Dateline June 2004
Brian Neal owns a Blüthner Grand Piano which was formerly the proud possession of the composer Lambert Williamson. Before that it was the property of Victor Hely Hutchinson – probably during World War 2 around the time when he was Head of Music at the BBC.
Robert Walton recently discovered that Philip Buchel (co-composer with Robert Farnon of Jockey on the Carousel and Winter Jasmine (featured on the new "Showcase for Soloists" CD) played alto sax with Spike Hughes’s DeccaDents. Hughes himself was a jazz bassist and arranger, and another notable member of the same group was trumpeter Max Goldberg. Philip Buchel was also a talented tap-dancer; he and his wife Betty choreographed several British musicals, including "Spring in Park Lane" and "Maytime in Mayfair".
RFS member Johnny McLain is still succeeding in getting his new works published. Recent settings to poems include Mamble by John Drinkwater (1882-1937); Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (1878-1917); and I Came To Oxford by Gerald Gould (1885-1936). These pieces are being published by Westerleigh Publications (based in Devon) under the collective title ‘Three Places in Old England’. If any readers would like more information about Johnny’s music, they are welcome to write to him at: 42 Osidge Lane, Southgate, London, N14 5JG.
Towards the end of this year Sigmund Groven will be releasing a new CD of harmonica music, in which he is accompanied by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra Conducted by John Wilson. We look forward to giving you more details in a future issue.
Charles Prior heard On a Spring Note by Sidney Torch on a US radio commercial for Walgreens (a drugstore chain) last year. He also spotted Champagne March in a documentary about Cedar Point, an Ohio amusement park.
Frank Comstock keeps an eye on the jazz column in a local California paper The Orange County Register. When Billy May died, Steve Eddy wrote that he was the last of Sinatra’s arrangers. David Ades sent him an e-mail, which resulted in the following note a few weeks later: "Who says the Register doesn’t cross the ocean? The Robert Farnon Society’s David Ades gently took me to task (as only Brits can do) for saying in a Billy May obit that he was ‘the last surviving member of Frank Sinatra’s exclusive club of musical arrangers’. Ades rightfully pointed out that Farnon is still with us and active at age 86. And, while they weren’t as associated with Sinatra as May, Nelson Riddle and some others, you can add at least a couple of others who penned charts for Blue Eyes, and are still alive and kicking – Neal Hefti and Quincy Jones."
Franck Leprince has been keeping very busy as a professional violinist since he left the Army. This April he played at a Wigmore Hall concert as a member of ‘Ensemble – Inconstantes’ under the baton of Alan Danson, which featured the violinist Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne (former BBC Young Musician of the Year, and also BBC Radio-2 Young Musician 2000), and the soprano Hasmik Papian. Franck tells us that he gets little chance to play light music these days, although he is involved with a group of four musicians including the fine pianist and RFS member Elaine Korman, who has recently retired from the English National Opera. They perform "An Evening of Popular Classics" about once a month at various venues in the South West of England, and their repertoire includes pieces from the 1920s and 1930s – and even the 1950s!
From time to time we are asked about certain ‘big names’ in the music world, who have very little written about them on the internet. Often it is virtually impossible to discover what they are doing and if, in fact, they are still active musically. Such a ‘name’ is Tutti Camarata, so we were pleased to find a recent piece about him in Encore, that interesting monthly magazine aimed at professionals in the theatre. Recently Camarata received a Disney Legend Award from Walt Disney’s son. It will be remembered that Camarata first came to our attention in England in the 1940s when he was engaged by J. Arthur Rank to work on the musical "London Town" which featured the Ted Heath Orchestra and many leading British stars of the time. The film flopped, but Camarata stayed behind in England to work at Decca and set up London Records in the USA. Eventually he returned to the USA, and joined Disney, making a success of their record label. Today, with his son Paul, he runs Sunset Sound Studios in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, and is still very active despite reaching 90 years of age. Some of his recordings from over 50 years ago are starting to appear in the new Guild Light Music series of CDs.
Don’t forget that our website is one of the facilities offered to you as a member of the RFS. You are encouraged to visit us regularly at www.rfsoc.org.uk and specifically we recommend you to check the Latest News section of the RFS Information page to see if there are any important announcements.
If you are on the internet, do visit the ‘Links’ page on our website regularly. This is continually being updated by Chris Landor, and just recently he has come across some very interesting places for you to visit.
Hans-Andreas Winkler has set up an internet website in honour of his late father, the German composer Gerhard Winkler (1906-1977). Although presently only in German, it is well worth a visit and you can hear two recordings of one of his best-known songs "Capri-Fischer". Of course his biggest international success was "Answer Me". www.capri-fischer.de
Alan Nuttall and the Hale Light Orchestra presented ‘A Springtime Festival of Light Orchestral Music’ in Altrincham, Cheshire on 28 March reports David Mardon. The concert included many familiar favourites such as In Party Mood (Jack Strachey), Shortcake Walk (Sidney Torch), Puffin’ Billy(Edward White) and Ronald Hanmer’s arrangement of Mexican Hat Dance.
Ray Clark has alerted us to some recent interesting documentaries on video from Beulah and other companies. There are also plans for some classic British Transport Films shorts to appear on DVD later this year. Ray points out that the quality on DVD is often better than on video, so it may be worth while waiting for forthcoming DVD releases in some cases. Here are some recent releases that Ray recommends:
Capital Transport [Yesterday’s Britain] No. 31 – Beulah YB31 (send for their catalogue - Beulah, 66 Rochester Way, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN6 2DU); Holidays on Wheels – promotional films from the 1950s for Wallace Arnold coaches (telephone orders on 01624 640000); Look At Life – The 1960s, another 6 films from this well remembered Rank Organisation cinema series available on video and DVD (Video 125, PO Box 81, Ascot, SL5 9TC – tel. 01344 628565); Those Were The Days – Pathe Newsreels from various decades, issued on both video and DVD (widely available through retailers); Northumberland in 1953 – a Northern Heritage production featuring a BTF film on rural life including footage not included in the original film (order by Freephone 0800 716959). All these films make full use of contemporary mood music from the likes of Chappell, Boosey & Hawkes etc.
The clarinettist, saxophonist and singer Gerry Ozarow, born on 18 December 1922, died on 1 February 2004 writes Sunil Hiranandani. In a Nostalgia article ‘Life Was Funny Sometimes’ Gerry described himself as the poor man’s Charlie Ventura or, on a good night, the poor man’s Illinois Jacquet. He remembered doing a version of Roses of Picardy which turned into Roses of Jeopardywhen the trumpeter’s mute dropped out! He recalled one musician doing an impression of the bandleader, at which the bandleader walked in and said: "this is my impression of you getting the sack!" His early career found him in the bands of Billy Merrin, Billy Bevan and Lou Preager, playing in locations like the Cumberland Hotel, where Joan Collins was waiting on tables.