September 7, 2012
Having had the opportunity to speak to Carl Davis recently, one of the things we discussed was the new release of the music for the revived series “Upstairs Down Stairs” (Carl Davis CDC018) now available through the Naxos Corporation in a digital file or CD. Having not had the opportunity to view the series (6 parts), it turned out to be a pleasant surprise but then why would I expect any less from Carl Davis. I owned his previous seventeen releases and none of them disappointed me.
What you can look forward to hearing is a wide variation of different types of dance, easy listening, and traditional music pre World War II that dominated the desires of the upper class in Britain. There are sweet band numbers, blues, swing, blues, South American, and marches. While the arrangements seem simple on the surface they are upon a closer critical listening very well thought out with excellent percussion, counterpoint, and well placed solos from the reeds and brass.
Highlights from the CD include the original theme composed by Alexander Faris. The producers felt that this was an important piece that was needed to tie in the old with the new. It is a very distinct theme that one will not easily forget. “My Perfect Sister” (aren’t they all?) is arranged in a light swing sweet band style with a muted trumpet carrying the melody. “1 65 Eaton Place” is a small string ensemble offering the melody with nice harmony from the harp (very delicate) and a snare drum giving a feeling of melody presence. “Lady Persephone (Percie) is a violin which offers the melody with quiet support from a clarinet and harp which is merely a prelude to a Latin flavored dance. “Fish and Chips” is yet another style. This time a German style polka is featured with the lead being provided by a muted trumpet. “Masters & Servant Hall” offers an upbeat swing number with the tom-tom Gene Krupa drums providing a strong rhythm. “Hung-over” continues the melody from “Masters and Servants Ball” which is a prelude to the main thrust of the track, a blues style from the piano and muted trumpet. The versatility continues in “Sweatshop” which offers us a lively Greek dance complete with a raucous beat. “A Foggy Night” really seems out of place as what I hear is classic Jobim but then I haven’t seen the visual. “Grubby” is my favorite track which is a St. Louis Blues style with swinging sax, wailing muted trumpets, bluesy well played piano, and foot tapping percussion. I’ve included an audio clip of this one to give you an idea of what you’re in store for.Grubby Keep in mind that the clips are very low quality. The sound of the CD is crystal clear with much defined sound from the instruments. Two traditional British vocals “O Ladybird” and “I Vow to Thee My Country” contribute source material. “Exit Time” is another easy laid back jazz contribution with a nice solo from the reed section, trumpet, and the always present piano.
If you’re anything like me you’ll like this latest Davis offering for a couple of reasons.
- Each track is special and unique. This is not a CD where you’ll hear the main title in 17 of the 32 tracks.
- You really feel like the ensemble digs what they’re playing and are having fun doing it.
This CD comes with my highest recommendation and it is one that I’ll return to on a regular basis.
1…. Upstairs Downstairs Theme (1:04)
2…. My Perfect Sister (1:33)
3…. 165 Eaton Place (3:03)
4…. Lady Persephone (Percie) (2:51)
5…. The Chauffeur and the Parlour Maid (Beryl and Spargo) (3:24)
6…. A Prelude to a Fight (2:33)
7…. Fish and Chips (0:54)
8…. The Butler and the Cook (Mr.P. and Mrs. T.)(4:22)
9…. Romancing the Butler (3:07)
10… Masters and Servants Ball (1:44)
12…Lady Agnes (1:49)
13…Nylon Stockings (1:00)
14…An American in London (1:17)
15…We Rumba’d til Dawn (1:22)
17…O Ladybird (1:07)
18…Johnny the Footman (1:12)
20…Health and Beauty March
21… A Foggy Night (0:59)
23…Girls Friendly Society (2:04)
24…Agnes’ Breakdown (1:23)
25…Lord Hallam (1:43)
26…Going to War (1:21)
27…Belgravia Nights (1:22)
29…Blues For Benny (2:16)
30…The Golden Blaze (Blanche and Portia)
31… Exit Time (2:42)
32…The Kindertransport (I Vow to Thee My Country)(3:40)
Running Time is 64:06