The third bi-annual meeting of the London Light Music Meetings Group took place on a warm, sunny day, the 75th anniversary of VE day, on which all manner of other attractions were taking place in London, but a substantial number of people chose to enjoy the pleasures of Light Music at the Lancaster Hall Hotel and also to meet, chat and have the chance to purchase a wide range of CDs.
After opening – appropriately – with Eric Coates' Dambusters’ March in a robust performance conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, Tony Clayden introduced an old friend of the Robert Farnon Society, Albert Killman – who presented a tribute to the late David Ades, whose passing in February has greatly saddened all who knew him. He had been a major force behind the RFS for several decades, editing what was probably the best musical magazine ( Journal Into Melody ) that anyone will ever encounter. Telling us of David’s massive contribution to the world of Light Music, Albert spoke of his 'behind the scenes' negotiations with record companies, resulting in much-neglected repertoire being made available to the listening public once again; his stewardship of the amazing 'Guild 'series, for which he collaborated with Alan Bunting – and not forgetting his considerable contributions to broadcast radio over the years.
Albert interspersed his talk with some of David's favourite records, the first of which was Angela Morley's tribute to Robert Farnon , A Canadian in Mayfair. Next we listened to David Ades talking with Brian Kay on the latter's long running radio series 'Brian Kay's Light Programme'. The remaining items in this sequence of David's favourites were The Lady Barbara Theme (Farnon) from 'Captain Horatio Hornblower', Rose of Bel Air (David Rose) and Clive Richardson's Mannequin Melody. We are especially grateful to Albert for his contribution to our event.
In the last few months we have lost several people associated with 'our kind of music', so Chris Money came on stage to give a tribute to the late John Fox, well remembered for his many broadcasts and recordings with the John Fox orchestra and singers, in addition to his work with the BBC Radio Orchestra. From 'John Fox Presents' we heard John introduce I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All. This was followed by Voyage of a Lifetime, Waltz for Joy, which John dedicated to his former wife, the late Joy Devon. Chris concluded with Cosmos Adventure from 'Earth and Fire'.
To conclude the first section of the programme Tony played us some tracks from a few of the latest CDs (abridged in some cases due to lack of time). Firstly we heard Werner Muller's lively arrangement of Hora Staccato followed by Never on Sunday from the Hugo Winterhalter orchestra – both newly released by Vocalion. We then turned to some of the recent Guild issues, beginning with The Wedding of Mickey Mouse from the Dajos Bela orchestra. This was followed by an Ernest Tomlinson piece, written under the pseudonym of Alan Perry - Merrily Alive. Next, we heard March Symphonique from Richard Crean and the London Palladium Orchestra. After hearing Valse Magique from the Brussels New Concert Orchestra, it was time for our first interval.
Part Two opened with my 'Radio Recollections' spot, much of which I devoted to the music of accordionist/composer Gerald Crossman – a personal friend – who sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 94. I started with the Gerald Crossman Players performing their signature tune A Night in Montmartre and this was followed by a charming Crossman composition entitled Milou, played by Fredric Cooper, with his Tipica Orchestra, for whom Gerald was the accordionist. He also fulfilled that role with Bernard Monshin's Rio Tango Band whom we then heard playing Poverino Mio and Nochecita - both Crossman originals. My tribute closed with a brilliant arrangement by Gerald of Sur La Pont D'Avignon featuring the Gerald Crossman Players. Another radio musician who died recently was pianist Peter Martin - musical director of the BBC West of England Players from 1960- 1965. We just had time to play part of Gingersnap, written by Peter and featuring him at the piano with that ensemble. Incidentally, Peter landed the job following the personal recommendation of senior BBC Producer Brian Willey, who was with us in the audience! Actually, quite a few well-known people come to our shows. On this occasion we were pleased to welcome former BBC Radio weatherman, Bob Prichard and the distinguished singer Sheila Southern (widow of pianist Derek Cox), whom many will associate with Lew Stone and his band. I particularly recall her lovely interpretation of Cyril Watters' White Wedding . We were delighted that the virtuoso harmonica player Sigmund Groven – one of the world’s leading exponents of the instrument – was once again able to make the journey from his home in Norway to be with us. It is also appropriate to mention that we have a number of loyal ‘regulars’ who travel long distances – including from Cheshire, Lancashire and South Wales – to support our events.
Tony then played us Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, played by the Ron Goodwin Orchestra, as a tribute to Roy Douglas, who has died at the age of 107. Why Douglas? Because he had a much bigger hand in writing the piece than Addinsell, although the latter became famous as its composer, and amassed a considerable fortune from the royalties ! It also marked the anniversary of Ron Goodwin’s 90 th birthday this year.
It was then the turn of David Mardon to present a feature on Walter Collins, a composer and orchestra leader who broadcast regularly in the 1930s, was appointed Musical Director of the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill, Sussex, and made a considerable contribution to the Paxton Mood-Music Library. The compositions played were: The Persistent Serenader, Strings in the Mood, March Tranquil, and Cumberland Green.
Tony then reminded us that in October, the well-known conductor and chairman of the Light Music Society, Gavin Sutherland, will be our special guest. Looking to next May, we shall be welcoming Shelley van Loen and the Palm Court Strings who will be playing some live music for us. This was a cue to play an excerpt from one of Shelley's CDs - her signature tune Nights of Gladness. This was followed by Cantilena by Ernest Tomlinson, and Dizzy Fingers from a yet-to-be released Vocalion CD of some 'Semprini Serenade' transcription recordings made in the 1960s by the BBC for worldwide broadcast. From a forthcoming Guild CD, Tony then played Cubamba from the Monty Kelly orchestra and Night and Day in an ingenious arrangement by the well-known pianist Peter Nero. Part Two concluded with Love, sung by Tony Bennett, from an album made many years ago when he was accompanied by Bob Farnon and his Orchestra. We then invited John Fox's widow Perpetua to draw the raffle, after which we adjourned for a short interval.
When we returned, our special guests were on stage and we were treated to seventy five minutes of exquisitely played Light Music from Simply Saxes, four superb semi-professional performers who worthily maintain the standards of the erstwhile London Saxophone Quartet. Each of the musicians took turns to announce the items played, which were as follows:
Entry of the Gladiators (Fucik)
Jumping Bean (Robert Farnon)
Chanson de Matin (Elgar)
Berceuse from the 'Dolly Suite' (Faure)
Nola (Felix Ardnt)
Pavane (Morton Gould)
Jazz Legato (Leroy Anderson)
Jealousy (Joseph Gade)
Amporita Roca (Texidor)
The Boulevardier (Frederic Curzon)
Tango in D (Albeniz)
Song without words (From Suite in F ) by Gustav Holst
Teddy Bears Picnic (John Bratton)
and as an encore-
Mister Sandman (Pat Ballard)
The day's proceedings now having been concluded, Tony thanked the quartet and the presenters for their contributions and bade us farewell until our October event, when we hope to see old friends and new, for what promises to be another very enjoyable afternoon of quality Light Music.