Hold for content.
Before I call out my bonny lad on a couple of his more recent musical choices that have been bugging the hell out of me, I think it’s only fair to share the best clips available of John’s own 24-year-old orchestra—cunningly named the John Wilson Orchestra—which, out of over 200(!) on YouTube in nine years, come down to about three, maybe four clips spread out through 2009-2017.
So here’s the first. This is from their 2012 show “Broadway Sounds” 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 goddamn 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 Albert Hall, and for once he was entirely right.
Co-composer Blaine once said that he’d been glancing at a picture book he’d found at the Beverly Hills Public Library, landed on a page about early streetcars captioned “Clang, Clang, Clang, Went the Trolley”, and bang was off to the races.
Orchestrator for this song—as well as the entire MGM Judy Garland musical Meet Me in St Louis—was Conrad Salinger. “Salinger’s arrangement was a masterpiece,” wrote producer Hugh Fordin. “His [was] a very special sound and style that has never been equalled in the American movie musical.”
Orchestrator/arranger/conductor Jack Campey pointed to this clip highlighting Salinger’s orchestration, sans vocals. Cheers, Jack.
And…here’s Stokowski in my second favorite Deanna Durbin movie: 100 Men and a Girl (1937, Henry Koster, Universal).
If you want Bugs Bunny as Leopold in “Long-Haired Hare”, click here.
I’m a pot of joy for a hungry boy,
Baby, I’m cookin’ with gas.
Oh, I’m a gumdrop,
A sweet lollipop,
A brook trout right out of the brook,
And what’s more, baby, I can cook!
The queen of Broadway Bernadette Peters entices conductor John Mauceri with her many, many assets, courtesy of Leonard Bernstein and the great lyric team of Adolph Green and Betty Comden. “I Can Cook, Too” from On the Town. Fun starts at (click here) 4:45.
The Sage houses two performance spaces—one seating 600, the other one seating 1,700—with impeccable acoustics. (This impressive concert hall serves a city with a smaller population than, oh, Eugene, Oregon—you know, the racist berg where Oxford-trained conductor Matthew Halls was fired for cracking jokes with his black counter-tenor friend.) Oh, to be in Gateshead now that April’s there…