Daily Archives: August 12, 2017

PAT KIRBY SINGS! AGAIN! “THE BOY NEXT DOOR” (1954, Steve Allen, The Tonight Show)

For me, this beautiful story started in a thrift store in Westbury, New York. Details (and music) here.

More friends helped me find Pat Kirby herself — a person as gracious and gentle of spirit as her singing; I met David Fletcherwho’s really a new addition to my family, and then, springing up from the maze of Facebook, there appeared the wonderfully generous Anthony DiFlorio III — who opened his toybox to share this gem with me, and with you: Pat Kirby singing I’M GLAD THERE IS YOU, which resulted in my rapturous post here.

Last night, I saw the Facebook notification that someone had sent me a message, which is usually a pleasure, and it was Anthony with this astonishing manifestation, which I can now share with you.

If you think I am overdoing it (and who am I to argue with you?) simply understand this: it is one thing to hear a voice come out of a speaker from a piece of flat plastic.  And with many of our musical heroes, this is all we will ever have. Perhaps a photograph or two to muse over.  But then you are offered the opportunity — now opportunities — to see that person in action, especially meaningful when the person is a singer.

Once again, there is a good deal of Steve Allen prelude, but what follows makes the world seem brighter: Pat Kirby, posed in what is apparently the same theatrical simulation of a forest glade, singing THE BOY NEXT DOOR, by Ralph Blaine and Hugh Martin.  A few words first.  I was at first amazed to see and hear Pat adopt a “bigger” approach to this very tender melody, which makes sense: each song is its own script, and the quiet restraint of her performance of I’M GLAD THERE IS YOU — which is a kind of secular hymn — might have been too restrained for the yearning of this song.  Too, THE BOY NEXT DOOR was powerfully associated with Judy Garland, who’d performed it ten years earlier in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.  In no way is Pat attempting to emulate Judy — she was her own artist! — but there is more open expression of passion in this performance.

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THE BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE: JOE POLICASTRO TRIO, “SCREEN SOUNDS”

I’ve always been fascinated by the music filmmakers used, detached from the films themselves.  Get those actors, children, animals, props out of the way: remove the dialogue, let us hear the sounds.

The very imaginative and lyrical string bassist Joe Policastro has created a new CD, SCREEN SOUNDS, that is more than gratifying.  With Joe are guitarist Dave Miller and drummer Mikel Avery, and their music is as good as any film that holds viewers spellbound.

You can tell from the cover — serious and whimsical at the same time — that this is no trip back to the Fifties, LEROY HOLMES AND HIS ORCHESTRA (or the 101 Strings) PLAY MOVIE  THEMES, but neither is it MUSIC TO TORMENT YOUR HOUSEMATES WHO DISLIKE JAZZ.

This project is a happily inventive — and I would say audacious — creative enterprise.  It’s not nostalgia, although the themes from famous films and television shows are initially recognizable.  But the trio thoughtfully “re-imagines” the original music which is, in most cases, evocative.  Audacious?  For one thing, the original music was almost always scored for larger ensembles, so that reinventing it for this trio is both ingenious and loving (you’ll note that “irony,” or deconstruction is not their purpose).  “We put such a personal stamp on it [the original material] that these things belong to us” stands as a meaningful comment in the video above.

Here is the trio’s fascinating look-from-the-inside-out at the theme from YOJIMBO, as thoughtful and deep as a film on its own, mixing lyricism and strangeness (and that’s a compliment):

YOJIMBO’s dark brooding is, however, not the one musical theme of the CD. EVERYBODY’S TALKIN’ mixes melancholy and swing, sweetness and forward motion: the end result seriously danceable.  But it’s not pandering to an imagined audience in any way: even when the Trio is respectfully sounding out the melody, theirs is not cocktail music for the reception: you have to provide your own hors d’oeuvres.  (You’ll want to.)  The theme from THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS has its own dramatic arc, but it’s not like anything that came out of anyone’s television on a weekday afternoon.  COOL HAND LUKE is surprisingly light-hearted (it works its way into a shuffle) helping me imagine an alternative screenplay where the convicts form a band and get paroled to gig.

I’ll stop here (although I am writing this blog having listened to the CD several times with great pleasure) so that you can find out the lyrical pleasures of this imaginative travelogue for yourselves.  Popcorn optional.  You’re on your own.

Here you can preview and purchase the CD; here you can see and hear their version of the theme from THE KIDS IN THE HALL and find out where the Trio will be performing next.

May your happiness increase!