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Bebop Spoken There

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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

However, good old YouTube has plenty to offer both old and new to help us survive whilst housebound. Plus now is a good time to stock up on your CDs.

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Alternatively, you could do as they do in Italy and sing from your balcony.

Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Carefree Fred & Ginger

In these lockdown times the Beeb has probably attracted larger than usual weekday, daytime audiences. The best part of two hours of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on a Friday afternoon was just what the doctor - a psychoanalyst at that - ordered. First, excerpts of Fred and Ginger singing the GASbook, then Carefree a late-period Fred and Ginger RKO movie.   

The plot to any Fred and Ginger film is all but immaterial, what counts is the music (invariably written by some of the great songwriters of the time - Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins et al) and, of course, the dancing. The plot: Fred (Tony) falls in love with...hang on a minute! On this occasion Ginger (Amanda) falls for Fred, comic capers ensue as Stephen (played by Ralph Bellamy) thinks he's in with a chance of marrying Amanda. Tony, a psychoanalyst, treats his patient (Amanda) and, as if we couldn't guess, they live happily ever after. The End. 

Well, yeah, but what about the set-piece dance routines? Sensational, that's what! The first humdinger of a scene finds Fred on the golf course and he literally comes out swinging as he tees-off (in real life Astaire was a keen golfer) hitting golf balls, as Bing said: straight down the middle. It took Astaire two weeks of rehearsal time with his long-time associate, choreographer Hermes Pan, to get it right with much more editing than he would normally tolerate. This was Fred Astaire the perfectionist at work.

Victor Baravalle orchestrated Irving Berlin's material with a magical slow motion dream sequence particularly effective as Fred and Ginger danced to I Used to Be Color Blind. The 1938 RKO studio production attracted three Academy Award nominations, one of which was Best Song for Change Partners. It didn't win an Oscar yet it has proven to be one of Berlin's enduring numbers. 

It could be said that Astaire didn't have matinee idol looks. Did this add to the appeal? Did the cinema-goer focus more on the dancing? And how great was that?! 

Earlier, half an hour of song and dance in Astaire and Rogers Sing the Great American Songbook was simply fabulous. As much song as dance, the timeless melodies flowed from the pen(s) of the GASbook composers...A Fine RomanceTop HatPick Yourself UpCheek to Cheek and more. BSH editor-in-Chief LL was in Hebburn/Heaven - literally and metaphorically. On Monday (May 25, bank holiday) BBC 2 offers more goodies. At 2:00pm in Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Talking Pictures the duo can be heard doing just that in archive interviews followed at 2:50 by an all time classic - Top Hat!        
Russell 

1 comment :

Lance said...

I watched the half hour programme whilst working out on the exercise bike and the faster the dance routines the harder I pushed the pedals round. By the end I had quite a sweat on and burned off a couple of 100 calories!

Watching the Astaire/Rogers' movies always brings to mind the famous quote by Ginger: "I was doing everything he did - backwards and wearing high heels!"

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