May 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Compilation: Hoagy Carmichael
Mr Music Master; Original recordings 1928-1947  
  NAXOS 8.120574   [57:41]

Hoagy Carmichael

American song composer and lyricist, Hoagy Carmichael's laid back, slow-speaking manner and calming personality illuminated a number of films in 1940s and 50s. As an actor he was usually cast in light supporting roles and was most often seen singing at the piano. His film appearances included: Canyon Passage, The Best Years of Our Lives (probably his best remembered role), Young Man with a Horn, Belles on their Toes and Timberjack. He also appeared in the TV series, Laramie.

Probably his best known songs are: Stardust (of which some 1,300 recorded versions are known ) and In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening which gained him an Academy Award in 1951. Inexplicably the latter is not included in this compilation. The wonderful Stardust is, and Hoagy delivers its lovely lyrics most sensitively.

Hoagy Carmichael was a master of improvisation. The period that is represented on this album was, perhaps, the most exciting time in the history of jazz and ragtime and Carmichael was one of its leading lights.

This compilation of 21 songs includes many Carmichael favourites. I would mention only a few. The title song Mr Music Master has Hoagy's lazy voiced boogie-woogie rhythmic, foot-tapping style and his lyrics are clear as a bell. Georgia on My Mind is wistful and bluesy with a good full orchestration. Hoagie's tongue-in-cheek delivery of witty lyrics and Billy May's big band sound lifts A Man Could Be a Wonderful Thing. I Can't get Started by Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin has a lovely melody with an equally attractive orchestration. My own favourite is Hoagy's inimitable way with Ol' Buttermilk Sky, the Canyon Passage song that received an Oscar nomination.

A really enjoyable compilation. The songs might often be corny the lyrics sometimes, O.T.T., but they are pearls of a (sadly) by-gone age. Thank goodness for albums like these; Mr Music master yes sir!

Grace Lace


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