RFS LONDON MEETING – SUNDAY 3 APRIL 2005
A Report by Paul Clatworthy
RFS Secretary David Ades opened the meeting by welcoming our Membership Secretary Albert Killman back on board after a spell in hospital. He had missed our previous meeting, and it was good to see him back at his familiar place on the top table.
Before the meeting proper began, the ‘settling down’ music featured two titles from that rare Everest LP "Mike Todd’s Broadway", which Robert Farnon made ‘anonymously’ while still under contract elsewhere. Even more rare is the stereo version, never released in Britain, from which came Stay With The Happy People and Violins from Nowhere.
To get the meeting off to a rousing start we heard some of the themes composed by Robert Farnon for the TV mini-series "A Man Called Intrepid" starring David Niven. Bob Farnon provided the music from his own collection as it was never released commercially. Frenesi was played as a tribute to the late Artie Shaw, dear to many Farnon members as a string section was used, at the time quite an innovation.
Tony Bennett singing the late Cy Coleman's composition "The Riviera" showcased Farnon's skill as a Big Band arranger, exhilarating music yet to make it on to CD! Next André Leon did a presentation explaining the problems he had after being commissioned to resurrect the Boosey and Hawkes mood music library. One unlikely source - Australia! Luckily they were not so quick to use a skip as the London HQ! Alan Bunting has done a wonderful clean-up of the sound when transferring these vintage 78s to CD. Alan must spend 24 hours a day with this valuable restoration work, and several "snippets" of the music (now back in catalogue) were played to illustrate the scope of "mood" music recovered plus some words from Alan Bunting thanking those who had helped with rare missing tracks.
David and Albert played some new releases, including film music by Clifton Parker (from the Walt Disney film "Treasure Island"); Matthew Curtis’s Bon Voyage and the Percy Faith Orchestra with a spirited version of Leroy Anderson’s Pyramid Dance. Albert Killman gave the good news that Angela Morley is still composing and will be a guest on the Brian Kay programme in July – we heard her Adrift in a Dream from a new Guild CD. Part of Eric Rogers’ score for "Carry on Abroad" complete with some "earthy" humour followed - "great to listen to on a boring car journey" said David. Before the first interval David gave apologies for absence and welcomed some distinguished guests.
Part two opened with Cab Smith’s "Swing Session" which featured Bob Farnon's arrangements of Just in time, Come fly with me and Black Bottom. The first title was almost a certain choice if Sinatra had ever got to work with Bob again, sadly never to be!
Robert Habermann introduced our main Guest of the afternoon - David Snell, harpist, pianist, composer and conductor, all in one talented man! David talked of working with Tubby Hayes, Johnny Scott, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine. Vocalion have just issued a CD version of his Decca L.P "The Subtle Sound of David Snell" (CDLF 8110) from which we heard his delightful version of The Surrey with the Fringe on Top and one from the KPM mood library International Flight. David also worked for the Bruton library and we heard the evocative Sleigh Ride.
The BBC Radio Orchestra also had the benefit of his talent until its untimely demise at the hands of the accountants! David played one of the pastoral pieces he was most pleased with, Evensong; I am sure everyone present agreed with his choice. David continued his illuminating spot with the end credit music for the story "Sun Child" one of his film soundtracks. Next the last part of his Divertimento for Strings recorded by the L.S.O. He ended with Walking Happy especially written for him by Bob Farnon.
Albert ushered all guests back to their seats for the last part of the proceedings, beginning with Brian Reynolds’ trawl through his archive of broadcast recordings, one a forty year old version of Robert Farnon's whimsical Moomin - good to hear it again! Next a jaunty tune The Green Cockatoo by the late Harold Geller and his Orchestra. Brian ended with Eric Jupp's "Beau Geste" with some sprightly string writing. All the music a trip down memory lane from the days of "Steam radio"!
Tony Foster presented The Sid Lawrence orchestra playing Caribbean Clipper with some neat answer and call brass work. Another inspired choice was Urbie Green leading a twenty piece trombone choir with a unique version of Stardust. Third choice André Previn backed by a rousing big band led by Johnny Williams steaming through I only have eyes for you. Tony ended with Robert Farnon's Canadian Caravan from the CD "Canadian impressions" I still treasure the letter Bob sent to me when I enquired where I could get a recording. Bob kindly wrote back saying it was a "Chappell" record not then available to the general public but that he intended to include it on a future Decca L.P. Ah these years later it still thrills!
Next guest was one of the world’s foremost bassoonists, Daniel Smith who told of his visit to Robert Farnon who had written a "Concerto for Bassoon" and needed a player who could improvise jazz on this most unwieldy of instruments! He said that Bob was having trouble with his legs and was very frustrated because he dearly wanted to conduct the composition himself. Daniel said the score was absolutely amazing! Twenty five minutes long in three parts. Bob considered the composition to be his best work ever! Something he had worked on for a long time in his mind.
David Ades played Farnon's version of "Song of Scandia" an arrangement Farnon had written for Bassoon exploring the instrument’s potential. We had a preview of John Wilson's new CD "Dance Date", the chosen tune being an Alan Roper arrangement of "The Lady in Red" which Stan Kenton had a minor hit with in the late fifties. Lastly we heard two from the latest "Guild" collection one being my favourite Harold Arlen tune What's Good about Good-bye played by the magnificent David Rose Orchestra.
The happy gathering dispersed to the sound of Melody Fair, all looking forward to the next meeting.