Fanfares, an Album by Onyx Brass, Conducted by John Wilson

Release date 8 March 2018 from Chandos. I know nothing about the English brass tradition so maybe this isn’t the right album for me to be assessing musically. Still, I will follow (almost) anywhere my beloved leads me, so here we are.

The only fanfares I know at present are Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” (here performed and riffed on by Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and—like any red-blooded American—the fanfare that begins Alexander Courage’s “Star Trek Theme” (repeated here); but I also remember from my girlhood a wonderful, very English fanfare that provided the theme for the 1967 BBC series The Forsyte Saga, which I found out only recently is from the first movement entitled “Halcyon Days” from the suite The Three Elizabeths written by Eric Coates.

John Wilson Onyx 4

Said MusicWeb International of Fanfares: “John Wilson proves himself to be a deft and intelligent interpreter of this music which he allows to push on in flamboyant display or swagger with burnished grandeur as the mood demands. The playing of the expanded Onyx brass is of exactly the right kind of easy virtuosity and blazing brilliance.” Check back for my comments after I’ve heard in entirety every one of these 58 freakin cuts.

Advertisements

Carol Burnett in CBS’s Broadcast of the Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster Musical Calamity Jane, November 1963

First on CBS (Carol’s network) 12 November 1963, now available in its entirety on YouTube here. Saw this when I was eight—and note the date: This was 10 days before President Kennedy was assassinated. Some bleak Thanksgiving weekend, that.

Carol duos “Secret Love” with big handsome Art Lund starting at 1:22:30. Lund had a swoony hit a few years earlier with Leroy Anderson’s “Serenata” (which I heard in my bassinette and still adore); and people forget Carol Burnett started as a legit Broadway singer with an invigorating presence and great legs. A surprising amount of sexual energy makes it to the small screen here.

Carol Burnett Calamity Jane.jpg

Webster and Fain rearranged the music from the Doris Day MGM musical for this stage version and a new book was brought in by TV writer Paul Shuken, so it sounds nothing like the film version which—of course, my bonny John Wilson being involved—gave the Proms its version.

The Mighty Wurlitzer at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco

San Francisco, open your Golden Gate
You’ll let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one
Saying I’ll wander no more

The Castro Theatre was our neighborhood picture palace back in San Francisco. Went to dozens of movies there, sometimes with Mr Grumble (this is when he still could see), sometimes with the Bograt, sometimes with both: King Kong, Casablanca, The Garden of Allah, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, that movie Steve’s son was in called Brokeback Mountain, etc etc etc. But the organ was always the best part.

Here’s David Hagerty between evening shows giving the best of The Mighty Wurlitzer and ending (starting at 8:17), as he always does at every performance, with an inspiring rendition of the official anthem of my spiritual birthplace, “San Francisco” (Bronislaw Kaper and Walter Jurmann, lyrics by Gus Kahn, 1936).

Captain Kangaroo’s Theme by Edward White, Conducted by John Wilson

At around the same time of life baby John was home in Gateshead falling out of his high chair in excitement over the brand-new BBC news theme, I was in my crib in the living room of the old one-bedroom apartment in South Minneapolis jumping up and down in excitement to the theme of Captain Kangaroo on TV.

I think I was always aware that this thing called music existed—my mother continually had the “light music” station tuned in on the tabletop radio, and I remember, before I could walk, hearing again and again orchestral standards like Leroy Anderson’s “Serenata”, Morton Gould’s “Pavanne”, Trevor Duncan’s “Lady in Love” etc etc, and my absolute favorite, the ubiquitous (because Minneapolis) “Swedish Rhapsody” by Hugo Alfen, jauntily rendered by Percy Faith.

But the Captain Kangaroo theme is the first piece of music I remember being able to “grasp” entirely, except for that stop-time somewhere in the middle, but then I was only 1 or 2, and I didn’t learn about stop-time until college. Never even knew the piece had a name besides “The Captain Kangaroo Theme”. Then just last month I landed on this vid of an entire BBC2 program from 2008 dedicated to light music pieces used for BBC shows. Went there to rip the Dick Barton, Special Agent! theme, a Monty Python favorite, for my library—it’s called “The Devil’s Galop” by Charles Williams, by the way—and came away with “Barwick Green” from The Archers, “March from Little Suite” from Dr Finlay’s Casebook etc etc etc. And then like a bolt from the blue at 47:55 was “Puffin’ Billy” which, with a crazy thrill, I recognized from the first four notes, who wouldn’t? And there—and there!—at 36 looking 12—my darling lad on the podium.

John Wilson Friday.jpg