CD2 Notes

 

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The New Foxtrot Serenaders

 

The earliest song featured on this CD is Chili Bom Bom (track 14), a cheerful piece of

nonsense from 1924 with words by Cliff Friend and music by Walter Donaldson, who

later went on to compose hits like My Blue Heaven and You’re Driving me Crazy.

’SWonderful (track 7) was written in 1927 by George and Ira Gershwin for the musical

Funny Face, which starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. The show was revived and

revised under the new title My One and Only for a Broadway production in 1983 and

again in London in 2002. ’SWonderful was recorded by many British dance bands in the

late Twenties. In our version listen closely to the last chorus and you might be reminded

of three other Gershwin numbers, Strike up the Band, Somebody Loves Me and Clap yo’

Hands.

 

Mention Singin’ in the Rain (track 4) and most people will think of Gene Kelly’s dance

routine in the 1952 film of the same name and the skit on it by Morecambe and Wise. But

it comes from a 1929 stage musical, also called Singin’ in the Rain, with words by Arthur

Freed and music by Nacio Herb Brown and was recorded by all the well known dance

bands of the time. The Wedding of the Painted Doll (track 9) was also featured in the

Gene Kelly film Singin’ in the Rain and it too was written in 1929 by Freed and Brown,

but originally for the film Broadway Melody. At some of our concerts we include a

violin in our line-up and Sarah Hesketh joins us on violin for our version of The

Wedding of the Painted Doll. There were a number of ’doll’ numbers written around this

time, including Doll Dance, Laughing Marionette and Fairy on the Clock and from 1929

also comes Glad Rag Doll (track 5) written by Jack Yellen, Milton Ager and Dan

Dougherty. Yellen and Ager also wrote Happy Days are Here Again (featured on our

earlier CD Here’s to the Next Time on Foxtrot NFSCD1), Happy Feet and that

quintessential 1920s number Ain’t She Sweet.

 

At our concerts we like to celebrate anniversaries, and during 2003 we celebrated the

centenary of the birth of the band leader and composer Ray Noble. He wrote Goodnight

Sweetheart (track 16) in 1931 (the songwriting credits are also shared with the

music publishers Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly). His recording featured the

phenomenally popular vocalist of the time, Al Bowlly. It is said that the melody is based

on themes from Schubert’s Symphony in C and Liszt’s Preludes. He used the song as his

signing-off tune and it was played in dance halls all over the country as the final

number of the evening, until Engelbert Humperdinck’s version of The Last Waltz topped

the hit parade in 1967. In our version you will hear, after the first chorus, a few bars of

an unfamiliar tune and words: it is the verse. Most songs from the 1920s and 1930s had

a verse as well as the chorus. The bands of the day played the verse usually as an

instrumental but sometimes as a vocal feature. Many a verse is a real find and deserves

an airing. Goodnight Sweetheart is no exception. Graham Wright sings the verse in our

arrangement as well as in Love is the Sweetest Thing (track 10), for which Noble wrote

the words and music in 1932.

 

Ray Noble joined the Lawrence Wright music publishing organisation in 1926 as an

arranger and became a staff arranger for the BBC Dance Orchestra under Jack Payne in

1928. In 1929 he was made musical director at the HMV recording studios and led the

house band, the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra. His immediate predecessor was Carroll

Gibbons, who was also born in 1903. Gibbons had joined the Savoy Orpheans in 1926

after being - in today’s parlance -headhunted from America by the Savoy Hotel in

London and he took over the band’s leadership in 1927. In 1929 he went to America for

two years as a staff composer for MGM Films, returned to England in 1931 and formed

the Savoy Hotel Orpheans. He wrote his signature tune, On The Air (track 8), with

Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly in 1932 and used it to open his radio broadcasts

from the Savoy Hotel. We feature a non-vocal version of the verse. (This year, 2004, is the

fiftieth anniversary of his untimeley death). Please (track 3) was also written in 1932,

with words by Leo Robin and music by Ralph Rainger, and was one of Bing Crosby’s first

hits as a solo singer after he left the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.

 

1933 was the most severe period of the Depression in America and the film Gold Diggers

of 1933 featured Ginger Rogers dancing in an outfit consisting entirely of silver coins.

One of the hit songs from the film was The Gold Diggers’ Song (track 1), also known as

We’re in the Money, with words by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren, a successful

songwriting partnership during the 1930s.

 

© Copyright The New Foxtrot Serenaders 2004  

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