CD:PPCD 78134 / CASSETTE: / RUNNING TIME: CD1: 76:51
COMPACT DISC 1: 76 minutes
Frances Day: How Do You Do, Mr Right?
Fred Astaire: Change Partners << sound clip
Carroll Gibbons & His Boy Friends : You
Greta Keller : Deep In A Dream << sound clip
Hutch : It's De-Lovely
Jessie Matthews : By The Fireside
Al Bowlly : Roll Along, Prairie Moon
Coleman Hawkins : I Wish I Were Twins
Turner Layton : Deep Purple
Elisabeth Welch : The Girl I Knew
Jack Buchanan : Leave A Little For Me
Stephane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt : Moonglow
Noel Coward : Love In Bloom
Ginger Rogers : Let Yourself Go
Hutch : May I Have The Next Romance With You?
Hildegarde : I Believe In Miracles
Carroll Gibbons : Sing, Baby, Sing/You Turned
The Tables On Me
Marion Harris : Would You Like To Take A Walk?
Layton & Johnstone : Looking On The Bright Side
Greta Keller : Would You?
Al Bowlly : South Of The Border
Carroll Gibbons & His Boy Friends : With Thee
Fred Astaire : After You, Who?
Hutch : Down By The River
Raie Da Costa : A Thousand Goodnights
COMPACT DISC 2: 77 minutes
Al Bowlly : Love Locked Out
Carroll Gibbons & His Boy Friends : It's An Old
Jack Buchanan : I Think I Can
Greta Keller : Stairway To The Stars
Hutch : Remember Me?
Jessie Matthews : Dancing On The Ceiling
Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli : Smoke
Hildegarde : The Glory Of Love
Jack Buchanan : Living In Clover
Dorothy Carless & Billy Mayerl : Heart And Soul
Al Bowlly : Everything I Have Is Yours
Frances Day : Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?
Carroll Gibbons & His Boy Friends : I've Got
You Under My Skin << sound clip
Ginger Rogers : I'm Putting All My Eggs In One
Hutch : Don't Blame Me
Elisabeth Welch : Harlem In My Heart
Turner Layton : Heaven Can Wait
Adelaide Hall : Transatlantic Lullaby
Noel Coward : We Were So Young
Carroll Gibbons & His Boy Friends : You Hit The
Spot/I Feel Like A Feather In The Breeze
Jessie Matthews : One More Kiss
Fred Astaire : Flying Down To Rio
Greta Keller : Lamplight
Benny Carter & His Orchestra : When Day Is Done
Hutch : I Still Love To Kiss You Goodnight
If the Art Deco style,
at its height in the 1930s, could be put into words
and music then the artists on this collection would
come closest to symbolising it. And what a wealth of
popular songs and melodies they had to choose from!
Many of the best compositions (of this genre) emanated
from Hollywood musicals and Broadway shows, though there
were quite a few world class British numbers also from
the pens of Noel Coward and Vivian Ellis, to name only
A Vivian Ellis composition (words and music) opens
our compilation. Sung by Frances Day (1907-1984),
How Do You Do, Mr Right? comes from the musical
'The Fleet's Lit Up' which enjoyed a run of 199 performances
at the London Hippodrome, closing in February 1939.
A well established star by this time, Frances introduced
the Cole Porter number 'It's De-Lovely' in the same
show. If you're patient a little longer, you will be
treated to this song by Hutch of whom more anon. Did
You Ever See A Dream Walking? was the best of a
batch of songs written by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel
for the rather forgettable Paramount movie 'Sitting
Pretty' (1933). Frances' career waned post-war though
she did continue to appear in plays and on TV throughout
the Fifties and Sixties. Her last stage appearance was
opposite Bob Monkhouse in 'The Gulls' (December 1965).
Change Partners by the suave and elegant Fred
Astaire came from the 1938 Astaire/Rogers film 'Carefree'
which boasted a score by Irving Berlin. This was the
penultimate film to feature the couple in their 'golden'
partnership from 1933-1939. The rather corny plot centres
round Fred as a psychiatrist who has hypnotised Ginger
into believing she's not in love with him; but then
Fred realises he's in love with her... Needless to say
it all ends happily ever after. Cole Porter's musical
'Gay Divorce' opened on Broadway in November 1932 and
in London nearly a year later. Both productions starred
Fred who sung the thought-provoking After You, Who?
By the time the show made the screen, with Fred and
Ginger, the title was changed to 'The Gay Divorcee'
and the only Cole Porter song remaining was 'Night And
Day'. Ah well, that's Hollywood. Dolores Del Rio and
Gene Raymond were billed above Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers in the latter pair's first screen partnership,
but their dancing of 'The Carioca' in Flying Down
To Rio stole the show and as we know paved the way
for greater successes to come. In London, whilst appearing
in 'Gay Divorce', Fred recorded the catchy title song
from the film, Flying Down To Rio.
It's no mistake that the name of Carroll Gibbons
features more on this set than that of anyone else.
Aside from the six tracks with his Boy Friends
we find Massachusetts born Carroll as conductor and/or
pianist on sides with Jessie Matthews, Noel Coward,
Al Bowlly (where he's moonlighting to Decca) and Hildegarde.
That alone speaks volumes, but we can enjoy his special
magical and personal keyboard style in all its glory
on the solo Boy Friends tracks. They are not jazz, nor
are they just wallpaper or cocktail music but a series
of cleverly arranged sparkling small group vignettes
with Carroll leading a group of musicians hand-picked
from the Savoy Hotel Orpheans. They are a sheer delight.
With the exception of With Thee I Swing, all
the Boy Friends tracks are from mid-Thirties Hollywood
musicals. Carroll's long musical association with the
Savoy Hotel ended with his untimely death in 1954 at
the age of 51. The strains of 'Dear Old Southland' can
be heard before he launches into tempo and the jaunty
It's An Old Southern Custom from 'George White's
Scandals Of 1935'. Vocal honours are taken by the deep-voiced
Australian Marjorie Stedeford (1909-1959), a
very popular freelance vocalist who enhanced many a
British dance band and small group recording during
her four year stay in the UK from 1935.
Sultry-voiced Greta Keller had an intimate style.
She was described as possessing 'a perfect microphone
voice'. Listen especially to her spoken introduction
preceding the song Lamplight. Unlike many popular
singers, Greta's beginnings were in cabaret and not
as a dance band vocalist. Pre-war she had a considerable
international career and recorded prolifically in Europe
and America. By the onset of World War II she had taken
out American citizenship and in 1947 opened her own
club, 'Chez Greta' in St Moritz. Thereafter, almost
until her death in 1977 she spent her working time between
Vienna, Berlin and New York.
Leslie Arthur Julien Hutchinson, otherwise known as
Hutch, epitomises the sophisticated and stylish
era of the Thirties as much as anyone. Then at the peak
of his powers, we can savour his half dozen melodic
tracks, starting with Cole Porter's It's De-Lovely.
This was introduced to British audiences by the aforementioned
Frances Day - except that she frequently got the lyrics
wrong and substituted her own, much to the annoyance
of the composer! But Hutch had a special affinity with
the music of Cole Porter and his friendship with him
dated back to the 1920s. May I Have The Next Romance
With You? was introduced by Jessie Matthews in the
1937 Gaumont British film 'Head Over Heels'. Ten years
before, Jessie and Hutch had appeared together in C
B Cochran's revue 'One Dam Thing After Another' where
Jessie sang 'My Heart Stood Still' to Hutch's piano
accompaniment. In Down By The River from the
film 'Mississippi' and Don't Blame Me we can
admire Hutch's considerable prowess as a pianist in
the syncopated passages, and the way he sings behind
the beat, but gets away with it every time. In the 1937
standard Remember Me? from the film 'Mr Dodd
Takes The Air', Hutch is joined by a small, unbilled
instrumental group which includes (I'm almost sure)
the violin of Oscar Grasso whose distinctive sound became
synonymous with Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra.
Hutch was once described as 'The Maestro Of Nostalgia',
but that could be taken as a bit of a misnomer for at
the same time his recordings have a timeless quality
which appeals now as much as sixty years ago. In closing
our collection, after a long piano introduction, he
intones I Still Love To Kiss You Goodnight from
the film '52nd Street' - irresistible? yes!
Two of Jessie Matthews' best recordings were
issued back to back in 1932 when she was at her most
relaxed, even understated. Not from any show or film,
the songs (one British and one American) were By
The Fireside and One More Kiss. I expect
Ray Noble, the composer of the former, could have kicked
himself for not taking time to write the lyrics for
'By The Fireside' too, instead of splitting the royalties
three ways with his publishers! In an interview he admitted
to feeling that way about his 'Goodnight Sweetheart'.
From just over two years later we have Jessie's Dancing
On The Ceiling from the 1934 film 'Evergreen'. This
Rodgers and Hart song (originally written as 'He Dances
On My Ceiling') had been given by the composers to Florenz
Ziegfeld for his 1930 Broadway musical 'Simple Simon',
but the impresario rejected it on the grounds that it
was "too complicated". So they came up with 'Ten Cents
A Dance' instead. As 'Dancing On The Ceiling' Rodgers
and Hart offered the number to C B Cochran for his musical
show 'Ever Green'; Cochran wisely accepted and Jessie
and Sonnie Hale introduced the number at the newly opened
Adelphi Theatre on 3 December 1930. The production was
very expensive and lavish and was the first in London
to use a revolving stage and had an upside down chandelier
as the setting. The BBC banned the song from being broadcast
at this time because it mentioned the word 'bed' twice,
but Jessie always claimed the ban was directed at her
in view of the notorious divorce case between Evelyn
Laye and Sonnie Hale where Jessie was cited as co-respondent
(Sonnie and Jessie married in January 1931). But that
is another story. By 1934 when 'Evergreen' (one word
by this time) was filmed, Jessie had become a huge star
as a result of appearing opposite John Gielgud in the
1933 film of J B Priestley's 'The Good Companions'.
The long and spectacular 'Dancing On The Ceiling' routine,
choreographed by Jessie and Buddy Bradley, started with
Jessie playing the first notes on a piano then dancing
with tremendous high kicks through the rooms of an Art
Deco house. Gaumont British had hoped to sign Fred Astaire,
then appearing in London in 'Gay Divorce', to appear
opposite Jessie but missed out as Fred had just signed
a contract with RKO. Three more times Jessie missed
appearing with Fred Astaire, the last being in 1979
for a television movie (Fred appeared with Helen Hayes
instead). Obviously it was not meant to be. 'Evergreen',
produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Victor Saville,
was probably Jessie's best film. When asked to describe
her appeal, Victor Saville said simply "She had a heart.
South African born Al Bowlly arrived in England
in 1928 and over the next thirteen years recorded copiously
both as a dance band vocalist (often uncredited) and
under his own name. Gradually, he built up a good reputation
and a loyal following and has achieved something of
a cult status since his death in the Blitz in April
1941. He was bandleader Ray Noble's preferred
vocalist on the sides Noble cut for HMV between 1930
and 1934. On the earlier discs the band was just billed
as the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra with vocal chorus;
it was only after the Americans started taking notice
that Ray Noble became billed. In September 1934 Noble
left the UK to direct a band in New York, taking Al
Bowlly and his drummer Bill Harty with him. It's one
of Ray and Al's American recordings that we have first,
Roll Along, Prairie Moon from the film 'Here
Comes The Band'. After a couple of years in the USA,
Al returned to England and picked up the threads of
his career. The remaining three songs feature Al firstly
in two songs by British composers made either side of
his American sojourn - the popular South Of The Border
from 1939 and Max Kester and Ray Noble's own Love
Locked Out. Finally we hear him in Everything
I Have Is Yours from the film 'Dancing Lady'. Al's
sincerity is something which unquestionably comes across
in his intimate recordings. Ray Noble himself paid tribute
to this by saying "After he sang a sentimental song,
I've seen him turn away from the microphone with tears
in his eyes".
Europe was honoured to have two American jazz titans
in its midst during the Thirties when Benny and The
Hawk were 'on the loose' for a few years. These were
tenor saxophone player Coleman Hawkins and alto
sax player, trumpeter, arranger and composer et al.
Benny Carter. Coleman died in 1969, but happily
Benny is very much with us, still going strong at 91.
We catch up with Coleman one year into his sojourn when
he teamed up with The Ramblers in The Hague,
gliding over the competent backing with supreme confidence
in I Wish I Were Twins. Benny's long stay in
Europe began in July 1935 when he travelled to Paris
to accept an offer by Willie Lewis to join his band.
He came to London in March the following year to take
up the post of arranger for Henry Hall and the BBC Dance
Orchestra. Whilst here, playing (officially at any rate)
was out of the question due to unfortunate newly implemented
restrictions imposed by the British Musicians' Union
on American jazz musicians. This did not include recording,
and the beautifully laid-back When Day Is Done
was one of the sides Benny put down with his British
recording band. Benny is to be heard early in the proceedings
with 32 bars of muted trumpet followed - after Buddy
Featherstonhaugh's great breathy tenor sax solo and
Andy McDevitt's clarinet - by Benny's wonderful 32 bars
It's difficult to imagine the urbane Turner Layton
(1894-1978) as the composer (with Henry Creamer) of
the all-time great jazz standards 'After You've Gone'
and 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans'. That was before
he teamed up with Clarence Johnstone to form the hugely
popular singing duo of Layton & Johnstone (1922-35).
The elegant Turner always provided the piano accompaniment
and a solo career was only foisted on him after his
partner had eloped to the USA with the wife of violinist
Albert Sandler. After Clarence Johnstone's rather abrupt
departure, Layton carried on as a successful solo act,
rivalling Hutch, into the early 1960s. Turner's first
number is Deep Purple, a big hit in 1939, and
his second offering is Heaven Can Wait from the
same year. Unusually, he forsakes the piano for this
recording, leaving the accompaniment to the twin pianos
of Charles Zwar and Ruby Duncan. From
earlier days we can enjoy the bill-topping team of Layton
& Johnstone in their scintillating version of the
title song from Gracie Fields' 1932 movie Looking
On The Bright Side.
Two ladies who are still with us but, in their nineties
enjoying their well-earned retirements, are Elisabeth
Welch and Hildegarde. Both are American born,
though Elisabeth has been domiciled in or near London
since 1933. Elisabeth sings The Girl I Knew from
Ivor Novello's 'Glamorous Night' which ran for 243 performances
at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane from 2 May 1935. As
a film star, Elisabeth's most important screen roles
were opposite the great Paul Robeson. 'Big Fella' (1937)
was the second of these and was a cheerful little tale
with the Marseilles waterfront as its setting. The catchy
Harlem In My Heart was one of Elisabeth's numbers.
Born in Wisconsin, Hildegarde only retired in 1995.
Her last London appearance was an unforgettable two
week engagement at London's Pizza on the Park in October
1992. Capture if you will her sophisticated charm at
work on I Believe In Miracles and The Glory
Unlike Jessie Matthews, the debonair Jack Buchanan
did get the chance to star alongside Fred Astaire in
a musical film, although not until quite late in his
career (1953 in 'The Band Wagon'). Here, Jack sings
three songs from three different British musical films
released between 1932 and 1935. First is Leave A
Little For Me from 'Yes, Mr Brown' (set in Vienna)
then I Think I Can from 'Brewster's Millions'.
Finally we have the lively Living In Clover from
'Goodnight Vienna' (also set in...you've guessed it).
Despite its somewhat outmoded plot, this is the one
which probably ranks as the best of Jack's British musical
The renowned Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France
flourished from 1934 until the outbreak of war. Most
interestingly the music making was one of the few original
jazz styles to evolve outside of the United States and
the group became so popular that visiting American artists
flocked to appear and record with them. The pivotal
musicians were gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt
(1910-1953) and violinist Stephane Grappelli
(1908-1997). The group Stephane Grappelli & His Hot
Four featuring Django Reinhardt has essentially
the same line-up as the QHCF. When called for they could
swing like the clappers with the best of them, but we
find them in a more relaxed mood on Moonglow
and Smoke Rings, delivered with a distinctly
Noël Coward ('The Master'), composer, librettist,
playwright, actor and director, almost invariably recorded
his own works. Just occasionally, as here, we have a
rare insight into his idiosyncratic interpretations
of the songs of others. Love In Bloom from the
Hollywood musical 'She Loves Me Not' was a best selling
record for the film's star, Bing Crosby. We Were
So Young was one of two new songs written by Oscar
Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern for the 1935 film musical
version of their Broadway show 'Sweet Adeline'.
Synonymous with the elegant Fred Astaire was of course
his ideal dancing partner Ginger Rogers (1911-1995).
Ginger came to fame in the Gershwins' Broadway musical
'Girl Crazy' in 1930 and appeared in a handful of early
Hollywood musicals before the innovative '42nd Street'
(1933). After the success of Irving Berlin's 'Top Hat'
(1935), the composer was called upon again to provide
a score for the Astaire/Rogers partnership and he came
up with another great clutch of songs for 'Follow The
Fleet' (1936). We needn't concern ourselves overmuch
about the plot, just wallow in the music and enjoy a
couple of reminders from Ginger, Let Yourself Go
and I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket.
The sylph-like Marion Harris (1896-1944) was
a popular favourite on the American cabaret and vaudeville
circuits before she settled in London and in turn triumphed
at the elegant Café de Paris and Monseigneur Restaurant
nightspots. Listen to her stylish delivery in the cheeky
Would You Like To Take A Walk?
Raie Da Costa (1905-1934) hailed from Cape Town
but moved to London at 19 with a view to pursuing a
career as a concert pianist. Success eluded her however
so she diversified into the world of popular piano,
more specifically syncopation. In 1928 she made her
first records and later in the year began appearing
in variety; she had definitely arrived. From 1930 she
recorded for the prestigious HMV label and we have a
sparkling example here, A Thousand Goodnights,
recorded only three months before her early demise.
Unusually, she vocalises on this track and there's the
added bonus of short solos from Freddy Gardner on saxophone
and Nat Gonella on trumpet at the close of the song.
A friendly rival of Raie's was the 'King Of Syncopation',
Billy Mayerl, although this style was on the
wane by the time Billy cut Heart And Soul in
1938. His playing, as ever, is first class and very
authoritative and he's joined by Dorothy Carless
who provides a fetching vocal. At this period in her
life, Dorothy often appeared as one of Billy Mayerl's
'Claviers' (a four piano act) but it was to be as a
singer, particularly with Geraldo in the 1940s, that
she is best remembered.
Transatlantic Lullaby is a world class song
introduced in 'The Gate Revue' at the Ambassadors Theatre
in London in March 1939. Our recording is by the instantly
recognisable warm voice of Adelaide Hall (1901-1993),
who had come to London the previous year to star in
C B Cochran's melodrama 'The Sun Never Sets'. Fortunately
for us she stayed for the remainder of her long life.