Contrasts : From The 1960s Back To The 1920s - Volume 2
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5223
Contrasts : From The 1960s Back To The 1920s - Volume 2
1 Gala Premiere (Laurie Johnson)
GROUP-FIFTY ORCHESTRA Conducted by LAURIE JOHNSON
KPM 109 1962
2 La Dolce Vita (Nino Rota, arr. Brian Fahey)
CYRIL ORNADEL AND THE STARLIGHT SYMPHONY
MGM SE 4033 1962
3 Travel Topic (Robert Farnon)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
Chappell C 738 1962
4 "Young At Heart" – Theme from the film (Johnny Richards; Carolyn Leigh)
RUSS CONWAY, piano, with TONY OSBORNE AND HIS ORCHESTRA and THE RITA WILLIAMS SINGERS
Columbia SCX 3388 1961
5 "How The West Was Won" – Main title music (Alfred Newman)
MGM STUDIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ALFRED NEWMAN
MGM CS 6061 1962
6 Fanfare Boogie (Brian Fahey; Eric Winstone)
FRANK CORDELL AND HIS ORCHESTRA
HMV B10844 1955
7 Nobody Loves You Like I Do (from the operetta "Paganini") (Franz Lehár, arr. Joseph Kuhn)
HARRY HERMANN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Polydor 45 103 LPH 1957
8 Absinthe Frappé (Earle H. Hagen; Herbert Spencer)
THE SPENCER-HAGEN ORCHESTRA
Label "X" LXA 1003 1955
9 Streets, Skyscrapers And Sun, Inc (Avent de Monfred)
WAL-BERG AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Mercury MG 20269 1957
10 Il Fait Des Bonds (Gilbert Becaud)
CHRISTIAN CHEVALLIER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia (France) ESRF 1201 1958
11 French Fries (Ray Hartley; Eddie Cassen - real name Edward Kassner)
MONIA LITER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
London LL 1643 1957
12 Nostalgia (David Rose)
FREDDY MARTIN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Standard Radio Transcription Services Z-212-1 1944
13 Prelude To Glamour (Frederic Curzon)
NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by JACK LEON
Boosey & Hawkes O 2149 1948
14 Sophisticated Lady (Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington, arr. Sidney Torch)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES WILLIAMS
BBC London Transcription Service 12PH 32251/2 1945
15 Pasobolero (Mischa Michaeloff)
LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER COLLINS
Paxton PR 405 1946
16 The Dawn Breaks (Cedric King Palmer)
LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER COLLINS
Paxton PR 493 1948
17 Everything’s Been Done Before (from the film "Reckless") (Harry Adamson; Jack King; Edwin H. Knopf)
MARIO ‘HARP’ LORENZI AND HIS RHYTHMICS
Columbia FB 1142 1935
18 Portrait Of A Toy Soldier (Montague Ewing)
ALBERT SANDLER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia DB 1532 1935
19 Wild Ride (A Study in Fox Trot Rhythm) (Henry Hall)
BBC DANCE ORCHESTRA Conducted by HENRY HALL
Columbia CB 743 1934
20 Jolly Joker (Ernst Fischer)
OTTO DOBRINDT AND HIS PIANO SYMPHONISTS
Odeon O 31402 1938
21 Pan And The Wood Goblins (Otto Rathke)
INTERNATIONAL NOVELTY QUARTET
Zonophone 5966 1931
22 Spread A Little Happiness (Vivian Ellis)
NEW MAYFAIR DANCE ORCHESTRA Conducted by CARROLL GIBBONS
HMV B 5590 1929
23 Sweet Nothings (Milton J. Rettenberg)
SHILKRET’S RHYTHM MELODISTS
HMV B 3066 1929
24 From The Canebreak (Samuel Gardner)
NEW LIGHT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
HMV B3042 1929
25 Little Boy Blues (Vivian Ellis; Desmond Carter)
JACK HYLTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
HMV B 5407 1928
26 Dancing Goblin (Walter R. Collins)
HARRY HUDSON’S MELODY MEN featuring Max Klein, Xylophone
Edison Bell Winner 4958 1929
Stereo: 1, 2, 4, 5 ; rest in mono
Back in 2007 Guild released two collections covering four decades of Light Music, from the 1920s to the 1950s (GLCD5134 & 5135). This concept was revisited in GLCD5218 with a selection of ‘Contrasts’ where the scope was widened to include the 1960s. During work on the first project it soon became apparent that just one CD could not fully do justice to the idea, hence this second volume along similar lines.
There was a time when owning recorded music could be an expensive hobby, and the 78s made available by the commercial companies reflected the tastes of the music lovers who could afford to purchase them. By 1960 the younger generation had emerged as great consumers of music, and their preferences influenced the majority of new recordings offered by record companies. Radio (and increasingly television) music shows responded accordingly. The kind of ‘popular’ bands and singers that were enjoyed during the inter-war years were probably the main casualties, but Light Music couldn’t ignore the changes that were taking place.
The somewhat sedate styles of earlier years were inevitably affected by the influences of the jazz era, the arrival of electrical sound recording in the 1920s and the major impact of the cinema when talking pictures arrived, consuming (and creating) vast amounts of Light Music in its many varied forms. Finally by the 1960s the perfection of high fidelity and stereo sound often allowed composers, arrangers and conductors to express themselves in a spectacular fashion previously unimaginable. All this is vividly illustrated in the very varied collection on this CD.
The opening track reveals how the young composers and arrangers of Light Music were injecting a vibrant, exciting sound to their creations. Laurie Johnson (b.1927) has been a leading figure on the British entertainment scene for around 60 years. A gifted arranger and composer, Laurie has contributed to films, musical theatre, radio, television and records, with his music used in many well-known productions such as "The Avengers" and "The Professionals". When the London publishers Keith Prowse Music launched their production music library in 1959, Laurie soon became one of their foremost contributors, with titles such as Champs Elysées (on GLCD5191), Las Vegas (GLCD5187) and Rue De La Paix (GLCD5183). Gala Premiere was one of his most successful pieces, which was a gift to programme makers working on projects with a show business theme.
A man who was already well-known in Britain, mainly through his television work, but whose recording career owed much to the USA, was Cyril Ornadel (1924-2011). From the late 1950s onwards Cyril made many fine orchestral albums with his ‘Starlight Symphony’, aimed primarily at the American market. His regular arranger was Brian Fahey (1919-2007), recognised in Britain as a busy musical director, arranger and composer. La Dolce Vita was just one in a series of notable Italian films to benefit from a soundtrack score by Nino Rota (real name Giovanni Rota Rinaldi, 1911-1979). He had the knack of making his music sound simple, almost like a familiar folk song. At the same time it became immediately identifiable as belonging to its place and time – no mean achievement.
Canadian-born Robert Joseph Farnon (1917-2005) is widely regarded as one of the greatest light music composers and arrangers of his generation. His melodies such as Portrait Of A Flirt (on Guild GLCD 5120) and Jumping Bean (GLCD5162) are familiar to millions around the world. Travel Topic is just one of many similar pieces he wrote for the Chappell Recorded Music Library.
Tony Osborne (Edward Benjamin Osborne, 1922-2009) became a familiar name in post-war Britain due to his broadcasts and recordings. He had played piano with many top orchestras before embarking on his own career as a conductor, and in Young At Heart he is featured alongside Russ Conway (real name Trevor Stanford, 1925-2000) who enjoyed great success in Britain for his distinctive piano style from the mid-1950s onwards.
When considering the great film composers from Hollywood’s Golden Age during the middle years of the last century, Alfred Newman (1901-1970 – some references give his birth date as 1900) is occasionally overlooked, yet for much of his career he was probably the most influential and respected among his peers. In 1920 he became the youngest musical director on Broadway, and in 1930 his Hollywood career began. He composed the famous 20th Century Pictures logo theme, which was retained when the studio merged with Fox films; in 1953 he added some extra bars for CinemaScope releases – still in use today. One of his early scores was "Street Scene" in 1931 (the music is included on Guild GLCD 5153), and until John Williams finally overtook him in January 2006 he was the most Oscar-nominated composer/conductor, with a tally of 44 nominations resulting in 9 Academy Awards. It could be argued that he was the natural choice of composer for MGM’s prestigious Cinerama project "How The West Was Won" in 1962.
The six tracks chosen to represent the 1950s do not include any of the biggest names, but they are a good representation of the musical scene at that time. Frank Cordell (1918-1980) was a fine English composer, arranger and conductor whose work first became noticed through the tuneful backings he often supplied to some contract singers on HMV singles in the 1950s. Occasionally he was allowed his own 78s, and he was also responsible for several distinctive LPs which quickly became collectors’ items. Britain and America certainly did not have a monopoly of superb light orchestras during the 1950s. Germany was also blessed with many, usually tied to regional radio stations, and Harry Hermann (full name Harry Hermann Spitz, 1899-1961) at Nord-West Deutsche Rundfunk in Hamburg fronted a large concert orchestra – as heard on the Polydor LP in this collection. At times the orchestra personnel included players of the calibre of ‘Toots’ Thielemans, Helmut Zacharias and James Last.
In 1952 Earle Hagan (1919-2008) famous as the composer of the jazz standard Harlem Nocturne, formed a partnership with fellow arranger Herbert Winfield Spencer (1905-1992). Together, they launched the Spencer-Hagen Orchestra, which recorded albums for RCA and Liberty and, more significantly, they began writing music for television series. They ended their partnership in 1960. Absinthe Frappé which they co-composed comes from an album for which the inspiration was various cocktails. This is the fifth track from the LP to find its way on to a Guild CD.
Wal-Berg (born in Istanbul, Voldemar Rosenberg, 1910-1994) studied at both the Berlin and Paris Conservatoires of Music, and for a while during the 1930s he was closely associated with French recordings by Marlene Dietrich. In his later career he made many orchestral recordings which often had a Russian, Austrian and Gypsy feel. But there was an entirely different slant to an album for the US market with Manhattan as the theme. One of the tracks had the intriguing title Streets, Skyscrapers And Sun, Inc. One of his best-known works is Danse du Diable (Devil’s Dance) which Mantovani conducts on Guild GLCD5181. Frenchman Christian Chevallier (1930-2008) was well-known in jazz circles, but he strayed into light music territory with his recording of Il Fait Des Bonds by the French singer Gilbert Becaud (born François Gilbert Léopold Silly, 1927-2001).
Monia Liter (1906-1988) was born in Odessa, and left following the 1917 Russian revolution. His amazing career found him working as a pianist in a cinema orchestra in China; leading a dance band at the prestigious Raffles Hotel in Singapore where he became a naturalised British subject; then playing with many of the top British dance bands of the 1930s, also accompanying the famous vocalist Al Bowlly. In 1941 he joined the BBC as a composer, conductor and arranger, then later he worked in the Light Music department at Boosey & Hawkes, writing many works for their Recorded Music Library. French Fries is one of the few commercial recordings he made with his light orchestra.
The orchestras and composers representing the 1940s will be little known to music lovers outside the world of light music – with two important exceptions. An early composition by David Rose (1910-1990) Nostalgia, receives a sympathetic treatment by Freddy Martin (1906-1983) who also appeared in films as an actor, as well as the conductor of his own orchestra. His nickname ‘The Concerto King’ is a good clue to the kind of repertoire he favoured. The other famous composer is Duke Ellington (1899-1974) whose Sophisticated Lady receives a sometimes dramatic arrangement by Sidney Torch (1908-1990). It is fortunate that this very rare recording has survived, because it was never intended that transcriptions recordings like this would ever be made available to the general public on a commercial release. The other 1940s composers include Frederic Curzon (1899-1973) in one of his lesser-known works; Mischa Michaeloff, who often specialised in Gypsy music; and Cedric King Palmer (1913-1999), an English composer who contributed more than 600 works to production music libraries.
Moving on to the 1930s we find that bright novelty numbers tend to take centre stage. Instrumentalists were very popular, especially when their radio appearances allowed them to become attractions in variety theatres. Such a talented musician was Mario ‘Harp’ Lorenzi, born in Florence, Italy, in 1894. As well as playing with many British orchestras and dance bands during the 1920s and 1930s, he was a big attraction fronting his own ensemble. Sadly he succumbed to that cruel illness arthritis, and died in 1967.
Albert Sandler (1906-1948) is remembered by many of the older generation in Britain through his BBC broadcasts "Grand Hotel" from 1943 to 1948. The music featured was recognised as ‘Palm Court’, but he was already well-known for his broadcasts and recordings in the 1930s, and there seemed to be a plentiful supply of the kind of music his admirers expected from composers like Montague Ewing (1890-1957). The following track reveals how wide the boundaries of Light Music can be! Perhaps Henry Hall (1898-1989) felt that his listeners needed waking up: he certainly achieved that with his own ‘study in fox trot rhythm’ Wild Ride.
Possibly record collectors of the 1930s were unaware how many of the 78s they purchased were actually recorded in Germany, which enjoyed a thriving light music scene of its own. Composers such as Ernst Fischer (1900-1975) and Otto Rathke (1881-1936) were some of the leaders in this field, and perhaps their true origins were not appreciated due to the practice of giving some ensembles English-sounding names. Even more surprising is the fact that record companies in Britain were still releasing German records they had acquired under contract for some while after the Second World War had started.
Two of the tracks from the 1920 feature music from stage musicals by Vivian Ellis (1903-1996). Spread A Little Happiness is still remembered today: it came from the 1929 musical "Mr Cinders", and was revived by the English pop star Sting in 1982 when he sang it over the closing credits for the film "Brimstone and Treacle". Although he was born in Clinton, Massachusetts, the pianist and composer Carroll Gibbons (1903-1954) made his career mainly in England. One of his most popular compositions was Garden In The Rain (Ray Martin’s version is on Guild GLCD5135) which received the accolade of a recording by Frank Sinatra with the Robert Farnon Orchestra in 1962.
Two years earlier Ellis had contributed Little Boy Blues to the revue "Clowns in Clover". It has the distinct sound of the famous band led by Jack Hylton (born John Greenhalgh Hilton, 1892-1965). The arranger was probably Billy Ternent (1899-1977). As far as light music aficionados are concerned, Vivian Ellis was responsible for at least two great pieces – Coronation Scot (on Guild GLCD5120) and Alpine Pastures (GLCD5169).
The composer of Sweet Nothings was the American Milton J. Rettenberg (b. 1899). He was the first pianist other than George Gershwin himself to perform Rhapsody In Blue with Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. Sweet Nothings was so popular that it was made available as a piano roll. ‘Shilkret’s Rhythm Melodists’ is a recording ensemble conducted by New Yorker Nathaniel Shilkret (born Naftule Schüldkraut, 1889-1982). In 1926 he became director of light music for Victor Records (USA). He made thousands of recordings, possibly more than anyone in recording history. Among his other credits were two Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies "Swing Time" (1936) and "Shall We Dance" 1937.
The composer of From The Canebreak, Samuel Gardner (1891-1984) was an American concert violinist who won a Pulitzer prize with a string quartet in 1918.
The final track features Dancing Goblin, a piece composed by Walter R. Collins (1892-1956), who is remembered for his days as the distinguished Musical Director of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, and also for conducting the London Promenade Orchestra for the Paxton Recorded Music Library during the 1940s. This is his eighth composition to be made available again on a Guild CD. Harry Hudson (d. 1969) was musical director of the Edison Bell label from August 1927 to the end of 1932, transferring to Decca when it acquired the rights to Edison Bell. His output of recordings was enormous, many of them under around twenty different pseudonyms.