Dateline December 2006

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Several British members contacted us following "The Last Night of the Proms" on Saturday 9 September. There was a splendid performance of Eric Coates’ Calling All Workers played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder which opened the second half from the Royal Albert Hall. But what really delighted many members was the ability to access the five other concerts taking place simultabeously at other venues around the UK. If you had satellite television you could switch between channels and find all six concerts; even on terrestrial digital Freeview there was a choice of Hyde Park and Belfast – plus, of course, the Royal Albert Hall. While the musical establishment provided the usual high cultural (and rather boring) fare at the Royal Albert Hall, the other concerts offered far more interesting programmes that will have been much more appealing to the majority of viewers and listeners. By switching channels it was possible to enjoy the likes of Ron Goodwin and Henry Mancini, as well as some fine vocal extracts from musical shows. Given the cost of staging six such concerts, surely it was a waste of money and resources to stage them all at precisely the same time? One can only hope that all will be repeated at some stage in the future, so that they can be enjoyed by millions of music lovers. Can there be any other broadcasting organisation in the world that could stage six major concerts at the same time played by its own orchestras?

Tim Weston has advised us that the University of Arizona School of Music has announced the recent acquisition of the Paul Weston and Jo Stafford Collection. This gift comes from Ms. Jo Stafford of Hollywood, California.The collection contains music, memorabilia, films and photographs documenting the musical careers of husband and wife, Paul Weston and Jo Stafford. Jo Stafford is one of America's most successful and celebrated singers. In the 1940s she amassed 21 top-ten hits, was regarded as the favorite singer of the Armed Forces and was the first female artist to sell 25 million records. Her talent has labeled her as "America's Most Versatile Singer" through her coverage of a wide range of American music styles; ballads, folk songs, jazz, blues, hymns, and comedy. Some of her big hits include "You Belong to Me," "Shrimp Boats," "Candy," and "I'll Never Smile Again." The latter recorded with Frank Sinatra during her tenure with the Pied Pipers in Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra. Paul Weston was one of America's leading musical directors and arrangers. He first gained prominence in the late 1930s as one of the first arrangers in Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra. In 1942 Johnny Mercer hired Paul, who was then an arranger at Paramount Pictures, to be the first musical director for his new record label, Capitol Records. Paul produced, conducted, and arranged scores of hits in the 1940s and 1950s for Johnny Mercer, Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Bing Crosby, and numerous others. He wrote standards such as "Day By Day" and "I Should Care," as well as concert works like the New Orleans Crescent City Suite. Weston was also a founder and first national president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He and Jo were married in 1952 and have two children, Tim and Amy Weston. "Our parents were at the forefront of arguably the most important era of evolution in American popular music," said Tim Weston, who also leads Corinthian Records and Soul Coast Productions. He adds, "Their collection of recordings, arrangements, scores, papers and memorabilia from the '40s, '50s, and early '60s will provide a significant amount of research material for those interested in learning more about this time in recorded American music." The University of Arizona School of Music holds several prominent American music collections, such as those of Artie Shaw and Nelson Riddle. For more information visit or contact Keith Pawlak, Music Curator, at , or 520-626-5242

The marketing ploy of record companies to record popular string orchestras under pseudonymous names such as 101 Strings, Living Strings and Romantic Strings, is well known and an established practice in the popular music industry writes Reuben Musiker. There are countless examples. The 101 Strings were particularly prolific. This orchestra released scores of titles in the 1950’s and 1960’s covering the great American popular composers such as Kern, Porter, Romberg, Gershwin, Carmichael, Youmans, Rodgers and many others. It is perhaps not well known that the outstanding American arranger Monty Kelly orchestrated the following discs in this series: ‘Soul of Spain’ (2 vols), ‘Soul of Mexico’, ‘Spanish Eyes’, ‘Fire and Romance of South America’, ‘Fire and Romance of Lecuona’. The Living Strings recorded a great number of LPs for the RCA Camden label. Principal arranger/conductor for 70 to 80 of them was Johnny Douglas. Hill Bowen also arranged and conducted a good many of them, some of his best known being ‘Too Beautiful for Words’, ‘Shimmering Sounds’ and ‘Music For Romance’. Other arranger/conductors in this series were Geraldo, Chucho Zarzosa and Bob Sharples. The Romantic Strings were a feature of Reader’s Digest albums from the 1950s onwards. They recorded many albums totalling 250 tracks. The arrangers/conductors were not generally identified, but definitely included Hill Bowen, Robert Bentley, Norman Percival and probably many more. 

Tony Foster was a guest presenter at a recent meeting of the Sinatra Music Society’s Sussex branch at the Chatsworth Hotel in Eastbourne. He has also reminded us that the Edmund Hockridge Appreciation Society will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year. Tony’s parents Edna and Percy Foster worked hard to get EHAS successfully launched all those years ago, and they are still remembered with affection by the members. We need hardly add that both Edna and Percy were actively involved with the RFS, and their friendly presence at our meetings is greatly missed by us all. However it is good that Tony is now a familiar face among us all at the Bonnington, and you will have seen him chatting with David Farnon on page 34 of our last issue. 

By the time that you are reading this issue the Gowers Review may have been published. As we went to press we were unable to get any firm information from the Government department involved, so there is no indication of what the outcome is likely to be. There could be serious implications for the future of CD releases in Britain if the period of sound copyright is extended, and we will obviously keep you fully informed of developments in the future. 

There’s something always uplifting singing a hymn with a large brass band, especially a Salvation Army Band, but this was no ordinary service but a celebration and thanksgiving for the life of Don Lusher OBE. True to his Salvationist roots, for it was where he learned the craft of brass playing, we were among his family, friends and many fellow musicians and admirers who packed the Central London Salvation Army’s Regent Hall on September 25th 2006 to remember one of Britain’s greatest trombonists whose career covered a wide range of musical stylesDon was always eager pass on his experience to others and for many years was closely associated with The Royal Marines School of Music becoming their Professor of Trombone for many years and it was a Brass Quintet of RMS Portsmouth that played Humoresque by Dvorak and Pachelbel’s Canon two familiar pieces in a very different instrumental setting.Sheila Tracy, who skilfully compered the proceedings, then introduced us to "The Best Of British Jazz", a group of top musicans founded in the 1970s which featured Don and Kenny Baker’s trumpet amongst others. The personnel has changed over the years and today is fronted by trumpeter Digby Fairweather with Roy Williams filling the trombone spot, Roy Willox on alto and Brian Dee on piano; they swung their way effortlessly through some familiar Jazz standards.There was a time when BBC TV produced Light Entertainment programmes of quality with very classy production values, and often the credits revealed the producer to be Yvonne Littlewood OBE who explained how she had met Don during the series "The Best of Both Worlds" . She recalled how she had worked on programmes with "the lovely Robert Farnon" and how Don became her first call on her shows. In 1979 she produced Don in his own hour long TV Special. It was special enough for the great Nelson Riddle to arrange and conduct a piece for Don. It was during that programme that ten -yes ten! - trombones played a Pete Smith arrangement of Grieg’s "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" and onto the stage came ten trombonists, in fact some the best in the business including Gordon Campbell, Chris Dean, Bobby Lamb, Bill Geldard and Mark Nightingale to play that very arrangement.Derek Boulton then recalled his early meeting with Don and his involvement, as his agent, in the many tours and projects involving Don’s Big Band, who had taken over the Ted Heath Band Book and continued to play the music culminating in the Final Ted Heath Concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2000. It fell to another Salvationist and trombonist Barry Forgie who then introduced and conducted the Don Lusher Big Band. Barry hails from Peterborough, as indeed did Don and Barry recalled how Don’s trombone skills were being acknowledged amongst his fellow Salvationists even then. The Don Lusher Big Band began their last and final appearance with Don’s own "DL Blues" and his highly successful "Carnaby Chick". Sheila Southern sang a lovely version of"Everytime We Say Goodbye" and the band closed with a rousing version Ray Anthony’s "Mr Anthony’s Boogie". Don’s sons David and Philip thanked everyone for attending.

Gordon Langford then explained how he had worked with Don on the "Rhapsody for Trombone and Brass Band" which Gordon had written for the 1975 Brass Band Championship Gala and an extract from Don’s recording closed the service. It was fitting that a Memorial Fund is being established in Don’s name by the Salvation Army to help disadvantaged youngsters with musical ambitions realise their potential. Don would have approved. Albert Killman

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