27 May

Light And Latin

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Light And Latin

1 Malaguena (Ernesto Lecuona)
Polydor 224 002 SEPH 1960
2 Baia (Na Baixa do Sapateiro) (Ary Barroso, arr. Percy Faith)
Columbia CS 8622 1962
3 Cuban Love Song (Jimmy McHugh; Dorothy Fields; Herbert Stothart)
Columbia CL 572 1954
4 Tico Tico (Zequinha de Abreu)
Capitol P 8314 1957
5 Poinciana (Nat Simon; Buddy Bernier)
Mercury CMS 18046 1961
6 Duerme (Time Was) (Miguel Prado)
RCA LSP 1479 1957
7 High In Sierra (Ernesto Lecuona)
Decca SKL 4011 1958
8 I Love You (from "Mexican Hayride") (Cole Porter, arr, Robert Farnon)
ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA (‘Jack Saunders’ on disc label)
Everest SDBR 1011 1958
9 Brazil (Aquarela do Brasil) (Ary Barroso, arr. Percy Faith)
Columbia CS 8622 1962
10 Beguine By Night (Eric Winstone)
KPM Music KPM 070 1960
11 Adios (Enric Madriguera)
Columbia ML 4082 1948
12 No Te Importe Saber (René Touzet, arr. Laurie Johnson)
MGM E 3478 1957
13 Berceuse Cubaine (Frank Engelen)
Southern MQ 516 1960
14 Oracion Caribe (Agustin Lara, arr. Mario Ruiz Armengol)
RCA LPM 1292 1956
15 Nightingale (Xavier Cugat)
Mercury PPS 6003 1961
16 Noche De Ronda (Be Mine Tonight) (Maria Toroso Lara)
RCA LSP 1479 1957
17 Quiet Village (Les Baxter)
Mercury SR 60689 1961
18 Brazilian Butterfly (Ronald Hanmer)
Conroy BM 245 1960
19 Sweet Bolero (Hermann Garst)
Mercury MG 20265 1955
20 The Moon Of Manakoora (from the film "The Hurricane") (Frank Loesser; Alfred Newman)
Dot DLP 25282 1960
21 Cordoba (from "Cantos Dos Espana") (Isaac Albéniz)
Columbia CS 8968 1962
22 Adios Mariquita Linda (Marcos A. Jiminez)
Oriole SEP 7063 1962
23 Siboney (Ernesto Lecuona)
Decca SKL 4011 1958
24 Tropical Merengue (Rafael Merdina Munoz)
Mercury SR 60000 1958
25 Espana (Emmanuel Chabrier)
Capitol P 8275 1955

Stereo tracks: 1, 2, 4-9, 15-17 & 20-25; rest in mono

Just as no two music lovers will probably ever agree on the precise boundaries that define Light Music, the aficionados of Latin American will also happily argue about its origins. There seems little doubt that most will accept that the vast continent of the Americas, from Mexico southwards, qualifies as being generally regarded as ‘Latin America’, so the rhythms and styles of more than twenty countries have contributed to its emergence – particularly from the 1930s onwards – as an enjoyable part of the popular music scene. Add to this the influence of music makers from the United States and Europe, and the result is a mix that may sometimes have corrupted the roots, but has succeeded in making what we all regard as ‘Latin American Music’ universally popular. It is therefore hardly surprising that many light orchestras have included it in their repertoire; some have even embraced it wholeheartedly.

During the 1950s the Ricardo Santos Orchestra became familiar to lovers of Latin American music. Eventually the secret came out, that ‘Ricardo Santos’ was actually the prolific German bandleader Werner Müller (1920-1998). Originally a bassoonist, he became the first conductor of the RIAS (Radio In American Sector) Dance Band based in Berlin, but it was not long before Müller began to realise that the public’s love affair with the swing era was gradually starting to wane. Sixteen strings were added to the line-up, and his orchestra built up a strong following through its Polydor recordings. Recognising the public’s appetite for LA music, he also recorded under the pseudonym ‘Ricardo Santos’ when playing Latin American music, and his fame spread far beyond the borders of his native Germany. Malaguena is a good example of the often flamboyantans Geoth style he adopted, using ‘cascading strings’ to enhance the infectious rhythms.

From his earliest days in the recording studios the Canadian conductor Percy Faith (1908-1976) revealed his passion for Latin American music. When LPs arrived two of his most popular albums featured music from Mexico and Brazil, and his contributions to this CD - Baia and Brazil - come from the latter.

The American conductor Paul Weston (born Paul Wetstein, 1912-1996) also fully embraced the opportunities offered by the longer playing time of the LP. His ‘concept’ albums helped to set standards that others would try to emulate, and his early days in the world of the top dance bands (especially Tommy Dorsey) taught him the advantages offered by including a strong brass section to counterbalance the strings. Cuban Love Song certainly benefits from the rich sound of the brass, lifting the melody to a new level.

Carmen Dragon (1914-1984) conducts the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra in two impressive performances: the popular Tico Tico and Chabrier’s famous Espana, which illustrates how the strong influence of Spain permeates so much Latin American music. Dragon was born in Antioch, California. His first success in Hollywood was collaborating with Morris Stoloff (1898-1980) arranging Jerome Kern’s score for the 1944 Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly film "Cover Girl" which secured him an Oscar. He worked extensively in radio and television, and was a frequent visitor to recording studios conducting the Hollywood Bowl and Capitol Symphony Orchestras.

Xavier Cugat (1900-1990) was a Spanish born bandleader who spent his formative years in Havana, but achieved fame in the USA. He provided the resident orchestra at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria before and after the Second World War, and he was also a cartoonist and successful businessman. His four marriages provided fodder for gossip columnists, but his lasting legacy is appearances in several Hollywood films and many fine recordings of Latin American music. He first appears on this CD with Poinciana, then conducting his own composition Nightingale.

Ernesto Antonio ‘Tito’ Puente (1923-2000) was born and raised in the Spanish Harlem district of New York City. As a child the influence of Gene Krupa made him choose percussion to express his musical ideas, although there was a serious musician waiting to be discovered. After war service in the US Navy he attended the Julliard School of Music where he studied conducting, orchestration and musical theory. Through his albums, particularly during the 1950s, he attempted a fusion of Jazz with Latin American music, but he also concentrated on dance styles earning the accolade ‘King of the Mambo’. Adding strings to his usual line-up seemed a natural progression, with pleasing results: his Guild debut features his unique versions of Duerme (better known as Time Was) and Noche De Ronda (Be Mine Tonight).

Londoner Stanley Black (born Solomon Schwartz 1913-2002) was successful in many areas of music during his long career which began in his teens. While playing piano in Harry Roy’s dance band, during a tour of South America he became keen on Latin-American music, and several of his fine light orchestral albums focussed on this repertoire. His two numbers in this collection are both by the famous Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963) – High In Sierra and the more familiar Siboney.

Cole Porter’s I Love You is another track taken from the 1958 recording sessions at Walthamstow Town Hall in London, first featured in Guild’s "Strings And Things Go Stereo" collection (GLCD 5153). At the behest of Elizabeth Taylor, this involved an album of melodies associated with shows and films produced by her late husband, Mike Todd. Robert Farnon (1917-2005) was engaged to arrange and conduct his orchestra, although his name could not appear on the album for contractual reasons.

Eric Winstone (born in London, 1915-1974) was one of Britain’s leading dance band leaders, who in his younger days was a virtuoso piano-accordionist. He could also compose attractive light music, sometimes with a humorous twist – as in The Happy Hippo (on Guild GLCD5157). This time we hear him in a slightly more exotic mood in Beguine By Night.

Andre Kostelanetz (born in St. Petersburg, Russia 1901-1980) became one of the biggest names in American light orchestral music during the middle years of the 20th Century. His broadcasts and recordings were enjoyed by millions. It was his passion to ‘educate’ his audience to enjoy fine music, and his wide repertoire also extended to Latin American, from which we can enjoy Adios and Cordoba.

Laurie Johnson (b.1927) has been a leading figure on the British entertainment scene for 50 years. A gifted arranger and composer, Laurie has contributed to films, musical theatre, radio, television and records, with his music used in many well-known productions such as "The Avengers" and "The Professionals". Early in his career he was asked by MGM to make a series of recordings as conductor and arranger, but at the time the bandleader Ambrose was still well-known, so it was his name that appeared on the labels. No Te Importe Saber was included on an LP of Latin-American melodies.

The writer of Berceuse Cubaine was Frank Engelen, a Belgian guitarist who was also highly respected as a composer and arranger.

Don Mario Ruiz Armengol (1914-2002) has been compared by some musicologists as being Mexico’s equivalent of David Rose, and his arrangements (such as Oracion Caribe) do contain certain snatches of Rose’s unique style. During the middle years of the last century he was regarded as Mexico’s foremost arranger and conductor of popular music, as well as one of its leading composers. From the 1930s onwards RCA used him to accompany many of the contract artists on their Mexican subsidiary label, and he also worked extensively in radio and films. He gradually became known across the border in the USA, where none other than Duke Ellington is reported to have dubbed him "Mr. Harmony".

In 1951 Les Baxter (1922-1996) wrote and recorded Quiet Village which he described as follows: "The jungle grows more dense as the river boat slowly makes its way into the deep interior. A snake slithers into the water, flushing a brilliantly plumaged bird who soars into the clearing above a quiet village. Here is a musical portrait of a tropical village deserted in the mid-day heat." Other arrangers and conductors were attracted to this piece in later years, and the choice for this CD is by Chicago-born Herman Clebanoff (1917-2004). He had a sound education in classical music and was an experienced violinist and concertmaster before he was 20. Usually just known as ‘Clebanoff’, he had a long association with NBC, and from 1945 he spent the next ten years as concertmaster of their Chicago-based orchestra, playing a wide repertoire from the classics to popular tunes. Mercury’s Chicago music director David Carroll (real name Rodell Walter ‘Nook’ Schreier 1913-2008) signed him to the label, and in 1960 Clebanoff moved to Los Angeles when Mercury consolidated their recording activities in Hollywood.

Ronald Hanmer (1917-1994) could make a legitimate claim to being the most prolific of all the composers featured on this CD. His career stretched from the 1930s (he was a cinema organist) until the end of his life, and over 700 of his compositions were published in various background music libraries (examples already on Guild include Proud and Free GLCD5136, The Four Horsemen and Intermission – both onGLCD5140). He was also kept busy as an arranger, and the bandleader Edmundo Ros (1910-2011) used many of his pieces. Hanmer’s Brazilian Butterfly is close to the style that made Ros’s Latin American music so popular in Britain in post-war years. Among his film scores were Made in Heaven (1952), Penny Princess (1952) and Top of the Form (1953). He was also in demand as an orchestrator of well-known works for Amateur Societies, and the brass band world was very familiar with his scores – sometimes used as test pieces. In 1975 he emigrated to Australia, where he was delighted to discover that his melody Pastorale (on Guild GLCD5212) was famous throughout the land as the theme for the long-running radio serial Blue Hills. In 1992 Ronald Hanmer received the Order of Australia for services to music, just before that country abolished the honours system.

Sweet Bolero introduces Eddie Barclay(1921-2005)(real name Edouard Ruault – he changed it in 1944 when he came into contact with American liberation forces) who was famous in France for two reasons: his music, and his nine wives. His career took off at the end of World War 2 when he realised that his jazz with a French flavour was much in demand. He launched what he claimed to be the first discothèque, Eddie's Club, based on the American clubs that had opened to serve US military personnel, and started his own band in 1947. Gradually he began expanding his talents into conducting and record production for several leading singers, and eventually he formed Barclay Records. Thanks to his contacts with the American record industry he was able to take a leading role in the production and distribution of LP records in France where he became known as the ‘king of microgroove’.

The Moon Of Manakoora is conducted by Axel Stordahl (1913-1963) who will be familiar to many collectors of American popular music, mainly through his backing for Frank Sinatra during a period known as the singer’s ‘Columbia years’. In 1936 he joined Tommy Dorsey as a trumpet player, and was encouraged to develop his arranging talents. He realised that his style was more suited to slow, sentimental ballads, which became his trademark. In partnership with Paul Weston, he composed Day by Day, but during his later career he tended to concentrate on leading studio bands for radio and television.

Adios Mariquita Linda comes from a very rare stereo EP conducted by Dennis Farnon (b. 1923), who is the youngest of the three talented Canadian Farnon brothers; the first was Brian (1911-2010) and the second – the most famous of the three – was Robert Farnon (1917-2005). Dennis worked for ten years in Hollywood where his screen credits included the music for 12 ‘Mr. Magoo’ cartoons, and four humorous animated ‘Art’ films. For three years he was Artist and West Coast Album Director for RCA Records, and was one of the five founders in 1957 of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who present the annual Grammy awards. His conducting and arranging assignments included albums with Harry Belafonte, Tony Martin, Gogi Grant, George Shearing and the Four Freshmen. Among his own LPs are ‘Caution Men Swinging’, ‘Enchanted Woods’ (from which comes his unusual, yet appealing arrangement of Cecelia on Guild GLCD5165) and ‘Magoo in Hi-Fi’. He came to Europe in 1962, and worked on TV series such as ‘Bat Out Of Hell’, ‘Spy Trap’ and ‘Bouquet of Barbed Wire’. He scored the 1966 Tony Curtis film "Drop Dead Darling" which was renamed "Arrivederci Baby" for its US release. Although officially retired, Dennis now lives in The Netherlands, where he continues to compose and teach.

Richard Warren Joseph Hayman (b. 1920) started at the age of 18 as a harmonica player in Borrah Minevitch’s Harmonica Rascals, but he decided to concentrate more on arranging and conducting. He worked on the MGM musical "Meet Me In St. Louis" and was put under contract by Mercury Records in 1950, for whom he made many singles and albums, the best-seller being his version of Ruby from the film "Ruby Gentry". He also arranged for the Boston Pops, serving as back-up conductor for Arthur Fiedler. Tropical Merengue is another example of Hayman’s ability to adapt to a wide range of musical styles. Which is a statement that can equally apply to many of the famous conductors represented in this collection.

David Ades

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.