Gone for the Day & Fair and Warmer
Capitol Jazz CDP 7243 4 95448 2 6 Vocals, Jazz
Christy is a tough one. There's something about her voice in combination
with the smart songs and experimental arrangements that rarely fails
to satisfy. Some people find her over-stylized, flat, a poor man's
Anita O'Day (whom she replaced as vocalist in the Stan Kenton Orchestra)
or just plain sour. We can understand the criticism but we don't
agree. When all the elements were right, she was one of the best.
not exactly part of the West Coast Jazz sound, her recordings evoke
for us a glamorous yet melancholy portrait of 1950s Los Angeles.
Most obvious in her seminal hit Something Cool, but apparent
throughout her stint at Capitol Records, are images of a woman with
slightly too-short bangs in a strapless floral summer dress driving
her large Pontiac down Hollywood Blvd. to a dark bar. Even on the
uptempo numbers, the quality of her voice suggests a despondent
woman trying to convince herself as much as the object of her affection
that things are rosy.
quite possible we're reading too much into June Christy, and even
if this is the case, enjoying her as just a singer is easily done.
We're not alone in thinking her best years were at Capitol with
fellow Stan Kenton-alumnus Pete Rugolo as her arranger. Downplaying
the piano and using complicated but never fussy arrangements, the
sound is the perfect example of ‘50s modern.
recent re-issue of her two albums Gone for the Day and
Fair and Warmer are more than welcome. Gone for the Day
is an ode to a weekend in the country with songs like Lazy Afternoon,
Give Me the Simple Life and It's So Peaceful in the Country.
The tracks are taken mostly at a slow pace. More typical and more
pleasing is the album Fair and Warmer. There's no theme and
the tempos are more balanced. We like Christy singing slow ballads,
but we go nuts for the peppy arrangements, especially on songs that
are traditionally sung at a slower tempo, like I've Never Been
in Love Before. Both albums are clever mixes of standards and
more obscure songs like Ethel Merman's The Best Thing for You
from Call Me Madam.
much as we love the June Christy sound and plan to greedily consume
any new releases that come our way, we also must add that in general,
one June Christy album at a time is usually enough. She's rather
intense and unique and 45 minutes at a time is just about right.
albums of interest:
Capitol Jazz CDP 7 96329 2
is arguably her best album, here re-issued with her Capitol singles
and a few rarities. The song Something Cool will never be
sung better. And in addition to being a dramatic tour de force,
it should be the anthem for the Cocktail Nation.
June Christy and the Stan Kenton Orchestra
Collector's Choice Music S21-18053
this collection of singles from her association with Stan Kenton,
both Christy and Kenton sound surprisingly playful and optimistic.
Christy is still under the influence of Anita O'Day but it's interesting
to see her develop as a stylist. Kenton thankfully tones down his
tendency to make "important" music.
Conservatory Charanga Orchestra
Cuba: The Charanga
Nimbus NI5528 Cuba
la Moderna Tradición
Candela 42849302 Cuba
you ready for today's lesson? Once upon a time there was a European
dance called the contradanza. Brought to Cuba, it became
a much more boisterous danzon. Often, towards the end of
a danzon, there would be a break in the beat and the dance
would go from being an odd mixture of ragtime and tango (not
literally, just the feeling) to what we now consider the mambo.
That is except in Mexico, where it was imported to become a national
favorite, without the freeform ending. The orchestra configuration
was referred to as a charanga orchestra. The most distinct
aspects were the presence of strings, and often the flute was a
featured soloist. The danzon is not to be confused with the
style called charanga, also played by a charanga orchestra.
Of course there's also the pachanga, derived from the charanga,
but let's not go into that.
very fine book, The Rough Guide: World Music, defines the
danzon as "one of the most European styles of traditional Cuban
music." That's not half the story. It starts out very grand and
most of the time ends up with a wild abondon. We love the long anticipation
before getting to the hot mambo section, much like eating a Tootsie
Pop. Whatever you call it, it's been neglected stateside, and along
with the completely unrelated boogaloo, it's possibly the last great
movement in Cuban music to discover.
would have thought that such an exciting interpretation of the danzon
would come from Holland? Cuba: The Charanga is very traditional
but never boring. We love the recording quality; it sounds as airy
and open as if it were recorded in a danzon hall and it gives the
percussion a slight echo. It also gives the almost classical music
arrangements a more casual feel. Most of the tracks are winners
with the stomping percussion, cascading grand piano and pulsing
strings. Normally we find the flute as irritating as a gnat, but
here it works perfectly.
la Moderna Tradición also plays a traditional danzon but it's a
much jazzier and innovative version. Following the music takes a
slight bit of concentration but the variety will be more appealing
to some. Compared to the Rotterdam orchestra, it's not as grand,
but it's awfully good.
Conservatory Charanga Orchestra:
la Moderna Tradición:
also our review of the soundtrack recording to the Mexican film
information on PDF files and the free Adobe Acrobat Reader