Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moon, June, Spoon #4

No, I haven’t fallen down the well—feel a bit like it, but that’s another story for another time. So:

We’re back with more Moon June Spoon, & this time around there’s lots of Ol’ Blue Eyes (all from the Moonlight Sinatra album), as well as a couple of novel takes on well-known numbers—& more beside, including more videos than usual.

Hope you enjoy them.

Moon Love: Wow—It doesn’t get much more lush than this—Nelson Riddle Orchestra & Sinatra in peak form. I must admit that I don’t always go for the Riddle treatment—sometimes it seems a bit much (sorry!). But in the case of this serious tearjerker it really fits, & in front of all that orchestration Ol’ Blue Eyes sings it like he really means it.
Sinatra hits some notes in this one that are just so pure & so heartbreaking…. Frank Sinatra: Moonlight Sinatra (Reprise)

Moon River: This beautiful Mancini tune is probably heard most often these days in “sweetened string” versions. But make no mistake—this tune, like Mancini’s music overall is the real deal, & even highly-diluated versions can’t take all the life out of it. The version I’m thinking of, tho, is anything but diluted—it’s neat in every sense of the word. Start out with Matt Brubeck’s lovely cello intro on the theme, then move into the finger-popping craziness of Ralph Carney, Joe Gore & Scott Amendola. Really great stuff, & any Oranj Symphonette (I believe there were only two albums) is highly recommended. Ornaj Symphonette: Oranj Symphonette Plays Mancini (Gramavision HiFi)

Moon Song: More of the full-on Nelson Riddle treatment. In this case it seems a little heavy-handed to me—sorry, Sinatra fanatics out there—I like Ol’ Blue Eyes, but I don’t give him an automatic pass. In some ways I like the lighter, more jazz-inflected Doris Day version in the video below. Not a big fan of Ms Day as an actress, but she could sing. Frank Sinatra: Moonlight Sinatra (Reprise)

Moonglow: I adore this song & have played it myself on a few instruments—guitar, tenor uke & tenor guitar. I have three versions on CD, & they’re all fantastic— Lionel Hampton: Flying Home (Living Era): Hampton’s version is with the Benny Goodman Quarter, & besides creating a dreamy atmosphere for Goodman, Hampton takes a sweet extended break; Teddy Wilson, of course, on piano, & Gene Krupa, of course, on drums; Milt Jackson, Joe Pass, Ray Brown: The Big 3 [note: these guys have earned that title for sure] (Original Jazz Classics): Milt Jackson is, of course, another great vibes man, & the three-way interplay between him & Pass on guitar & Brown on bass isn’t to be missed; Mary Lou Williams: 1949-1951 (Chronological Classics): Last but very far from least, Mary Lou Williams duets with herself on organ & piano—fun! Also: check out Les Paul & Chet Atkins below; what guitar work….

Moonlight Bay: Wish I could find the Auldrige – Brozman- Grisman on YouTube; it’s “Moonlight Bay” set in some Hawaiian cove, & it’s truly lovely. For those of you who don’t know, all three of these guys are top-notch: Mike Auldridge, a reknowned Dobro player; Bob Brozman, Mr National guitar & also a super uke player (typically on a resophonic); & I assume most folks know of David “Dawg” Grisman, mandolin player-supreme. The Tone Poems albums are all built around fanastic musicians getting together & playing vintage instruments. Volume III involves “slide & resophonic instruments," in this case all Hawaiian-style steel guitars—a 1923 Regal Hawyfone, a 1925 Maiki Hawaiian (both of these were economy knock-offs of the top-of-the line Weissenborns) & a Weissenborn Kona Style 3. Please do check this out—but I think you’ll also enjoy the Premier Quartet from 1913 in the video/soundclip below. Mike Auldrige, Bob Brozman, David Grisman: Tone Poems III (Acoustic Disc)

Moonlight Becomes You: Sinatra was in one of his “primes” in the Nelson Riddle period, & he certainly uses his pipes & phrasing to give this lovely tune a great reading; & yes, I do think the arrangment on this one is great—including some nice guitar work pretty prominent in the mix. It’s interesting, as a for what it's worth note, that he started the song out with the bridge. But tho Sinatra’s version is really good, I’ve got to mention der Bingle’s version from the very funny Road to Morocco; check it out below (complete with a very lovely Dorothy Lamour). Frank Sinatra: Moonlight Sinatra (Reprise)

Moonlight Fiesta: A latin number written by long-time Ellington cohorts Irving Mills & Juan Tizol. The band recording this (the date was June 1937) went by the name of Barney Bigard & His Jazzopators, & besides Tizol on valve-trombone, Bigard on clarinet & Elllington on the 88s, it included Rex Stewart on cornet, Harry Carney on baritone sax, Billy Taylor on string bass, Sonny Greer on drums & Charlie Barnet on maracas. That last instrument should give you the idea. It’s a fun piece, if a bit of a novelty. Duke Ellington: The Duke’s Men: Small Groups, vol. 1 (Columbia Jazz Masterpieces)

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  1. I loved the Bing Crosby video. I love his singing, and that song.

    So much inspiration the moon has given, for songs, stories... imagine if you began to do posts about moon poems. You'd be posting them for eternity!

    I started a collection of bird poems at one time... maybe sometime I'll post some.

  2. I adore Moon River. And there is something very special about Audrey singing it herself. The song was almost cut from the film because it really didn't have anything to do with the storyline. Wouldn't it have been a tragedy if it had been?

    Fun post, John.

  3. Hi René & Willow!

    René: That's sure true about moon poems, isn't it? I'd certainly be interested in seeing your bird poem collection. Glad you enjoyed this.

    Willow: Yes, "Moon River" is a wonderful song, & we found playing it in a band, it's a number that almost invariably gets folks waltzing. Interesting about "Breakfast at Tiffany's"-- I didn't know it was almost cut. Thanks!

  4. Great songs and great clips, thanks. I think my favorite rendition of "Moon River", even more than all the great versions of it, including Audrey's, is just those first few minutes over the opening credits of the movie. It's played so softly, and with the shots of Hepburn walking on nearly vacant early morning streets, it actually feels like a breeze. The gentle sound of the music suggests a soft breeze on the skin. Remarkable.

  5. as a moonchild I love this post! chock full of great mooniscal moments!

  6. Moon River, Moonglow, Moonlight Becomes You - who needs more...except maybe a nice Blue Moon. Great choices.

  7. Just dropping in for a second to say what a great post this is (as usual) and also to tell you that "Moon River" is the first popular song I ever remember singing as a very little girl.


  8. Hi Folks!

    Jacqueline: Gosh, it's been ages since I've seen "Breakfast at Tiffany's"-- maybe time for NetFlix.

    Mouse: I love "moonsical moments!"

    Cathy: Thanks-- those are some great tunes. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Kat: I think I remember reading about you & "Moon River" in one of your posts. Thanks for stopping by-- I know you're in a busy time.

  9. I enjoyed all of these, but the Chet Atkins/Les Paul Moonglow is fabulous.

  10. Hi Sandra:

    I'm with you 100% on the Chet Atkins-Les Paul "Moonglow"-- it just blew me away.


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