Musical Kaleidoscope – Volume 2
Musical Kaleidoscope – Volume 2
1 Kaleidoscope (Dolf van der Linden)
DOLF VAN DER LINDEN AND HIS METROPOLE ORCHESTRA
2 Circus Polka (Garfield de Mortimer – real name Trevor Boswell, Young)
REG OWEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
3 Bewitched (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
FELIX KING, HIS PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
4 Bobbysox Bounce (George Melachrino)
GEORGE MELACHRINO AND HIS ORCHESTRA
5 Shadow Of A Man (theme from the film) (Carr)
JACKIE BROWN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
6 Down The Solent – Overture (Felton Rapley)
NEW CENTURY ORCHESTRA Conducted by SIDNEY TORCH
7 The Broken Horseshoe (theme from the film) (Wilfred Burns)
WILFRED BURNS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
8 Sea Reivers (from "Two Hebridean Sea Poems") (Granville Bantock)
LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER COLLINS
9 Frenesi (Alberto Borras Dominguez, Leonard Whitcup)
DON FELIPE AND HIS CUBAN CABALLEROS (actually PHILIP GREEN)
10 Columbine (Leighton Lucas)
LEIGHTON LUCAS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
11 Oriental Dance (Granville Bantock)
LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER COLLINS
12 Saluting Base (Cecil Milner)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES WILLIAMS
13 Jay Walker (Maurice Grew)
STUTTGART RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by KURT REHFELD
Short and Sweet
14 Park Lane Serenade (Dolf van der Linden)
DOLF VAN DER LINDEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
15 Ticker Tape (Sidney Torch)
TELECAST ORCHESTRA Conducted by ELLIOTT MAYES
16 Pioneer Trail (Charles Williams)
DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
17 Intermission (Ronald Hanmer)
L’ORCHESTRE DEVEREAUX Conducted by GEORGES DEVEREAUX
18 Cigarette Girl (Len Stevens)
TELECAST ORCHESTRA Conducted by ELLIOTT MAYES
19 Skiddles (Sherman Feller, arr. Robinson)
GEORGE LIBERACE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
20 A Pinch Of Salt (G. Powell)
RAY VENTURA AND HIS ORCHESTRA
21 Doreen (Andrew Ackers, Sunny Skylar)
MONTY KELLY AND HIS ORCHESTRA
22 Dagger Dance (Victor Herbert)
ALFONZO D’ARTEGA AND HIS ORCHESTRA
23 Pizzicato Tango (Perry)
ARTURO CHAITE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Three Pieces from "Woodland Sketches" Op.51 (Edward Alexander MacDowell)
24 In Autumn
25 From Uncle Remus
26 By A Meadow Brook
CAMARATA AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Drama, Menace and Excitement
27 The Duel (Sidney Torch)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by SIDNEY TORCH
28 The Four Horsemen (Ronald Hanmer)
HARMONIC ORCHESTRA Conducted by HANS MAY
29 Follow That Car (Charles Williams)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
30 Inhumanity (Trevor Duncan, real name Leonard Trebilco)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by FREDERIC CURZON
Guild GLCD 5140
Many of the orchestras and conductors on these latest Guild CDs will already be familiar to readers of this magazine, so we will concentrate more on the lesser known musicians, some of them appearing for the first time in the ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series.
Guild’s second ‘Musical Kaleidoscope’ (the first is on GLCD 5139 and full details appeared in our last issue) also begins with a tune called Kaleidoscope, this time composed and conducted by that famous Dutch maestro Dolf van der Linden (1915-1999). He was the major figure in the Netherlands popular music field from the 1940s until the 1980s, and became one of the most respected conductors of the European Light Music scene.
Reg Owen (born George Owen Smith, 1921-1978) took up the saxophone at fifteen, played in youth bands then completed his education at the Royal College of Music in London. Following RAF service, in which he played for the Bomber Command Band, he became arranger for the Ted Heath orchestra from 1945, then arranged for other conductors including Cyril Stapleton. When he joined the PRS in 1954 he decided to change his name legally to "Reginald Owen." Regarded as one of England's leading orchestrators, Reg published his book "The Reg Owen Arranging Method" in 1956. By some he is labelled a ‘one hit wonder’ thanks to his best-selling recording of Manhattan Spiritual in 1958. His own film scores date from 1957 and include "Murder Reported" (1958), "Very Important Person" (1961), "A Coming-Out Party" (1961) and "Payroll" (1962). He moved to Brussels in 1961, though he continued to arrange, compose and conduct albums all over Europe, including France, Germany and Italy before moving finally to Spain where he died in 1978.
Felix Ferdinand King (1912-1982) became popular in Britain following the Second World War due to his recordings, broadcasts and tenure with his orchestra at some of the leading West End clubs. His long career actually began in the early 1930s as a dance band pianist, including for a while the newly-formed Victor Silvester orchestra in 1935. King also composed for films and ventured into Europe until war service in the RAF brought his career to a temporary halt.
Many of the light orchestral composers and conductors of the post-war years cut their teeth in the dance bands of the 1930s, and some certainly knew how to swing. A prime example is George Melachrino (1909-1965), whose Bobbysox Bounce has been requested by several loyal collectors of this series. It is not strictly Light Music, but Guild is pleased to bend the rules on this occasion and offer it as a ‘special track’ in this varied selection of often rare pieces which, hopefully, has included something for everybody.
"Shadow of a Man" was a 1954 British film which failed to excite the critics, which may explain why it seems to have vanished almost without trace. Jackie Brown is credited with composing and conducting the incidental music, while the title theme was probably the work of Michael Carr (real name Maurice Cohen, 1904-1968) who wrote many popular songs, often in collaboration with Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984). Jackie Brown was one of Britain’s leading cinema organists, equally at home on large theatre consoles as well as their small electronic counterparts performed by enthusiasts at home. His output as a composer was relatively sparse, although light music aficionados regard his Metropolis (on Guild GLCD 5102) as one of the finest pieces of its kind. He worked on around a dozen films, and was the unseen conductor who used to direct the Billy Cotton Band for its television shows while Bill himself performed on-screen. Jackie also became a household name in Britain thanks to his regular appearances on Hughie Green’s (1920-1997) "Double Your Money" TV quiz show.
Bernard Wilfred Harris, better known as ‘Wilfred Burns’ (1917-1990) was another prolific composer of mood music who remained a backroom-boy for much of his career, although his name was seen on screen in a number of films. As a teenager he was a church organist and in 1936 joined the Army as a bandsman in the 4th Queens’ Own Hussars. He was posted abroad in November 1940 and captured in Greece the following April. Shrapnel wounds had destroyed his left eye, and damaged his hand and arm. He was a prisoner of war for two and half years, during which time he set up and ran a prisoners' band in which all the players had little or no sight, using instruments supplied by the Red Cross. After the Second World War ended he composed numerous pieces of mood music for various music publishers, and also worked at Elstree studios before eventually becoming a freelance film composer and musical director. His first of over twenty films was around 1949, with his final score in the 1970s. His best-known was probably the large screen version of the popular television series "Dad’s Army" in 1971. Leading London mood music publishers accepted more than 200 of his works for their libraries and he achieved possibly his greatest success when his piece Saturday Sports was chosen by BBC Television for its long-running "Sportsview" programme which began in 1954.
In response to several requests, Sir Granville Bantock (1868-1946), who was knighted in 1930, is represented by two contrasting works on this CD – Sea Reivers and Oriental Dance. He is said to have been influenced by the folk music of the Hebrides (off the coast of Scotland) and the music of Richard Wagner, and at one time his work was being compared with Elgar. In fact he succeeded Sir Edward Elgar as professor of music at the University of Birmingham in 1908. In recent years Bantock’s music has enjoyed a modest revival with new recordings of some of his major compositions, notably his Hebridean, Celtic and Pagan symphonies. He was instrumental in the founding of the City of Birmingham Orchestra whose first performance in 1920 was of his Overture: Saul.
Leighton Lucas (1903-1982) seems to have been at home in the realms of more serious music (especially ballet and opera) yet he also produced some pleasing light music and enjoyed success with scores for several prestigious films. In 1954 he wrote the incidental music for "The Dam Busters" (Eric Coates only contributed the famous march), and other projects included "Target for Tonight" (1941 – the theme is on Guild GLCD 5118), "The Yangtse Incident" (1957) and "Ice Cold in Alex" (1958). At one time the Leighton Lucas Orchestra was heard regularly on BBC Radio, and he made some mood music recordings for EMI’s short-lived recorded music library during the 1940s.
Edward Cecil Milner (1905-1989) was a respected backroom boy in London music circles, arranging for many top orchestras such as Mantovani, for whom he supplied over 200 scores. He was also an accomplished composer (he was being recognised while still in his twenties), with his works, such as Saluting Base for Chappells, willingly accepted by several background music publishers. It is particularly appropriate that this piece should be conducted by Charles Williams, since the two were closely associated from their days working on pre-war British films (another of Milner’s good friends from the same period was Clive Richardson). In the cinema he worked on some 50 films (often for Louis Levy) most notably the 1938 classic "The Lady Vanishes".
Some pieces of light music last only a little over a minute, but in those precious seconds many talented composers have managed to produce perfect cameos that have become memorable in their own way. Often they have been used as signature tunes helping to bury them even deeper into one’s musical subconscious, ready to be triggered at unexpected moments. Titles somehow seem irrelevant: it is the catchy passages and general ambience that is so appealing. Bowing to many requests, we have assembled a small group of such pieces under the heading ‘Short and Sweet’. Dolf van der Linden’s many fans in his native Netherlands will soon recognise Park Lane Serenade as his familiar theme, while British television viewers have heard Charles Williams’ Pioneer Trail for countless years in the annual BBC TV awards for the nation’s most popular sporting personalities. In the early days of commercial television in Britain there used to be advertising features (much like their cinema counterparts at the time) where companies could have their products shown in quick succession in vision only without a spoken soundtrack. The music used in the background in the London area while these messages were flashed on the screen was Cigarette Girl by Len Stevens. The other two pieces in this section will also be familiar to many through their repeated hearings for various purposes.
After the "Shorts" the spotlight firstly falls upon two orchestras new to this Guild series. George Liberace’s (1911-1983) claim to fame somewhat unfairly rests upon the fact that his brother ‘Lee’ (his real first names were Wladziu Valentino but he only used his surname professionally) was a flamboyant pianist who enjoyed considerable world-wide popularity especially in the 1950s. George worked with his brother as the backing band in his shows but in his later life he was more successful as a music publisher.
Frenchman Ray Ventura (1908-1979) was a multi-talented entertainer who, in addition to being an orchestra leader, also worked as an actor, producer, composer and writer. He was involved in numerous film productions particularly during the 1950s and 1960s.
Monty Kelly (1910-1971) was a trumpeter, arranger and bandleader who played with the Paul Whiteman and Skinnay Ennis bands before landing a job with NBC in New York. For a while he was a regular in the recording studios, and Cash Box magazine named him ‘most promising orchestra’ in 1953, but by then the era of popular instrumentals was starting to wane in the USA. His albums continued to do well, and they are still sought by light music fans.
Alfonso D’Artega (b. 1907) arrived in the USA from his native Mexico in 1918. Often merely known by his surname (spellings of his first name vary), he was a conductor, arranger and composer of wide and varied musical experience, and conducted orchestras for radio, television, transcriptions, recordings, concert stage and motion pictures.
Lack of space makes it impossible to mention every composer and conductor represented in this collection. However most of those not credited in these notes will have been profiled in previous Guild Light Music CDs.
Finally it seems that a significant number of music lovers occasionally appreciate listening to something a little more exciting and, at times, quite demanding. Since Guild Music launched "The Golden Age of Light Music" back in 2004 there has been a trickle of requests for dramatic mood music which, quite frankly, hasn’t fitted into the style of content in previous volumes. The trickle has almost become a steady stream, so the time has now come to bow to the wishes of some of our loyal followers. With composers such as Charles Williams, Ronald Hanmer, Sidney Torch, Trevor Duncan and other gifted writers active in this niche of the production music market, it would be churlish not to offer some occasional examples of their more melodramatic – and even horrific - moments. In science fiction films music has especially played an important role in establishing just the right mood, and in Britain the older generation still remembers the brilliant way in which it was used in the BBC’s vintage 1950s television series "Quatermass" (Inhumanity was the closing music for the first two "Quatermass" serials). If you prefer your music always to be melodic and tuneful you may wish to terminate this CD after track 26. For the courageous among you, prepare to be excited and shocked by the last four tracks!