22 Jul

Robert Farnon's 100th birthday and updated 2005 JAZZ.FM tribute programme

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We are grateful to Pip Wedge (former RFS Canadian Rep and Journal Into Melody columnist) for the following information: Robert Farnon lovers might like to know that Glen Woodcock, who has been broadcasting big band programmes on JAZZ.FM in Toronto for forty years, is updating a tribute programme he did in 2005 when Robert Farnon died, for broadcast this Sunday (23rd July) to mark what would have been Bob's 100th birthday on Monday (24th).
 
The programme can be heard via the Internet on Sunday evening at www.jazz.fm, 5:00pm – 10:00 pm Toronto time.  Unfortunately that puts it from 10:00 pm to 03:00 am UK time, but maybe some people would like to stay up to hear an hour or so, while others might be able to record it. Sorry we couldn't let you know sooner, but Glen only just sent an email to give a heads-up.

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23 Jul

Robert Farnon’s 100th birthday

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CENTENARY CELEBRATION
Robert Farnon’s 100th birthday
By Robert Walton

July 24th 2017 is exactly 100 years since Toronto-born Robert Farnon first saw the light of day.

Read the article here...

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CENTENARY CELEBRATION
Robert Farnon’s 100th birthday
By Robert Walton

July 24th 2017 is exactly 100 years since Toronto-born Robert Farnon first saw the light of day. Much of my knowledge and praise of him has trickled down through my JIM articles especially in the miniatures. It’s amazing what one learnt from the music. Bob used to regularly ring me with a comment or two about my latest article. He appreciated my musical analyses and sometimes gave me details of the back-stories of his Canadian impressions.

Why does music move us? It’s a very personal thing really. There are many reasons we are affected, mostly impossible to fathom, but in Farnon’s case it’s a totally spiritual experience covering all the emotions especially in his magnificent miniatures. The great JS Bach affected us in much the same way. Farnon’s might be brief but they contain such a huge range of melodic and harmonic originality that they come up fresh every time. Each aspect of the music sends out an unspoken message of positiveness and hope. Normal language ceases to exist as the music does the talking.

Take Melody Fair for example. This radiant classically orientated two and a half minute masterpiece demonstrates Farnon’s natural sense of musicianship in which every element slots perfectly into place. Like a river it flows beautifully from start to finish. There never was or indeed ever will be such perfectly formed pieces of creativity. Strangely you get more for your money with a miniature.

In Farnon’s obituary I omitted to mention his arrangements of popular songs from shows and films. It was the first time many overseas fans ever heard his work. However they were generously sprinkled with the seeds of his miniatures.

It’s hard to believe 100 years have passed since he came into the world but his music from symphonies and film soundtracks right down to those towering miniature masterpieces, continue to excite the old guard and thrill the up-and-coming generations,

Although Robert Farnon is generally regarded as the greatest arranger of his generation, he surely must also be a strong contender for the title “Greatest Miniaturist of the 2Oth century”. Just as Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues, each lasting only a few minutes, is an entire world of music in miniature, so too are Farnon’s light orchestral pieces. Unfortunately because of his association with background music and particularly signature tunes, he never received the serious recognition he deserved. Only when his music is completely divorced from its original purpose and treated independently on its own merits, will it be properly appreciated. It may take a little time, but make no mistake that will come.

As well as his memorable music, it is not generally known that many musicians and arrangers including myself have reason to be grateful for his generosity with help and advice.

Happy 100th Bob!

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14 Jul

My Object All Sublime

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(Gilbert; Sullivan)
Robert Farnon & His Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

There can’t be many arrangements that have such a variety of musical nuts and bolts - Canadian Caravan, “James Bond”, “Maytime in Mayfair”, Count Basie, Fred Astaire and Gilbert and Sullivan...

Read the article here...

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(Gilbert; Sullivan)
Robert Farnon & His Orchestra

Analysed by Robert Walton

There can’t be many arrangements that have such a variety of musical nuts and bolts - Canadian Caravan, “James Bond”, “Maytime in Mayfair”, Count Basie, Fred Astaire and Gilbert and Sullivan. The opening alone is one of the most thrilling in music taking full advantage of the arrival of stereo. You’ve never heard strings, brass and woodwind like it. Purists of comic opera were not exactly pleased but American audiences enjoyed Mike Todd’s “The Hot Mikado”, his first Broadway musical in 1939.

And then the orchestra swings like the clappers in a way that the original “Mikado” never did and never will again. A toe-tapping rhythm grabs you everytime and instantly brings back Gilbert’s lyrics in a most unexpected setting. And talking of feet, we’re treated to a dazzling display of ‘Astaires’s wares’ after which the ghost of Count Basie bounces in. (I once met Robert Farnon at a 1957 Basie concert in which he described the sound as “a shot in the arm!”).

The piece gradually builds up to a terrific climax influenced by the orchestra long considered one of the world’s best swing bands Count Basie, on a par with Duke Ellington and Jimmy Lunceford. The Farnon sound still bears the stamp of Kansas City. The brass belts away with the strings having the final say.

Let’s remind ourselves of those clever catchy words we heard in our youth.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time-
To let the punishment fit the crime,
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment,
Of innocent merriment.
My Object all Sublime (Gilbert & Sullivan)

Jack Saunders Orchestra (actually Robert Farnon’s Orchestra)
“A Box of Light Musical Allsorts”
Golden Age of Light Music
Guild Records GLCD 5157

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28 Jun

Elgar and His Peers, The Art of the Military Band

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ELGAR AND HIS PEERS, The Art of the Military Band SOMM CD0170 London Symphonic Concert Band conducted by Tom Higgins and the Joyful Company of Singers directed by Peter Broadbent...

Reads the review here.

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20 Jun

Raymond Lefèvre - Holiday Symphonies & Tomorrow’s…Symphonies du Futur

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RAYMOND LEFEVRE & HIS ORCHESTRA
Holiday Symphonies & Tomorrow’s…Symphonies du Futur
Vocalion CDLK 4592 (77:15)

Raymond Lefèvre (1929-2008) was one of the triumvirate of French easy listening orchestra leaders/arrangers/composers – the others being Paul Mauriat and Franck Pourcel – who sold millions of albums around the world in the 1960s and ‘70s.

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15 Jun

International tribute to Paul Mauriat (about new recordings from Paris)

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Grand Orchestra of Jean Jacques Justafre (France) had its second birth in America thanks to the efforts of USA producers Alexander Goldstein and Boris Lontsikh. The producers reached out to Grand Orchestra of Jean Jacques Justafre (GOJJJ) leader, one of the last conductors of the legendary Grand Orchestra de Paul Mauriat. GOJJJ is welcome in many countries primarily for its efforts to preserve the style, and most importantly, the sound of Paul Mauriat's orchestra.

The producers gave GOJJJ a very different challenge. They carefully selected music material and style for the new arrangements, so that on the one hand, it would be recognizable to a wide circle of music fans, and on the other, introduce a new big symphonic orchestra sound of the 21st century...

Read more details about brand new CD album:
http://paulmauriat.grandorchestras.ru

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11 Jun

Hubert Clifford The Cowes Suite and other works

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Vocalion CDLX 7338 BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp.

The Cowes Suite (Cowes Roads, Buccaneer, Carnival & Fireworks, Royal Visitor); Dargo (A Mountain Rhapsody); Irish Comedy Overture; Pageant of Youth; Left of the Line; Victorian Polka; Hunted (1952 film suite); Voyage at Dusk (Fantasy).

Read the review here...

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11 Jun

Cecil Armstrong Gibbs Orchestral Works

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Vocalion CDLX 7338 BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp.

Crossings (Suite for Orchestra); Enchanted Wood; A Vision of Night (Symphonic Poem); Dusk (Waltz from the Fancy Dress Suite); Suite in A for Violin and Orchestra; The Cat and the Wedding Cake; Four Orchestral Dances.

Read the review here...

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.