21 Aug

Bennett: Orchestral Works, Vol.2

Written by

Howard Mcgill (saxophone)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra ● John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5212 (69:25)

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20 Aug

My Waltz for You

Written by

(Sidney Torch)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

It may not have occurred to you, but Sidney Torch and Nelson Riddle have something in common.

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(Sidney Torch)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

It may not have occurred to you, but Sidney Torch and Nelson Riddle have something in common. They both had a special “feel’’ for music and when the opportunity arose they couldn’t resist the temptation of maximizing the rhythm with a staccato effect, especially in three quarter time. The phrasing of the opening tune of My Waltz for You has two beautiful silences indicating the wonderfully appropriate cut-off points on the second beat of bars 2 and 6. These are both excellent examples of the Torch touch probably first captured by Johann Strauss Junior.

Nelson Riddle in his string arrangement of Vilia (Guild GLCD 5120) played as a waltz, gets every ounce of feeling out of the melody he could possibly find - living every natural nuance. He allows the notes to do the talking. It’s very similar to the Torch approach and gives the tune a whole new boost. They may be modern masters of music but it’s decidedly an “old fashioned” dance feel. In spite of their varied backgrounds, trombonist Riddle from the world of swing and organist Torch from popular music, both seem quite at ease with the same sort of phrasing. In no way is anything ever corny.

So let’s follow My Waltz for You in detail to find out what drives it. Johann Strauss Junior may have been the “Waltz King”, but Sidney Torch was perhaps the “Schmaltz King”, if that tiny intro with a violin solo is anything to go by. Listen to the satisfying way Torch writes for flutes. The first thing you’ll notice is what an exquisite but slightly sad melody it is, caused entirely by the strings arranged in close harmony like a jazz musician might score it. At the same time you couldn’t get a more relaxed waltz if you tried. It’s almost asleep! The first haunting 16 bars include all those staccato breaks, which build up quite logically to a song-like climax.

And so we arrive at the middle section with the tempo just a little faster. The lower strings are followed by flutes, clarinet and violins that shortly take a sudden dramatic dive. An oboe supported by the same flutes, hands back to the strings that ascend to produce a lovely Torch-like symphonic crescendo. Assorted solo brass and harp bring us gently back to the top, with the orchestra providing a positive finish. The tiny intro we heard earlier becomes the coda. The only grumble is that we aren’t treated to any orchestral “improvising” which we get in Torch’s faster pieces. However My Waltz for You is classic Torch with just the right amount of rubato and is given a perfect performance.

“The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra”
Vocalion CDEA 6094

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28 Jul

American composer/conductor Patrick Williams passes away

Written by Super User

As he was internationally known (mostly for TV Themes and big band jazz arrangements), members of RFS might like to know that American composer/conductor Patrick Williams has passed away.

We refer to the Variety article here.

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19 Jul

Dardanella

Written by

(Felix Barnard and Johnny S Black (music)
Ben Selvin and his Novelty Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

Over the years I have regularly mentioned one of the most significant moments of popular instrumental history in the 20th century, that of David Rose’s million selling Holiday for Strings of 1944. Its influence on light music is still being felt right up to the present day...

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(Felix Barnard and Johnny S Black (music)
Ben Selvin and his Novelty Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

Over the years I have regularly mentioned one of the most significant moments of popular instrumental history in the 20th century, that of David Rose’s million selling Holiday for Strings of 1944. Its influence on light music is still being felt right up to the present day.

But let’s go back nearly a quarter of a century to another important date, 1920, and see what was happening then in the music industry. It was the year of the first known ‘pop’ disc to sell a million - Dardanella - a fictitious Italian or Spanish girl’s Christian name illustrated on a 1919 sheet music cover and inspired by the narrow strait in northwest Turkey. It would eventually sell a staggering 6,500,000 records. Ben Selvin (1898-1980), violinist, bandleader and recording manager, made more band discs than anybody else in the business - 9,000. Dardanella was written by Felix Bernard and Johnny S Black (music) and Fred Fisher (words). Its popularity was due to its continuous pattern in the bass, and is probably the first example of ‘boogie woogie’ in American music. There’s also an obvious touch of ‘shuffle’ tempo about it.

If you happened to have inherited any old 78rpm records, this sound will immediately take you back to those scratchy pre-electric days now of course cleaned up. After a quote from the end of the tune acting as the intro, it goes straight into a four bar rhythmic notation sounding like the first bar of Yankee Doodle. Also there’s a clear reminder of Poldini’s Dancing Doll and plenty of cutting syncopation from the world of ragtime.

Apart from its popularity another claim to Dardanella’s fame comes from a lawsuit in which Fisher sued Jerome Kern for plagiarism, insisting that the boogie-woogie-like recurring bass theme Kern used in his song Ka-lu-a was a steal from a similar device in Dardanella.

It took a good deal of arrogance for Fisher to sue Kern, since Dardanella had itself actually been stolen involving Fisher in a lawsuit of his own. It started out as Turkish Tom Tom a piano rag by Johnny S Black. Fisher wrote words for it and became its publisher, now using the new title of Dardanella. After its initial success, Felix Bernard, a vaudevillian came forward with a claim that it was he and not Black who had composed the main melody and renounced his prior rights to it for a cash settlement of 100 dollars. Bernard went to court to claim some of the royalties, insisting Fisher had defrauded him. Bernard’s case was dismissed but all later sheet music carried Fisher’s name as lyricist, while Black and Bernard are named as composers.

To hear Dardanella try Google.

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14 Jul

Hit and Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven

Written by Super User

Barry Seven Book cover idea

In a few months time, our book "Hit and Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven" will be published. Thoroughly and painstakingly researched over a number of years, it will feature contributions from several ex-members of the band and from friends and relatives of John Barry.

Comprising of around 350 pages, it will also be packed with an array of rare photos of the band, and the singers they often supported, as well as some unique images of memorabilia and documentation from that era; some never previously published, many more seldom seen.

Even if you are not necessarily a devotee of The John Barry Seven per se, the book offers a fascinating historical insight into the British music scene of the period and, more importantly, provides an essential read for anybody remotely interested in discovering more about John Barry's formative career.

It will be of great assistance to the authors if you would indicate an interest in purchasing a copy of the book *now*, without obligation. We will then be able to notify you as soon as the book is available with details of cost and how to order and pay.

Just send us an email message and we will be in touch in due course. Visit our dedicated web page here!

Obviously your personal details will be kept secure and not shared with anybody else.

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26 Jun

Fanfares

Written by

Onyx Brass with guest players ● Cond. by John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5221 (59.03)

This is a somewhat left-field release but recommendable nevertheless...

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23 Jun

Dancer at the Fair

Written by

(John Fortis)
Charles Shadwell and his Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

As well as developing and refining light orchestral music, Robert Farnon brought the genre to a whole new level. However we mustn’t forget it was actually David Rose who pioneered a totally original form of light music that even now in the 21st century remains unchanged and relevant. (It’s a similar situation to the standardization of the big band style in the 1950s that is still part of our culture)...

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(John Fortis)
Charles Shadwell and his Orchestra
Analysed by Robert Walton

As well as developing and refining light orchestral music, Robert Farnon brought the genre to a whole new level. However we mustn’t forget it was actually David Rose who pioneered a totally original form of light music that even now in the 21st century remains unchanged and relevant. (It’s a similar situation to the standardization of the big band style in the 1950s that is still part of our culture).

The fast pizzicato opening and the slow sweeping arco middle section of Holiday for Strings stimulated a whole generation of post-WW2 composers and arrangers. And lovers of light music weren’t disappointed either. To prove it, a million of us purchased a copy of the 1944 hit record. But more than that, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that even writers with an old-fashioned style couldn’t help but being influenced by the unique Rose format. In fact it’s no exaggeration to say that all light music written after that time was affected in some way. Here’s a good example.

Starting with the sound of rustling in the woodwind and pizzicato strings, immediately after two soft cymbal strokes (quite common in the early days of 78s), a solo flute emerges to play a bright exotic tune with a persistent rhythm over the tonic chord, like a muted Sabre Dance. But as well as that, there is a definite touch of the chords of the Latin-American tune The Breeze and I. Woodwind and strings are brought together to repeat the melody. A flute provides some decoration before the next section.

And taking a leaf out of Rose, we slip into the bridge for a little string lushness supported by the ever-faithful woodwind. As the brass enters, the Latin beat becomes evermore marked. In a way the influence of Bolero is heard. It’s strange but until I studied it more closely, Dancer at the Fair of 1947 had always sounded quite dated.

A distinct break then occurs after which we head ominously to the underworld, courtesy the cellos. The next sound could almost be the start of the 5th theme of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue but we’re soon back in the land of Rose. We’re in the final stretch now as the brass booms in, heralding a repeat of the first chorus ending with one soft cymbal stroke.

Charles Shadwell and his Orchestra made several 78s for HMV including Dancer at the Fair that was a very popular novelty number in the early years of the BBC Light Programme and has truly earned its place in the annals of light music. “Memories of the Light Programme” EMI 8 27260 2

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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.