domingo, 13 de dezembro de 2009

Billy Vaughn and his Orchestra - La Paloma - Billy Vaughn Goes Latin

  1. La Paloma
  2. Time Was
  3. Say Si Si
  4. Mexicali Rose
  5. El Choclo
  6. La Golondrina
  7. Brazil
  8. Estrellita
  9. La Cumparsita
  10. Perfidia
  11. Yours
  12. The Peanut Vendor
La Paloma

The music of Billy Vaughn has always enjoyed a uniquely potent international appeal. His Dot recordings had been selling well for three years when, in 1957, Vaughn's revival of "Sail Along Silvery Moon" crystallized a new sound that would make him famous worldwide.

It was essentially an extension of the music of the great sweet bands of the 1940s. His aural trademark became the lovely sound of twin alto saxophones, gracefully breathing life into a romantic melody over the support of a subtle, rock and roll-influenced beat. Everyone from teenagers to their grandparents could dance to this music, and for a long time, nearly everyone did. The formula proved marvelously versatile, and Vaughn soon discovered that it was easily adaptable to a wide variety of styles. Over the course of his career he recorded albums of Broadway show tunes, Hawaiian songs, movie themes, and country music standards. They all became best-sellers. This album, "La Paloma", from 1958, is a salute to the rhythms of Latin America. The title track became a #20 hit single in the U.S., sold over a million copies in Germany alone, and earned Vaughn a gold record.

Earlier, "Sail Along Silvery Moon" had sold a million copies in both Germany and Holland, and Vaughn made his first trip to Europe in March of 1959 to collect an armful of awards. In Japan, his music was hailed as "The Sound of Fascination", and he began what became annual, sold-out tours of that nation in 1966. He was also well loved in South America, where so much of the music on the "La Paloma" album was conceived. For a series of concerts in Brazil, he was billed as "The King of Romantic Music", and it is the essential romanticism of both the Vaughn  approach and the lovely Latin melodies assembled here that made "La Paloma" such an inspired collection. Popular songs from Mexico and South America were transformed into juke-box fodder on a regular basis in the U.S. throughout the '30s and '40s, although few who enjoyed these records were aware of this fact.

Many such selections were adaptations of the work of the great Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. He is represented here by 'Para Vigo Me Voy', which was given an English lyric by Al Stillman in 1936 and retitled 'Say Si Si'. 'La Paloma' was originally a Spanish tango from the mid 19th century, while 'El Choclo', which Georgia Gibbs popularized in 1952 as "Kiss of Fire", began as an Argentine tango in 1913. Aside from such traditional folk melodies as 'La Golondrina' and 'La Cumparsita', most of the remaining tracks here have similar tales of origin, with the conspicuous exception of 'Mexicali Rose', which was penned by Helen Stone and Jack B. Tenny in 1923, and crooned by Gene Autry in a Republic Pictures western of the same title in 1939.

The majority of this album was recorded on August 22, 1958 in the studios of Master Recorders on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles (four of the tracks were recorded on April 11 as part of an EP session). Arrangements were written by both Billy Vaughn and his longtime assistant, pianist Milt Rodgers. On August 23, an overdubbing session was held, during which the gifted saxophone player Justin Gordon, who was solely responsible for the twin alto harmonies on Vaughn's classic recordings, replicated his efforts of the previous day by recordings while listening to a low volume playback of the earlier session through a small speaker (Gordon obviously had a flair for this sort of material, and was later involved in a memorable series of bossa nova albums made for the Capitol label under the leadership of guitarist Laurindo Almeida). The "La Paloma" sessions also placed a spotlight on the trumpet work of two longtime Vaughn sidemen, Virgil P. Evans and Manuel Stevens.

He deserves a tip of the sombrero for pulling off the impressive trick of capturing this music in all its glory, while simultaneously imprinting his own distinctive sound on every note.

(Joseph F. Laredo)

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