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The Golden Age of Light Music - Melodies for the Starlight Hours
see end of review for details
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5196 [78:15]

The proceedings get off to a great start with a smoochy, smoky little number by Robert Katscher - ‘When Day is Done’. I guess that this piece epitomises the selection of music on this disc. This Laurie Johnson arrangement emphasises it as a late-night piece. There is a particularly moody break for trumpets before the music closes with a violin solo.
 
Many of the numbers derive from various ‘shows’ or ‘films’. There is a fine arrangement of ‘I could have danced all night’ from My Fair Lady. The beautiful ‘I’ve told every Star’ comes from the Hammerstein/Kern musical Music in the Air which was premiered on Broadway in 1932. The Bob Hope and Bing Crosby knockabout comedy The Road to Morocco has given the world the romantic ‘Moonlight becomes you’. The classic Kurt Weill number ‘Speak Low’ comes from the largely forgotten ‘One Touch of Venus’, whilst ‘During One Night’ is the eponymous title from the 1961 film staring Susan Hampshire and Don Borisenko with a musical score by Bill McGuffie. I am not sure that the harmonica quite supports the mood of Starlight.
 
I am always pleased to find a number of ‘classic’ British (Commonwealth) light music composers represented in these Guild CDs. This disc is no exception. Steve Race’s ‘In Paris, In Love’ opens with a vamp that could be an introduction to an Adam Faith song. Later, the Parisian mood takes over this well-constructed little tone-poem. A little closer to home Robert Farnon has painted a picture of a ‘typical ‘Home Counties’ evening with his thoughtful ‘How Beautiful is the Night.’ Equally ‘English’ in its mood is Cecil Milner’s ‘Melody for Lovers’. This composer, who lived in Wimbledon for much of his life, deserves to be better known. Angela Morley can always be relied upon to deliver an effective and romantic piece of mood music and ‘A Tender Mood’ is quietly restrained and probably reflects lost love rather than an evening of romance. More positive is Peter Yorke’s ‘Cocktails by Candlelight’. This hints at the magic of two lovers sipping Snowballs or Cosmopolitans in the Dorchester or Claridges.
 
Our American allies are well represented here too. ‘Manhattan in Satin’ by Willis Schaefer is evocative of the lamented Rainbow Room in the Rockefeller Center - an elegant lady sitting by the picture windows with all the lights of Manhattan behind her. Cole Porter’s standard ‘Mind if I make love to you’ is near perfect, whilst up the road Harry Revel has painted a picture of an evening ‘Underneath a Harlem Moon’ which is a little edgier with a few blue notes, muted trumpets, big band-style breaks and a good part for clarinet. Further south ‘Moon over Miami’ by Edgar Leslie and Joe Burke is Mancini-like with its use of sweeping strings. Over in the Caribbean, David Rose has scored a hit with his ‘Night in Trinidad’. This has the trappings of calypso worked over by a London-born, but Chicago-raised composer. There is a Latin mood in ‘Midnight Tango’ by Hiller, Hiller and Newman: this is the most lively and least starry piece on this CD. I am not sure what the balalaika is doing in the Argentine though?
 
Balalaikas and accordions inform Hubert Giraud’s attractive ‘Sweet Surrender Waltz’ - something between a music box and a Paris café scene. ‘Orchids in the Moonlight’ by Vincent Youmans has a sinister beat, yet the romantic strings play down any suggestion of ‘things of the night’. Other tunes include the wistful ‘Thinking of You’ by Harry Ruby that makes such effective use of sweeping strings. ‘Take my Lips’ by Teo Usuelli is an upbeat little tune whilst ‘Stranger in Town’ by Malcolm Lockyer reflects on the dichotomy of its title - lonely but full of possibilities. Adolph Deutsch’s ‘Lonely Room’ is not quite as sad as the title would imply. ‘Love me if you wish’ penned by Vittorio Mascheroni is quite simply beautiful and contains a luxurious trumpet solo. 

The final number has gained a double entendre - ‘After Hours Joint’ by J. George Johnson. Perhaps to the innocent all things etc … For me this piece epitomises my idealised view of a nineteen-fifties night club down some half-lit, back street in Fitzrovia. Drum and bass gently supporting strings and piano give just the right atmosphere for a late night hang-out. It is a good place to conclude this exploration of music inspired by the ‘Starlight Hours’.
 
There is only one issue I have with this CD: I do wish that Guild would, where at all possible, provide all the composers’ dates. It is important that the listener is able to ‘contextualise’ these pieces, even although they are ‘only’ light music. I do not expect the dates of composition to be given as I imagine that in many cases this will be well-nigh impossible.
 
As always with the Guild Light Music series the recording quality is superb: all the pieces have scrubbed up well.
 
I enjoyed this relaxed selection of music designed to be heard during the ‘starlight hours’. It is to be hoped that many more ‘chilled’ tunes are available and will duly be presented in this hugely impressive series.

John France 

Track listing
Robert KATSCHER (1894-1942) arr. Laurie JOHNSON  (b.1927) When Day is Done, Ambrose & his Orchestra/Laurie Johnson (1956) [2:55]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945) arr. Conrad SALLINGER  (1901-1962) I’ve Told Ev'ry Little Star, song (from ‘Music in the Air’) The Conrad Salinger Orchestra/Buddy Bregman (1958) [3:40]
Frederick LOEWE (1901-1988) arr. Percy FAITH  (1908-1976) I could have danced all night (from ‘My Fair Lady’) Percy Faith and his Orchestra (1956) [3:37] 
Hubert GIRAUD  (b.1920) Sweet Surrender Waltz, Andre Kostelanetz and his Orchestra (1955) [2:35]
Willis SCHAEFER  (1928-2007) Manhattan in Satin (from ‘Impressions of New York’) New Concert Orchestra/Cedric Dumont (1957) [2:58]
Vincent YOUMANS  (1898-1946) arr. Robert FARNON (1917-2005) Orchids in the Moonlight, Robert Farnon and his Orchestra (1951) [3:00]
Johnny Burke (1908-1964) James Van HEUSEN (1913-1990) Moonlight Becomes You (from ‘The Road to Morocco’) Glenn Osser and his Orchestra (1955) [3:39]
Steve RACE  (1921-2009) In Paris, In Love, Steve Race and his Orchestra (1961) [2:23]
Harry RUBY (1895-1974) Bert KALMAR  (1884-1947) Thinking of You, John Clegg and his Orchestra (1958) [3:50]
Robert FARNON  How Beautiful is Night, Leslie Jones and his Orchestra (1959) [3:40]
Cecil MILNER  (1905-1989) Melody for Lovers, Georges Derveux and his Orchestra (1953) [3:03]
Kurt WEILL (1900-1950) arr. Morton Gould (Speak Low, (from ‘One Touch of Venus’) Morton Gould and his Orchestra (1961) [4:29]
Cole PORTER  (1891-1964) Mind if I make love to you? (from "High Society") Pete King and his Orchestra (1959) [2:49]
Angela MORLEY  (1924-2009) A Tender Mood, Telecast Orchestra/Angela Morley (1961) [3:05]
Edgar LESLIE (1885-1976) Joe BURKE  (1884-1950) Moon Over Miami, Guy Luypaerts and his Orchestra (1956) [3:23]
Anthony Toby HILLER (b.1927) Irving HILLER, Daniel NEWMAN   Midnight Tango, Reg Tilsley and his Orchestra (1954) [2:29]
Peter YORKE  (1902-1966) Cocktails by Candlelight, Telecast Orchestra/Peter Yorke (1961) [2:43]
Teo USUELLI  (1920-2009) Take My Lips (Meraviglose Labbra), Laurie Johnson and his Orchestra (1960) [2:13]
Malcolm LOCKYER (1923-1976) arr. Bruce CAMPBELL Stranger in Town, Bruce Campbell and his Orchestra (1955) [2:49]
Adolph DEUTSCH  (1897-1980) Lonely Room, Ferrante & Teicher with their Orchestra (1960) [2:34]
Vittorio MASCHERONI  (1895-1972) Amami si Vuoi (Love Me if You Wish) Orchestra of the 6th San Remo Festival/George Melachrino (1957) [3:15]
Bill MCGUFFIE (1927-1987) James DYRENFORTH  (1895-1973) During One Night: Theme, Harry Pitch (Harmonica) Bill McGuffie and his Orchestra (1961) [2:33]
Harry REVEL  (1905-1958) Underneath the Harlem Moon, Werner Müller and his Orchestra (1956) [2:37]
David ROSE  (1910-1990) Night in Trinidad, David Rose and his Orchestra (1959) [2:46]
J. George JOHNSON (1914-1994)   After Hours Joint, New World Theatre Orchestra (1957) [4:15]
All tracks in mono except Kern, Farnon, Weill, Mascheroni and Johnson
Dates refer to recording, not composition


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