The American Treasure Tour blog has devoted a lot of time over the years to telling the backstories of the record albums lining the walls of our Music Room. Oh sure, we've also talked about the orchestrions, the doll houses, and many other things in there, as well as a number of pieces throughout the Toy Box as well. Today, we are going in a completely different direction. Sit down and put on your seatbelts because ... we would like to talk about a record album in our Toy Box! Yes, we do live on the edge here.
The album is Percy Faith's interpretation of Porgy and Bess, the George Gershwin folk opera created in 1934, based on a 1922 tragedy about poor African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, that has proven quite controversial. African-American critics see Gershwin's depiction as negative, simplified and stereotypical. Anglo-Americans were generally shocked to just see a play with an African-American cast perform on Broadway in the 1930's. Despite that, Gershwin's score has some truly beautiful moments, with "Summertime" easily becoming one of his most famous melodies in a most-illustrious career.
And then there's Percy Faith, the man who recorded the album we are talking about today. The Canadian bandleader, born in 1908 and laid to rest in 1976, is accredited by some as being the driving force behind the genre of music known as "easy listening." Elevator music, mood music. He toned down the traditionally-dominant brass section of the band to focus on the soothing sounds of the strings, creating a smoother listening experience. He must have done something right because, in a career spanning little more than two decades, Faith released almost ninety albums! Splendid!
Please note: The Percy Faith recording we have included here is borrowed from a compilation of Gershwin favorites; however, the album we have in the collection is the below image, which is of an album dedicated exclusively to music from the play. If you want to emulate our collection, please be sure to get the proper version! That said, we could happily dedicate five or seven blogs to different versions of this one song.
QUESTION: What was Percy Faith's real (birth) name?
A) Anton Lavenchky
B) Shawn Jones
C) Braxton Mitteldew Somerset
D) Percy Faith
SPEAKING OF MUSIC... Today is the birthday of Mr. Gene Pitney. Born in 1940, the singer-songwriter passed away unexpectedly in 2006 but, during his illustrious career in the music business, he wrote many songs, some of them made famous by other musicians including "He's a Rebel" by the Crystals and "Hello Mary Lou" for Ricky Nelson. He also performed with the likes of the Rolling Stones, George Jones, and Marc Almond of the 1980's band Soft Cell.
QUOTE: Life is a lot like jazz...it's best when you improvise. - George Gershwin
ANSWER: D) Believe it or not, Percy Faith's real name was...Percy Faith.