March 2010

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Philip Farlow was present at Malcolm Laycock’s funeral on 19 November last, and he reports that there were certainly more than 130 people in attendance with standing room only. The service, lasting over 30 minutes was based on Humanist choices. Malcolm's sons Andrew (actor) and Dominic (teacher) conducted the service in a very professional, organised and yet equally compassionate way. The attendees entered to 'Cherokee' by the Syd Lawrence band. Andrew and Dominic's joint linking narrative presented firstly Dave Gelly followed by Chris Dean and then Malcolm's best buddy from College and 'best man' days at one another's Weddings. Like Dave and Chris he played a very important and personally reminiscent role in the proceedings. As we departed from the Crematorium Count Basie's 'Splanky' was played "...nice and loud please!" commented Andrew. The wake was held at the Park Tavern in Eltham and also reflected Malcolm's very wide ranging popularity; people from all walks of the entertainment profession to simply fans gathered in his name to help celebrate what he meant to them.

Fans of the BBC Midland Light Orchestra will be pleased to hear that the National Sound Archive at the British Library in London has obtained some more rare recordings. Featuring popular singer Barry Kent with guest artistes including singers Lita Roza, India Adams, Cheryl Kennedy, Elizabeth Larner and Roy Edwards, plus virtuoso instrumentalists Pearl Fawcett (accordion) and The Two Pianos of Christine & Sandy Blair, this popular 14-week show was broadcast on BBC Radio Two from Birmingham in 1970. The orchestra led by William Hand was conducted by Harold Rich. The producer was Ron Gardner.

‘Jumping Bean’ has heard a rumour that the BBC received 100,000 e-mail messages praising John Wilson’s MGM Prom last August. No doubt they would hate such a fact to become common knowledge, because we are always being told by them that listeners don’t like this kind of music – which is why they do their best to keep it off all their radio stations!

We are delighted to report that James Beyer’s return to the podium conducting the Edinburgh Light Orchestra last November resulted in a full house in the 800+ capacity Queen’s Hall. James tells us that he was pleased to see some younger faces in the audience, and one of the youngest was a 10-year old who insisted upon being added to the mailing list! The programme included a Tribute to Angela Morley, as well as pieces by Robert Farnon, Richard Rodgers, John Williams, Eric Coates, Haydn Wood and Henry Mancini. The next concert is only two months away, on Saturday 22 May, as usual at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. Telephone contact: 0131 334 3140.

It seems that since he discovered RFS member Frank Comstock a couple of years ago, US bandleader Brian Setzer just won’t let the 87 year-old rest and enjoy his well-deserved retirement! The album "Wolfgang’s Night Out" caused quite a stir in 2007, and the same could happen for Setzer’s latest release "Songs From Lonely Avenue" inspired by his love for 1940s film noir. Frank has been assisting with horn charts on nine tracks, giving the CD its swinging old-school vibe. Brian wants Frank to write just as he did over fifty years ago when he was working with the top stars including, of course, the one and only Doris Day. Frank also wrote arrangements for Benny Carter, Stan Kenton, Les Brown, and Judy Garland, penned the theme songs for Rocky & Bullwinkle, Adam 12, and Dragnet, and recorded the cult classic ‘Music From Outer Space’.

Gavin Sutherland conducted the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in a "Ron Goodwin Gala Concert" at the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth on Saturday 30 January. Unfortunately we were advised of this less than a month before the event, which means that we could not advise RFS members in our last magazine. Sadly our frequently-repeated request that concert promoters should advise us well in advance is still failing to get through to many. However one forthcoming Bournemouth concert that will delight its audience is the Mantovani Spectacular on April 18th – see page xx of this issue.

Brian Travers recently left the following message on our website: "My father Gerry Travers was one of the lead vocalists of the Canadian Band of the AEF, with Paul Carpenter, and Joanne Dallas. He always spoke so highly of Bob Farnon as a musical genius, and they still kept in touch until my father passed away in 2003. It is nice to read this biography (on the RFS website) of Bob Farnon to get a more detailed insight of his musical career. I still have my father’s original live BBC recordings of the Canada Show broadcasts. They are wax covered metal LP size records, that play at 78 speed from the label out to the edge. In 2000 Cowtown Publications released on CDs these WW2 Canadian Band of the AEF recordings, as well as others they had found."

It is gratifying to know that, despite the indifference of many concert promoters and a certain national broadcasting organisation, there are still a lot of people who like to perform light orchestral music. If you are also a member of the Light Music Society you will know that they advertise forthcoming concerts by amateur ensembles, and David Mardon attended a concert by his local Hale Light Orchestra last July. Appropriately called "Light Music for a Summer’s Evening" the ambitious programme began with the march Light of Foot by C. Lattan, followed by Robert Farnon’s Jumping Bean. Other highlights included music from the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ (Klaus Badelt); Bows and Bells (Sydney del Monte) – frequently heard half a century ago on the radio, but sadly never recorded; Demoiselle Chic (Percy Fletcher); London Suite – complete (Eric Coates); Dodman Rock(John Holliday); Tabarinage (Robert Docker); and Francis Chagrin’s Beggar’s Theme from the film ‘Last Holiday’. Other composers featured included Lerner and Loewe, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Sir Henry Wood and Sir Edward Elgar. The Hale Light Orchestra’s conductor is Alan Nuttall and the leader is Andy Bate. You can find out more about them via their website:

Several members have asked us why contributions from Reuben Musiker in South Africa have been missing from recent issues. Reuben’s strong loyalty to the RFS goes right back to the 1950s, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of light music has been of great benefit to us all. We are sorry to report that Reuben suffered a series of health problems last year, which were so serious that he was in intensive care for a while. On top of this, he downsized from the home where he had lived for 38 years, and with his wife Naomi he now lives in a one bedroom apartment in a retirement village. This forced him to give away his precious collections of books and records, so it is hardly surprising that he has been suffering from depression as a result. However he retains his interest in the RFS and I know that his many friends in the society will share our hope that he soon gets a lot better. When he was taken ill a year ago he had almost finished his second music book ("With A Song In My Heart") and he is now hoping to complete it this year. Obviously the contact address given in previous magazines no longer applies, but he still has the same email:

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