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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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THE COMEDIAN HARMONISTS

The Essential Collection

Avid AVC 810

 

 

 
CD 1

1. Love Me A Little Today
2. Ein Freunde, Ein Guter Freund
3. Liebling, Mein Hertz Lässt Dich Grüssen
4. Wochenend Und Sonnenschein
5. Over The Blue
6. Marie, Marie
7. Was Schenkst Du Mir Dann
8. Leichte Kavallerie
9. The Way With Every Sailor
10. Maria, Mari!
11. Mein Lieber Schatz, Bist Du Aus Spanien?
12. Heute Nacht Oder Nie
13. Einmal Schafft’s Jeder
14. Irgendwo Auf Der Welt
15. Muss I Denn, Muss I Denn Zum Städtle Hinaus
16. Night And Day
17. Tarantella Sincera
18. Creole Love Call
19. Die Dorfmusik
20. Schlafe, Mein Prinzchen, Schlaf Ein
21. Ein Neuer Frühling Wird In Die Heimat Kommen
22. Liebeslied
23. Spanische Moritat
24. Komm’ In Traum
25. Jetzt Trinken Wir Noch Eins
26. Auf Wiedersehen, My Dear
 
CD 2

1. ‘Blume Von Hawaii’ Potpourri
2. Ach, Wie Ist’s Möglich Dann
3. Perpetuum Mobile
4. An Der Schönen Blauen Donau
5. Tea For Two
6. Kannst Du Pfeifen, Johanna?
7. Humoreske
8. Ein Bisschen Leichstinn Kann Nicht Schaden
9. Whispering
10. Barcarolle from ‘The Tales Of Hoffman’
11. Wenn Die Sonja Russisch Tanzt
12. Guitarren Spielt Auf
13. Das Alte Spinnrad
14. Hungarian Dance No.5
15. Sous Le Ciel D’Afrique
16. Espabilate
17. Solitude
18. Overture ‘The Barber Of Seville’
19. Congo Lullaby
20. In A Persian Market
21. The Donkey Serenade
22. Ti-pi-tin
23. Whistle While You Work
24. Dwarf’s Yodel Song

Long before the Beatles sang that "All You Need is Love", a group of German singers was declaring that "The world is waiting for love today" in the first song on this collection. Naturally such a message didn’t appeal to the Nazis, and the group was driven out of Germany in 1934, although they regrouped and continued performing in Europe and the USA until 1941.

The Comedian Harmonists was a vocal quintet formed in Berlin in the late 1920s by Harry Frommermann (also known as Frohman). Its style was based on close harmony singing, with elements that might remind you of the King’s Singers as well as the Mills Brothers. In fact they employed the technique also used by the Mills Brothers of imitating musical instruments with their voices, providing much of their own accompaniment (with help from a pianist).

This generous double CD provides an idea of their wide range: embracing such tender songs as Love Me a Little Today, jazz standards like Tea for Two and Night and Day, and light classical numbers like In a Persian Market and Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5. There are also many German songs, some of which turn out to be well-known to British listeners. For example, Wochenend Und Sonnenschein is what we know as Happy Days are Here Again. Sous Le Ciel D’Afrique and Espabilate offer the bonus of Josephine Baker, the toast of Paris, joining the ensemble.

The Comedian Harmonists were never an out-and-out jazz group but their version of Creole Love Call (done completely with wordless vocalising) captures the spirit of Duke Ellington. Above all, their precision is superb and their humour is infectious. Just listen to the way their voices reproduce the Overture to The Barber of Seville as if they are a whole orchestra. If you haven’t encountered this quintet before, take the opportunity of buying this album, which is obtainable at a very reasonable price.


Tony Augarde

 



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