Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pete Fountain's New Orleans - MCA Records

Pete Fountain's New Orleans

1972 MCA Records MCA-505 Stereo

Selections Contained In This Album Previously Released On Coral Records, Crl-757282, Under The Same Title.

Side One
1. While We Danced At The Mardi Gras
2. A Closer Walk
3. When The Saints Come Marching In March
4. When It's Sleepy Time Down South
5. Ol' Man River
6. Cotton Fields

Side Two
1. Sweethearts On Parade
2. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
3. Basin Street Blues
4. Lazy River
5. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
5. Tin Roof Blues

Liner Notes:

Pete Fountain's New Orleans
Clarinet Solos with Rhythm Accompaniment

Back in 1957, Pete Fountain left his New Orleans. He figured he really didn't have a choice - Lawrence Welk, host of the nation's most popular television program, wanted him on the show, and that kind of opportunity comes only once in a lifetime. So Pete Fountain packed up his wife and his three kids and he moved out to California, and for two years he was probably the most famous musician on television, playing the television show, the ballroom sessions, the extended tours with Lawrence Welk and his band. Welk promised Pete that he'd make his name a household word, and he kept that promise - the only problem was, Pete was more interested in playing jazz than he was in getting into the dictionary. So early in 1959, Pete Fountain left The Lawrence Welk Show, and a lot of people at the time wondered if maybe he wasn't just a little bit crazy to give up all that fame and fortune. Obviously, they just didn't understand about New Orleans, and about how playing on a bandstand in a Bourbon Street Club is probably the most important thing in the world. Pete had to go home - whatever the consequences.

As it turned out, Pete had made a pretty good decision. One of the first things that happened to him after leaving Welk was a recording contract with Coral Records, and this is the first album he cut under that contract. Rather than use a full-scale orchestra, Pete and producer Bud Dant decided on a small rhythm group - piano, bass, drums, and Pete's clarinet. The sessions were warm and friendly and informal, and the songs were the kind of jazz standards that Pete had been wanting to play for so long, and the musicians - pianist Stan Wrightsman, bassist Morty Corb, drummer Jack Sperling - were free-wheeling and spontaneous, and Pete Fountain was once again his own man, playing his own kind of music.

Naturally, Pete Fountain is still in New Orleans. It really is his city - on October 26, 1959, they even had a Pete Fountain Day, paying homage to the man who had brought jazz back to its natural home. And these days, Pete has his own club, the French Quarter Inn (on Bourbon Street, of course), and it's the best place in the world to hear him play. But if you can't make it to New Orleans this year, let the city and the music come to you - Pete Fountain's New Orleans.

- Karen Shearer

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