Tag Archives: music

Ros at the Opera

This is another gem I picked up at St. Vinny’s in Madison. The cover alone, with its stereotypical Wagnerian Valkyrie with an old-style conga, was worth the purchase. But the record turns out to be pretty good (read: delightfully cheesy), too. Edmundo Ros ( who I hadn’t heard of before picking up this record) was born in Trinidad to Venezuelan and Scottish parents, and has spent the bulk of his career in Britain. From 1940 to the mid 90s, he led a variety of Latin jazz bands based in London, toured the world, and recorded extensively. He retired to Spain in 1994, was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in 2000, and just turned 100 a couple of weeks ago.

Having not heard any of his other albums, I’m not sure whether this level of cheese is representative of or anomalous within his output. In any case, it’s pretty fun. Ros and his Orchestra tackle Carmen, Rigoletto, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, and even Lohengrin, among others. My favorite cut is their treatment of the “Toreador’s Song” from Carmen:

Listen to Edmundo Ros and His Orchestra – The Toreador’s Song:

Listen to The Toreador's Song

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The Burbank Philharmonic

I happened upon this record at a thrift shop in Madison. It was in the Easy Listening (slash things-that-defy-categorization) bin. The photo of Civil War brass players on the front caught my eye. Then, I noticed the track list: “Hey Jude,” “Spinning Wheel,” “Light My Fire,” “Michelle,” “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” etc. Those tunes in combination with the photo and the name of the group convinced me to add the record to my stack. I don’t think I really looked at the back of the album until I got home. The back has a picture of some Union officers, and a couple of paragraphs of complete B.S. that doesn’t give much of any real information about the disc’s contents or the musicians who appear on it.

The one bit of real information – which would itself have been enough for me to buy the disc – is that one member of the group plays a contrabass saxophone. This beast of the sax family (photos here, here, and here) is pitched in E-flat, one octave below the baritone saxophone (and two octaves below the familiar alto). Here, the contra is part of an mix of instruments – trumpet, clarinet, banjo, trombone, string bass, Hammond organ, accordion, and drums that create sort of a psuedo-neo-Dixieland band. The whole record is quite strange, but most of it falls squarely into the good/funny-weird category. Here’s my favorite track from the disc, one that prominently features the massive contrabass sax:

Listen to The Burbank Philharmonic – These Boots Were Made for Walking:

Listen to These Boots Were Made for Walking
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Bassoonian Rhapsody

This past weekend was the annual Double Reed Day at UW-Madison. DRD involves two concerts, masterclasses, and a huge double reed ensemble. Our guests this year were Nancy Ambrose King (professor of oboe at the University of Michigan) and Alain de Gourdon (the head of Lorée). As usual, the whole event was a lot of fun.

We grad bassoonists were asked to assemble a quartet to play on the evening concert. As it turned out, only 3 of us (out of 5) were going to be around the week before DRD, so we asked our prof., Marc Vallon, to join us. For the occasion, Brian and I spent a few afternoons creating a bassoon quartet arrangement of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Our performance was very well received, and a number of audience members approached us later to say, “that should be on YouTube!” We liked that idea, and so here it is:


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Saturday Night Fiedler

For my first odd LP post, I’m actually going with the first weird record I bought:

I picked up Saturday Night Fiedler about three years ago in the small classical section at The Great Escape in Nashville. It was still sealed, so I didn’t listen to it there. But, how could I pass up an album with Arthur Fiedler, long-time conductor of the Boston Pops, awkwardly posed in a white leisure suit on the cover? I kept the record sealed for awhile (partly because I didn’t yet really have a stereo), and finally cut the plastic for one of the Audio Oddities parties that the staff of Mills Music Library hold from time to time.

Side 1 (each side consists of a single long track) is a medley of tunes from the movie Saturday Night Fever: “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “Manhattan Skyline,” “Night on Disco Mountain,” and “Disco Inferno” (for some reason, they don’t include “A Fifth of Beethoven”). On Side 2 is an eleven-an-a-half minute piece called “Bachamania,” which is a disco treatment of well-known themes by J.S. Bach, including both his “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” and “Air on a G String.”

The playing on both sides of the disc is lackluster, and in places painfully out of tune. It’s pretty apparent that the orchestra just wanted to get through the recording session, and get on to more ‘serious’ music. Who can blame them? I feel particularly bad for the poor percussionist (whoever s/he was) who had to crank out a disco beat for nineteen minutes on one side and almost twelve on the other. Plus, according to Harry Ellis Dickson’s Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops: An Irreverent Memoir, Fiedler was too ill to conduct at the recording sessions for this album. It was Dickson himself who wielded the baton.

I plan to usually post a single track from each weird record. But, since the tracks on this one are so long, I’ve just put up the first 6 minutes or so of the Saturday Night Fever medley.

Listen to Saturday Night Fiedler:

Listen to Saturday Night Fiedler

And for something to look at while you listen, here’s the Fiedler Triptych from the back cover:

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Flute and Harpsichord Sonatas?

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this album. Can you spot what’s wrong with the cover?

Bonus points if you can find the second thing wrong with the picture. Westminster Gold strikes again…

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