1. My Blue Heaven
2. Louie, Louie
3. Hanky Panky
5. Strangers In The Night
6. The Old French Quarter
3. I've Got You Under My Skin
4. Call Me
5. Born Free
6. The More I See You
I've Got You Under My Skin
Clarinet Solos With Orchestra
Directed By CHARLES "Bud" Dant
Pete Fountain plays a Leblanc clarinet exclusively
Pete Fountain (clarinet)
Stan Wrightsman (piano)
Godfrey Hirsch (vibes)
Morty Corb (bass)
Jack Sperling (drums)
In this album, Pete Fountain returns to the kind of free-swinging small group which made one of his most successful records ever - "Pete Fountain's New Orleans". The accompanists who provide him with such a lively springboard are the formidable, highly professional and eminently sympathetic trio of Stan Wrightsman (piano), Morty Corb (bass) and Jack Sperling (drums). Pete's regular vibist, Godfrey Hirsch, lends a helping hand - and mallets - from time to time. The program includes a number of recent successes, and in some instances they are set to an appropriately contemporary beat.
Most of the recordings were made during Pete's second very successful engagement in Las Vegas, where he played at The Tropicana and used Jack Sperling as an added attraction for solos and specialities. The Vegas days seldom being so fully occupied as the nights, it occurred to producer Bud Dant that this was an ideal opportunity to record Pete under conditions which were simultaneously relaxed and stimulating.
My Blue Heaven, the opener, immediately proves this to have been a good idea, for it is surely one of the most happily realized performances in the clarinetist's extensive recorded career. Walter Donaldson's beautiful song was due for a revival, and this seems to be the interpretation likely to bring it about. The group answers Pete's theme statements before he goes into a swinging full chorus; the piano has the spotlight for sixteen bars; bass and drums duet for the rest of the chorus; the ensemble returns and they take it out in the manner established at the beginning. It is simple in outline, but extremely effective the way they play it.
Louie, Louie is a tune that has come back into popularity thanks to the slower tempo and folk quality of The Sandpipers' record. Pete made it in Nashville shortly after the Vegas engagement, and there he was able to use the same rhythm section and vocal group heard on his earlier records. Saxophonist Boots Randolph also contributed to this session.
Hanky Panky returns us to Vegas. Like so many other rock hits, this is the blues, and the blues are Pete's meat, as he rapidly makes clear. Meditation was recorded with just bass and light drums. Al Hendrickson, who is very inventive in the bossa nova idiom, dubbed in his guitar part at a later date. With only the bass to listen to for the harmony, Pete's ear stood him in good stead. Strangers in The Night, the popular theme of the movie "A Man Could Get Killed", is given a melodic treatment. Stan Wrightsman establishes the beat and the mood in the introduction.
The Old French Quarter was also made in Nashville. It is a blues-oriented number which seeks to recapture the party atmosphere of "Pete's Place", the clarinetist's popular club in New Orleans. The performance is graphically realistic at times, even down to the sound of people talking when they ought to be listening!
Mame, which opens the second side, is another hit by Jerry Herman, the composer of "Hello, Dolly!" The lyrics are concerned with New Orleans and the tune seems to suit Pete even better than "Dolly". Yesterday is the surprise hit written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles. Pete treats it respectfully in his best melodic style, and the song's unusual character is further emphasized by the Bach-like interplay between Stan Wrightsman and Morty Corb in the bridge of the second chorus. Cole Porter's I've Got You Under My Skin is a great song at any time, but this version was partially inspired by the success and beat of the hit record by The Four Seasons. Another Nashville recording, this brings the chorus to the foreground with words and melody in the second chorus. Call Me is a swinger, but not too far out, for Pete is often content to let its melodic phrases speak for themselves. Born Free, the pretty theme of the movie of that name, is prettily played with a contemporary beat and pleasing use of Godfrey Hirsch's vibes. The vibes are prominent, too, on The More I See You, an old song which has had a new lease on life thanks to the unusual arrangement of the Chris Montez hit.
Except for the Nashville recordings, which were planned and arranged by Bud Dant, all of these performances were made from "head" or oral arrangements, to which each of the men contributed what he did best. It is in this kind of context and with this kind of freedom that Pete Fountain's imagination flourishes. The result is music that will get under your skin.