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Release Round-Up: Weeks of December 23 and December 30

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Well, these are incredibly light weeks for new releases!  Thankfully, the Kritzerland and Audio Fidelity labels have stepped up with a quartet of titles to close out 2014 on a high note!

Classical Broadway

Cy Coleman, John Kander, Harvey Schmidt and Charles Strouse, Classical Broadway (Kritzerland) (available for pre-order now)

Kritzerland remasters this 1992 album (originally released on the Bay Cities label) featuring classical compositions from four of Broadway’s most legendary composers including Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, Barnum), John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago), Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade) and Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie).  Though these pieces are for the concert hall and not for the musical stage, they still brim with the melody and flair of the composers’ theatre work.  This title will ship by the second week of February, but pre-orders placed directly through the label typically arrive an average of four weeks early.

Breaking Away

Patrick Williams, Breaking Away: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Kritzerland) (available for pre-order now)

Here’s the world premiere soundtrack release of Patrick Williams’ score (as conducted by the great Lionel Newman) for the beloved 1979 coming-of-age drama.  This deluxe release features Williams’ original cues, classical adaptations, as well as material cut from the finished film.  This title will ship by the second week of February, but pre-orders placed directly through the label typically arrive an average of four weeks early.

Guess Who SACD

The Guess Who, The Best of The Guess Who (Audio Fidelity) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (12/30)

Audio Fidelity premieres the 4.0 quadraphonic surround mix of The Guess Who’s 1971 compilation album on hybrid SACD (meaning a stereo layer is playable on standard CD players) – featuring such songs as “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “No Time,” “Undun” and “American Woman.”  And that’s not the only quad classic coming to CD…

BS&T Quad

Blood, Sweat & Tears, Blood, Sweat & Tears (Audio Fidelity) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (12/30)

Following its 5.1 presentation of BS&T’s Al Kooper-helmed debut album, Audio Fidelity revisits the kickoff of the horn band’s David Clayton-Thomas era!  This original 4.0 quad mix of the 1969 smash features “Spinning Wheel,” “And When I Die” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” all in vivid multichannel on hybrid SACD.

And lastly, we’d like to spread a little holiday cheer courtesy of one of our readers…

CD600G_out

The Man Who Saved Christmas: The Original Studio Cast Recording (Take the Cakeable Records) (Amazon U.S.) (available now)

This isn’t a reissue, but what it is, is a charming and unabashedly old-fashioned musical comedy as recorded by a cast of 34 singers and a 14-piece orchestra.  Ron Lytle’s bright musical is inspired by the life story of A.C. Gilbert.  The inventor of the erector set, Gilbert was dubbed “the man who saved Christmas” for his crusade against a proposed ban on toy sales during one pivotal holiday season!  The Studio Cast Recording of this charming show is available now at Amazon, and more information on the show can be found at its website.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2014 at 08:28

Review: Three From Dave Grusin, Cy Coleman and Henry Mancini

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With hyperbole the norm, it’s questionable just how many buyers took notice of a 1957 album on the Liberty label entitled The Versatile Henry Mancini.  Yet fewer record titles have proven as apt. As frequent collaborator Blake Edwards noted, “Whether the situation is romantic, humorous, tragic, ironic or full of action, Mancini creates exactly the right musical mood.”  Mancini’s breakthrough came two years after that LP’s release, when Edwards enlisted him to provide the cool jazz-inflected score to the television drama Peter Gunn.  Though no such albums exist, it’s easy to imagine LPs titled The Versatile Dave Grusin and The Versatile Cy Coleman.  These gentlemen shared with Mancini a passion for jazz, a vibrant recording career and an uncanny knack for film scoring.  Grusin, a co-founder of GRP Records, began his film score career in 1967, parallel to his work as an arranger, composer and musician.  Coleman, after making a name for himself as the pianist and leader of The Cy Coleman Trio, was still a young man when he made major contributions to the American songbook with tunes like “Witchcraft,” “You Fascinate Me So” and “The Best Is Yet to Come.”  He then established himself as a top-tier composer of Broadway musicals like Sweet Charity and Barnum, dabbling in film composition along the way.

Thanks to the tireless talents of producers Douglass Fake and Bruce Kimmel, at the Intrada and Kritzerland labels, respectively, three very different scores by Messrs. Mancini, Grusin and Coleman have recently arrived on CD.  These albums are about as close to pure musical joy as one could find.  Intrada has delivered the first-ever soundtrack for the 1976 television miniseries The Moneychangers (Special Collection 172), starring Christopher Plummer and Kirk Douglas, with an expansive score by Mancini, while Kritzerland has offered a two-on-one release of the soundtracks to two comedies starring Dick Van Dyke: 1965’s The Art of Love, by Coleman, and 1967’s Divorce, American Style by Grusin (KR 20019-6).  Even if you’re not a film score aficionado, you can’t go wrong with these albums; both are distinct listening experiences that conjure up a particular instrumental milieu and transport you there.

To steal from one of Coleman’s titles, “Kick Off Your Shoes,” hit the jump, and I’ll meet you there! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 18, 2011 at 11:26

Steps In Time: Dave Grusin and Cy Coleman, Meet Dick Van Dyke!

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What Oscar-winning composer let the world know “And Then There’s Maude,” joined Billy Joel on 52nd Street and The Nylon Curtain, and shared the music of The Graduate with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel?  Something’s telling me it might be Dave Grusin.  His score to The Goonies was described as a “holy grail” by this very site back in March 2010 upon the occasion of its first release on the Varese Sarabande label, and it was indeed snapped up near-immediately.  But when it comes to a Grusin collection, The Goonies alone isn’t good enough!  Kritzerland has already lavished the deluxe treatment on his scores to A Dry White Season (1989) and Mulholland Falls (1996), but for the label’s next release, the clock is turning back to the very first score that launched Grusin’s career.  Producer Bruce Kimmel tells The Second Disc, “I’d tried licensing [the 1967 Norman Lear-Bud Yorkin comedy] Divorce, American Style a year ago from MGM.  They did the research and found they did not own it and that the album rights were at Capitol; several UA albums went that route, including the Bond films.  Once I knew that, then it went right on my list there.”  Kimmel’s patience paid off.

Beloved American funnyman Dick Van Dyke headlined Divorce, American Style, describing it in his wonderful recent memoir as a “sprawling, topical comedy.”  Two years earlier, he starred in another big-screen comedy, The Art of Love, with another Norman – this time, director Norman Jewison.  That score was composed by Cy Coleman, the Broadway baby behind Sweet Charity, City of Angels and Little Me.  Kimmel thought of the earlier film, and so the label’s latest two-for-one reissue was born.  Kritzerland’s Divorce, American Style/The Art of Love reissues the original soundtrack albums as heard on United Artists and Capitol, respectively.  Both titles have been freshly remastered, of course, but the producer’s sleuthing at both the movie studio and record label has led to a Divorce that will sound more vibrant than ever.   Kimmel confirms, “MGM did have the four-track masters [to Divorce] in their vaults and they gave them to us to use, which was great.  Capitol only had the two-track album master, which I wasn’t that crazy about because they’d added a ton of reverb, and the natural reverb that was on the four-tracks was much cleaner and much more real.”  So Grusin’s premier score will be presented in sparkling, crisp sound, and with additional material: “Every note of what was on the four-tracks has been used and put where it belongs in the score sequence.” 

And both scores have more than just Dick Van Dyke in common!  When not receiving Oscar nominations for films like Tootsie, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Firm, Heaven Can Wait and On Golden Pond, Grusin has had a parallel career as a jazz musician, founding GRP Records along the way.  Coleman, too, came from a jazz background, leading The Cy Coleman Trio and writing such standards as “Witchcraft” and “The Best Is Yet to Come.”  So it’s no surprise that both scores have jazz leanings.  Both also owe a bit, in different ways, to Henry Mancini’s style.  Kimmel tells us, quite correctly, that “anyone who only knows Grusin from The Goonies really doesn’t know Grusin.”  He offers, “This is more like the Grusin of Tootsie, only ‘60s hip rather than ‘80s hip.  He was very much in the Mancini mode for Divorce, but it really is uniquely Grusin and surprisingly the film is not a typical comedy score; it’s got some real depth to it and it’s very clever.”  Coleman’s soundtrack LP to The Art of Love followed the established Mancini pattern of actually consisting of cues re-recorded for a pop-oriented audience.  Divorce melodically fuses many disparate musical styles, much like Grusin’s contributions to The Graduate, including jazz, romance, baroque and even a Tijuana Brass-inspired tune.  But there’s also much drama in the scoring, befitting a sophisticated film from Norman Lear’s pen.

Dave Grusin and the late Cy Coleman have long been two of the coolest cats in music, and this may indeed be the coolest soundtrack of the year!  Both scores are making their first-ever appearance on CD.  Divorce is a touchstone for Grusin’s career, while Broadway great Coleman’s film work (also including Father Goose, The Troublemaker and The Heartbreak Kid) has been terribly under-represented on disc.  You can bring this exciting pairing (a limited edition of 1,000) home by the last week of August for the price of $19.98 plus shipping, but pre-orders from the label usually ship one to five weeks earlier. 

Hit the jump for the complete press release, plus the track listing and pre-order link, where you can hear sound samples! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2011 at 10:33