Two more CDs in Guild Music’s landmark "Golden Age of Light Music" series are due to be released during September. David Ades reports…
1 Don’t Blame Me (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields)
ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring DAVE GOLDBERG, Guitar
2 Dance Of The Three Old Maids (Reginald Porter-Brown)
CAMARATA AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring REGINALD KELL, clarinet
3 All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern)
RIAS DANCE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WERNER MULLER featuring MACKY KASPAR, trumpet
4 "Last Rhapsody" – Theme from (Reynell Wreford)
SIDNEY TORCH AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring EDWARD RUBACH, piano
5 Skeleton In The Cupboard (Arnold Steck, real name Leslie Statham)
DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON featuring xylophone
6 Today And Every Day (Sue Terry, Eileen Sears)
JACKIE BOND, alto saxophone, AND HIS ORCHESTRA
7 "High And The Mighty" Film Theme (Dimitri Tiomkin, Ned Washington)
VICTOR YOUNG AND HIS SINGING STRINGS featuring whistling by MUZZY MARCELLINO
8 Valse Des Folies (B.C. Hilliam)
SIDNEY TORCH AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring piano
9 The Elephants’ Tango (Bernard Landes)
RAY MARTIN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA featuring French horns
10 Latin Lady (Harry Michaels, Sherman Feller)
HUGO WINTERHALTER AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring guitar
11 Elaine (from film "Violettes Imperiales") (Fr. Lopez)
HUGO WINTERHALTER AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring HENRI RENE, musette accordion
12 Goodbye John (Alec Wilder)
PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring MITCH MILLER, cor anglais and oboe
13 Huckleberry Finn (Richard Hayman)
RICHARD HAYMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring RICHARD HAYMAN, harmonica
14 Margot’s Minuet (Gus Mortimer, Ted Gilbert, Sydney Norman)
EDDIE CALVERT, trumpet, with NORRIE PARAMOR AND HIS ORCHESTRA
15 Somewhere Beyond The Stars
RONNIE RONALDE, whistling, with ROBERT FARNON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
16 Song Of The Maggie (from film "The Maggie") (John Addison, Jack Fishman)
SIDNEY TORCH AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring tuba
17 Stranger Than Fiction (The Big Guitar) (Howard Shaw, real name Malcolm Lockyer)
SIDNEY TORCH AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring BERT WEEDON, guitar
18 Buglers’ Holiday (Leroy Anderson)
LEROY ANDERSON AND HIS ‘POPS’ CONCERT ORCHESTRA featuring ROBERT CUSUAMO, CARL POOLE & MELVIN SOLOMON, trumpets
19 Laughing Violin (Kai Mortensen)
CHARLES WILLIAMS AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA featuring REG LEOPOLD, violin
20 First Theme (Joe Henderson)
LAURIE JOHNSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA featuring JOE ‘MR PIANO’ HENDERSON, piano
21 Lulworth Cove (Charles Shadwell)
BBC VARIETY ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES SHADWELL featuring REGINALD FOORT at the BBC Theatre Organ
22 Valse Vanite (Rudy Wiedoeft)
PETER YORKE AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA featuring FREDDY GARDNER, alto saxophone
23 Allah’s Holiday (Rudolf Friml)
SAVOY HOTEL ORPHEANS Directed by CARROLL GIBBONS featuring SIDNEY TORCH, organ
24 Hejre Kati (Jeno Hubay)
RAFAEL MENDEZ, trumpet, with VICTOR YOUNG AND HIS ORCHESTRA
25 Second Rhapsody (George Gershwin)
PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA featuring ROY BARGY, piano
Guild Light Music GLCD 5126
This selection has gradually evolved from observations by Alan Bunting that a good number of pieces of Light Music seem to feature a soloist as an important part of the work. If the title conjures up mental images of just a violin and piano you can certainly think again: these are performances of great variety often displaying real virtuoso performances, and if you still need convincing of the importance of some of these compositions just check the details for track 25!
Sometimes the instrumentalist is given due credit on the record label, but sadly there are many instances where these fine musicians remain anonymous. Happily this is not the case with the talented guitar player Dave Goldberg who was a key member of the Robert Farnon Orchestra during a short period from the late 1940s onwards. For a while he was in the famous Ted Heath Band and he travelled with them for a US tour in the early 1950s, deciding to stay and see if he could launch a new career in North America. Two of his recordings with Farnon had attracted some attention when released on a London 78 – cat. No. 1063, recorded 3 February 1950 (London was the US arm of British Decca), although for some reason his name in America was changed to Dave Gilbert. One of the numbers on that 78 was our opening track Don’t Blame Me where the Goldberg guitar certainly comes into its own. (The track on the other side, Blue Skies, will be on a Guild CD to be released later this year). He returned to Britain and played with the Geraldo Band at their famous Monte Carlo season in 1957, but he gradually became disenchanted with the developing musical scene and died at an early age from a drugs overdose.
Reginald Kell (1906-1981) is widely regarded as one of the most influential clarinettists of his era. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music from 1929 to 1932 where he studied with Haydn Draper. He was reputedly the first clarinettist who could play in tune from top to bottom and he was the first prominent player to apply vibrato consciously and consistently to his tone, in which respect he modelled himself on his colleague the oboist Leon Goossens. Sir Thomas Beecham selected Kell as first clarinet for the London Philharmonic before World War II and the Royal Philharmonic after it. In 1948 he left England to live in the USA, and was so highly regarded that even the great Benny Goodman (1909-1986) studied classical clarinet with him in 1949. Reginald Kell toured widely giving many concert performances before retiring at the early age of 51. Between 1950 and 1957 he made some landmark recordings with American Decca, one of which was The Dance Of The Three Old Maids by the organist Reginald Porter Brown (1910-1982). This is one occasion where Kell strayed from his usual classical music territory.
Space does not permit detailed pen portraits of all the soloists featured in this collection; a few are mentioned below and some extra information will be found in the booklet notes.
Edward Rubach is remembered for his many broadcasts as a pianist, sometimes as a duo with Robert Docker. He was in regular demand as a session musician – for example in "Music While You Work" broadcasts with Fred Alexander and the Gerald Crossman Players; he occasionally fronted his own group called The Novelairs. Rubach’s many recordings (sometimes anonymously) included top orchestras such as Ron Goodwin and the Sidney Torch 78 in this collection. His compositions Polka Piquant, The Belle of Brazil and Sentimental Gypsy were all once popular as light orchestral pieces.
Muzzy Marcellino (1912-1997) was as a very accomplished whistler and record companies, film studios and ad agencies usually called upon him whenever a whistler was required.
Henri René (1906-1993) was born and raised in Germany, where he studied piano at Berlin's Royal Academy of Music; he emigrated to the US during the mid-1920s, appearing with a series of orchestras before returning to Berlin a few years later to serve as an arranger with a German record label. René came back to the States in 1936 to accept the position of musical director with RCA-Victor's international arm; in 1941 he also formed his own musette orchestra which specialised in music with a continental flavour.
Mitch Miller (b.1911) was one of the world’s finest oboe players, having performed with leading orchestras, often as a soloist, across the USA. During the 1930s he worked with Gershwin and was praised for his work as oboe soloist with the CBS Symphony Orchestra. When he joined Columbia Records as an Artists and Repertoire Manager one of his first recruits was Percy Faith. The beautiful violin which blends so beautifully with Miller’s cor anglais in Goodbye John is played by George Ockner, concert master of Percy Faith’s orchestra for many years. Miller himself was responsible for many chart singles and he also hosted his own highly rated network television show. During his years at Columbia he was credited with having established long playing records as the preserve of adults, consigning the singles market to the younger generation.
Richard Hayman (b. 1920) started at the age of 18 as a harmonica player in Borrah Minevitch’s Harmonica Rascals, but he wisely decided to concentrate more on arranging and conducting.
Ronnie Ronalde began his professional career with Steffani and his Silver Songsters, but this was just a prelude to his great success from the 1950s onwards as an accomplished whistler who could also yodel and sing. Now living in Queensland, Australia, he still retains many loyal fans, and continues to perform occasionally.
Eddie Calvert (1922-1978) was born in Preston, Lancashire and his future was assured when an enthusiastic radio announcer described him as ‘The Man With The Golden Trumpet’ – a description that stuck for the rest of his glittering career.
Bert Weedon (b. 1920) became one of Britain’s best-known guitar players during the 1950s. His fame spread internationally, and he still performs in many parts of the world.
Reginald Leopold (1907-2003) was much in demand as a lead violinist throughout his career. From the 1920s onwards he rubbed shoulders with many fellow musicians who would eventually rise to the top of the profession, so it was natural that the likes of Carroll Gibbons, George Melachrino and Robert Docker would be happy to engage him for their broadcasts over several decades. Leopold himself took the limelight for his 17-year association with BBC Radio’s famous programme "Grand Hotel", and in the happy days when light music formed a staple diet of radio broadcasting he directed ensembles such as his own Players, the London Light Concert Orchestra and the London Studio Players. He continued broadcasting until well into the 1980s, then finally retired to his home town of Brighton where he died aged 95.
Joe Henderson (1920-1980) was a popular pianist in Britain during the 1950s, and at one time he worked closely with Petula Clark. His biggest hit was Trudie in 1958 which won an Ivor Novello Award.
Reginald Foort (1893-1980) is still highly regarded among enthusiasts of theatre and cinema organs which reached a peak in their popularity during the 1930s. He became one of the most recorded organists in history, and made numerous broadcasts for the BBC. In 1951 he left England and settled for the rest of his life in the USA.
Freddy Gardner (1911-1950) was a true master of the saxophone, and his recordings continue to amaze for their brilliance. It was said that he found notes on the instrument that weren’t supposed to be there, and towards the end of his career he became closely associated with the fine Peter Yorke Orchestra, heard on this CD.
Sidney Torch (1908-1990) was a talented organist long before his post-war career as one of Britain’s top composers and conductors of light music from the late 1940s onwards. On 14 February 1932 in the Regal Cinema, Marble Arch, he was with Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans in what the label described as a ‘concert version’ of a popular number at the time, Rudolf Friml’s Allah’s Holiday.
Rafael Mendez (1906-1981) was regarded as one of America’s finest trumpeters of his generation and he also composed many pieces, often designed to show off his instrument. In 1961 he wrote a text book Prelude to Brass Playing which has been in demand by aspiring trumpeters ever since.
Roy Bargy (1894-1974) joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1928 and eventually became second in command within the band. During the 1940s he was regularly conducting various bands for radio broadcasts, and in 1943 he became Jimmy Durante’s musical director – a job which lasted for 20 years. Gershwin’s famous Rhapsody In Blue was such a big success that the composer was under constant pressure to come up with a sequel; in the event his Second Rhapsody has been described as one of his least famous concert works. Certainly it is not as recognisable as its predecessor, but it is still a piece of great merit which listeners should find increasingly enjoyable as they become more familiar with it. This treasured 12" Brunswick 78 has been patiently residing on a shelf in my record collection for more years than I care to admit, and I have probably only played it previously a handful of times. Working on this project I have come to know this work much better, and I can honestly say that I appreciate it more with each hearing. I do hope that readers will get the same enjoyment from it as I have. I have seen it described as being more akin to film music than the concert hall, but whatever label you happen to attach to it this is surely a work of great merit, and it is almost like discovering a long lost masterpiece by one of the last century’s truly great composers.
It has its origins in a 1931 film "Delicious" starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, and has been variously called‘Manhattan Rhapsody’, ‘New York Rhapsody’ and even ‘Rhapsody in Rivets’. Gershwin said that he felt his ultimate choice of Second Rhapsody was "much simpler and more dignified." Although the work received its official premiere performance on 29 January 1932 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky and Gershwin himself on piano, there was an earlier NBC radio concert on June 26 1931 with Gershwin and a 55-piece studio orchestra. The composer made no commercial record of it himself but eventually Paul Whiteman (1890-1967) did commit the work to disc on 23 October 1938 in Decca’s New York studios, making several cuts and a certain amount of re-scoring. Gershwin had died a year previously from a brain tumour, so he was never to hear the first important recording of this work by a conductor who had played such a pivotal role in bringing his music to an appreciative public.