Cool Yule/Airmen of Note

November 21, 2013

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What do you get when you mix the “Airmen of Note,” a swinging big band ensemble that also flies our planes and help keep our country safe, “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with a singing group that sounds like  the Pied Pipers and a singer who sings like a young Ella Fitzgerald, only better? You get the sleeper Xmas CD of 2013 released by Naxos in time for the holidays.

 

The “Airmen of Note,” a seventeen piece jazz group with strings and vocals, have been around since 1950 carrying on the tradition of the Glenn Miller Army Air Corp dance band that perished during WWII. They are a touring group as well as a teaching ensemble and have over 30 CD’s available. They have been featured with the likes of Sarah Vaughan and Phil Woods and arranged by some of the best orchestrators in the world.

While the soloists are names you’re not familiar with you won’t be disappointed with their skills as they seem to be right at home with all of this material. If you want a laid back west coast style you’ll certainly enjoy “Have Yourself A Merry Li’l Christmas” with its delicate piano, muted trumpet, and smooth sounds from the reeds and brass. “Peanut Brittle Brigade Watch” is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker arranged by Duke Ellington in an upbeat jazz style. Big band Latin style is the mood for “Up On The Housetop” with nice improvisational solos from the trombone, tenor sax, and trumpet. Paige Martin, the lead vocalist, has a refreshing voice and is featured on four numbers including some scat on “Here Comes Santa Claus,” as well as performing the seldom played “Sentimental Santa Baby,” a takeoff on “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” “Faithful in Paris” does Basie proud and Steve Allen would be very happy with the jazzy upbeat “Cool Yule” featuring the Andrews Sisters.

If you’re into the big band sound turn up the volume and enjoy!

Track Listing:

 

1… Jing, Jing, Jing (3:58)

2… Santanooga Choo Choo (2:55)

3… Up On The Housetop (3:49)

4… Here Comes Santa Claus (5:32)

5… I’ll Be Home For Christmas (3:47)

6… A Little Drummer Boy Boogie (3:44)

7… Sentimental Santa Baby (3:24)

8… Faithful In Paris (3:20)

9… The Christmas Blues (3:00)

10.Let It Snow Brothers (3:26)

11.Auld Lang Cha Cha Cha (3:39)

12.Merry Christmas Baby (4:27)

13.I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (3:16)

14.Cool Yule (2:50)

15.We Three Chipmunks (5:28)

16.Peanut Brittle Brigade March (4:50)

17.Have Yourself A Merry Li’l Christmas (3:24)

Total Time 64:57

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Leave Her To Heaven/Newman

November 4, 2013

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Following her success in Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944) Gene Tierney (1920-1991) starred in a psychological thriller Leave Her To Heaven (1945) that dealt with jealousy to an extreme. Cornell Wilde, Jeanne Crain and Vincent Price co-starred. Gene was nominated for an academy award for best actress but lost out to Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce. While liner note author Bruce Kimmel feels that the Technicolor film was an early attempt at noir; this writer feels that black and white is an essential ingredient. We’re in total agreement that this was an excellent film and it has aged well. I definitely recommend a watch if you’ve never seen it.

Seven tracks totaling 12 minutes were originally released by FSM (vol. 2 #7) in 1999. It was coupled with the Bette Davis hit All About Eve, also composed by Alfred Newman, and was the feature of the CD. Kritzerland added three additional tracks to make it complete and improved the overall sound quality. One minor difference which got my attention was at the beginning of the “Prelude.” On the FSM release there are three timpani beats instead of four on the Kritzerland. The “Prelude” begins with the timpani playing against a tritone historically the musical sign of the devil. This is a dominant theme that makes it clear that Ellen (Gene Tierney) is mostly evil as the story plays out. The title of the film could indicate a number of different genres so Newman made it crystal clear that this was going to be tearful instead of cheerful. “Ash Ritual” introduces a second theme angelic or dawn breaking in nature, a happier moment with glissando from the harp before a slow return to the original theme from the clarinet and flute, an introduction to the plodding triton interrupts the theme which returns for a second time before our evil returns. “Danny,” an extra cue on the Kritzerland, is the love theme, a swirling interlude of wistful happy times with flutes providing the harmony. It is short lived as these times of happiness soon disappear. “Erotomania,” another exclusive Kritzerland track, is a return to the “Ash Ritual” angelic theme. Unlike the “Ash Ritual” track which returns to the tritone it is only the happy melody that is performed. “The Seductress” begins with a solo from the bassoon, very distinct as it sets the mood for the track. The tritone theme is offered again. “Redemption” is exactly the way you think it should sound with all the serenity of a prayer. Part way through there is a female wordless choir that enhances the track. The final track “Marie” is classic Newman offering a sweet band with solos from the trumpet and tenor sax. A fine offering that was also used in Take Care of My Little Girl (1950) the other film on this CD which will be reviewed separately.

This score offers Newman at his finest delivering a somber somewhat frightening score. I compare this to Roy Webb who without being showy made his point quite clear. Newman definitely improved this film with his score. Limited to 1000 copies so don’t delay your purchase.

Track Listing:

1… Prelude (1:26)

2… Ash Ritual (2:45)

3… Danny (1:14)

4… Erotomania (1:16)

5… The Seductress (1:11)

6… Bar Harbor (2:09)

7… Unrest (1:25)

8… Homicide (2:54)

9… Arsenic (1:46)

10…Redemption (1:26)

11…Marie (In the middle of a night in June) (4:03)

Total Time is 21:35