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Archive for November 5th, 2014

From Hoagy To Popcorn: Croydon Municipal Mines Carmichael Tunes, Vintage Pop, R&B and Film Music

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Buttermilk SkiesSt. Etienne co-founder Bob Stanley’s Croydon Municipal imprint from the Cherry Red Group continues to have some of the most eclectic releases out there, emphasizing classic fifties and early sixties pop, R&B and beyond. The label’s latest offerings include a tribute to the pride of Bloomington, Indiana – Mr. Hoagy Carmichael – as well as a return to the realm of Popcorn, and a collection of cool, swinging film themes!

Any songwriter would likely sell his soul to compose a song with the endurance of “Stardust,” the 1931 standard written by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics later added by Mitchell Parish. But “Stardust” was just one of the many eternal songs penned by Carmichael (1899-1981); others include “Heart and Soul,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and “Georgia on My Mind.”  So Carmichael is a fitting selection for Croydon’s first songwriter anthology. Buttermilk Skies: The Hoagy Carmichael Songbook has, among its 24 tracks, all of the songs mentioned above and many others.

Hoagy himself was a singer-songwriter long before the term was in vogue, so Buttermilk Skies includes his own versions of the nominal title track “Ole Buttermilk Sky” and “My Resistance is Low.”   But compiler Stanley has also showcased the breadth of Carmichael’s songwriting talent with performances from across the musical spectrum.  Some of the performers here come from the classic pop vocal tradition, such as Matt Monro with his rich rendition of “Skylark,” Bobby Darin with his brash “Up a Lazy River” and Mel Torme with the lightly swinging “One Morning in May.”  Torme was a jazz vocalist par excellence, and other jazz singers and instrumentalists also get the spotlight – trumpeter Chet Baker with his hushed vocal performance of “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” Billie Holiday with “April in My Heart,” Nina Simone with “Memphis in June,” Carmen McRae with a smoky “Baltimore Oriole” and Louis Armstrong with a vocal version of “Ev’ntide.”  Big band legends are represented (Glenn Miller with “We’re the Couple in the Castle,” Tommy Dorsey with “Walk It Off”) and R&B giants such as “The Genius” Ray Charles with his never-bettered “Georgia on My Mind” from 1960, and Billy Ward and the Dominoes with their hit 1957 revival of “Stardust.”  Bob Hope and Shirley Ross are heard on “Two Sleepy People,” co-written with Frank Loesser, which they performed in the 1939 film Thanks for the Memory.  Another film star, the brassy Betty Hutton, sings “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief,” her Billboard No. 1 from 1945.

There are some surprising omissions here (no “The Nearness of You” or “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” for which Carmichael won an Academy Award), but Buttermilk Skies is a thoroughly enjoyable primer on the innovative songwriter who brought jazz influences into American popular song.  The compilation includes an essay on Carmichael’s life and legacy by Matthew Lees, although we must question Lees’ assertion that “the other great songwriters of the era” represented “the more treacly world of stage and film musicals.”  (Cole Porter and George Gershwin?  Treacly?)  Alas, the booklet contains no discographical annotation and no credits for Carmichael’s many collaborators, among them Loesser, Parish, Paul Francis Webster, and Johnny Mercer.

After the jump: the scoop on more Popcorn and a selection of Troxy Music: Fifties and Sixties Film Themes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 5, 2014 at 13:59

Kritzerland Premieres Dave Grusin’s Score to “Falling in Love”

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Falling in LoveFor its latest classic soundtrack, Kritzerland is returning to the music of renaissance man Dave Grusin.  The Academy Award-winning composer’s skillful and unfailingly melodic blend of jazz, pop and orchestral sounds has well served him for a Hollywood career that’s lasted for more than forty years.  One of the highlights of Grusin’s 1980s was his score to 1984’s Falling in Love, which is receiving its world premiere soundtrack from Kritzerland.

Director Ulu Grossbard’s bittersweet romantic drama starred Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro against a backdrop of contemporary New York City.  Grusin was not only a perfect choice to capture the modern, urbane setting but to deliver the requisite emotions in the film’s shifting moods.  As noted in Kritzerland’s press release, “At times funny, at times rueful, at times beautifully romantic, at times sad, and at times painful, Falling in Love hits all the right notes and weaves its spell quite effortlessly.  And part of what makes it effortless is the incandescent and beautiful score by Dave Grusin.  No one did this type of romantic film better than Dave Grusin.  He simply and effectively captures every mood of the film, with several stunningly gorgeous melodies that weave their way throughout the score, along with some classic upbeat Grusin tunes.”

Hit the jump for more, including a pre-order link and the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 5, 2014 at 11:20