My Bonny John Wilson and His Eponymous Orchestra to Present The Warner Brothers Story at the BBC Proms on 9 August 2019

From The JWO website 12 May, 2018: “John Wilson and The John Wilson Orchestra present The Warner Brothers Story, an evening of sumptuous Technicoloured scores from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Friday 9 August 2019 3.00pm & 7.30pm at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Tickets go on sale at 9am for Prom 29 and 30 on Saturday 11 May. Royal Albert Hall Box Office: 020 7589 8212.” I think they’re all sold out by now. “The evening show will be broadcast live on BBC Four TV, live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 2.” So there’s hope for me.

Bugs as Leopold.jpgLeopold! Leopold!

But “Technicolored”—sheesh. (Do you write your own copy, my love? I truly hope you don’t.) At any rate, here’s the program listed on my darling’s management’s website:

  • “Blues in the Night” / Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer
  • The Constant Nymph (excerpts) / Erich Korngold
  • The Sea Hawk / Erich Korngold
  • My Fair Lady (excerpts) / Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner
  • Camelot (excerpts) / Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (excerpts) / Alex North
  • Now, Voyager(!!!) (excerpts) / Max Steiner
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (excerpts) / Max Steiner
  • Romance on the High Seas (excerpts) / Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn

Ah, Cahn, that altekocker. I rode up in an elevator with him and cartoonist Robert Clampett once and had nothing to say to him; at the time Cahn was siding with management and against us ASCAP solfeggists when we wanted to unionize. So I just stood there quietly, listening to the both of them natter on to each other about their respective accomplishments. “And I wrote that Jackie Gleason song!” exclaimed Cahn, while Clampett was adamantly proud of Tweety Bird, and rightly so.

The Lower East Side, 1976

And tell me what street
Compares with Mott Street in July

Here in the same neighborhood on 13 Essex Street was my second apartment in New York; fourth floor walkup, one bedroom, tub in kitchen, $85 a month.

“Manhattan”
music by Richard Rodgers
lyrics by Lorenz Hart

13 Essex Street

This picture’s from the 90s. When I lived here, the boutique was a kosher grocery that stayed open till 11pm.

From the 1925 revue Garrick Gaieties. The song was introduced by Sterling Holloway (of Fractured Fairy Tales fame) and June Cochran.

Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth’s Deep-Tongue Kiss at the Tonys, 2010

You all remember the flap behind this. But that kiss at the Tonys (starts at :40) was awfully convincing. Hey, my hormones percolated…

kristen-chenoweth-sean-hayes.jpg

…But to get on with this posting. One of the nominees at the 64th Tony Awards was the revival of Promises, Promises with a score by Burt Bachrach, including some of his interpolated standards (like “A House is Not a Home” and “I Say a Little Prayer”, neither of which were in the original production), so I’m thinking that this bootleg vidcomp from an actual performance would be a good introduction to the work of this (as my beloved John Wilson, Conductor might deem him) “top-drawer American tunesmith”. The connection to my posting on Milhaud above? Bachrach was a student of Darius Milhaud, and you can hear what he retained from the modernist master in his distinctive, almost Latin, rhythms—think of “Always Something There to Remind Me” or “Twenty-four Hours from Tulsa”.

Here’s Sean Hayes singing the title song at 23:18, and a surprisingly good job he does too. No Jerry Ohrbach, but the kid’s got pipes.

The Nat King Cole Trio Does “Blame It On My Youth” by Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman (1934)

King Cole Trio
Oscar Moore, guitar and Joe Comfort, double bass. The creamy Nat Cole at the piano.

If I cried a little bit
When first I learned the truth
Don’t blame it on my heart
Blame it on my youth

You wouldn’t look at him to think that Levant, the eternal loafer/boy genius, was a fine tunesmith as well, would you? But here’s his plaintive standard sung by one of the most identifiable singers in American music.

Lessons in Love, an Album of Songs by Lance Ellington, Played by The John Wilson Orchestra and Conducted by John Wilson

Between 2000 and 2005 John recorded 8 albums for the venerable jazz/swing/dance band label Vocalion. Whereas four months ago I had none, I now have 6 of them. I have that awful Orchestral Jazz he did with Richard Rodney Bennett; his 2 albums of Angela Morley’s work; his Paul Weston and his Geraldo (see “Geraldo Among the Filipinos, 1963” below); and I just ordered Dance Date.

There are two more albums I haven’t gotten yet: One is with a pleasant but unimaginative crooner named Gary Williams (who I suspect was the guy who enabled John to increase the size of his orchestra—“He just turned up one day at my door with a pot of money and said, ‘Will you put together a great big orchestra for me to sing to?’ And that was the start of it,” said my blinky winsome John in a 2011 interview—and somebody, bear me out on this story) but it doesn’t sound interesting enough to drop fifteen bucks on.

But this one, Lessons In Love, sounds perfectly gorgeous, the little I heard—it’s classic Songbook stuff—and I’m dying to have it. It’s Lance Ellington’s strong clear vocals and fundamental John Wilson Orchestra through and through. Trouble is, it apparently went through a limited pressing so available copies run from 115 American bucks upward. How can a record only 13 years old be a collector’s item already??

Lance Ellington is the son of English bandleader/singer Ray Ellington, who I know only as that weird singer on The Goon Show who mangled my favorite Charles Trenet song, “Boum”, even though I yelled at him not to do it through my computer screen. Lance is great, though. He teamed up with John and Orchestra for their 2014 Cole Porter album doing the song “Now You Has Jazz” and that album won the Echo Klassik Music Without Borders Prize. (John’s big smile at 4:23.)

Lance Ellington

Frank Sinatra Sings Anton Rubenstein’s Romance No. 1 in E Flat

…which we know, of course, as “If You Are But a Dream” (1942, Moe Jaffe, Jack Fulton and Nat Bonx, composers, “from Rubenstein’s Romance“).

Frank Sinatra, 1945
Could you say no to this boy?

From legendary San Francisco journalist Herb Caen‘s column, 1995:

Fast forward through World War II to Al Williams’ Papagayo Room in the Fairmont Hotel. It’s 2 a.m. Al’s place is the hangout on the late shift. Mexican food in the middle of the night? We were young and indestructible. Frank was on his own now and headlining at (again) the Golden Gate. The critics weren’t impressed with “Frankie,” as they called him, to his disgust, but the schoolgirls were cutting classes to catch his shows and I was giving him sincere plugs. At the Papagayo Room on his closing night, a burly broken-nosed guy in a polo coat came to my table and said, “You Caen?” When I nodded warily, he slipped me a small package, said, “Frank says t’anks” and disappeared. The package contained a solid gold Dunhill lighter. It was the first but not the last time I would be reminded of Sinatra’s penchant for extravagant gifts…