how this month would play out.  However, between now and then, I took a trip down memory lane and looked at some for the older posts.  Some of it was pretty painful, going back to when I could not get the pictures straight, did not know how to display links, or properly record songs.  But overall, I felt that the output nowadays is more diverse than in the past and as I have always tried to make diversity a point of this blog, this is saying something. Anyway, Happy Fourth of July.  Nothing more patriotic than a bit of brass.

Well, there is this, which bills itself as “the most enjoyable musical event in stereo history”.  It is a collection of show tunes and standards in stereo with trombones on one side and trumpets on the other. It was the brainchild of Lew Davies (1911-1968) who besides arranging for Perry Como, Lena Horne, and Lawrence Welk, also worked closely with fellow audiophile Enoch Light and Command Records.

Davies’ Space Age Pop Page

The songs, by such luminaries as Rodgers, Porter, Loesser and Lowe, and Berlin, contain back and forth sections between the competing brass sections. As the title would suggest, this showcases the “dialogue” between groups.  Good arrangements.  Nice song selection.  As this was on Columbia records and released in 1960, you know this is a serious effort.  Besides the brass, the vibes/xylophone and other percussion make for a good effect.

For a sample, I decided to go with Irving Berlin’s staple “Anything You Can Do”.  

Good album.  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.

Eddie Layton- No Blues On This Cruise

It is your hump day in the middle of Continental Week.  I think I got this because of the Hi Fi organ advertised on the front.  The song selection was not bad either.

Eddie Layton was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925.  Having learned organ at age 12, he got his hands on a Hammond during his stint with the Navy in WWII.  Upon his return, he composed scores for soap operas for CBS.  During this time, he released 27 or so records as well as toured countless music stores demonstrating his organ skills on the Hammond product.  According to Allmusic.com, he was on Hammond’ payroll for 50 years.

Layton’s Page on Spaceagepop.com

Layton’s crowning achievement perhaps was his work with the New York Yankees. Under pressure to compete with the Mets’ organist Jane Jarvis, Layton took the organist job with the Yankees in 1967, despite knowing nothing about baseball and never setting foot in a stadium prior.  He held the job until 2003 (with a small break between 1971-1977). Apparently, he popularized both “Charge” and ” The Mexican Hat Dance” at sporting events.  He also worked games for the Knicks, Rangers, and Islanders. Layton would pass of natural causes in 2004 at the age of either 77 or 79.

This was released in 1957 before his sports gig.  It is from Mercury Records.  Pretty decent album.  Nice arrangements and songs that I know.  I always get a kick out of good organ albums.  I think because I always wanted to play the organ as a kid.  Layton’s work is well regarded among space age pop fans and this album doe snot disappoint.

For a sample, I was  stuck between “Song of India”, “Under Paris Skies”, and “El Relicario”.  All fine songs but after some thought, I went with “El Relicario”.

Satisfactory Record.

King Richard’s Fluegel Knights- Knights On Broadway

This was $3.  It had a lot of the Broadway tunes that I normally post.  I posted one of Dick Behrke’s albums before.  Actually, it was one of the first posts I put on this blog back when I could not get pictures straight, links pretty, or sound in a decent manner. I believe he is still alive today.  Been very busy at work so as always during these periods, the blog content suffers.

Link to said Post

While on vacation, I happened to spend some time on the North Side by Prins Hendikkade.  Among other things, there is the Dutch Nautical Museum, the Science Museum Nemo, the Public Library, and a display of boats from times of old (or the last two centuries). Except for the wind whipping off the water, it makes for a lovely stroll.

You can get a good view of the town from on top of the Nemo.  Likewise, there are tons of old boats with plaques with a bit of history .  A good place to kill some time during the day.

I really liked the last Fluegel Knight’s album I bought.  This one, too, does not disappoint.  Released in 1968? on MTA Records, this collection has show tunes as the title would suggest from Camelot, Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl, West Side Story, and Roar of the Greasepaint which I am unfamiliar with.  To the naked ear. it may sound like elevator music, but I think it has a pretty groovy sound with the uniqueness of the fluegel horn.  King Richard or Dick Behrke, who arranged for Bobby Darin, serves as the musical director of the album. What ever I wrote about him on the linked post above, still holds true and more importantly, that is all I have time to say.  Do you deserve more?  Probably.  Are you going to get it this week? No, unfortunately.

For a sample, I went with one of my favorites, West Side Story’s “Gee, Officer Krupke” as well as Fiddler’s “To Life” which I thought was a fine version.

Satisfactory record.


Dick Schory’s Percussion Pops Orchestra- Supercussion

DSCN4815 (800x786)This was $1.00.  I did a post earlier on Dick Schory so I knew who he was.  I liked the previous album I bought so why not this?


Earlier post on Mr Schory

One of the sad effects of doing this music blogs is I do not read other music blogs at all.  I used to read them all the time.  I really did not read them in all honesty.  I I merely would download the music.  If you are reading this now, I must ask why?   The posts I write are merely table dressing for the MP3.  Anyway, back to the point, while I was researching this album, released in 1963, I came across a review on another music blog, Ambientexotica.com.  It is quite lengthy but is pretty in-depth .  The blog is very well done as well.

Link to Ambientexotica post on album

The album is a very good collection of space-age pop / lounge.  However, I agree with the assessment of Ambientexotica, that the main criticism of the album is the misnomer of a title.  Sure, Dick Schory is a percussion master and mallet instruments do feature prominently of the album.  Other than that, I was really expecting the songs to be more percussion based.  I guess more drums and such. I mean, it is after all international hand drum month this month.  Could of used more of it on this.3 Dick Schory - Ringo Starr - Bill Ludwig 1964

Other than that, this album is quite good.  It is a good collection of exotica songs such as “Nomad” and “Hindustan” along with space age interpretations of big band standards such as “Take the A Train” , “Autumn Leaves” , and “Stompin’ at the Savoy”.  I should also mention “Shimboo” which Schory co-wrote as it is a good track.DSCN4817 (800x779)

Anything more than two samples per post is sloth on my part so I tried very hard to keep it at two today.  There were more than a few tracks I wanted to showcase but I was able to keep it within reason. I went with “Nomad”and “Krazy Kwilt”.  Both are very good indeed.  It would seem good is the only adjective I know today. Schory

This album is just too good to give it a low rating for not meeting my percussion expectations.  Satisfactory.