Jun 19, 2016

Morgana For Everyone, Ruth & Vido Get Down, Plus Herrmann x 2 And A Peppery Secret Song!

All along, if we're to take her word for it, jazz and blues singer Morgana King's truest ambition was to become an actor. Yet even before she was cast in "The Godfather" in 1972, she'd already been one of our finest actors for nearly two decades. But on vinyl.

She has all the technical gifts you could wish for - including a stunning five-octave range - but it's her sense of drama, as if she's reaching for a third rail, though not quite touching it, that sets her apart. She hit modest commercial heights in the mid-1960s, an era which wasn't particularly kind to veteran jazz performers, or jazz in general. And so her segue to acting made sense. But thank goodness she never gave up on music. In 1956's "For You, For Me, For Everyone," her velvety, slow-burning voice is in full form, and while this LP wasn't as popular as her justly celebrated "With A Taste Of Honey," its subtler, and I think deeper, charms will win you over.

Subtle and not-so-subtle charms are to be found in the work of a Cheerful favorite. You know who I'm talking about, don't you?

Yes, it's Bernard Herrmann; nirvana to soundtrack enthusiasts (and to anyone with half a brain) (but I mustn't say that out loud because it's rude). In this recent collection, two of his most popular scores are brought together - and both are conducted by the maestro and both are newly restored. What's not to like? Can you guess which score is subtle and which is not? Really? Is that your answer? Wrong-wrong-wrong. The answer is McGuffin. No, it's not. It's both of them. Trick question! Do you feel had? You'll forgive me once you visit these scores anew, I swear.

Speaking of McGuffins, you can't get any cooler or more mysterioso than the incomparable Ruth Olay.

This Hungarian-American songstress with a voice that will alternately thrill you and haunt you is featured on only five songs in her collaboration with jazz great Vido Musso, but they're prime Olay and not to be missed - and, yes, this is a Cheerfully Ruth Exclusive! just for you and yours. Did you know that she was a piano prodigy? She's had so many incantations that it's sometimes hard to keep track, like a film-noir heroine shifting in and out of shadow. Singer, pianist, assistant to legendary screenwriter Preston Sturges, a performer who "passed" as black (given her dark complexion) in order to gig with black musicians, the daughter of a rabbi and a chorus singer. There's a movie in her life, for sure, though if you listen to her carefully, you can already see it.

Early in his career, while distinguishing himself as the jazz saxophonist for a myriad of recording artists, Vido released his own LP collections, including 1957's "Teen Age Dance Party." If you want to know what the teens listened to on their record players while spiking mom's lemonade and making out in the closet, this is a perfect example. Dig it!

If you feel a need to escape from life's realities, why not recall how teens made out in the 1980s while playing 1950s characters (the mind reels)? Or you can do as the Secret Song File's "Friend-With-Benefits" is doing below, listening to the latest CD by an American rock group which released their first LP in the 1980s, complete with a flea.

Though let's be honest, many caught on to this group after first seeing them in "Rolling Stone" magazine, where their lead singer posed with a tube sock over his "lady's lolly," as the Brit's call such things, or his "naughty bits" (the latter which has always sounded to me like rancid bacon bits) (but I digress). So how's the new CD? It's fun and breezy and loud, what did you expect? So, yeah, the Secret Song File digs it.

If you add bacon bits to your salad, don't use fake ones, pul-lease.

Toss your own salad in the comments, if you like!


tony said...

Thanks for the early styles of "Mo'." Just wonderful.
As for Vido Musso/Ruth Olay, I can't thank you enough. I have a tape of my dad at some gig in the early '60's and the announcer starts by saying "We have Tony, the Vido Musso of the trio, playing Body and Soul."..identical to the version on this blog. Gave me chills. Thanks.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Wow. That's amazing about Vido and your dad!

Larry said...

More thanks for your great blog. And thanks for two great Herrmann scores.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks, Larry! Glad to know you're enjoying. :)