Great American Light Orchestras Volume 2 : Travellin’ Light

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Great American Light Orchestras Volume 2 : Travellin’ Light

1 Travellin’ Light (Victor Young) WALTER SCHARF AND HIS ORCHESTRA
3 Laura (from the film "Laura") (Johnny Mercer & David Raksin) DAVID ROSE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
4 Limehouse Blues (from "Andre Charlot’s Revue of 1924") (Douglas Furber & Philip Braham) MORTON GOULD AND HIS ORCHESTRA
5 Mine (from "Let ‘Em Eat Cake") (George & Ira Gershwin) ANDRE KOSTELANETZ AND HIS ORCHESTRA
6 The Grasshopper (Bernard Landes) CONDUCTED BY CAMARATA
7 The Very Thought Of You (Ray Noble) RICHARD HAYMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
8 The Girl With The Spanish Drawl (Wow! Wow! Wow!) (Fausto Curbelo & John A. Camacho) PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
9 The Continental (from film "The Gay Divorcee") (Herb Magidson & Con Conrad) BOSTON ‘POPS’ ORCHESTRA Conducted by ARTHUR FIEDLER
10 I Love Louisa (from "The Band Wagon") (Arthur Schwartz & Howard Dietz) THE PITTSBURGH STRINGS arranged and conducted by RICHARD JONES
12 I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me (Clarence Gaskill & Jimmy McHugh) NELSON RIDDLE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
13 New York In A Nutshell (Nicholas Acquaviva & Ted Varnick) ACQUAVIVA AND HIS ORCHESTRA
14 The Little Toy Shop (Kermit Leslie & Walter Leslie) KERMIT LESLIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
15 Calico Square Dance (Meredith Willson) MEREDITH WILLSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
16 All The Things You Are (from "Very Warm for May") (Oscar Hammerstein II & Jerome Kern) GORDON JENKINS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
17 Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Leon Jessel, arr. Morton Gould) ROBIN HOOD DELL ORCHESTRA Conducted by MORTON GOULD
18 Kentucky Trotter (Frank Perkins) FRANK PERKINS AND HIS "POPS" ORCHESTRA
19 Tambourine Chinois (Fritz Kreisler) DAVID CARROLL AND HIS ORCHESTRA
20 Little Jumping Jack (Ralph Maria Seigel) CONDUCTED BY CAMARATA
21 I Concentrate On You (from film "Broadway Melody of 1940") (Cole Porter) ANDRE KOSTELANETZ AND HIS ORCHESTRA
22 My Silent Love (Jazz Nocturne) (Edward Heyman & Dana Suesse) MORTON GOULD AND HIS ORCHESTRA
23 The Flying Horse (David Rose) DAVID ROSE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
24 The Piccolino (from film "Top Hat") (Irving Berlin) THE PITTSBURGH STRINGS arranged and conducted by RICHARD JONES
26 Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (from the film "Lili") (Helen Deutsch & Bronislau Kaper) VICTOR YOUNG AND HIS SINGING STRINGS
27 What’s Good About Goodbye? (from film "Casbah") (Leo Robin & Harold Arlen) DAVID ROSE AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Readers of this magazine will need little introduction to many of the famous orchestras included in this collection, but it is hoped that there will be some pleasant surprises among the ‘old friends’. Camarata’s records were not widely distributed worldwide, and how many people can boast a recording by Kermit Leslie on their shelves? When enthusiasts talk about ‘The World of Light Music’ they often intend that their words should be taken literally, because there was a time – mainly during the middle years of the last century – when pleasant, tuneful melodies could be heard regularly emanating from radio loudspeakers in many parts of the world. This was reflected in commercial recordings, because listeners often wanted to be able to hear their favourite music and orchestras at times of their own choosing. Commercial pressures eventually forced changes as younger generations acquired more disposable cash for items such as records, but in countries where there was a strong public broadcasting ethos (mainly Europe and former British colonies) the commercial pressures were less keenly felt, resulting in radio orchestras surviving longer than in the ‘new world’. In America conductors such as Andre Kostelanetz, David Rose and Percy Faith built a strong following as a result of their radio work in the 1930s and 1940s, which translated into healthy record sales well into the LP era of the 1950s. Some of them managed to survive the arrival of Elvis Presley and The Beatles on the entertainment scene, but others simply could not afford the high expense of keeping an orchestra together for the diminishing radio and recording work on offer. There was also the ‘problem’ of adapting to changing musical tastes: orchestras were forced to play pop songs with a beat, and echo chambers and other electronic gadgets certainly didn’t help. The end result was that the pop-fed youngsters were totally unimpressed and disinterested, and the traditional fans of the orchestras hated the ‘new modern sounds’. Happily there was a ‘golden age’ for a while when music was more important than gimmickry, and recording managers were prepared to trust the good musical sense of conductors, arrangers and composers. Such a period in America is recreated in this Compact Disc. The selection takes its title from a sparkling composition by Victor Young (1900-1956). He excelled as a violinist, arranger, film composer, songwriter, conductor and record producer. This wide experience in all forms of music, from his first hit song, Sweet Sue, Just You in 1928 to his tremendous score for "Around the World in 80 Days" in 1956, was exceptional even by Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood standards, all the more so because his international reputation was achieved in such a short lifetime. Like so many of his contemporaries, he found work with various dance bands of the 1920s and 1930s, before eventually ending up in Hollywood, where he discovered the ideal outlet for his melodic gifts. Walter Scharf (1910-2003) was mainly a film score composer and arranger, who received ten Academy Award nominations. He also worked extensively in US television with stars like Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Hugo Winterhalter (1909-1973) created arrangements for Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Claude Thornhill and others before several record companies recognised his true potential. Between 1948 and 1963 he was musical director at MGM, Columbia, RCA and Kapp, with several big sellers to his credit. Leroy Anderson’s Blue Tango was one of the first. David Rose (1910-1990) was born in London, England, and the family moved to the USA when he was just four-years-old. He began working in movies in 1941 and is credited with scoring 36 films. In 1943 he had a big hit with his own composition Holiday For Strings which firmly launched him as a light music composer in the eyes of the public. In total he won five Grammy awards and six gold records. Morton Gould (1913-1996) became one of the most highly respected American composers, and his distinguished career was crowned with a Pulitzer Prize (for his Stringmusic, commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich for the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington) just a year before his death at the age of 82. Among his best-known works were the ballet Fall River Legend and American Symphonette No. 3,which became better known as Pavanne (the mis-spelling was deliberate). From 1986 to 1994 Gould was President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Andre Kostelanetz (1901-1980) was one of the biggest names in American light orchestral music during the middle years of the 20th century. He created a rich symphonic style of scoring that was to transform many popular melodies into minor masterpieces, and there is little doubt that he influenced many of his contemporaries. Born in Russia, in 1928 he became a naturalised American, and in the same year he began a long association with the Atlantic Broadcasting System (later CBS) which resulted in a series of very popular radio programmes which lasted from the early 1930s right through to the 1950s. His arrangements favoured light and shade, with extremely loud passages being followed (sometimes quite abruptly) by quieter phases, often involving only a few instruments. Early 78 discs found it difficult to cope, especially when the softer moments were aggravated by the hisses and crackles inherent in the poor quality pressings that were around in the 1940s due to war conditions. But that didn’t stop people from buying them: during the 1940s Columbia calculated that his sales had topped 20 million records in the USA alone. In 1950 his record company confirmed that he was their best-selling Masterworks artist, further adding to his prestige. Salvatore (‘Tutti’) Camarata (1913-2005) was an accomplished trumpet player, but he found his true musical niche during the 1930s as arranger for top bands such as Charlie Barnet, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman. For a number of years he was musical director of ABC and Decca Records, and was a co-founder of London Records (the US arm of Britain’s Decca). He also worked for the Disney Studios and helped to establish Disneyland Records. During one of his periods based in England, in 1948 he recorded Robert Farnon’s arrangement of the famous Chopin work Fantaisie Impromptu in C sharp minor (Decca F8885 – recently reissued on Guild GLCD5101). An updated version, featuring Jane Pickles on flute, is included in the Vocalion CD "Hey There" (CDSA 6811). As well as being a respected arranger and conductor, Richard Hayman (b. 1920) was also a harmonica virtuoso, and he sometimes adapted his scores of popular melodies so that he could perform on his favourite instrument. This formula brought him two chart successes in the early 1950s, with 78s of Ruby and April In Portugal. He followed Leroy Anderson as an arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra over a period of more than 30 years, and also served as Music Director of Mercury Records. He was regularly in demand to orchestrate Broadway shows and film soundtracks, and notable among his own compositions are No Strings Attached and Skipping Along. Percy Faith (1908-1976) was born in Toronto, Canada, and originally he expected that his musical career would be as a concert pianist. But he injured his hands in a fire, which forced him to turn to composing, arranging and conducting. During the 1930s his programme "Music By Faith" was carried by the Mutual network in the USA, which prompted offers of work south of the border. He eventually succumbed in 1940, leaving Robert Farnon (previously his lead trumpeter) to conduct his Canadian orchestra. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Faith arranged all his own material, and his exciting and vibrant scores made his work stand out among the rest. For many years Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979) was always linked in the mind with The Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra, although in Britain its records were released under the name Boston ‘Promenade’ Orchestra, which seemed more in keeping with its repertoire. It took quite a long while before the American term ‘Pops’ Orchestra finally gained acceptance elsewhere. At the time when The Continental was recorded, Leroy Anderson was the full-time arranger, so it seems most likely that he was responsible for this inventive score. During the post-war years, Anderson enjoyed considerable fame with his own compositions, especially Blue Tango played on this CD by the Hugo Winterhalter orchestra. During the 1950s and 60s many record companies became obsessed with albums featuring strings.  Recordings by the Victor Young Singing Strings (featured in Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo), The Castaway Strings, The San Sebastian Strings, The September Strings, The Knightsbridge Strings, The Clebanoff Strings, The Living Strings, 101 Strings and many others were released in abundance.  Capitol had the famous Hollyridge Strings created by Stu Phillips in 1964 but, like most "string" ensembles, they often included brass and woodwind, either as solo instruments or, a contradiction in terms, as complete sections of the orchestra. However, Capitol had first ventured into this genre some 11 years earlier when they commissioned Richard Jones to arrange for, and conduct, the complete string section of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, led by their famous concertmaster Samuel Thavin, in several albums which were 100% strings. Our two tracks come from their second album, "Moonlight And Violins". Billy Vaughn (1931-1991) began his career playing piano and singing baritone in the group ‘The Hilltoppers’, before joining Dot Records as musical director where he accompanied many of the label’s top singers. He became one of the most successful orchestra leaders during the rock’n’roll era, and from 1955 to 1970 he managed to get 36 titles into the USA Top 200 charts, including No. 1 in 1960 with Theme from ‘A Summer Place’. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985) was a trombonist during his early career, which could explain why that particular instrument was featured in some of his most inventive arrangements for Frank Sinatra. Riddle’s scores also enhanced the recording careers of many top stars, from Nat ‘King’ Cole and Dean Martin to Judy Garland and Peggy Lee. He made a few instrumental albums on his own, but one is left with the impression that he could have achieved more in this area, had he not been so successful accompanying the finest singers around. Nicholas Acquaviva was not a frequent visitor to the recording studios, but he gained recognition in the USA through his involvement with the Symphony of the Air orchestra and as conductor of the New York ‘Pops’ Symphony Orchestra. Kermit Leslie (real name Kermit Levinsky)was born in New York City, and was working as a professional musician by the time he was fourteen. In 1939 he joined Alvino Rey’s band as saxophonist and arranger, until he was conscripted during the Second World War. Later he studied harmony and counterpoint, and for a while became an arranger with Tommy Dorsey. He was a prolific composer (often with his brother Walter) with over 50 published titles to his credit, although Walter’s total is even higher. Meredith Willson (b. 1902) achieved his biggest success as composer of the Broadway musical "The Music Man" which was also turned into a popular film starring Robert Preston. Willson originally played the flute in John Philip Sousa’s band, then in the New York Philharmonic. A busy career in radio and films followed, punctuated by a spell as a major in the Armed Forces Radio Service during World War 2. Calico Square Dance is unusual in that it is actually in two keys at once. There are two basic melodies in the piece – one of them the familiar Old Joe Clark, while the other was Willson’s own creation. Gordon Jenkins (1910-1984) arranged for many of the top bands in America during the two World Wars, and he soon carved out an impressive career in radio and films. He signed with US Decca in 1945, and eventually became their managing director. Under his guidance the label had several big hits, although it has to be said that his own instrumental records sometimes disappointed. Far better were his arrangements for Nat ‘King’ Cole (especially Stardust) and Frank Sinatra (the album No One Cares). All The Things You Are comes from a collection of Jerome Kern Melodies, indicating that Jenkins could have created a far greater amount of tuneful orchestral scores, given the chance. Frank Perkins (b. 1908) has written some catchy novelties, including Kentucky Trotter, althoughone of his biggest hits was Fandango (with the benefit of an added lyric by John Bradford). David Carroll (b. 1913) was musical director of Mercury Records from 1951 to the early 1960s, during which time he accompanied many of the label’s contract singers as well as making some instrumental recordings of his own. Several of his LPs had a ‘dance’ theme, often including his own compositions, and he employed the cream of Chicago’s session musicians. Sometimes he used the solo voice of Betty Gilchrist to add an extra special dimension. For much of the 20th century the USA acted like a magnet for numerous people facing oppression in their own homelands. Many creative artists and musicians discovered a welcome refuge where their talents could be freely expressed, and the result was a flowering of popular culture such as had never been witnessed previously. The world of light music certainly shared in this Golden Age, fuelled by emerging technologies such as radio, the cinema and eventually television. Sound recordings played a major role in the enjoyment of the masses, and they allow us to participate again in the tuneful music of that unique period in history. David Ades

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