CD:PPCD 78125 / CASSETTE: / RUNNING TIME: 68:10
Carroll Gibbons: So Rare
Hildegarde: This Year's Kisses
Frank Sinatra: Paradise
Jean Sablon: Si Tu M'Aimes
Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli: Chasing Shadows
Fred Astaire: Isn't This A Lovely Day? << sound clip
Gertrude Lawrence: Someday I'll Find You
Hutch: Sophisticated Lady
Jessie Matthews:Your Heart Skips A Beat
Jack Buchanan: Goodnight Vienna
Benny Carter & His Orchestra: These Foolish Things
Carroll Gibbons: A Foggy Day << sound clip
Al Bowlly: Sweet And Lovely
Elisabeth Welch: The Man I Love
Noel Coward: Something To Do With Spring
Hildegarde: Joue A Joue (Cheek To Cheek)
Hutch: Room Five Hundred And Four
Al Bowlly: When Love Comes Swingin' Along
Jack Buchanan: One Good Tune Deserves Another
Fred Astaire: I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket
Hutch: I Saw Stars
Noel Coward: Dearest Love << sound clip
The leisurely, moneyed life of the leisure classes of the thirties has vanished for ever. The elegance is still there of course, and the shops and the nightlife; but the rich and famous spend more time globe-trotting. The delights of nightclubs, restaurants and hotels are of a different order now. The time has long since past when various establishments vied for custom through the excellence of their music, their own bands for dancing and listening to, the glittering cabaret stars, singers, speciality acts and variety performers, all swept away into a past now fondly recalled by those lucky enough to have seen them perform, but who can now enjoy many of their performances captured on recordings made during those glamorous far off times.
Massachusetts born Carroll Gibbons had one of the most delightful, distinctive rhythmic piano styles of all bandleaders. He came to Britain from America in 1924, working as a relief pianist with the Boston Orchestra at the famous Savoy Hotel - an establishment built on the profits of the Savoy Operas at the Savoy Theatre. He was invited in 1927 to take over the running of the Savoy Orpheans - the Hotel's principal band. He then moved to become record company HMV Director of Light Music (for recording) and was responsible for the studio group the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra which accompanied many of the company's star artistes. Her was lured to Hollywood, but returned to London and to the Savoy in 1931. The Savoy Orpheans were re-formed and Carroll was their leader for the rest of his professional life. Within the orchestra there was a small group called Carroll Gibbons and his Boy Friends, who made a number of memorable broadcasts on commercial radio for the Hartley's Jam Programme. These were announced by Jimmy Dyrenforth, who added words to a number of tunes penned by the soft spoken American from Clinton, Massachusetts. We offer here two peerless examples of Gibbons's subtle rhythmic art: first, there's So Rare, the classic 1937 recording of what would become Jimmy Dorsey's sign off signature tune, and a definitive performance of an instant George and Ira Gershwin masterpiece also from 1937, A Foggy Day. The film which introduced it was 'A Damsel in Distress' and Fred Astaire its imperishably elegant star.
Although she seemed every inch the great continental star, Hildegarde was born in the United States and brought up in Milwaukee, where her talent was recognised at an early age. She enjoyed an extended career in cabaret both before and after the war. Her visits to England were eagerly awaited and appreciated. Indeed her pre-war recording activities were largely based here. The subtle sensitivity and intelligence of her singing style is ideally suited to Irving Berlin's classic This Year's Kisses, written for the lustrous Alice Faye to introduce in the wonderful 20th Century Fox musical 'On the Avenue.' Later on, Hildegarde recalls the glory days of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The film was 'Top Hat,' and the song Cheek to Cheek, another hit from Irving Berlin's overflowing catalogue of hits, heard here in a French language version.
Frank Albert Sinatra from Hoboken, New Jersey may well be the popular singer of the century. His recordings attest his skill and talent. Originally a band singer with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, the latter as a member of the Pied Pipers (Jo Stafford was also in the group), Frank burst forth as a solo singer becoming one of the first bobby-soxer teen idols, and films, radio and personal appearances sealed his fame. Here's an early gem - an early recording of Nacio Herb Brown and Gordon Clifford's Paradise, first published in 1933, recorded by Sinatra in 1945.
It is exceedingly hard for a continental artiste to establish an international reputation in the English speaking musical world. One who did so was Jean Sablon, who began his career as vocalist with Don Marino Barreto at Melody's Bar in Paris in 1937. Frequent visits to the United States and Britain rapidly made him the most popular French international male singer. Here is Si tu m'aimes, recorded in Paris with noted American pianist Garland Wilson - a typical example of the chanteur's style and command..
Virtually singlehandedly, French gypsy Django Reinhardt established a strong reputation for European jazz and swing with the Quintette of the Hot Club of France with his partner in crime, the violinist Stephane Grappelly (or Grappelli as he is now called). Django didn't let the lack of fingers inhibit his ever-burgeoning imagination and technique. You'd never know he wasn't operating with a full digital set. Here's a typical example Chasing Shadows.
Who was the favourite choice of the great popular stage and screen composers to introduce their songs? A unanimous answer: Fred Astaire. The screen's most captivating dancer was also the most charming and intelligent interpreter of song. Frederick Austerlitz was originally considered the less talented partner in a double act, with his sister Adele. Can you imagine that? Especially after hearing this wonderful song, penned by Irving Berlin for Fred to introduce in 'Top Hat' - Isn't This A Lovely Day (To Be Caught In The Rain?). Berlin also contributes another Fred Astaire standard in the cheery, upbeat I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket from the film 'Follow the Fleet' in which Fred was a naval rating.
You don't have to possess the world's most accurate pitch, or the most beautiful voice to make a lasting or charming effect. Gertrude Lawrence possessed neither. Yet her recorded performances can make you catch your breath. Her professional partnership with actor playwright and composer Noel Coward was shorter than its influence may seem, but the fruits are permanent and memorable. For the play 'Private Lives' in which they appeared, Coward wrote one of his most imperishable deceptively simple songs: Someday I'll Find You - and here it is in the definitive version - by Gertrude Lawrence. The master himself contributes his delightful Something to Do With Spring from 'Words and Music' and Dearest Love from 'Operette'.
Leslie 'Hutch' Hutchinson, from Grenada in the West Indies, studied for a law degree in New York, but moved to Paris and then London as a singer/pianist, becoming a stalwart of London's cabaret scene, moving in high social circles, mingling with ease among the nobility and fraternising with royalty. He also appeared in stage shows and established a strong following as a recording artiste - being able to record the sort of ballads and songs he would have never been permitted to do in the United States, where only race and blues recordings would have been offered to him. His subtle talent is ideally allied to Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Lady; I Saw Stars from 1934 and later on to the 1941 hit by George Posford and Eric Maschwitz, Room Five Hundred and Four.
The brightest British musical film star was Jessie Matthews. In the 1930s her captivating gamine personality brightened many depression years in hit after hit. Those who only encountered her as a middle aged radio personality on Mrs Dale's Diary discovered in her earlier films a wonderful tonic with a style and charm all her own. Here's an almost forgotten gem from the film 'Sailing Along' - Your Heart Skips A Beat.
Helensburgh's greatest gift to the entertainment world was the debonair song and dance man Jack Buchanan. This urbane top hat and tails charmer was originally understudy to Jack Hulbert but swiftly carved out his own career as a performer. A star of the early talkies, Jack's career included a late appearance with Fred Astaire in 'The Band Wagon' where the two hoofers danced memorably together. What we have here however is a much earlier sample of the soft spoken Scot - Goodnight, Vienna - the title tune from the successful film, and another skilful George Posford/Eric Maschwitz song, and another favourite - One Good Tune Deserves Another.
Maschwitz, as a BBC employee was not allowed to use his real name as part of the composing team for a revue song that would earn him much money if not immediate fame - this was These Foolish Things. (He used the pseudonym Holt Marvell). The show was 'Spread It Abroad' and our fine version is by the enduringly versatile Benny Carter and his orchestra. Benny has taken advantage of every development in jazz - all his recordings are ageless.
One of the most recorded of all dance band singers was Al Bowlly. He was not merely the principal singer with the excellent Lew Stone Band, he was also the preferred vocalist with Ray Noble's house band at HMV - and when Ray moved to America the Lorenzo Marques born vocalist followed him there - but returned to London, only to be killed in his bed during the Blitz. His distinctive singing voice made Bowlly a much loved artiste; Sweet And Lovely was the theme song of Russ Columbo - another singer, but one who killed himself accidentally while cleaning his gun. We also offer When Love Comes Swinging Along - another Bowlly success.
Elisabeth Welch has been for so long an essential part of the British Entertainment scene that it's sometimes difficult to remember that although her mother was Scottish, she is a New Yorker born and bred. Here she is, the epitome of sophistication, in one of the Gershwins' greatest achievements - The Man I Love.