Friday 21 October 2011

Ghosts of Midnight - pt.5

Ghosts of Midnight is the latest edition of Your Heart Out which can be downloaded here free for all as a pdf. It is an affectionate tribute to the 1950s jazz label Bethlehem and some of its voices. Just as fascinating as the stories of Bethlehem's voices are the tales of its arrangers, such as the very great Russ Garcia, much loved by lovers of lounge and exotica. For Bethlehem he arranged sets by the likes of Frances Faye and Peggy Connelly, and oversaw the extraordinary jazz interpretation of the complete Porgy and Bess, with the wonderful Al Jazzbo Collins as narrator.
Beyond Bethlehem Russ worked with all sorts of great singers, but it is his own work that gets easy listening connoisseurs all excited.
Bethlehem picked up on Russ Garcia's LP Sounds In The Night which is an exceptional collection of jazz choral vocal arrangements, which could easily be from an Italian soundtrack from ten years later. Then there is his imaginary soundtrack work, like the space age pop experimentations on Fantastica, and the actual film scores such as The Time Machine.
Among my own favourite Russ Garcia works is a brace of LPs he arranged for Julie London in 1957, where she expanded on her minimalist template perfectly.

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