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Stanley Black - Tropical Moonlight
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London Records LL 1615

Tropical
The Kiss in Your Eyes
Paradise
Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White
Two Silhouettes
Come Back to Sorrento
Turista

April in Portugal
La Vie en Rose
Jamaican Rumba
Stranger in Paradise
Atlantide (Sands of Time)
Mon Coeur est un Violon
Neja do Cabelo Duro


The colourful music of Latin American has made great advances in public popularity throughout the world since the early days of the Lecuona Cuban Boys and the other pioneer groups of the 'thirties. The exotic rhythms and beautiful melodies of this sunny sub-continent, with their traces of the ancient aboriginal races, as well as the later influences superimposed by the Spanish, Portuguese and Negroes, have captured the imagination of dancers and listeners everywhere. Instead of being an intriguing novelty, the Latin-American interlude at a dance is now regarded as a regular and popular part of the programme, and every enterprising dance band leader always includes an adequate number of rumba, samba and mambo scores in his library. Practically all the leading hotels and restaurants in most capitals of the world retain the services of first-class rumba bands on their payrolls to act as colourful contrasting reliefs to the ordinary dance orchestras, and, in academic musicological circles, the complex origin and development of Latin America's musical heritage is a never-ending source of interest and fascination.

Most countries have their own practitioners for dispensing the tropical touch on the entertainment scene. Some of the bandleaders are genuine South Americans who have journeyed abroad from their homelands to seek fame and fortune by playing their native music for the enjoyment of those unfamiliar with it. Others are musicians who more often than not have never visited the lands whose music they perform, but merely convert their names to the nearest Spanish equivalent, and in many cases proceed to convince their audiences that they were born and bred in South America by the ability with which they interpret the sub-continent's music.

An artists who is not Latin American, who does not translate his name into Spanish, who does not devote all his time to the performance of Latin American music, and yet is widely known and respected for his distinguished, authentic contributions to this idiom can therefore be described as unique. Such an artist is the star of this album, Stanley Black. His is a name which stands in the forefront of British musical personalities. He is a pianist, conductor, arranger and composer of well-established merit whose services are in constant demand by all sections of the entertainment industry. He has now written the background scores for nearly forty films and is considered to be a leading expert in this specialized field.

His recording schedule has long been a busy one. His large concert orchestra produces albums of symphonic suites of the works of composers like Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter; his piano and strings specialize in intimate, romantic "mood music" LP's, while his piano and Latin American rhythm give us such exotic records as this one and the previously realeased "Cuban Moonlight"

Stanley was born in London on June 14th, 1913. His musical education began at the Matthay School of Music, where he studied the pianoforte. After this opening skirmish he went on to work as pianist and arranger with various dance bands and light orchestras, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience of what the public liked musically and how they liked it.

His interest in Latin American music was first stimulated when he visited South America as pianist with Harry Roy's band in 1937. This tour presented ample opportunity for listening to the genuine rhythms and musical forms of the countries visited, and Stanley was completely captivated by the experience. The fascination caused by this idiom has remained active and undiminished until the present day, and the music which he heard a score of years ago set a standard for Stanley which he has observed rigidly ever since. Both on record and in the numerous Latin American programmes which he arranged and presented during his eight years spell as director of the B.B.C. Dance Orchestra, Stanley has always accorded authentic settings and interpretations to the melodies and rhythms from South America. Even European tunes which have been arranged in a particular Latin style receive the correct treatment warranted by that style, and are thereby given a vivid new lease of life in their Latin American guise.

This album demonstrates that point. Some of its constituent tunes are from Latin America, while others are already known to us in a less exotic musical environment. All of them receive the polished Black treatment, and all emerge from the speaker as fresh and vibrant as the flowers in a lush tropical garden. Stanley has devised interesting instrumental effects, which he mysteriously describes as "something like tunable cowbells", to balance and enhance his own attractive work at the piano. The pleasant sounds of these intriguing effects can be heard from time to time during the album; Stanley is not divulging how they were achieved, but we can tell you that the total line-up consisted of Stanley at the piano, a bass, a guitar and four percussion.

Morton Gould's Tropical appropriately opens the album in a flowing rumba-guaracha arrangement. Next come two boleros with claves, maraccas, bongos and conga drum providing a restful rhythmic back-cloth for Stanley's melodic piano. Then we hear that most successful mambo colour scheme. Cherry pink, with its "tunable cowbelF decor and crisp timbales punctuation. The romantic bolero mood returns for two more well-known melodies, and the first side ends in the tempo of the ch˘ro as we share a tourist class compartment with Stanley on a Brazilian train.

The second side commences with a lilting beat and tinkling triangle establishing the identity of the baiao before Stanley states the melody of April in Portugal in the bass, embellishing it with liquid treble arpeggios. Then an evergreen French favourite makes a bolero appearance before Arthur Benjamin's Jamaican rumba takes us back to the Caribbean. Another melodious bolero follows, to be succeeded by the turbulent guaracha impression of the vanished continent lost beneath the sands of time which is contained in Atlantide, the vivid composition by French flautist Roger Bourdin. Another bolero arrangement of a French tune affords a relaxing contrast before we end in sprightly Brazilian samba mood with eight toe-teasing bars of double-tempo preceding a repeat of the melody an octave higher.

An album of fourteen colourful tunes played with the unmistakable touch of Black magic. An album which we think you will find more satisfying and entertaining with each successive hearing.

NIGEL HUNTER