ROSEMARY SQUIRES CAPTURES RFS MEMBERS’ HEARTS!
Brian Reynolds reports on a Memorable London Meeting
The date was October 16th 2011 and it was time, once again, for our Autumn extravaganza - somewhat special on this occasion (our 55th anniversary) as we had some live music to come in the third part of our programme, with a very special guest. We assembled at the Bonnington Hotel (as we prefer to call it) and found ourselves in a newly refurbished suite in the basement. We had expected to be back in our usual room, but due to a misunderstanding, this did not happen - but we shall definitely be back there in May!
As members took their seats, we heard the MGM Jubilee Overture from the new EMI CD 'That's Entertainment' - played by the John Wilson orchestra. This was followed by the introduction from 'Mike Todd's Broadway' LP played by the Robert Farnon orchestra. As the music faded, David Ades welcomed us to the meeting, giving a particular welcome to David Farnon and his two sons, Tom and George.
The programme proper opened with Get me to the Church on Time featuring the Robert Farnon orchestra, a track from a forthcoming Vocalion release.
Our friend Forrest Patten had recently lost his wife Nancy and had particularly requested that we playA Promise of Spring in her memory. This was from a CD recorded at Watford Town Hall back in August 1991 and was played by the Royal Philharmonic orchestra under the direction of Robert Farnon.
Albert Killman then introduced a recording of Doris Day with Andre Previn, My One and only Love and David introduced Cyril Ornadel and his Orchestra with Winifred Atwell (piano) in Moonlight Fiesta. This served as a tribute to our member Cyril Ornadel who died recently. It reminded me of an occasion nearly thirty years ago when I met Cyril during a broadcast of his 'Starlight Symphony' arrangements, specially recreated in the Maida Vale studios, for 'Music While You Work'.
Next, Albert presented a video of Ronnie Scott (Tenor Sax) with the Victor Feldman Trio playing Bob'sSummer Love on an early BBC2 programme 'Jazz 625'
This was followed by the Roy Budd Trio playing a jazz arrangement of Ding Dong Merrily on High. This was played in honour of Sylvia Budd (Roy Budd's widow) who was in the audience.
Next, a super piece of light music, Edelma by the late Terig Tucci, played by the Percy Faith Orchestra. This piece has always been a particular favourite of mine! We then heard David Rose and his orchestra playThe Rose of Bel-Air from a new Guild CD 'The Lost Transcriptions – Volume 3'
David Ades then explained the implication of the new 70 year copyright legislation recently passed by Brussels, pointing out that it will have little effect on Guild CDs as it will not be made retroactive - that is to say - everything currently out of copyright will remain so. Also, the new proposals will not become law until ratified by the EU countries, which could take up to a couple of years. So material recorded up to the early sixties will always be available to companies such as Guild to reissue without infringing copyright.
Another new CD from Guild is 'The Art of the Arranger - Volume 1' ( a hint that there is to be a volume 2!) From this we heard the Angela Morley (as Wally Stott) orchestra playing a Morley arrangement of Carroll Coates' London by Night. This was originally on a Philips LP - 'London Pride'.
We then heard a track from an album called 'Cooking with the lid on' featuring the Skelton/Skinner band (John Wilson with Colin Skinner (vibes) and Barry Skelton (drums). David then introduced the George Melachrino Orchestra with Christmas Alphabet from the new Guild CD 'Christmas Celebration'
After this, David introduced our old friend John Fox, who signed some copies of his book' My Musical World', in the interval. David also told us of the resurrection of UK LIght Radio which, initially would take the form of two hours of programming on Radio Six International (www.radiosix.com) usually around 4.00pm every Sunday afternoon, commencing November 6th.
The first section of our programme concluded with a video of the John Wilson orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, playing There's no Business Like Show Business. How do you follow that?
Well, you don't! You take the first interval!
Suitably refreshed, we returned to our seats, and Tony Claydon introduced our President, David Farnon who had kindly come along to talk to us about the extensive Farnon family, most of whom shared Bob's musical talent and had enjoyed considerable success. We had a video screen available, so David showed us pictures of Bob's parents, Elsie and Robert who were accomplished performers of the piano and violin respectively. To use a biblical phrase, they begat Nora, Brian, Dennis and, of course, Robert Farnon. We then listened to Brian Farnon's Christmas Land featuring Tony Bennett and arranged by Bob, whose younger brother Dennis (now 88) was featured in his composition Caution, Men Swinging - the title track of an LP of the same name, which has been reissued by Vocalion. We then heard Resume Speed from the same album, also written by Dennis. We then watched 'Mr Magoo' on the video screen, again accompanied by music written by Dennis Farnon. One final piece from Dennis followed and that was his opening theme from Bouquet of Barbed Wire.
David then went on to talk about Brian Farnon's daughters Sharon and Charmian; indeed we then turned to the video to see and hear Charmian perform 'Sixteen going on Seventeen' from "The Sound of Music". Brian's daughter Darlene was the eldest of three sisters, with a string of television series to her credit. So we watched her in a sequence from 'Streets of San Francisco'.
Back in the UK, jazz singer and bass player Nicola Farnon was then seen performing The Lady is a Tramp.
Trumpeter Tom Walsh (Bob's grandson) was then featured in 'Bah Humbug' - performing with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Is there no end to this Farnon family talent? They must surely have been cloned!
David Farnon had brought his two sons with him on this occasion and we hope that they enjoyed sampling the activities of the Society.
David concluded with two performances from his son Tom, firstly in Glowing Panorama from the film 'Fatalis' and this was followed by Saucy Date thus concluding a fascinating presentation.
It just remained for David to draw the raffle, after which we took another break whilst the stage was prepared for the live music that was to follow.
Unfortunately, during the course of David Farnon's presentation the lights went out on several occasions, making it very difficult for a humble scribe such as myself to accurately chronicle the contents of the presentation, let alone read them afterwards! I still haven't deciphered the bit that I wrote on my trousers!
So please excuse any errors or omissions!
It really was a special day. Having been honoured by the presence of our President we were now to be entertained by that show business stalwart Rosemary Squires, MBE - who apart from her fine qualities as a singer and entertainer is one of nicest people in show business – and for many years a member of our society.
Her performance for us took the form of one of her stage presentations, in which she told us little anecdotes about her career in between the songs.
She was accompanied throughout by bass player Simon Thorpe and the famous broadcasting pianist Brian Dee, who has played regularly for her over the years.
Rosemary opened with The Song is You, followed by a Judy Garland medley, comprising I'm just wild about Harry, Good Morning, Our Love Affair and You Made me Love You. Next came a monologue entitled A Pair of Brown Boots.
Rosemary, reminding us that earlier in her career she had recorded as 'Joanne and the Streamliners' then performed the comic song Frankfurter Sandwiches. In more conventional style she then sangSometimes a day goes by.
Rosemary is also well-known for television commercials and she proceeded to sing us a few bars of 'Fry's Turkish Delight', 'Mackeson's', 'Skol lager', 'Comfort', 'Knorr Beef Stock', 'Coffeemate' and of course the one for which she is most remembered - 'Fairy Liquid'. You know how it goes - The hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid !
Commercials over, Rosemary introduced her pianist, Brian Dee who played Misty for us.
Appropriately, Rosemary followed this with I Love a Piano and Hello Dolly in which she did an amazing impersonation of Louis Armstrong - not just his voice, but a vocal version of his trumpet playing, which really brought the house down!
Then, as a tribute to Ray Ellington she sang Nice Work if you Can Get It followed by Mack the Knife.
Rosemary has often been called 'The British Doris Day' so it was fitting that she concluded her performance with a tribute to her, singing Whatever Will Be, Will Be followed by They Can't Take That Away from Me.
So ended a very special performance by a lady who remains ever-youthful and who certainly brought a sparkle to our meeting - without the use of Fairy Green Liquid!
It just remained for David to thank Rosemary and all who had participated in the afternoon's entertainment. However, it wasn't time to go yet and Rosemary joined us for a buffet - and I have to say that the hotel really did us proud, with what for me, was the best buffet I have ever tasted!
We shall all be back in May for another special treat - as the superb nine-piece London Salon Ensemble will be our guests in an afternoon of light music.