Singer: June Christy; Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Peter Catesby  Peter Cates

A wonderful jazz singer of yesteryears.

This is June Christy by June Christy, Capitol T1006, 12-inch mono vinyl LP, recorded 1958.

June Christy

June Christy

The singer June Christy (1925-1990) was one of a very select group of jazz/pop singers who gained the most valuable experience honing and shaping their craft through working with the big bands before their own triumphs in the 1950s and after. Such names would include Peggy Lee, Perry Como, Jo Stafford, Doris Day, Chris Connor, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Sinatra, of course, and Miss Christy.

The album features 12 of the finest examples of craft to be found in the Great American Songbook – the Rodgers and Hart You Took Advantage of Me, Harold Arlen’s Get Happy, the ever joyous Bei Mir Bist Du Schon, Johnny Mercer’s I Never Wanna Look Into Those Eyes Again, Sammy Cahn’s Until the Real Thing Comes Along, etc. Her phrasing, diction, delivery and justly famous husky, wide-ranging soprano voice, along with Pete Rugolo’s spicy, vibrant arrangements, add up to a currently available four  CD set that includes seven other choice LPs, all for about 13 bucks.

A sad footnote – the singer struggled with alcoholism for years until her death from kidney failure in 1990 at the much too young age of 64.

Rimsky-Korsakov: Le Coq D’Or and Russian Easter Orchestra; Balakirev – Islamey; Sir Eugene Goosens conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra; Capitol G 7158, recorded 1959.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsako

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) is perhaps best known for the exceptionally brilliant and colorful four movement showpiece Scheherazade, which will be featured in a future column. This week I am focusing two other similarly masterful staples of his, namely the grandly majestic Russian Easter Overture and the eerie, very evocative Le Coq D’Or, along with the tone poem Islamey by the composer’s older colleague Balakirev. It adds up to a nice program of exhuberant music.

The mono LP showcases the distinguished conductor Sir Eugene Goosens (1893-1962) who came from a sizable family of formidably talented siblings, one sister a harpist who lived  past 100 and a father and grandfather with same name who were accomplished maestros in their day. These performances are competitive with the best since 1959,  and have been reissued on inexpensive CDs still available from internet sites such as Berkshire Record Outlet and the Amazon vendors, though separately with other works.

A postscript – Goosens conducted one or two orchestras in Australia, beginning in 1947, and achieving great success with audiences because of his judicious blend of traditionally popular classics and more modern works, many of which have become firmly established through concerts and recordings in our own time. He also ran afoul of the law and experienced professional disgrace through his involvement with pornography and Satanism, the sordid chronicle being recounted in his Wiki biography.


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