Well, dear readers, let me just throw this little bit of tid out there: 121%! Today new perks go up, which I’ll talk about in tomorrow’s notes, as we go into week number two. But, it is late so let’s get to it, shall we? Someone asked if I’d ever written about my love of cover versions of shows, you know, those wonderful albums both easy listening-type and jazz. And I’m not sure whether I have or haven’t. Well, I have, exactly ten years ago but not in much detail. But basically I discovered the wonderful world of jazz cover albums of shows in the ninety-nine cent bin at our local then-new A&P grocery store, where I found an album of the show Gypsy as performed by the Jack Sterling Quintet. I’d heard the cast album by that point and really loved it, so I bought it. And I was simply delighted by it as it played on my Columbia House Stereophonic Record Player. I was twelve at the time. Soon thereafter, I found an album of Flower Drum Song. I’d just seen the film – 1961 and I was now thirteen – and loved the score. I had the cast album and the soundtrack and so I of course had to have the jazz version, by the Morris Nanton Trio. I loved that, too – it was on Warner Bros. records. Those two were really key albums for me. But I also loved the easy-listening-type covers, and had a wonderful Kostelanetz album that had some The Unsinkable Molly Brown on it and I also had a Ray Anthony Molly Brown, too – that was my first real musical, seeing the national tour at the Biltmore Theater – a life-changer. I also had bought the Percy Faith LP of his cover version of Li’l Abner, because that was my favorite – I may have even gotten that before the Gypsy album, since I had the Broadway and soundtrack versions. And then Teddy Wilson’s Gypsy in Jazz was also great.
Then the film of West Side Story came out and I was obsessed with it and its score. I bought the cast album, I bought the soundtrack, I bought an album on the Forum label that was purported an English cast version, but most importantly I bought more covers of West Side Story than anything: Oscar Peterson’s classic trio version, Stan Kenton’s masterpiece of a cover version, Andre Previn, a Manny Albam version, Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader (a real favorite), and I’m sure others. Oh, how I loved every single one of them, but especially the Kenton, Albam, and Tjader versions (I’m listening to that one as I type this). I ultimately found the other Percy Faith covers for The Most Happy Fella and more, a great Melachrino cover of Bells Are Ringing, which also had a nice jazz cover from Previn. I had the Mantovani double bill of Stop the World – I Want to Get Off and Oliver, still great, Victor Feldman doing Stop the World, Herbie Mann doing Roar of the Greasepaint, Gary McFarland doing How to Succeed, Percy Faith doing an amazing Subways are for Sleeping, Dave Grusin’s jazz version of Subways, Ornadel doing She Loves Me, and much later I went back much further to Cy Coleman doing Flower Drum Song, Kostalanetz doing Flower Drum Song (great), and then, by the mid-1960s it was pretty much over for covers of shows – there were a few but they simply fell out of favor and it stayed that way for many, many years, in fact it stayed that way until I brought it back with Passion in Jazz, the first of many jazz covers we did back then. I was sure there would be an audience for it and indeed there was and soon others were jumping on the band wagon, which is what always happens. We do Sondheim in jazz, suddenly others are doing Sondheim in jazz. It was funny to watch. Happily, many of these have found their way to CD, either legitimately from labels in the US (or frequently in Japan), and if you’ve never heard any of these there is a treasure trove of wonderfulness awaiting you. I think you might just get the same charge I did out of cover versions of shows – or, as I like to now call it, a cover charge.
Yesterday, I slept nine hours, not arising until noon-thirty. I got up, answered e-mails, listened to music, tried to get my bearings and be coherent, and then I did something I’ve been threatening to do for the last four years – I cleaned out the trunk of the motor car. It’s all empty and beautiful now. I then listened to more music and then got ready to see a club act.
Last night, I saw a club act. They were thirty minutes late in letting us into the club due to a previous event running long, and so I knew there was no way the show itself was going to start at eight-fifteen and indeed it didn’t start until eight-forty. It finished around ten. The singer is very talented, but, as I’ve said many, many times here, putting together a cabaret act is not easy, in fact, it requires a huge amount of work. The room was filled with family and friends cheering and screaming every note, which is my least favorite kind of an audience, but it was fun to hear the singer’s voice and some of the song choices were good.
After that, we went to the Coral Café, as I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I had my favorite there – the chicken fried steak and some fries. It wasn’t quite as superb as usual, but it was still very tasty. Conversation was fun and then I came home, and it was time to write these here notes since it was already midnight.
Today, I can sleep in a bit, then I have to finish choosing songs, which will require a trip to the garage to find some music, then I’ll get singers their songs, I’ll eat something light, hopefully pick up packages, and get the new perks up – one of them is really one-of-a-kind and fun – four scripts from the hit movie The Faculty. The lot includes David Wechter’s and my original script, which is what Miramax bought – it’s very different and I think it would have made a better film – it’s never been seen by anyone. Then three different drafts of Kevin Williamson’s rewrites, including one where they were contemplating a title change to The Feelers – that goodness that got no traction, as The Faculty is an absolutely perfect title. Then I can relax.
The rest of the week is meetings and meals and going and doing, writing liner notes, making a show order, writing commentary and doing whatever else needs doing.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, finish choosing songs and get singers music, eat, hopefully pick up packages, get new perks up, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What covers of shows and movies did you have and love as a kid? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, having had a cover charge for these here notes.