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Waylon Allen
Waylon Allen

West Side Story Cd BEST

This film version of the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score of a modern, urban Romeo and Juliet spent more weeks at #1 in the charts (54) than any other album in history. It is an effective rendition of the score, featuring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris, and features all of the show's important songs, among them "Something's Coming," "Maria," "Tonight," and "Somewhere."

west side story cd

In the late 40s Emmanuel (Manny) Albam put away his baritone saxophone because it was getting in the way of his pen. From then on, he established himself firmly as one of the most skilled, perhaps the busiest, of all the freelance arrangers on the New York scene. Although he worked with great success in the pop field, he was usually associated with jazz. His originals for Basie, Herman, Gibbs, Ferguson, and other big bands are as familiar as the many remarkable LPs listed under his own name. With "West Side Story", Albam achieved one of his greatest works. Most of the material is emotionally charged and moody, but the precise execution of Albams inspired arrangements, along with superbly apt solos, injected considerably more jazz life into Bernsteins provocative score. "Steves Songs", the second album on this CD, illustrates how unpretentiously Mannys arrangements married swing to function. Tasty.

-West Side Story "Arranger Manny Albam was a logical choice to lead a large ensemble performing excerpts from the huge Broadway hit West Side Story. With an all-star band that includes Gene Quill, Ernie Royal, Joe Newman, Jimmy Cleveland, Al Cohn, Hank Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Milt Hinton, Eddie Costa, and far too many others to list, Albam successfully transforms Leonard Bernstein's imaginative score into cool jazz. Since there are multiple musicians for most instruments, it is unclear who is soloing much of the time, though Gene Quill's laughing alto sax and Hank Jones' piano stand out in the opening "Prologue and Jet Song." Of particular interest is Albam's method of combining several different themes in the "Finale." Originally issued on Coral, with later reissues on Vocalion and Decca, this is easily one of the best of many jazz LPs saluting West Side Story, though it may be tougher to find than most of the others." -Steve's Songs "Steve Allen is often dismissed by jazz critics as a prolific tunesmith who cranked out few memorable songs. That notion is easily cast aside, particularly with this brilliantly arranged recording of a dozen of his works by Manny Albam. "Mister Moon" is a cheerful, brisk number, featuring a brass section consisting of Gene Quill, Al Cohn, Frank Socolow, and Gene Allen. The equally upbeat "South Dakota" showcases three of the four trumpeters present, including Ernie Royal, Nick Travis, and Art Farmer. Pianist Dick Katz is interspersed between riffs by the brass and reed sections in the saucy "An Old Piano Plays the Blues." Some of the other outstanding musicians on this record are Milt Hinton, Bob Brookmeyer, Osie Johnson, and Eddie Costa. This difficult to find album is an excellent example of both the compositions of Steve Allen and the arrangements of Manny Albam." Both by Ken Dryden -All Music Guide

The history of American musicals has always been connected to Jazz music: musicians like Gershwin, Porter, Berlin gave vital and precious lymph to the African American musical repertoire with their works and musical theatricality. At first, Leonard Bernstein is an exception, because he does not appear in jazz songbooks as often as the above-mentioned colleagues.

JOE MARCHESE (Editor) joined The Second Disc shortly after its launch in early 2010, and has since penned daily news and reviews about classic music of all genres. In 2015, Joe formed the Second Disc Records label. Celebrating the great songwriters, producers and artists who created the sound of American popular song, Second Disc Records, in conjunction with Real Gone Music, has released newly-curated collections produced by Joe from iconic artists such as Johnny Mathis, Bobby Darin, Laura Nyro, Melissa Manchester, Chet Atkins, and many others.He has contributed liner notes to reissues from a diverse array of artists, among them Nat "King" Cole, Paul Williams, Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, B.J. Thomas, The 5th Dimension, Burt Bacharach, The Mamas and the Papas, Carpenters, Perry Como, Rod McKuen, Doris Day, Jackie DeShannon, and Andy Williams, and has compiled releases for talents including Robert Goulet and Keith Allison of Paul Revere and the Raiders.Over the past two decades, Joe has also worked in a variety of capacities on and off Broadway as well as at some of the premier theatres in the U.S., including Lincoln Center Theater, George Street Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, and the York Theatre Company. He has felt privileged to work on productions alongside artists such as the late Jack Klugman, Eli Wallach, Arthur Laurents, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. In 2009, Joe began contributing theatre and music reviews to the print publication The Sondheim Review, and in 2012, he joined the staff of The Digital Bits as a regular contributor writing about film and television on DVD and Blu-ray. Joe currently resides in the suburbs of New York City.

Much has been written about West Side Story, which began as a transmogrification of Romeo and Juliet as a feud between the Jews and Gentiles living on the East side in modern-day New York, only to morph into a confrontation between two street gangs, one American the other Puerto Rican, on the upper West side of the city. Initially, Leonard Bernstein, its composer, was to have written both music and lyrics, but Stephen Sondheim was eventually brought in to handle the latter. With Arthur Laurents contributing the book, and Jerome Robbins devising the staging, the show opened to great acclaim on September 26, 1957 at the Winter Garden, where it played 732 performances, and was subsequently revived several times on Broadway and around the country. But it was the film version, made three years later with Natalie Wood as Maria, that ensured its popularity worldwide. Though there are many recorded versions of the percussive score available, the original cast album, with its fresh, spontaneous performances, remains the standard by which all others are measured. First stereo LP release: September 15, 1958

There are many who contend it is this American composer's greatest work, greater than his Mass and symphonies and other forays into the musical theater. Leaving aside claims about greatness, one must stand in awe of the sheer genius in this score. There are several great tunes and Sondheim's lyrics are boldly imaginative, if a bit self-consciously hip for their time. Maria, Tonight and Somewhere are classics of the Broadway musical genre. And the music for Quintet/Tonight (track 12) is astonishingly brilliant, without doubt the most outstanding number in the score.

The latest recording giant to enter the field is Angel and its new division, Broadway Angel. Besides recording current Broadway hits like "Crazy for You," Broadway Angel has launched a series of reissues under the umbrella title of Broadway Classics. All are licensed from the company's extensive Capitol Records catalog. The first six Broadway Classics compact discs arrived in November.

The liner notes, by theater historians and scholars, try to put the shows in perspective, something that couldn't have been done when the albums were first released. "We really tried to get behind the scenes and let people know what was going on," says Linda Sterling, Angel's vice president for marketing. 041b061a72


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