Timeless vocals. This album is a continuation of our journey through the 1930s and 40s with Hutch, Al Bowlly, Reinhardt & Grappelli, Jessie Matthews and a wonderful Noel Coward medley. “…this is absolutely amazing – the music sounds as if it was recorded yesterday! How do you do it to such an amazing degree?” Ken S
As we continue on our journey, who better to begin with than Hutch, the West Indian entertainer at the piano and a perennial favourite – the epitome of sophistication. He starts us off with a charming if little known number Blossoms On Broadway, the title song from a long forgotten 1937 Hollywood musical. Much more successful, both as a stage and film musical, was Cole Porters Du Barry Was A Lady from which we have Do I Love You? Hutch is obviously enjoying himself as his humming can be detected during the solo piano passages. Kiss Me Goodnight, the apt closing number, features Hutch with orchestral accompaniment. An in-depth biography recently published (late 1999) gives a detailed and revealing account of the life and loves of this well remembered star. A fascinating read. Another who has recently been favoured with a new biography is Billy Mayerl, represented here is his recording of Song Of The Fir Tree. This unusual but captivatingly plaintive piece is based the traditional Swedish folksong Ack Värmeland, Du Sköna (as recorded by Jussi Björling and Nicolai Gedda). Recently married to theatre owner and manager Richard Aldrich at the time this recording was made, Gertrude Lawrence shines in The Saga Of Jenny from Lady In The Dark. On the shows first night, Danny Kaye had brought the house down in his rapid-fire delivery of the names of forty-nine Russian composers in thirty-nine seconds (in the song Tchaikovsky). The producers and Danny were worried that the shows star might be upstaged but their fears were groundless and Gertrude topped Danny (who was relieved to keep his role). Smoke Gets In Your Eyes brings us to the golden saxophone tones of Freddy Gardner, one of Britains best loved and most accomplished reedsmen. Freddy first attracted attention in 1929 when, in his late teens, he won a Melody Maker award. From then on, for the twenty- one years of life remaining to him, he was in great demand as a sideman, soloist and leader. From the first recording session under his own name (and only one in the 1930s), we have Billy Ternent & His Sweet Rhythm Orchestra with the ever dependable Sam Browne in their wonderfully smooth version of You Started Something. Although influenced by the style of the American bandleader Hal Kemp, this track shows more allegiance to Guy Lombardo but without ever becoming cloying. Jessie Matthews (1907-1981), widely regarded as the quintessential British musical star, was 29 and at the peak of her meteoric film career when she made the musical Its Love Again from which she recorded Tonys In Town. In an exotic jewelled headdress, and a daringly abbreviated costume that showed off a bare waist and her magnificent legs, Jessie dances Tonys In Town to an elaborate, intricate and highly sensual tap routine, choreographed by her friend, the black choreographer Buddy Bradley, and to the vocal accompaniment of The Three Ginx. The sequence remains, even over sixty years on, one of the most dazzling moments in British film musical history. Even today, the American born Buddy Bradleys contribution to many British films and shows of the 1930s and 1940s remains vastly underrated. As well as Jessie Matthews, Bradley often arranged the dance routines for vehicles starring gentleman Jack Buchanan. Such was the case with Jacks 1943 London show, Its Time To Dance. Im Looking For A Melody was the first number in this wartime musical, featuring Jack in partnership with his long-time co-star, Elsie Randolph. As things turned out, this was their last appearance together in a show, ending a highly successful 21 year association. Public reaction was very favourable, mirrored in the Theatre World review which described it as “a triumphant return…The whole of the brilliant cast show an irresistibly lighthearted and pre-war touch”.