Notes and Editorial Reviews
Though the word is freighted with ambiguity, the ‘arranger’ has long been revered for the palettes he (or she) can extract from a song. In fact in the last track on this first disc devoted to the art of the arranger, a promotional interview between Percy Faith and Goddard Lieberson, Faith discusses his arrangement of the preceding track, Temptation, and makes the point that he considers what he did with the song not merely ‘arrangement’ but more ‘creation’. He voices what I suppose must be a prevalent objection; namely the somewhat slighting nature of.his calling. In fact, though very genial, one feels him inwardly bristling at the imputation that he merely ‘arranged’ the song when in fact he effectively clothed it, shod it, fed it, and sent it out on its way in the world. The inclusion of this spoken track is very unusual in this series but I, for one, found it fascinating to hear. It was recorded, as was the song, in 1960.
That is the cut-off date for this album. The earliest track is Eric Coates’ Symphonic Rhapsody in 1930, and then we go forward to Sidney Torch’s Destiny, cut in 1947 for Parlophone. Between 1930 and 1960 one hears a lexicon of the arranger’s art – for so we must call it. There’s the helter skelter vivacity of Hal Mooney’s work on the Can Can – new wine, old bottle – or the de luxe orchestration from Conrad Salinger for The Continental. One might have predicted that Morton Gould would have come up with something bold and brilliant on Birth of the Blues – and he doesn’t disappoint, whilst Ron Goodwin deals appositely with the exotica of Windows of the East.
When things go wrong, though, boy do they go wrong. My One and Only Love (RCA, 1959) is not Henry Mancini’s finest hour – it’s three minutes of misery, with a horrible brass solo to get things underway. Just what was on Mancini’s mind? It’s better even to listen to the slinky ‘mood music’ palaver of Les Baxter’s Taboo and better still to encounter David Rose’s fast and gutsy, though not especially idiomatic, Old Man River.
A much more sensitive arrangement comes from Nelson Riddle in the case of Please Be Kind, with its lovely clarinet solo and refined textures. Monty Kelly arranges Willingly in the spirit intended – it’s a naughty song, naughtily arranged. Frank Cordell’s Summertime takes a while to settle down but works reasonably well but you need to wait for Farnon’s Shenandoah to hear a really fine piece of work. This is a mini tone poem, a filmic gem, with craggy rock-faces and gleaming vistas, imbued with all Farnon’s genius for colour and richness and refinement. Make for this track without delay. There’s plenty of fun from the always dependable Group-Forty Orchestra in The Irish Washerwoman (KPM 1960).
As ever there is variety in time, place, mood, composers, arrangers and ensembles from Guild.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International