quinta-feira, 28 de abril de 2011

Mantovani & His Orchestra - To Lovers Everywhere (1971)

  1. The Way You Look Tonight
  2. Tea For Two
  3. September Song
  4. Whispering
  5. Quando Quando Quando
  6. All Of A Suden
  7. I Will Wait For You
  8. Me And My Shadow
  9. I Can't Stop Loving You
  10. Yellow Bird
  11. Winter World of Love
To Lovers Everywhere
It was appropriate that when Mantovani decided to record a selection of the world's most cherished love songs, just for once he departed Decca's usual London studio location and whisked his orchestra off to the city of romance: Paris

If music be the food of love, then where better than the surroundings afforded by this beautiful metropolis to seek inspiration as generations of artists, sculptors, architects and practitioners of l'amour have done before? Admist her boulevard cafes and striking monuments: the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, Cathedral of Notre Dame and Louvre to name but a few, Monty's entourage embraced their musical instruments in the French capital's Sofrason Studios. Here is the result of those endeavours, a personal greeting from the maestro TO LOVERS EVERYWHERE...

(from the original liner notes)

Conductor, composer, violinist, and pianist Mantovani was one of the most popular and prolific easy listening artists of all time. His trademark "cascading strings" (or "tumbling strings") effect gave him an instantly recognizable sound, and his heavy reliance on the string section in general helped map out the blueprint for much of the light orchestral music that followed in his wake. His repertoire did feature original compositions, but was built chiefly on lush adaptations of familiar melodies: TV and movie themes, show tunes, pop hits (chiefly of the MOR variety), classical material, and the like. Starting his career in the '20s, Mantovani was very much a product of the recording age: he focused almost entirely on recording, instead of live performance; he was one of the first artists to utilize the LP as a primary medium for his releases (as opposed to singles); he was one of the first popular artists to use stereo recording technology, and likely the first to sell over a million records in the stereo format. Fascinated by the studio recording process, he experimented restlessly with miking methods and other technical nuances over the course of an astoundingly large discography -- more than 50 albums from the early '50s until his death in 1980 (not counting his numerous 78 rpm records, dating back to the late '20s).

Annunzio Paolo Mantovani was born November 15, 1905, in Venice, Italy. His father was an accomplished violinist who performed at the legendary Milan opera house La Scala under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. Mantovani himself began piano and music theory lessons at a young age. In 1912, the family moved to England, where Mantovani's father took over direction of the Covent Garden Orchestra. At age 14, Mantovani switched from piano to violin; although the latter became his instrument of choice, he would keep up his piano work for the sake of composing. Just two years later, he made his professional debut with a performance of Anton Bruch's "Violin Concerto No. 1." He joined a touring orchestra and quickly became a featured soloist; by age 20, he was leading the resident Hotel Metropole Orchestra, and made a few recordings with the group in 1928. He gave high-profile recitals in 1930 and 1931, performing Saint-Saëns' "Violin Concerto in B Minor" at the latter, and began to make a name for himself. Around the same time, he formed a new group, the Tipica Orchestra, and started a series of regular radio broadcasts from London's high-profile Monseigneur restaurant.

Mantovani and the Tipica Orchestra made highly successful appearances all over England, and recorded for Sterno, Regal Zonophone, and Columbia from 1932-1936; two of those records, "Red Sails in the Sunset" and "Serenade to the Night," were hits in the U.S. in 1935 and 1936, respectively. Columbia changed the billing on his records to Mantovani & His Orchestra in 1937, and in 1940 he moved over to Decca. By World War II, he was one of the most popular orchestra leaders in England, and in the '40s he also branched out into theater, serving as musical director for a number of productions including several by Noel Coward. Once World War II ended, Mantovani threw his energy into recording, and gradually moved away from live performances altogether. He experimented with different styles over a series of popular 78s for Decca, and hit upon his signature sound when he connected with arranger Ronald Binge, who'd once played accordion in the Tipica Orchestra. Binge was likely the man who devised Mantovani's dramatic "cascading strings" effect, which the two first employed on the 1951 single "Charmaine," a song originally written 25 years earlier. "Charmaine" was a major hit, selling over a million copies and definitively cracking open the U.S. market for Mantovani's music.

A steady stream of hit singles followed in the early '50s, including "Wyoming" (1951), "Greensleeves" (1952), the U.K. number one "Song From Moulin Rouge" (1953), "Swedish Rhapsody" (1953), "The Lonely Ballerina" (1954), "Toy Shop Ballet" (1956; it helped him win the U.K.'s Ivor Novello Award), and "Around the World" (1957). Additionally, Mantovani arranged, co-wrote, and backed David Whitfield on his U.K. chart-topper (and U.S. Top Ten) "Cara Mia" in 1954. Starting in 1953, he recorded what proved to be a deluge of LPs for Decca and its London subsidiary. The advent of rock & roll stunted his success on the singles charts, but his albums sold like hotcakes in America. From 1955 to 1972, well over 40 Mantovani albums reached the U.S. pop charts; 27 of those reached the Top 40, and 11 made the Top Ten. His biggest sellers included Christmas Carols (1953; it re-entered the charts several times), Strauss Waltzes (1953), Song Hits From Theatreland (1955), Film Encores (1957; his lone number one album), Gems Forever (1958), Mantovani Stereo Showcase (1960), Italia Mia (1961), and the smash Mantovani Plays Music From "Exodus" and Other Great Themes (1961), a number two hit that sold over a million copies and stayed on the charts for nearly a year. His version of the "Exodus" theme was just one of several successful recordings (others were by Ferrante & Teicher and jazzman Eddie Harris).

As the '60s wore on, Mantovani's brand of pleasant, light orchestral music increasingly diverged from mainstream tastes in pop, and his chart placings slipped lower and lower (his last entry was 1972's Annunzio Paolo Mantovani). Still, he stayed true to his own aesthetic, only adopting those contemporary trends that he could translate on his own terms. His recording activities were curtailed after the Decca label was dissolved and absorbed into MCA in 1973, though he continued to compose for several years afterward. He passed away on March 30, 1980, in his country home in Tunbridge Wells, England. 

(by Steve Huey from allmusic.com)

Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra - Warm and Wonderful (1969)

  1. One Lonely Night
  2. I May Be Wrong (But I Think You'reWonderful)
  3. Petula
  4. Some Of These Days
  5. Reminiscing
  6. One Morning In May
  7. Can't Take My Eyes Off You
  8. Only In Your Arms
  9. This Guy's In Love With You
  10. The Maltese Melody
  11. Our Street of Love
Warm and Wonderful

Bert Kaempfert had almost too much talent, ability, and good luck rolled into one career to be fully appreciated, even by his own chosen audience, the lovers of fine orchestral pop music. He was one of the most successful conductors, arrangers, and recording artists in the latter field, but was also a major producer and played a key (if indirect) role in the roots of the British beat boom of the early '60s, which evolved into the British Invasion of America in 1964. Berthold Kaempfert was born in Barmbek, a working-class section of Hamburg, Germany, in 1923. He was musically inclined as a boy, and found that interest indulged by an act of fate when he was six years old -- Kaempfert was injured in a car accident and his mother used the money from the settlement to buy him a piano. He became proficient at the keyboard, and also on the clarinet and saxophone, among other instruments. He studied at the Hamburg Conservatory and although he was interested in all facets of music, Kaempfert was particularly taken with American-style big-band music of the late '30s and early '40s -- his multi-instrumental skills made him a potentially valuable commodity, and he was recruited into a pop orchestra run by Hans Bussch while in his teens, but was later drafted and served as a bandsman in the German navy, before being captured and interned as an Allied prisoner.

He founded a band of his own and later toured American military installations in Germany, at last able to play his favorite kind of music. Returning to his native Hamburg, he began performing on British Forces Network radio and writing compositions, initially using the alias of Mark Bones. Kaempfert's reputation in Hamburg attracted the attention of Polydor Records, which hired him as an arranger, producer, and music director during the second half of the 1950s. Among the talent that he brought to the company's roster was the Yugoslav pop artist Ivo Robic, who chalked up an international hit (Top 20 in America), and Viennese singer/guitarist/actor Freddy Quinn, who had a German hit with "Die Gittarre und das Meer." His own orchestra generated such hits as "Catalania," "Ducky," "Las Vegas," and "Explorer," but he had bolder, more ambitious music in mind. He arranged, produced, and recorded an instrumental entitled "Wonderland by Night," which was pretty enough but couldn't seem to get a hearing in Germany, even from his own company. Instead, Kaempfert and his wife brought the track to Milt Gabler, the legendary producer at Decca Records in New York, who arranged for its release in America in 1959; with its haunting solo trumpet, muted brass, and lush strings, the single topped the American pop charts and turned Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra into international stars. Over the next few years, he revived such pop tunes as "Tenderly," "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," "Three O'Clock in the Morning," and "Bye Bye Blues," bringing them all high onto the pop charts internationally, as well as composing pieces of his own, including "Spanish Eyes (Moon Over Naples)," "Danke Schoen," and "Wooden Heart," which were recorded by, respectively, Al Martino, Wayne Newton, and Elvis Presley (with Joe Dowell charting the hit single of "Wooden Heart"); for an old American jazz fan like Kaempfert, however, little may have brought him more personal satisfaction than Nat King Cole recording his "L-O-V-E."

At the turn of the decade into the 1960s, Kaempfert was still busily at work in his duties as a producer. He was well aware that a new generation of listeners had come along, whose interests lay far from the beautifully crafted instrumental music that he favored, which was an outgrowth of the pop sides of such '40s artists as Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and Glenn Miller -- they preferred music drawn from country and R&B sources. He had signed a Liverpool-based singer named Tony Sheridan, who was performing in Hamburg, and needed to recruit a band to play behind him on the proposed sides -- he auditioned and signed a quartet from Liverpool called the Beatles, and even cut a couple of interesting sides of theirs, "Ain't She Sweet" (sung by rhythm guitarist John Lennon) and the instrumental "Cry for a Shadow" (co-authored by Lennon and lead guitarist George Harrison) during his sessions for Sheridan; with its pounding beat and raw singing, the former wasn't Kaempfert's kind of music, but "Cry for a Shadow," with its rich melodic line and sonorous guitar, was perhaps as close as this new music ever came to his own. The Beatles' own sides didn't emerge until a couple of years later, when events made it economically feasible to do so, but Kaempfert's recording of the Beatles, even as a backing band for Sheridan, proved a vital catalyst to their entire subsequent success. Stylistically, none of the Kaempfert-recorded sides closely resembled the music for which they became famous, and had their path to being signed by George Martin at Parlophone Records resulted from, say, their being heard in a performance, those Hamburg-recorded sides would rate nothing more than a footnote in their history -- but those Polydor sides cut by Kaempfert played an essential role in their story. As Beatles biographer Philip Norman recalled in his book Shout!, on October 28, 1961, an 18-year-old printer's apprentice named Raymond Jones walked into the music store owned by Brian Epstein to ask for a copy of "My Bonnie," recorded by the Beatles (though it was actually credited to Tony Sheridan); the store didn't have it, but Epstein noted the request and was so intrigued by the idea of a Liverpool band getting a record of its own out that he followed up on it personally. Thus began a chain of events that led to his discovery of the Beatles and, through his effort, their signing by George Martin to Parlophone Records (they first had to get clear of any contractual claim by Polydor).

Kaempfert had become so successful as a recording artist that he was forced to give up his duties as a producer -- his records were selling by the hundreds of thousands, the album of Wonderland by Night even topping the American charts for five weeks in 1961. By 1965, he'd joined the ranks of film music composers with the soundtrack to a movie entitled A Man Could Get Killed -- the title song from the movie became "Strangers in the Night," which Frank Sinatra propelled to the top of the American and British charts. He followed this up a year later with another hit for Sinatra, "The World We Knew (Over and Over)." For Kaempfert, whose admiration of American music began with the big-band pop sound whence Sinatra had begun his career, those hits must have represented a deep personal triumph, transcending whatever money they earned -- indeed, he was selling records during the early '60s in the kind of quantities that rivaled Tommy Dorsey or Harry James' successes 20 years before, and he'd proved himself a prodigiously talented composer as well, an attribute that few of the big-band leaders possessed.

Although Kaempfert's chart placements faded by the end of the decade, there could be no disputing his impact on the popular culture of the 1960s, which was so widespread into so many different areas that few individuals appreciated its scope; teenagers, had they known of his role, could be grateful to him for giving the Beatles that all-important first break, while their parents may well have danced to "Wonderland by Night" and its follow-ups, their older siblings might well have orchestrated their romantic endeavors to "Strangers in the Night," and television viewers and casual radio listeners might well have heard and hummed the Kaempfert tunes "That Happy Feeling" (an early piece of world music pop, adapted from a piece by Ghana-born drummer Guy Warren), "Afrikaan Beat," or "A Swingin' Safari" (which, in a recording by Billy Vaughn, became the theme for the long-running game show The Match Game). His success as a composer was reflected in the five awards that he received from BMI in 1968 for "Lady," "Spanish Eyes," "Strangers in the Night," "The World We Knew," and "Sweet Maria." Kaempfert's chart placements vanished in the 1970s as the music marketplace (especially on radio) finally squeezed out the adult and older dance music listenership he'd cultivated. His records continued to sell, however, and his bookings remained healthy for another decade, and Kaempfert piled up awards in Germany. As he had with rock & roll, he also changed somewhat with the times -- when disco became popular in the mid-'70s, Kaempfert recorded a disco version of Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft" that even impressed the composer. His sales were always healthy, if not substantial, in America, but in Europe he was still a top concert draw as well. Kaempfert died suddenly, at the age of 56, of a heart seizure while at his home in Mallorca, resting up after a triumphant British tour. In the years since, he has finally been recognized for the breadth of his achievements -- virtually his entire album catalog (and all of his hits) from the late '50s through the end of the 1960s remains in print on CD. Additionally, Kaempfert's recordings of the Beatles have at last been given the recognition that they deserved, in the form of a Bear Family Records box. Additionally, his own music has acquired a new fan base in tandem with the late-'90s boom of interest in 1950s pop instrumental (i.e., "bachelor's den" audio) music, and "Afrikaan Beat" is arguably as popular as incidental music in 2003 as it was in 1965, as well as closely associated with that past in American popular culture, itself a great achievement for the bandleader from Hamburg. 

(by Bruce Eder from allmusic.com)

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