Les Baxter – Kaleidoscope (1955)

FrontCover1Les Baxter (March 14, 1922 – January 15, 1996) was an American musician and composer.

Baxter studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory before moving to Los Angeles for further studies at Pepperdine College. From 1943 on he was playing tenor and baritone saxophone for the Freddie Slack big band. Abandoning a concert career as a pianist, he turned to popular music as a singer. At the age of 23 he joined Mel Tormé’s Mel-Tones, singing on Artie Shaw records such as “What Is This Thing Called Love?”.

Baxter then turned to arranging and conducting for Capitol Records in 1950, and conducted the orchestra of two early Nat King Cole hits, “Mona Lisa” and “Too Young”. In 1953 he scored his first movie, the sailing travelogue Tanga Tika. With his own orchestra, he released a number of hits including “Ruby” (1953), “Unchained Melody” (1955), “The Poor People of Paris” (1956) and is remembered for a version of “Sinner Man” (1956) definitively setting the sound with varying tempos, orchestral flourishes, and wailing background vocals. He also achieved success with concept albums of his own orchestral suites: Le Sacre Du Sauvage, Festival Of The Gnomes, Ports Of Pleasure, and Brazil Now, the first three for Capitol and the fourth on Gene Norman’s Crescendo label. The list of musicians on these recordings includes Plas Johnson and Clare Fischer.[citation needed] Baxter also wrote the “Whistle” theme from the TV show Lassie.

LexBaxter01In the 1960s, he formed the Balladeers, a conservative folk group in suits that at one time featured a young David Crosby. Later he used some of the same singers from that group for a studio project called The Forum. They had a minor hit in 1967 with a rendition of “River is Wide” which implemented the Wall of Sound technique originally developed by Phil Spector. He worked in radio as musical director of The Halls of Ivy and the Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello shows.

Like his counterparts Henry Mancini and Lalo Schifrin, Baxter later worked for the film industry in the 1960s and 1970s. He worked on movie soundtracks for B-movie studio American International Pictures where he composed and conducted scores for Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films and other horror stories and teenage musicals, including The Pit and the Pendulum, The Comedy of Terrors, Muscle Beach Party, The Dunwich Horror, and Frogs. Howard W. Koch recalled that Baxter composed, orchestrated and recorded the entire score of The Yellow Tomahawk (1954) in a total of three hours for $5,000.

When soundtrack work fell off in the 1980s, he scored music for theme parks such as SeaWorld.

LesBaxter01Baxter, alongside Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman, is celebrated as one of the progenitors of exotica music. In his 1996 appreciation for Wired magazine, writer David Toop wrote that Baxter “offered package tours in sound, selling tickets to sedentary tourists who wanted to stroll around some taboo emotions before lunch, view a pagan ceremony, go wild in the sun or conjure a demon, all without leaving home hi-fi comforts in the white suburbs.”

Baxter was buried at Pacific View Memorial Park, in Corona del Mar, California. He has a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6314 Hollywood Blvd. He was survived by his daughter Leslie, she and her father were a “Team”. (by wikipedia)

And here´s an early album:

Kaleidoscope is one of Les Baxter’s earliest 12″ albums, an instrumental platter that contains the hits “Blue Tango,” “Ruby,” “Gigi,” “The High and the Mighty,” and one of his biggest, “April in Portugal.” Even though Baxter’s Tamboo! and “Quiet Village” were yet to come, Kaleidoscope shows his abiding interest in international music and instrumentation that contributed to the exotica craze. Most of the songs are drawn from international sources with the exception of four Hollywood film themes. “Atlantis” foreshadows Baxter’s 1957 album Skins! with its emphasis on percussion, while “Julie” is straight orchestral pop with a wordless chorus. Kaleidoscope lacks the cohesion of his thematic albums because of its wide mixture of styles, but that is not surprising since most of these songs are taken from previously released singles. (by Greg Adams)

Okay, boys and girls … let´s take a trip into the past … another sentimental journey …

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Personnel:
Les Baxter Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Tropicana (Wayne) 2.07
02. April In Portugal (Ferrao) 2.44
03. Julie (Tiomkin/Wolcott) 2.55
04. Cornflakes (Norman) 2.38
05. Elaine (Gitane) (Lopez) 2.47
06. Invitation (Kaper) 2.50
07. Blue Tango (Anderson) 2.59
08. Festival Hop (Strauss) 1.49
09. Ruby (Roemheld/Parish) 2.54
10. Gigi (Véran/Thoreau) 2.43
11. Atlantis (Rouzaud/Bourdin) 2.16
12. The High And The Mighty (Tiomkin/Washington) 2.47

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Helen Carr – Down In The Depths On The 90th Floor (1955)

FrontCover1.jpgAn overlooked vocalist inspired by Billie Holiday, Helen Carr never had time to make her mark on the history of jazz music during her short-lived career. Before her death at the age of 38 she only recorded two albums. One of the darkest vocal jazz albums of the 50s – packaged with a great title and cover image that features a lone lit window in a New York skyscraper! Helen has incredible backing on the record – a small combo that includes Charlie Mariano on alto sax, Don Fagerquist on trumpet, and Donn Trenner on piano – all gently sliding in behind Carr’s blue vocals in a way that’s similar to some of the Chris Connor work on Bethlehem from the same time. (sacdr.net)

She only recorded two albums. She may or may not have died in a car accident. Her year of birth is up for grabs. Who is Helen Carr?

It’s a mystery, or at least a mystery in terms of digging up information about her on the Internet. She was born in Utah in 1924, or perhaps 1922, and once her career took off, she fronted for a number of big bands, including Stan Kenton and Charlie Barnett. Her voice is breathy and distinctive, and while some liken her to Billie Holiday, I think a sharp-toned Blossom Dearie is a much closer match if we’re going for comparisons.

Yet why compare? She has her own sound, one that never quite comes at you directly, but sneaks up on you sideways and around corners. Her first – or was it her second? – LP, 1955’s “Down In The Depths Of The 90th Floor” is also noteworthy because her set, including “Tulip or Turnip” and “I Don’t Want To Cry Anymore” haven’t all been done to death. Everything about it feels fresh.

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Adding to the mystery of Helen is the fact that she never reveals her face on her LP covers, including 1955’s (or 1956’s?) “Why Do I Love You” – a Cheerfully Heavenly Helen Exclusive! – which features two models (I’m assuming) making out on the beach. This version’s been remastered, yet what makes it truly stand out, again, are the off-the-beaten-track song selections and Helen’s gorgeous vocals, which can turn hot or cool on a dime.

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Helen died in 1960, either in a car accident or due to breast cancer, leaving behind her husband, pianist/arranger Donn Trenner (who’s still kinkin’ at age 90). They even wrote a song together, “Memory Of The Rain,” which is featured on “90th Floor.” Treasure these two LPs, because that’s all there is. (thecheerfulearfull.blogspot.com)

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Personnel:
Max Bennett (bass)
Helen Carr (vocals)
Don Fagerquist (trumpet)
Stan Levy (drums)
Charlie Mariano (saxophone)
Donn Trenner (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Not Mine (Mercer/Schertzinger) 3.01
2. I Don’t Want To Cry Anymore (Schertzinger) 5.15
3. Tulip Or Turnip (George/Ellington) 2.24
4. Memory Of The Rain (Carr/Trenner) 2.48
5. Down In The Depths Of The 90th Floor (Porter) 3.11
6. You’re Driving Me Crazy (Donaldson) 2.58
7. I’m Glad There Is You (Madeira/Dorsey) 3.01
8. Moments Like This (Loesser/Lane) 2.27

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Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variationen (Bach) (1955 / 2008)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, are a work written for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 variations. First published in 1741, the work is considered to be one of the most important examples of variation form. The Variations are named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who may have been the first performer.

Bach: The Goldberg Variations is the 1955 debut album of Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould. An interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), the work launched Gould’s career as a renowned international pianist, and became one of the most well-known piano recordings. Sales were “astonishing” for a classical album: it was reported to have sold 40,000 copies by 1960, and had sold more than 100,000 by the time of Gould’s death in 1982. In 1981, a year before his death, Gould made a new recording of the Goldberg Variations, sales of which exceeded two million by 2000.Bach: The Goldberg Variations is the 1955 debut album of Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould. An interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), the work launched Gould’s career as a renowned international pianist, and became one of the most well-known piano recordings. Sales were “astonishing” for a classical album: it was reported to have sold 40,000 copies by 1960, and had sold more than 100,000 by the time of Gould’s death in 1982.In 1981, a year before his death, Gould made a new recording of the Goldberg Variations, sales of which exceeded two million by 2000.
TitelPageAt the time of the first album’s release, Bach’s Goldberg Variations—a set of 30 contrapuntal variations beginning and ending with an aria—were outside the standard piano repertoire, having been recorded on the instrument only a few times before, either on small labels or unreleased. The work was considered esoteric[4] and technically demanding, requiring awkward hand crossing at times when played on a piano (these passages would be played on two manuals on a harpsichord). Gould’s album both established the Goldberg Variations within the contemporary classical repertoire and made him an internationally famous pianist nearly “overnight”. First played in concert by Gould in 1954, the composition was a staple of Gould’s performances in the years following the recording.

The recordings were made in 1955 at Columbia Records 30th Street studio in Manhattan over four days between June 10 and June 16, a few weeks after Gould signed his contract. Columbia Masterworks Records, the company’s classical music division, released the album in January 1956. Bach: The Goldberg Variations became Columbia’s bestselling classical album and earned Gould an international reputation.

The album gained attention for Gould’s unique pianistic method, which incorporated a finger technique involving great clarity of articulation (a “detached staccatissimo”), even at great speed, and little sustaining pedal. Gould’s piano teacher, Alberto Guerrero, had encouraged Gould to practice “finger tapping”, which required very slowly tapping the fingers of the playing hand with the free hand. According to Guerrero, tapping taught the pianist an economy of muscle movement that would enable precision at high speeds. Gould “tapped” each Goldberg variation before recording it, which took about 32 hours.

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The extreme tempi of the 1955 performance made for a short record, as did Gould’s decision not to play many of the repeats (each Goldberg variation consists of two parts, traditionally played in an A–A–B–B format). The length of a performance of the Goldberg Variations can therefore vary drastically: Gould’s 1955 recording is 38 minutes 34 seconds long, while his reconsidered, slower 1981 version (see below) is 51:18. By way of contrast, fellow Canadian Angela Hewitt’s 1999 record is 78:32. (by wikipedia)

Glenn Gould’s first recording for Columbia from 1955, The Goldberg Variations is still considered one of the ten most significant and successful classical recordings of all time !

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Original front + back cover

Personnel:
Gelnn Gould (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Aria 1.55
02. Variatio 1. a 1 Clav. 0.44
03. Variatio 2. a 1 Clav. 0.35
04. Variatio 3. Canone all’Unisono. a 1 Clav. 0.54
05. Variatio 4. a 1 Clav. 0.29
06. Variatio 5. a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. 0.36
07. Variatio 6. Canone alla Seconda. a 1 Clav. 0.32
08. Variatio 7. a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. al tempo di Giga 1.06
09. Variatio 8. a 2 Clav. 0.45
10. Variatio 9. Canone alla Terza. a 1 Clav. 0.37
11. Variatio 10. Fughetta. a 1 Clav. 0.41
12. Variatio 11. a 2 Clav. 0.52
13. Variatio 12 a 1 Clav. Canone alla Quarta in moto contrario 0.55
14. Variatio 13. a 2 Clav. 2.09
15. Variatio 14. a 2 Clav. 0.57
16. Variatio 15. Canone alla Quinta. a 1 Clav.: Andante 2.14
17. Variatio 16. Ouverture. a 1 Clav. 1.16
18. Variatio 17. a 2 Clav. 0.53
19. Variatio 18. Canone alla Sesta. a 1 Clav. 0.45
20. Variatio 19. a 1 Clav. 0.42
21. Variatio 20. a 2 Clav. 0.45
22. Variatio 21. Canone alla Settima 1.42
23. Variatio 22. a 1 Clav. alla breve 0.42
24. Variatio 23. a 2 Clav. 0.53
25. Variatio 24. Canone all’Ottava. a 1 Clav. 0.56
26. Variatio 25. a 2 Clav. adagio [The Black Pearl] 6.27
27. Variatio 26. a 2 Clav. 0.51
28. Variatio 27. Canone alla Nona. a 2 Clav. 0.48
29. Variatio 28. a 2 Clav. 1.10
30. Variatio 29. a 1 ô vero 2 Clav. 0.59
31. Variatio 30. a 1 Clav. Quodlibet 0.46
32. Aria da capo 2.12

Music written by Johann Sebastian Bach

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David Oistrakh + The Philharmonia Orchestra – Violin Concerto (Khachaturian) (1955)

FrontCover1Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor was completed in 1940 and dedicated to the Russian violinist David Oistrakh, who premièred the concerto in Moscow on September 16, 1940. Oistrakh advised Khachaturian on the composition of the solo part and also wrote his own cadenza that markedly differs from the one originally composed by Khachaturian. The concerto was initially well received and awarded the Stalin Prize for arts in 1941. The work became a staple of the 20th century violin repertoire, and maintains its popularity into the 21st century.

French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal transcribed the piece for flute in 1968, with encouragement from Khachaturian. Rampal’s transcription included a different cadenza in the first movement, but Rampal otherwise strove to adhere to Khachaturian’s original.

The Violin Concerto was the second of three concertos Khachaturian wrote for the individual members of a renowned Soviet piano trio that performed together from 1941 until 1963. The others were: the Piano Concerto for Lev Oborin (1936); and the Cello Concerto for Sviatoslav Knushevitsky (1946).

The work is scored for solo violin and an orchestra consisting of one piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, one English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, tambourine, piccolo snare, cymbals, bass drum, harp and strings.

Aram Khachaturian

The concerto consists of three movements with the following tempo markings:

Allegro con fermezza
Andante sostenuto
Allegro vivace

Allegro con fermezza
As with most concertos, the first movement is in sonata form and begins with a brief orchestral introduction, followed by the entrance of the soloist with the initial theme. The solo violin then introduces the lyrical second theme, marked espressivo, with responses from the woodwinds. A brief cadenza precedes the development section, which prominently features the soloist in several virtuoso passages. A second longer cadenza begins with a quiet duet between the solo violin and clarinet, but soon becomes more animated. The recapitulation of the principal themes leads to a brief coda, based upon the motif of the initial theme. The movement is in common time although there are extended sections in 3/4. The overall key is d minor. The technical demands of this music are considerable.

Andante sostenuto
After an introduction featuring the bassoon and clarinet, the soloist enters with the movement’s principal melody. The movement is notable for its variety of moods and the wide-ranging, highly expressive writing for the soloist. Toward the close, the soloist repeats the principal melody, but now played an octave lower, and with a ‘dolce clarinet obbligato. After a dramatic orchestral outburst, the movement reaches its conclusion, as the violin’s final sustained notes are supported by the horn and muted upper strings, along with descending passages in the flute, bassoon, harp and pizzicato lower strings. The movement is in 3/4 time although common time appears in phases. The overall key is a minor. The general tone of this andante is dark, often threatening, sometimes sad and sometimes angry, especially at the two orchestral climaxes. The second climax then fades away into nothing over a descending scale by the woodwinds over a held G-sharp violin note, which sounds like a semitone away from true.

Allegro vivace
In contrast to the second movement, this one is energetic and enthusiastic. Like many of the classical violin concertos, this one is in the parallel major i.e. D major. The tempo marking is Allegro vivace, 3/8 but the real feel is 6/8 and Presto. Unlike the first two movements, the rhythm remains almost constant throughout. The structure is rondo and the main theme (which comes after a longish orchestral introduction) is derived from an Armenian dance tune. The second melodic subject, which comes after an exuberant transition passage, is the same as the lyrical second theme from the first movement, now reworked to fit the new beat and given urgency and forward drive by a thumping string accompaniment. The third theme features nonstop semiquaver runs and leads back to a reprise of the main tune. A transitional passage then takes us to the coda, which starts with the main theme again but transposed and in rapidly shifting keys. After a vast circle of modulations the music finally comes in for landing on D.

Score

The considerable length of the movement (approximately 450 bars of 6/8 or 900 of 3/8) together with the almost ceaseless semiquaver motion make this one of the most challenging works in the solo violin repertoire. (by wikipedia)

David Fyodorovich Oistrakh (30 September [O.S. 17 September] 1908 – 24 October 1974), PAU, was a renowned Ukrainian-born classical violinist and violist.

Oistrakh collaborated with major orchestras and musicians from many parts of the world, including the Soviet Union, Europe, and the United States, and was the dedicatee of numerous violin works, including both of Dmitri Shostakovich’s violin concerti, and the violin concerto by Aram Khachaturian. He is considered one of the preeminent violinists of the 20th century.

David Oistrakh01Oistrakh received many awards and distinctions. Within the Soviet Union, David Oistrakh was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1943, the title of People’s Artist of the USSR in 1953, and the Lenin Prize in 1960. He also won the 1935 Soviet Union Competition. Several reputable works from the standard violin repertoire are dedicated to Oistrakh, including a concerto by Khachaturian, two concerti by Shostakovich, and several other pieces.

Oistrakh’s fame and success were not limited to the Soviet Union: he placed second at the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Warsaw, after 16-year-old prodigy Ginette Neveu, and further improved upon that by winning the grand prize in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.

Additionally, the asteroid 42516 Oistrach is named in honour of him and his son, the violinist Igor Oistrakh.

David Oistrakh is known to have played at least seven Stradivarius violins owned by the Soviet Union. He initially selected the 1702 Conte di Fontana Stradivarius, which he played for 10 years before exchanging it for the 1705 Marsick Stradivarius in June 1966, which he played until his death. (by wikipedia)

This is the second version of the “Violin Concerto” … the first was recorded in 1945 and the third in 1965 … This versuon ws recorded in 1954 and without any doubts, this ist one of the best classical sompositions of the last century.

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David Oistrakh / Aram Khachaturian

Personnel:
David Oistrakh (violin)
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The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Aram Khachaturian

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Tracklist:

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra:
01. First Movement – Allegro Con Fermezza 13.56
02. Second Movement – Andante Sostenuto 11.57
03. Third Movement – Allegro Vivace 9.21

Music composed by Aram Khachaturian

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Julian Cannonball Adderley – And Strings (1955)

FrontCover1Julian Cannonball Adderley and Strings is the second album by jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley to be released on the EmArcy label and features Adderley with and orchestra directed by Richard Hayman.

The “and Strings” album is one of the biggest clichés of ’50s jazz. The idea of taking a prominent jazz soloist and placing him in an orchestral context usually doesn’t work as jazz and often doesn’t cut it as mood music, either. Julian Cannonball Adderley and Strings suffers a bit in terms of song selection — “Surrey With a Fringe on Top” and “Polka Dots and Moonbeams (Around a Pug-Nosed Dream)” are a little on the corny side — but Adderley himself plays beautifully, showing off his typically excellent soloing throughout, and Bill Russo’s orchestral arrangements are less invasive than similar arrangements for other “and Strings” albums, more Gil Evans than Mantovani. The opening “I Cover the Waterfront” is a stellar kickoff, a smoky ballad perfect for Adderley’s soulful style, but barring a few minor missteps, all of Julian Cannonball Adderley and Strings is well worth hearing. (by Stewart Mason)

And here´s another sentimental journey in the past …

Recorded in New York City on October 27 (tracks 9-12) & October 28 (tracks 1-8), 1955

Adderly

Personnel:
Julian Cannonball Adderley (saxophone)
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unknown Orchestra conducted by Richard Hayman ( arranged by Bill Russo

Inside
Tracklist:
01. I Cover The Waterfront (Green/Heyman) 2.27
02. A Foggy Day (Gershwin) 2.42
03. The Surrey With the Fringe On Top (Hammerstein II/Rodgers) 2.33
04. Two Sleepy People (Carmichael/Loesser) 3.01
05. I’ll Never Stop Loving You (Brodszky/Cahn) 2.41
06. (I’m Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over (Magidson/Wrubel) 3.11
07. I’ve Never Been in Love Before (Loesser) 2.20
08. Lonely Dreams (Gubenko) 2.30
09. Falling In Love With Love (Hart/Rodgers) 2.33
10. Street Of Dreams (Lewis/Young) 2.14
11. Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Burke/v.Heusen) 3.04
12. You Are Too Beautiful (Hart/Rodgers) 2.55

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Caterina Valente – A Date With Caterina Valente (1955)

FrontCover1Caterina Valente (born 14 January 1931, Paris, France) is an Italian singer, guitarist, dancer, and actress. She was born into an Italian artist family. Her father, Giuseppe, was a well-known accordion player; her mother, Maria, a musical clown. She had three siblings, one of whom, Silvio (as Silvio Francesco), was also active in show business.

In 1953, she made her first recordings with Kurt Edelhagen. Soon afterwards she achieved success with songs such as “Malagueña”, “The Breeze and I” (a global million-seller), and “Dreh dich nicht um” with the Werner Müller orchestra. In 1955, she was featured on The Colgate Comedy Hour with Gordon MacRae. In the mid 1960s, Valente worked with Claus Ogerman and recorded material in both Italian and English that he arranged/conducted and/or composed on the Decca  and London labels. She was a favorite of singer Perry Como making eight guest appearances on his NBC Kraft Music Hall television program from 1961 to 1966. Between 1966 and 1972 she was also a frequent guest on the Dean Martin Show.

In Germany she was a major performer of Schlager music. There she recorded Cole Porter’s I Love Paris under the German title Ganz Paris träumt von der Liebe, which sold more than 900,000 copies in 1954. Over the years, she has recorded or performed with many international stars, including Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Claus Ogerman, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Sy Oliver, Buddy Rich and Edmundo Ros.

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In 1959, she was nominated for a Grammy Award. Valente was a principal, along with Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart, on the short-lived CBS variety series The Entertainers (1964–65). A briglia sciolta, the Italian jazz CD recorded in 1989 and re-released in later years under the titles Fantastica and Platinum deluxe, was her best-selling CD worldwide. In 2001, she released a new album, Girltalk, with harpist Catherine Michel. (by wikipedia)

 

This is one of her many recordings from the 50´s and it´s a nice one … the early Valente recorded in the same year I was born … *smile* …

But this is not only “Schlager” music … sometimes it´s world music !

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Personnel:
Caterina Valente (vocals)
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Werner Müller & His Orchestra
Monaco Ball Orchestra
Paul Durand & His Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Temptation (Freed/Brown) 3.22
02. If Hearts Could Talk (Wise/Auric/Twomey) 3.13
03. The Breeze And I (Andalucia) (Stillman/Lecuona) 3.24
04. Malagueña (Lecuona) 3.06
05. My Lonely Lover (Gietz/Goell) 2.47
06. Fiesta Cubana (Gietz/Goell) 2.21
07. This Must Be Wrong (Gietz/Goell) 2.37
08. The Way You Love Me (Gietz/Goell) 2.47

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Miles Davis – `Round About Midnight (1957)

frontcover1‘Round About Midnight is an album by jazz musician Miles Davis. It was his debut on Columbia Records, and was originally released in March 1957 (CL 949). The album took its name from the Thelonious Monk song “‘Round Midnight”. Recording sessions took place at Columbia Studio D on October 26, 1955, and at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio on June 5 and September 10, 1956.

Although it had a lukewarm reception upon its release, ‘Round About Midnight has since been regarded by critics as a masterpiece of the hard bop genre and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

At the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, Davis performed the song “‘Round Midnight” as part of an all-star jam session, with the song’s composer Thelonious Monk, along with Connie Kay and Percy Heath of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan. Davis’s solo received an extremely positive reception from many jazz fans, and critics. It was viewed as a significant comeback and indication of a healthy, drug-free Davis (he had in fact been free from heroin addiction for well over a year). Davis’ response to this performance was typically laconic: “What are they talking about? I just played the way I always play.”[5] George Avakian of Columbia Records was in the audience, and his brother Aram persuaded him that he ought to sign Davis to the label.[6] Davis was eventually signed to Columbia Records, and was able to form his famous “first great quintet” with John Coltrane on saxophone. ‘Round About Midnight was to be his first album for his new label.

Davis was still under contract to Prestige Records, but had an agreement that he could record material for Columbia to release after the expiration of his Prestige contract. The recording dates for the album were at Columbia Records’ studios; the first session was on October 26, 1955, at Studio D, during which the track “Ah-Leu-Cha” was recorded along with three other numbers that did not appear on the album. This is the first studio recording of the quintet. The remainder of the album was recorded during sessions on June 5, 1956 (“Dear Old Stockholm”, “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Tadd’s Delight”) and September 10, 1956 (“All of You” and the titular “‘Round Midnight”) at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio. During the same period, the Miles Davis Quintet was also recording sessions to fulfill its contract with Prestige. (by wikipedia)

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Given that ‘Round About Midnight was Miles Davis’ debut Columbia recording, it was both a beginning and an ending. Certainly the beginning of his recording career with the label that issued most if not all of his important recordings; and the recording debut of an exciting new band that had within its ranks Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers, pianist Red Garland, and an all but unknown tenor player named John Coltrane. The title track was chosen because of its unique rendition with a muted trumpet, and debuted at the Newport Jazz Festival the summer before to a thunderous reception. The date was also an ending of sorts because by the time of the album’s release, Davis had already broken up the band, which re-formed with Cannonball Adderley a year later as a sextet, but it was a tense year.

Musically, this sound is as unusual and as beautiful as it was when issued in 1956. Davis had already led the charge through two changes in jazz — both cool jazz and hard bop — and was beginning to move in another direction here that wouldn’t be defined for another two years. Besides the obvious lyrical and harmonic beauty of “Round About Midnight” that is arguably its definitive version even over Monk’s own, there are the edges of Charlie Parker’s “Au Leu-Cha” with its Bluesology leaping from every chord change in Red Garland’s left hand. Coltrane’s solo here too is notable for its stark contrast to Davis’ own: he chooses an angular tack where he finds the heart of the mode and plays a melody in harmonic counterpoint to the changes but never sounds outside. Cole Porter’s “All of You” has Davis quoting from Louis Armstrong’s “Basin Street Blues” in his solo that takes out the tune, and Coltrane has never respected a melody so much.

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But it’s in “Bye-Bye Blackbird” that we get to hear the band gel as a unit, beginning with Davis playing through the melody, muted and sweet, slightly flatted out until he reaches the harmony on the refrain and begins his solo on a high note. Garland is doing more than comping in the background; he’s slipping chord shapes into those interval cracks and shifting them as the rhythm section keeps “soft time.” When Coltrane moves in for his break, rather than Davis’ spare method, he smatters notes quickly all though the melodic body of the tune and Garland has to compensate harmonically, moving the mode and tempo up a notch until his own solo can bring it back down again. Which he does with a gorgeous all-blues read of the tune utilizing first one hand and then both hands to create fat harmonic chords to bring Davis back in to close it out. It’s breathtaking how seamless it all is. There’s little else to say except that ‘Round About Midnight is among the most essential of Davis’ Columbia recordings. (by Thom Jurek)

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Miles Davis with french actress Jeanne Moreau in 1957

Personnel:
Paul Chambers (bass)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Red Garland (piano)
Philly Joe Jones (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. ‘Round Midnight (Monk/Hanighen/Williams) 5.58
02. Ah-Leu-Cha (Parker) 5.53
03. All Of You (Porter) 7.03
04. Bye Bye Blackbird (Dixon/Henderson) 7.57
05. Tadd’s Delight (Dameron) 4.29
06. Dear Old Stockholm (Traditional/Getz) 7.52
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07. Two Bass Hit (Lewis/Gillespie) 3.45
08. Little Melonae (McLean) 7.22
09. Budo (Powell/Davis) 4.17
10. Sweet Sue, Just You (Harris/Young) 3.40

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