The Golden Age of Light Music – 100 Greatest American Light Orchestras - Volume 1
Full track-listing below
rec. c. 1952 - 1962

A new series is inaugurated with this release – nothing less than a representative survey of the 100 greatest American Light Orchestras. Naturally many, if not most, have made prior appearances in Guild’s long running sequence of reissues, but it is certainly a handy peg to confine discs just to things Stateside.

Another valuable programming decision has been to include some of the country’s less well-known aggregations and music directors, so that this is by no means an all-Riddle and Rose Show. So it’s Warren Barker who gets things underway, not the expected Bernie Wayne or Paul Weston, and we hear from Al Sack and Harry Geller and a plethora of other leading practitioners in this well-balanced and appealing disc. Barker, indeed, proves his lyrical credentials in Wunderbar from Kiss Me Kate, whilst Monty Kelly launches into his own composition, the vibrant Cubamba, complete with its sleek B section.  The Clebanoff Strings, with an allied percussion section, unleash Golden Earrings by Jay Livingstone, a Sarasate-in-Gypsy-mode affair with a virtuoso fiddle solo to start and quite a stunningly effective string section to accompany.

The drama-laced The Lost Weekend comes from the pen of Miklós Rózsa, and its Rachmaninovian ethos sits very nicely – Al Goodman does the honours with his orchestration. Al Sack was sadly short-lived and this performance of Dancing in the Dark was never issued at the time on 78s but emerged on a Tops LP after his death. It’s always good to hear Raymond Scott’s In an 18th Century Drawing Room especially when played by John Scott Trotter on a Warner LP. It’s good also to hear from Australian-born Harry Geller, who was based in England for many years before moving to America, ending up in Las Vegas. Alex Stordahl unveils a little picture postcard landscape called Moonlight on the Ganges whilst Sukiyaki sounds like music from a Western in the hands of Billy Vaughan. There are droll things here too; the fun voicings of  Tom and Jerry purveyed by The Spencer-Hagen Orchestra and the use of the harpsichord in Rhapsody for Jayne, a Bernie Wayne number and performance.  For sheer finesse turn to Morton Gould conducting the Rochester Pops in Victor Herbert’s evergreen Fleurette whilst Jack Pleis proves that Sidney Lippman’s piece, A Catchy Tune, lives up to its name.

A third of the tracks are in stereo – the rest are monos.

This is a terrific opening release for the new marque from Guild and it’s good to see that the late David Ades’ immense legacy is in safe hands with new note writer Tony Clayden.

Jonathan Woolf  

Track listing
1. Wunderbar - Warren Barker and his Orchestra [3:10]
2. Cubamba - Monty Kelly and his Orchestra [2:48]
3. Golden Earrings - The Clebanoff Strings and Percussion [4:01]
4. Ballade De Ballet - Alfredo Antonini and His Orchestra [2:53]
5. Snow Flurries - Mahlon Merrick and his Orchestra [2:46]
6. The Lost Weekend - Al (Alfred) Goodman and his Orchestra [4:58]
7. Dancing in the Dark - Al (Albert) Sack Concert Orchestra [2:57]
8. In an 18th Century Drawing Room - John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra [3:16]
9. Park Concert - Harry Geller and his Orchestra [4:03]
10. Clean Sweep - Charles Dorian and His Orchestra [2:18]
11. Moonlight On the Ganges - Axel Stordahl And His Orchestra [2:36]
12. Latin Rhythm - Victor Young and His Orchestra [2:32]
13. The Anniversary Song (Waves of the Danube) - Paul Weston and his Orchestra [2:51]
14. Tally Ho - Alfonso D’Artega and his Orchestra [3:03]
15. Sukiyaki - Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra [2:15]
16. Tom and Jerry - The Spencer-Hagen Orchestra [2:32]
17. Let's Fall in Love - Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra [2:20]
18. Rhapsody for Jayne - Bernie Wayne and his Orchestra [2:30]
19. Fleurette - Rochester Pops Orchestra [3:03]
20. Push De Button - David Rose and His Orchestra [1:43]
21. A Catchy Tune - Jack Pleis and his Orchestra [2:38]
22. Sway (Quien Sera) - Les Baxter and his Orchestra [2:49]
23. Hawaiian Paradise - Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra [4:07]
24. Yodel On the String - George Liberace and his Orchestra [2:03]
25. Carromata - Frank Perkins and His 'Pops' Orchestra [3:03]

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