Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More new SSJ releases

Dick Haymes -- Oh, Look At Me Now! A freshly remastered version of Haymes' fine post-Capitol LP. Recorded shortly thereafter in 1958, this was independently financed and produced by Haymes himself. At first, he had his sights set on major label release, but finally could only find a taker in a small West Coast budget-priced outfit. Due to its initial low profile release, the fine recording never did receive the kind of attention it deserved. This first-rate reissue might help remedy that situation.

Here is the section in the new and noteworthy bio on Haymes, by Ruth Prigozy, detailing the events surrounding the making of the recording.

"In 1956, Dick Haymes was back in New York City, where he teamed with Cy Coleman (who would become famous for the scores of such Broadway musicals as Sweet Charity and City of Angels) and his trio of drums, bass, and bongo drums, with Coleman on the piano. They opened at the Versailles club, and Gene Knight, in the New York Journal American, described it as a "highlight of the winter season"; Dick "delivered like the real pro he is. . . . Very good was the way Haymes sang 'Two Different Worlds: 'Our Love Is Here to Stay' and 'Rain or Shine: When Dick whispers these songs, there's no sweeter voice in the supper clubs. And when he hits the high notes, they're round, full and on pitch. . . . [H]ere is a real good singer. Best. I think, was his 'Hollywood Love: the words of which had a special meaning for Dick and those who know his colorful career." His appearance at the Versailles was greeted by sustained applause, a clear indication that he was on the road back.

Cy Coleman liked Dick and remembered that they were good friends. He believed that Dick had the best range of any singer; and in the remarkable "On a Slow Boat to China," where Dick takes a bass low note at the very end, Coleman remembered that it was Dick's idea---increasing the jazz effect on the recording. Coleman believed that Haymes just adapted to his jazz trio and could do jazz singing as well as any of his contemporaries. Dick asked Coleman to record with him; and, as with [Ian] Bernard, he was sober during the sessions, even though he was drinking heavily during this period. Their recordings, which included several numbers with Maury Laws's orchestra, are distinctive in that the tempo is much faster than in Haymes's standard recordings, and he reveals how skilled he is as a jazz singer. Unfortunately, these recordings came at a time in his career when it was difficult to re-establish his persona in popular music, as Sinatra had done some years earlier; although, in a recording he would make a few years later, he would again demonstrate the same skill with a jazz beat."

Tomorrow: Claude Williamson

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