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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 1212






The Sound Of The Sauter-Finegan Orchestra

1.Child’s Play

2. Horseplay

3. Time To Dream

4. The Honey Jump

5. Nina Never Knew

6. Love Is A Simple Thing

7. Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum

8. Stop Beatin’ ‘round The Mulberry Bush

9. Now That I’m In Love

10. Yankee Doodletown

Inside Sauter-Finegan

11. Four Horsemen

12. Old Folks

13. How About You?

14. 10,000 B.C.

15. Wild Wings In The Wood

16. Finegan’s Wake

17. Autumn Leaves

18. Eddie & The Witchdoctor

19. New York…4 A.M.

20. Pennies From Heaven

21. September’s Sorrow

22. When Two Trees Fall In Love

23. The “Thundisbreak” (The Thunderer)


Under Analysis

1. Avalon

2. Chant Of The Weed

3. Star Dust

4. Got A Date With An Angel

5. Rockin’ Chair

6. Liza

7. Thinking Of You

8. In A Mist

9. I Get A Kick Out Of You

10. It’s A Lonesome Old Town

11. How Am I To Know

Straight Down The Middle

12. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top

13. Paradise

14. Sunshine Girl

15. Alright Already

16. Have You Met Miss Jones?

17. Whirlpool

18. Aren’t You Glad You’re You?

19.When A Woman Loves A Man

20. Scotch And Sauter

21. These Foolish Things

22. Straight Down The Middle

Early in the 1950s, a new sound hit listeners’ ears. It was created by two experienced arrangers: Eddie Sauter (who had written arrangements for Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Artie Shaw) and Bill Finegan, who had arranged for Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. Although those arrangements had been comparatively conventional, the new sound they created together was fresh and unique. They used large numbers of musicians and introduced numerous instruments seldom heard in big-band music, including the tuba, celeste, fife, oboe, kazoo, toy trumpet and a wide range of percussion. The large ensemble enabled the group to include a great deal of interesting counterpoint as well as creating deep and complex textures. Several tracks are vocals, some with whole choral groups, which are more conventional than the instrumental pieces. Featured vocalists Joe Mooney, Sally Sweetland and Andy Roberts acquit themselves well. §c§ § doesn’t appear in this collection. Neither do other successful singles, such as The Moon Is Blue and Midnight Sleighride. It makes one wish that Avid had made this collection “Three Classic Albums Plus” so as to include the omitted items. Nevertheless, the first disc includes Yankee Doodletown, which is very much in the style of Doodletown Fifers.

The emphasis on ensembles means that there is less room than in many big bands for individual improvisation. But the band included so many talented musicians that their individuality often shines through. Several tracks feature particular musicians – notably Joe Venuto on marimba performing Bix Beiderbecke’s In A Mist. And a track like How About You? includes fine solos from trumpeter Nick Travis and guitarist Park Hill.

One possible drawback of such ambitious arrangements is that they might seem solemn or pretentious. Yet Sauter and Finegan clearly have a sense of humour, which is evident in their cheery tongue-in-cheek approach to some tunes. Critics have even compared some of their music to that of Spike Jones, probably because of the many weird and wonderful sounds they conjure up, especially from the multifarious percussion. This is illustrated by the first two tracks on the second CD. Avalon is performed as a tearaway samba, with bells and chimes strongly in evidence. Don Redman’s Chant Of The Weed uses woodblocks and deep brass to conjure up a sense of mystery.

It is good to be reminded by this double album of the short-lived but enterprising achievements of two gifted arrangers and the brilliant musicians they assembled to fulfil their unusual vision.

Tony Augarde

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