(Van Heusen; Delange)
Reg Owen Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton
One of the most underrated composers, arrangers and conductors of the 20th century European scene was Reg Owen (born George Owen Smith, (1921-1978). I first came across him as one of the original orchestrators for Ted Heath’s Music after WW2, with classics like Colonel Bogey, Blue Skies March, Sidewalks of Cuba, Cuban Crescendo (composer) and Village Fair.
Impressed as I was with these arrangements, there was something else he produced for which I shall be eternally grateful - The Reg Owen Arranging Method of 1956. It’s the best one of its kind easily outdoing many other big name manuals on how to orchestrate. Owen covered every aspect of arranging from the smallest combination to a full orchestra. Each instrument was thoroughly defined, including its range. His coverage of the subject was so complete that the book became my bible of music. If it hadn’t been for Owen, I would never have been so well informed and given the incentive to be an arranger.
He is mostly remembered as a ‘one hit wonder’ because of his 1958 best-selling recording of Manhattan Spiritual. His excellent film scores were also very much part of his career.
One of his non-dance band arrangements was an early 1938 Jimmy Van Heusen ballad called Deep in a Dream played by a studio orchestra in 1960. It’s a very apt title given its ethereal quality with good lyrics by bandleader Eddie DeLange. First to greet the ears are the unmistakable sounds of Flamingo even though it hadn’t been written then. A “Gordon Jenkins” type tempo accompanies a horn in a lazy start with a hint of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. This quite predictable melody creeps along at a snail’s pace sliding on to very basic chords. Time for the irresistible strings to make an entry which they invariably do. Like most arrangers who adore them, Reg Owen always kept one eye on the main chance ready to feed them in.
“Then from the ceiling, sweet flutes come stealing” giving the bridge a little stressful undertow with pizzicato strings, while taking us gently back to the main tune. Once again strings are the thing as we wander among the flamingos waking up from our serious siesta.
Guild Light Music
My favorite album by Reg Owen is "Deep In A Dream". The arrangements are beautiful!! I still have this record from 1959, what a treasure.Report Comment Link
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