Contrasts : From The 1960s Back To The 1920s - Volume 1
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5218
Contrasts : From The 1960s Back To The 1920s - Volume 1
1 On Green Dolphin Street (Bronislau Kaper; Ned Washington, arr. Brian Fahey)
CYRIL ORNADEL AND THE STARLIGHT SYMPHONY
MGM SE 4033 1962
2 Ciao, Ciao Bambina (Domenico Modugno, arr. Percy Faith)
PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia CS 8214 1961
3 Le Cabri Mexicain (Roger Roger)
ROGER ROGER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Pacific STO-E 17002 1962
4 The Girl In Satin (Leroy Anderson)
LEROY ANDERSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Brunswick STA 3030 1960
5 Focus On Fashion (Walter Stott)
TELECAST ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER STOTT
Chappell C 728 1961
6 Alcan Highway (Robert Farnon)
ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Decca LK 4119 1956
7 Elephants’ Tango (Bernard Landes, real name Ronald Hanmer)
WERNER MÜLLER AND HIS ORCHESTRA (as ‘Ricardo Santos’ on record label)
Polydor 46012 LPHM 1957
8 In Gay Mood (Cyril Watters)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CEDRIC DUMONT
Boosey & Hawkes O 2306 1957
9 Due Teste Sul Cuscino (Furio Rendine)
GEORGE MELACHRINO Conducting the Orchestra of the 6th San Remo Festival
HMV SCT 1519 1957
10 Escapade (Frank Perkins)
FRANK PERKINS AND HIS ‘POPS’ ORCHESTRA
Brunswick LA 8708 1955
11 Jezebel (Wayne Shanklin)
ROBERTO INGLEZ AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring ROBERTO INGLEZ at the piano
Parlophone R 3417 1951
12 March Of Events (Jack Beaver; Henry Thomas Fisher)
NEW CENTURY ORCHESTRA Conducted by SIDNEY TORCH
Francis, Day & Hunter FDH 047 1948
13 Beryl (Paul Desmond, real name Paul Breitenfeld)
ROYAL ARTILLERY ORCHESTRA Conducted by Captain Owen Geary
Boosey & Hawkes O 2105 1948
14 Exhilaration (Charles Williams)
CHARLES WILLIAMS AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Columbia DB 2526 1949
15 Beautiful, Lovable (Billy Munn)
BOSWORTH’S BALLROOM ORCHESTRA Directed by BILLY MUNN
Bosworth BC 1227 1949
16 Baa Baa Black Sheep (Traditional, arr. Peter Yorke)
BBC VARIETY ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES SHADWELL, Leader FRANK CANTELL
Decca F 9091 1949
17 Knightsbridge March (from "London Suite") (Eric Coates)
PHILIP GREEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Parlophone F 1365 1938
18 Romanesque Tango (Sonny Miller; Jacob Gade)
ALFREDO CAMPOLI AND HIS MARIMBA TANGO ORCHESTRA
Decca F 5482 1935
19 Punch And Judy Show (Ben Black)
JACK HYLTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring HARRY ROBBINS, xylophone and vibraphone
HMV B 5796 1930
20 Moonbeam (Leo Peter)
REGINALD KING AND HIS LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Sterno 1171 1933
21 Waltz In Swing Time (from the film "Swing Time") (Jerome Kern)
JOHNNY GREEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring JOHNNY GREEN at the piano
Vocalion 502-B 1936
22 Sleigh Bells (Lindemann)
ATHENAEUM LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Piccadilly 405 1929
23 Fairy Doll (from "A Children’s Suite") (John Ansell)
DECCA LIGHT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOHN ANSELL
Decca M 84 1929
24 Capricious Music Box (Joan Fresco)
ATHENAEUM LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Piccadilly 404 1929
25 Frog King’s Parade (Heini Kronberger; Mary Marriott)
THE VIENNESE CAFÉ ORCHESTRA
Piccadilly 338 1929
Back in 2007 Guild released two collections covering four decades of Light Music, from the 1920s to the 1960s (GLCD5134 & 5135). This now seems a good time to revisit the concept, and the scope has been widened to include the 1960s.
The original notes reflected upon the fact that music has been called the international language, and in its many guises it is probably as diverse as all the spoken tongues around the world. Individual styles constantly develop and change in response to various influences, and there is no doubt that our ancestors who listened to what we might term ‘their’ light music in the 1800s would find the sounds of the 1960s too avant-garde for their ears. Light music is not alone in this; some of today’s best loved classical works were harshly criticised at their premieres.
The invention of sound recording as the 19th century came to a close, followed by the arrival of radio in the 1920s, hastened changes in musical styles at a far greater pace than had ever happened previously. By 1960 the younger generation emerged as great consumers of music, and their preferences influenced the majority of new recordings offered by record companies, while radio (and increasingly television) music shows responded accordingly. The kind of ‘popular’ bands and singers that were enjoyed during the inter-war years were probably the main casualties, but Light Music couldn’t ignore the changes that were taking place.
The somewhat sedate styles of earlier years were inevitably affected by the influences of the jazz era, the arrival of electrical sound recording in the 1920s and the major impact of the cinema when talking pictures arrived, consuming (and creating) vast amounts of Light Music in its many varied forms. Finally by the 1960s the perfection of high fidelity and stereo sound often allowed composers, arrangers and conductors to express themselves in a spectacular fashion previously unimaginable. All this is vividly illustrated in the very varied collection on this CD.
The opening track reveals the magnificent sound now emanating from the recording studios of the 1960s. It can be argued that today’s music lovers, who often choose to receive their music via portable devices, are hearing an inferior product, compared with the previous generation who were happy to pay sometimes considerable sums to enjoy high quality reproduction in their homes. This superior sound was matched by the inventive scores created by the many talented arrangers around at that time, and one of the best is showcased as this CD commences.
The English arranger Brian Fahey (1919-2007) was responsible for the outstanding arrangement of On Green Dolphin Street which was the main theme for the 1947 MGM film starring Lana Turner, although it did not get a great deal of attention until American trumpeter Miles Davis (1926-1991) made it a jazz standard with his recording in 1958. In the hands of Fahey, plus conductor Cyril Ornadel (1924-2011) with his Starlight Symphony, it also emerges as a fine piece of Light Music.
Ciao, Ciao Bambina (Piove) was another international success in 1959 for the Italian songwriter Domenico Modugno (1928-1994), following on from his big hit Volare (on Guild GLCD5205) in the previous year. It won first prize at the San Remo Song Festival, but failed to repeat that achievement when entered for the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest, coming only sixth out of the eleven entries. When arranged by the likes of maestro Percy Faith (1908-1976) for a light orchestra it proves that songwriters of the post-war era were still capable of producing charming melodies.
The remaining three tracks representing the 1960s feature established Guild favourites. Roger Roger (1911-1995) was a leading figure on the French music scene for many years, and his fine compositions and arrangements also won him many admirers internationally. Leroy Anderson(1908-1975) is probably the best-loved American light music composer of his generation. For many years he was the chief arranger for the Boston Pops, and he was so prolific that some of his numbers (like The Girl In Satin) have tended to become overlooked. Walter ‘Wally’ Stott, born in Leeds, Yorkshire (1924-2009) is today regarded as one of the finest arrangers and film composers. When Wally became Angela Morley she left England for the USA where she worked on several big budget movies (one example is the "Star Wars" series assisting John Williams), and on TV shows such as "Dallas" and "Dynasty". But during the 1950s and 1960s she made numerous recordings under her former name, also contributing many light music cameos to the Chappell Recorded Music Library.
As the 1950s dawned it became clear that the transformation of Light Music during the 1940s from the often sedate styles of the 1930s was now complete. This is well illustrated with Alcan Highway by Canadian Robert Farnon (1917-2005). It seems he may have been suffering from pangs of homesickness, because several of his original works around that time were dedicated to the beauty of his homeland. This highway (also known as the Alaskan Highway and Alaska-Canadian Highway) was constructed during World War II for strategic purposes to link mainland USA to Alaska through Canada. It was completed in 1942, but has since been regularly rerouted and improved. If you listen carefully you will notice that Farnon has cleverly interwoven snatches from both the US and Canadian national anthems in the first few notes.
Englishman Ronald Hanmer (1917-1994) had a mini-hit with Elephants’ Tango which he wrote under his pseudonym Bernard Landes. It came to the attention of leading German bandleader Werner Müller (1920-1998), and it was no surprise when he scored the leading solo for bassoon, which had been his own instrument when he began his musical career during the 1930s.
Although not as well-known as most of the other composers on this CD, Henry Cyril Watters (1907-1984) was highly respected by music publishers, with his works such as In Gay Mood readily accepted for their unfailing high standards. At times he was employed as a staff arranger by Boosey & Hawkes and Chappell, but his prolific output was also welcomed by several London publishers.
In the special tribute to George Melachrino (1909-1965) in the Guild CD "The Hall of Fame – Volume 3" (GLCD5162) a rare track included Aprite le Finestre which was one of the two Italian entries of the first Eurovision Song Contest back in 1956; and it was also the San Remo winner the same year. Melachrino recorded all the entries with the San Remo Festival Orchestra which was released by HMV on a ‘stereosonic’ tape and, later, an LP on its International label. Several more songs from that contest have been reissued by Guild. Another from those sessions was Due Teste Sul Cuscino which did not manage to gain any of the first three prizes at San Remo that year.
Record buyers in the 1950s were often attracted to fast and furious pieces which certainly stretched the abilities of the violinists. The fiddlers in American Frank Perkins’ (1908-1988) orchestra must have groaned inwardly when he placed his own composition Escapade on their music stands during a recording session. Perkins gained a degree in Economics at university, but he soon discarded the idea of a financial career for his first love, music. After studying in both America and Europe, he became noticed in 1934 following a successful collaboration with lyricist Mitchell Parrish which resulted in Stars Fell on Alabama and Emmaline. In 1937 he was engaged as an arranger by Warner Bros. in Hollywood, where he remained until the mid-1960s. Although much of his work failed to get acknowledged (such as some piano improvisations in "Casablanca" - 1942) his name can still be spotted in the music credits for many Warner Bros. pictures particularly during the war years. Later he tended to concentrate more on light orchestral works for concert performance, and in 1962 Frank received an Oscar nomination for his work scoring the musical "Gypsy".
Many crooners enjoyed successful careers during the 1950s before rock’n’roll became established. In 1951 Frankie Laine (1913-2007) recorded Jezebel which proved to be one of his biggest hits. Scotsman Robert Inglis (1919-1974) – better known to us as the pianist Roberto Inglez – recognised its potential when scored for his Latin American Orchestra, which was a permanent fixture at London’s Savoy Hotel at that time.
The five selected tracks representing the 1940s reveal how Light Music was moving in many directions. The requirements of cinema newsreels are catered for in March Of Events, while the importance of dance halls in keeping morale high during wartime is evident in Beryl and Beautiful, Lovable. Those newsreels also needed many different styles of music, and long-suffering violinists were also tested by Charles Williams (1893-1978) with his infectious Exhilaration. The importance of radio cannot be overstated. In Britain one of the flagship comedy programmes from the BBC was ITMA (It’s That Man Again) and each show used to include a short musical interlude featuring an arrangement (usually of a traditional air or nursery rhyme) by a leading composer. Peter Yorke (1902-1966) contributed several, including Baa Baa Black Sheep which the programme’s resident orchestra later recorded for Decca.
The 1930s are ushered in with perhaps the most famous BBC radio signature tune of that era – Knightsbridge (a movement in his ‘London’ Suite) by Eric Coates (1886-1957). It introduced "In Town Tonight" from 1933 until 1960, but it has to be said that Philip Green’s (1911-1982) version is considerably livelier than the composer’s original work.
The orchestras featured in the other tracks from this decade were also well-known to radio listeners. The Italian violinist Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991) has occupied a warm place in the affections of British music lovers, since his debut at London’s Wigmore Hall in 1923. He played in many light orchestras, and was also a prolific broadcaster and recording artist in his own name.
Although some British Dance Band purists might disagree, possibly the most famous of the pre-war bands was fronted by Jack Hylton, born John Greenhalgh Hilton (1892-1965). The band made numerous records and toured widely in Britain and overseas. At times its repertoire ventured into light music circles, such as Wedding Of The Rose (on Guild GLCD5163) and Dancing Tambourine (GLCD5106). Punch And Judy Show allows xylophonist Harry Robbins to step into the limelight.
Reginald Claude McMahon King (1904-1991) was an accomplished pianist, who performed under the baton of Sir Henry Wood at the Proms soon after he completed his studies at London’s Royal Academy. In 1927 he took an orchestra into Swan & Edgar’s restaurant at their Piccadilly Circus store, where they remained until 1939. During this period he also started broadcasting regularly (his total number of broadcasts exceeded 1,400), and he made numerous recordings, often featuring his own attractive compositions. One of his major works, the concert overture The Immortals, was featured on Guild GLCD5106 spotlighting music of the 1930s, and in a lighter vein his tuneful orchestra can be heard playing popular melodies such as Lullaby Of The Leaves (GLCD 5134) and Roses At Dawning (GLCD 5139) on several Guild CDs.
Completing our quintet from the 1930s is the American pianist, conductor and songwriter Johnny Green (1908-1989) with the title number from "Swing Time", one of the many great films starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Early in his career Green achieved fame as the composer of Body And Soul (on GLCD5158).
The mists of time have rendered many of the small orchestras from the 1920s just a faint memory to even the most ardent admirers of that style of music. Ensembles on minor labels such as ‘The Athenaeum Light Orchestra’ and ‘The Viennese Café Orchestra’ may well have been conducted by established bandleaders whose contracts with the major record companies prevented them from working elsewhere under their own name. ‘Moonlighting’ was prevalent during the 1920s and 1930s. However John Ansell (1874-1948) was a genuine composer and conductor. At one time he was assistant conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and he was also frequently employed in London theatres. As a composer he may be familiar to music lovers for his overture Plymouth Hoe (which he conducts on Guild GLCD 5106) and Windjammer Overture (on GLCD5203). But sadly a lot of his quite considerable catalogue of music is now neglected.
The final track on this CD (the delightfully corny Frog King’s Parade) completes a journey through the middle years of the 20th century which witnessed many changing styles – all of them hugely enjoyable in their own way. It certainly has been a journey of ‘Contrasts’, both in the music itself and the means of reproducing it for listeners at home. Never before had musicians been offered so many golden opportunities to share their talents with us all.