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The Carmen Cavallaro Story - A Centenary tribute — his 25 finest, 1955-1956
Full track list at end of review
RETROSPECTIVE RTR4213 [76:00]
I had not heard of Cavallaro (1913-1989) before getting this CD. He was an extremely capable show business cocktail pianist. These 25 tracks are core business for BBC Radio 2 – once known as The Light Programme. The tracks chart a marriage between Broadway show business and the neon shimmer of the orchestral show pianist. I especially like Cavallaro’s way with the Charles Trenet standard: La Mer.
This centenary tribute charts Cavallaro’s long-sustained American ascendancy as pianist and bandleader in the 1940s and 1950s. The playing is gangly and cool from a commercial musician who rejoiced under the title “Poet of the Piano”. Poetry is not the only arrow in his quiver: Zez Confrey’s Dizzy Fingers is just dazzlingly astonishing and a legato delight to hear. In addition to a whole bouquet of standards we hear Cavallaro’s playing for the 1956 film The Eddy Duchin Story. This, we are assured, was one of the best-selling piano LPs of all time. The remaining titles derive from Brunswick LPs with eight numbers from Music At Midnight and four from Poetry In Ivory. Malcolm Snow more than outlines the Cavallaro life story while Ray Crick and Alan Bunting furnish all the discographical material your heart and head could want. There you have it – a highly polished and pretty tasteful popular pianist from the tradition that also gave us Russ Conway and Liberace ... but cooler and with agreeable results that, by and large, do not leave you queasy.
Memories of one of the higher quality show biz pianists of the 1940s and 1950s. They do not disappoint.
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