Disappointing to hear that John won’t be doing Britten’s The Turn of the Screw at Wilton’s Music Hall in London this month. So, to cheer everybody up, here’s the FULL 2-HOUR PROGRAM of my John and The John Wilson Orchestra at the Proms, 2013. That’s Jane Monheit, John, and Matt Ford below.
The full program (with remarks as they come to me):
20th Century Fox Fanfare (from the studio, 1933) / Alfred Newman
Street Scene (from the 1931 film; Sam Goldwyn/United Artists) / Alfred Newman
“Confetti” (from Forever, Darling; MGM, 1956) / Bronislaw Kaper Just wish that this really delightful period piece weren’t associated with the stupidest cinematic use of James Mason (a fine English actor and fellow cat-loving chum of my old boss, Mamoulian) ever concocted and omigod—is this one of the pieces you reconstructed, John? Pleeease tell me, whenever you and I keep that date at the Metropole.
Laura (suite; from the 1944 film; 20th Century Fox, 1944) / David Raksin
Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra (from the 1960 film; Paramount) / Bernard Herrmann
– “An Affair to Remember” (from the 1957 film; 20th Century Fox) / Harry Warren, Leo McCarey (the film’s director), Harold Damson
– “Something’s Gotta Give” (from Daddy Long Legs; 20th Century Fox, 1955) / Johnny Mercer
– “Young at Heart” (from the 1955 film; Warner Bros) / Johnny Richards, Carolyn Leigh
– “It’s Magic” (from Romance On the High Seas; Warner Bros, 1948) / Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn
– “The Tender Trap” (from the 1955 film; MGM) / Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn
– “My Foolish Heart” (from the 1949 film; Samuel Goldwyn/RKO) / Ned Washington, Victor Young
– “Three Coins in the Fountain” (from the 1954 film; 20th Century Fox) / Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn
– “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” (from the 1955 film; 20th Century Fox) / Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster
– “That’s Amore” (from The Caddy; Paramount, 1953) / Harry Warren, Jack Brooks
– “Que Sera, Sera” (from The Man Who Knew Too Much; Paramount, 1956 / Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
– “All the Way” (from The Joker is Wild, 1957; Paramount) / Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn
A Place In the Sun (suite from the 1951 film; Paramount) / Franz Waxman
Tom and Jerry (from the MGM cartoons; 1940-58) / Scott Bradley
Well, John, this isn’t a Joan Crawford movie so there’s no gold cigarette case but as I’m still in love with you and want to give you nice things, I’ll give you my honest appraisals, which is something I’ve been doing all along anyway (I hope you’ll agree) and not throwing myself into the Atlantic Ocean for your sake. So let’s do this organized, going down the numbers in the program one by one because, as you recall, I used to work at ASCAP:
“We’re In the Money” (from Gold Diggers of 1933) / Harry Warren, Al Dubin Count on you to include the lyrics in pig Latin.
“The Desert Song” (from the 1953 film) / Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II Meh. I think the only reason you worked this in is because Kim Criswell’s singing a Romberg song in your 5 January concert in Stockholm, “Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise”, which is a hot, HOT number. In fact I can’t believe you’re going to stand on the same stage when she sings this song and not get incinerated. But that’s just you I guess.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (suite; from the 1948 film) / Max Steiner God, I forgot how repetitive Max Steiner can be when he’s not cribbing from Herman Hupfeld.
The Old Man and the Sea (suite, 1st movement; from the 1958 film) / Dmitri Tiomkin One movement, mercifully short.
“Seventy-Six Trombones” (from The Music Man, 1962) / Meredith Willson I lost a bet to Mister Grumble that you would never, never, EVER do this number, ever. (Because, you know, it’s so OBVIOUS.) But…yeah, it was okay. No Andre Rieu though.
“Blues in the Night” (from Blues In the Night, 1941) / Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer A low-voiced woman should sing this. Preferably a woman who’s been there.
Auntie Mame (main title; from the 1958 film) / Bronislav Kaper You know, I’d forgotten how much I like this sweet waltz.
“The Man That Got Away” (from A Star is Born, 1954) / Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin [in an obvious nod to the movie’s latest remake] Of all your singers, Louise Dearman is the only one who could’ve carried these two numbers in this room particularly, and whatever luck or good judgment (and I’m nuts about you dear, but I’m never completely confident about your judgment in these matters) brought her there I’m glad.
“Get Me to the Church On Time” (from My Fair Lady, 1962) / Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner A little harkening back to your 2012 Proms triumph, eh?
25-MINUTE INTERVAL Proms Plus Talk: a discussion of some of the great film scores being played tonight [Hah! In a pig’s eye] with Matthew Sweet, David Benedict and Pamela Hutchinson
Gypsy (overture; from the 1962 film) / Jule Styne, arr Ramin and Ginzler I still have the clip of you conducting this at the 2012 Proms (the other one). This one is sooo much better.
Now, Voyager (suite; from the 1942 film) / Max Steiner No need for you to play the entire suite. It’s no musical gem, and all we’re here for the damn Love Theme!!! which by the way Charles Gerhardt wonderfully supplies, including the Steiner-written Warner Bros fanfare.
“The Deadwood Stage” (from Calamity Jane, 1953) / Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster [a Doris Day tribute] O-kay! A FULL number from a musical, complete with chorus—this is the very thing that made your name. All is forgiven.
“It’s Magic” (from Romance On the High Seas [correction, BBC: “On”, not “In”], 1948) / Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn [again, a Doris Day tribute] What in the name of heaven possessed whoever decided to include the worst song Jule Styne ever wrote? Redeemable only—only—if Bugs Bunny sings it.
A Streetcar Named Desire (main title; from the 1951 film) / Alex North Oh, you’re going to have fun with this one when you have to give sexy program notes to the audience from the podium, like you did in Brighton.
“The Days of Wine and Roses” (from the 1962 film) Henry Mancini arr Nelson Riddle, Johnny Mercer Nelson Riddle!? You used the freakin’ Nelson Riddle arrangement?? What are you trying to do, send love signals to Seth MacFarlane?
“Tomorrow” (from The Constant Nymph) / Erich Wolfgang Korngold You had this and your Prince Charming from Cendrillon, Kate Lindsey, up your sleeve! What a nice surprise.
ENCORE: “I Could Have Danced All Night” (from My Fair Lady, 1962) / Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner Every soprano in the world wants to hear this song done right. She passes.
ENCORE “Harry’s Wondrous World” (from the Harry Potter series of films, 2002-2012) It’s unavoidable, you’re going to do John Williams somewhere. And I know the BBCCO had the scores in their basement because you conducted this with them back in 2007.
Mikaela Bennett, Louise Dearman, Kate Lindsey, Matt Ford, singers. Maida Vale Singers, chorus. Christopher Dee, choral director. Petroc Trelawny, presenter.
The indication “burlesque strip style” was actually written on the music right around 4:00. Both Ramin and Ginzler cut their teeth writing swing arrangements; lead trumpet in the original Gypsy pit was Dick Perry, late of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Solo trumpet Mike Lovatt here lays it down fine. Some people obviously know something about burlycue. Composer Jule Styne was pleased with this orchestration.
Also at 4:00 my darling John Wilson shimmying like a brazen hussy. This is the moment one year ago today when I fell in love with you, my bonny, that lovely luscious moment when I stumbled onto that clip above of you at the Royal Albert and got your number…
Before I go into more of my bonny’s musical missteps that have done their part to perturb me to no end, I think it’s only fair to first share the best clips available of John Wilson’s own 24-year-old orchestra—cannily named, as I have mentioned, The John Wilson Orchestra—which, out of over 200(!) on YT in ten years, come down to really only about 4, maybe 5 of these “best clips” between 2009 – 2019.
This is from their 2012 show The Broadway Sound (@43:50) at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London, which seats 5200, with standing room for 1300 on the ground floor (tickets for which go for only 6L and for which people camp out overnight at the box office like it was Winterland). This is pertinent, because it seems like The JWO only does its best work when it can blast the roof off a barn.
I had the old Ben Bagley recording and the 1983 Broadway revival recording (conducted by John Mauceri) of the Rodgers & Hart show On Your Toes—which of course includes the climactic ballet “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”—but both producer Bagley as well as musical theater preservationist Mauceri put on disc the 1936 Robert Russell Bennett orchestration rather than the 1954 one by Don Walker. Our John, being John (I’m starting to get into his “ear”), chose the Walker score to play in the Royal Albert—which of course makes the most of those two “false” endings—and for once he was entirely correct.
For their show at the 2011 BBC Proms, called Hooray for Hollywood, John and The JWO begin here with an overall satisfying medley of tunes from the picture—inconveniently called the “Hooray for Hollywood” overture—tunes selected, arranged and orchestrated by my self-satisfied darling himself. Starting with John’s cribbing from Ray Heindorf’s execrable arrangement (that hard downbeat!) of the Gershwin brothers’ 1919 “Swanee” (Jolson turning in his grave), it does get better: “Lullaby of Broadway” by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, very nifty and swingy; Rudy Friml and Herb Stothart’s 1924 “Indian Love Call”, a lot more lyrical and moving (he included the birds and the waterfall!) than you remember it (especially when leader Andrew Haveron takes the soulful melody); Jerry Kern and Yip Harburg’s glorious 1944 “Can’t Help Singing” (written for Deanna Durbin); Kern and Ira Gershwin’s 1944 “Long Ago and Far Away” (Howard McGill on tenor sax and Matthew Regan on piano—I’ve never heard it played any lovelier): Frank Loesser’s 1950 “Guys and Dolls” done in Big Swing style; then, in a weird leap, “Chim-Chim-Cheree” by the Sherman brothers 1963 (for which our John cribs 2 bars from Shostakovich’s Jazz Waltz No 2); and ending with “Hooray for Hollywood” from 1937 by Richard Whiting (who wrote “On the Good Ship Lollipop”) and Johnny Mercer.
Hooray for Hollywood,
Where you’re terrific if you’re even good
Where anyone at all from Shirley Temple to Aimee Semple
Is equally understood
Go out and try your luck, you might be Donald Duck
Hooray for Hollywood
Dates are of composition, not the date of the movie. Because it contains John’s own actually-pretty-good arrangement it’s one of my favorite numbers of The JWO (although I would’ve swapped the timpani for a little chord coloring at the beginning of the “Swanee” melody). He seems to have nailed down the Andre Previn sound in his strings, which is fine by me. Plus extra points @7:40, when my self-satisfied darling shimmies like a brazen hussy yet again.
Steiner’s suite (written score here) is clearly patched together from various melodies in the film Casablanca, including the Nazi drinking song “Die Wacht am Rhein” (Schneckenburger/Wilhelm, 1853); “La Marseillaise” (de Lisle, 1792); and, of course, “As Time Goes By” (Herman Hupfeld, 1931). And is that a little of Steiner’s own King Kong? The Warner Bros Pictures music theme at the beginning is entirely Steiner’s composition.
I feel a raging, yearning, unchaste tenderness for my beloved John Wilson when he conducts schmaltzy pieces like this, which sort of makes up, as I say, for the times his fatuous pronouncements exasperate me.