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Teasing the Korean

A Bachelor's Guide to Sauter-Finegan

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I accumulated my humble Sauter-Finegan collection in the 1990s.  This was the period when everyone was unloading their LPs, yet before eBay.  All these albums were available for 50 cents a throw.  

I am not a huge fan of Sauter-Finegan, but the jazz and space-age aspects make them perfect for me in theory, but not always in practice. But the albums were available for 50 cents a throw, and many of them had Jim Flora covers, so I had little to lose. 

So we begin our odyssey with what I believe is their first album:

Inside Sauter-Finegan - RCA LJM 1003.

Cover art:  Jim Flora.

Now drinking:  Cabernet Sauvignon.

Never heard of the "LJM" series.  Is this for jazz records?  And the label is silver with maroon text.  Never seen one of these, or if I have, I've forgotten.

Side 1:

1. Four Horsemen - Serious with traces of both corny and Esquivel.  The hunting trumpets are a bit much.

2. Old Folks - Vocal by Andy Roberts, with an understated arrangement.  Kind of like the four chamber music tracks on Sinatra's "Wee Small Hours" album, including a celesta, but I would stick with Sinatra.

3. How About You - Serious, uptempo bebop content.  Trumpet with rhythm section. Trumpet solos for one chorus, guitar takes the second solo, back to trumpet for the third chorus.. Nick Travis on trumpet, Park Hill on Guitar.

4. 10,000 Years BC - Full-on exotica. Slow tempo, lots of pentatonic chords and wordless female vocals.  I would classify this as novel/serious, along the lines of "Fellow Delegates" by George Russell. 

5. Wild Wings in the Woods - All woodwinds.  This is serious.  It sounds like Stravinsky, like the woodwinds are rehearsing Le Sacre du Printemps while the rest of the orchestra is on a cigarette break.   

6. Finegan's Wake - This is my favorite track so far, blending serious with Esquivel, and minimal corn.  My wife just got out of the shower and asked if this was "A Foggy Day."  It may be based on the changes. 

Side 2:

1. Autumn Leaves - Another vocal number, by Sally Sweetland.  The intro sounds like La Mer.  The female vocalist has a tad too much vibrato for my taste, but the arrangement is both rich and understated at the same time.  Nice counter-melodies and orchestral colors, like proto-Gil Evans in places.  Probably "serious," overall.

2. Eddie and the Witch Doctor - Another exotica track, but this is more of a novelty than "10,000 Years BC."  Mostly percussion, until the bass and alto flute arrive.  At that point, it could almost fit on Les Baxter's Le Sacre du Sauvage, but then it gets silly with a climactic scream.  Still, if I were DJing an exotica event, as I have in the past, I would play this.  And I have in the past.  Serious, Esquivel, and corny in more-or-less equal ratios. 

3. New York…4 AM - Lots of arrangers recorded this piece at one time.  Bobby Nichols solos on trumpet with an understated chamber rhythm section backing.  This is more or less serious, I guess.  I don't know, the wine is kicking in and maybe I'm less discriminating in my assessments.  The celesta is beautiful.  Again, it reminds me of the chamber arrangements that Nelson did on four tracks on Sinatra's Wee Small Hours album. 

4. Pennies from Heaven - Sonny Russo takes a trombone solo with rhythm section.  Mid-tempo.  Serious and fun overall.

5. September's Sorrow - Slow and impressionistic.  Moody, very noir-ish.  Ray Shiner plays English horn.  Understated and complex.  Bobby Nichols comes in on trumpet.  This is a favorite.  Serious.  

6. When Two Trees Fall In Love - I first heard this on one of the RCA "Space Age Pop" CD compilations.  Slow.  Joe Venuto on marimba with rhythm section.  Understated and tasteful.  Serious with a touch of Esquivel, although Esquivel was never this restrained.  

7. The Thundisbreak - Based on a Sousa march.  Esquivel with a touch or corny, much more bearable than I would have expected.  OK, now it is getting annoying.  Now they are chilling out a little. 

Overall?

This album is all over the place, but it held together somehow.  Given that SF started recording for RCA in 1952 and their (apparent) LP debut is from 1954, I suspect that this is a collection of singles.  

So:

Considering the musical content and the amazing Jim Flora cover art, I would recommend this album, with the caveat that you may encounter something that you don't like all that much.  

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Your wife's got good ears; Finegan's Wake seemed to be built off of "Foggy Day". Nice stuff. I never heard of Park Hill on guitar; sounded good. Thanks for posting!

8 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

 

WTF?:alien:

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6 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

 

Yes, please!

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Why I'm piqued to see how much "serious" stuff there is, is because I bought a hat record a few years ago that had "classical" compositions by a.o., Stephen Wolpe, John Carisi, and this nice saxophone quartet by Eddie Sauter.

R-856835-1404941642-1568.jpeg.jpg

so...any S-F material you can bring to this table that is coming from this place, I want to hear it, please!

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17 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I accumulated my humble Sauter-Finegan collection in the 1990s.  This was the period when everyone was unloading their LPs, yet before eBay.  All these albums were available for 50 cents a throw.  

I am not a huge fan of Sauter-Finegan, but the jazz and space-age aspects make them perfect for me in theory, but not always in practice. But the albums were available for 50 cents a throw, and many of them had Jim Flora covers, so I had little to lose. 

So we begin our odyssey with what I believe is their first album:

Inside Sauter-Finegan - RCA LJM 1003.

Cover art:  Jim Flora.

Now drinking:  Cabernet Sauvignon.

Never heard of the "LJM" series.  Is this for jazz records?  And the label is silver with maroon text.  Never seen one of these, or if I have, I've forgotten.

Side 1:

1. Four Horsemen - Serious with traces of both corny and Esquivel.  The hunting trumpets are a bit much.

2. Old Folks - Vocal by Andy Roberts, with an understated arrangement.  Kind of like the four chamber music tracks on Sinatra's "Wee Small Hours" album, including a celesta, but I would stick with Sinatra.

3. How About You - Serious, uptempo bebop content.  Trumpet with rhythm section. Trumpet solos for one chorus, guitar takes the second solo, back to trumpet for the third chorus.. Nick Travis on trumpet, Park Hill on Guitar.

4. 10,000 Years BC - Full-on exotica. Slow tempo, lots of pentatonic chords and wordless female vocals.  I would classify this as novel/serious, along the lines of "Fellow Delegates" by George Russell. 

5. Wild Wings in the Woods - All woodwinds.  This is serious.  It sounds like Stravinsky, like the woodwinds are rehearsing Le Sacre du Printemps while the rest of the orchestra is on a cigarette break.   

6. Finegan's Wake - This is my favorite track so far, blending serious with Esquivel, and minimal corn.  My wife just got out of the shower and asked if this was "A Foggy Day."  It may be based on the changes. 

Side 2:

1. Autumn Leaves - Another vocal number, by Sally Sweetland.  The intro sounds like La Mer.  The female vocalist has a tad too much vibrato for my taste, but the arrangement is both rich and understated at the same time.  Nice counter-melodies and orchestral colors, like proto-Gil Evans in places.  Probably "serious," overall.

2. Eddie and the Witch Doctor - Another exotica track, but this is more of a novelty than "10,000 Years BC."  Mostly percussion, until the bass and alto flute arrive.  At that point, it could almost fit on Les Baxter's Le Sacre du Sauvage, but then it gets silly with a climactic scream.  Still, if I were DJing an exotica event, as I have in the past, I would play this.  And I have in the past.  Serious, Esquivel, and corny in more-or-less equal ratios. 

3. New York…4 AM - Lots of arrangers recorded this piece at one time.  Bobby Nichols solos on trumpet with an understated chamber rhythm section backing.  This is more or less serious, I guess.  I don't know, the wine is kicking in and maybe I'm less discriminating in my assessments.  The celesta is beautiful.  Again, it reminds me of the chamber arrangements that Nelson did on four tracks on Sinatra's Wee Small Hours album. 

4. Pennies from Heaven - Sonny Russo takes a trombone solo with rhythm section.  Mid-tempo.  Serious and fun overall.

5. September's Sorrow - Slow and impressionistic.  Moody, very noir-ish.  Ray Shiner plays English horn.  Understated and complex.  Bobby Nichols comes in on trumpet.  This is a favorite.  Serious.  

6. When Two Trees Fall In Love - I first heard this on one of the RCA "Space Age Pop" CD compilations.  Slow.  Joe Venuto on marimba with rhythm section.  Understated and tasteful.  Serious with a touch of Esquivel, although Esquivel was never this restrained.  

7. The Thundisbreak - Based on a Sousa march.  Esquivel with a touch or corny, much more bearable than I would have expected.  OK, now it is getting annoying.  Now they are chilling out a little. 

Overall?

This album is all over the place, but it held together somehow.  Given that SF started recording for RCA in 1952 and their (apparent) LP debut is from 1954, I suspect that this is a collection of singles.  

So:

Considering the musical content and the amazing Jim Flora cover art, I would recommend this album, with the caveat that you may encounter something that you don't like all that much.  

 

Thanks TTK.
I am not an extreme S-F fan either but appreciate them and like listening to them every now and then (as to other "progressive" (there's that word again! :lol:) 50s orchestras, and as one part of the overall "50s jazz sound legacy" (if you know what I mean).
It seems I approach these reordings not the way you do and am not too familiar with Esquivel anyway but I can see where you come from. And from MY point of view I agree with most of your assessments (though your comments read like I am more forgiving with what you call "corny" whereas on the other hand I was slightly underwhelmed by the fairly straight vocal tunes).

As for this RCA series, I do not know how LJM and LPM (that was often used for their jazz LPs in the 50s) related but they must have coexisted for a while. I also have LJM  1018 (Shorty Rogers/Andre Previn - Collaboration  - Jim Flora cover too) and LJM 1023 (Barbara Carroll - Lullabies In Rhythm - cover by Oppenheim, not Flora) but this latter one has a black label with colored nipper. I have seen the silver label with the dark reddish lettering on other RCAs but the only one I was able to locate quickly in my collection is LPT 1003 (Bunny Berigan) - i.e. no LJM. So maybe this was just a specific pressing run?

According to Bruyninckx, this LP was recorded on Feb. 24-26, 1954, so it is not a collection of previously issued singles and EPs.

 

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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24 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

I have seen the silver label with the dark reddish lettering on other RCAs but the only one I was able to locate quickly in my collection is LPT 1003 (Bunny Berigan) - i.e. no LJM.

I have it on my RCA multi-LP folio of Glenn ?Miller airshots.

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43 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

According to Bruyninckx, this LP was recorded on Feb. 24-26, 1954, so it is not a collection of previously issued singles and EPs.

Interesting! 

43 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

Thanks TTK.
I am not an extreme S-F fan either but appreciate them and like listening to them every now and then (as to other "progressive" (there's that word again! :lol:) 50s orchestras, and as one part of the overall "50s jazz sound legacy" (if you know what I mean).
If seems I approach these reordings not the way you do and am not too familiar with Esquivel anyway but I can see where you come from. And from MY point of view I agree with most of your assessments (though your comments read like I am more forgiving with what you call "corny" whereas on the other hand I was slightly underwhelmed by the fairly straight vocal tunes).

JSngry and I were using "Esquivel" as shorthand to indicate hi-fi, space-age sparkle.  You don't really have to know is music to recognize that sort of sound, which was fairly pervasive at the time.  

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Next Up:

The Sound of the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra - RCA Victor LPM 1009

Cover art:  Cartoon, but unfortunately not Jim Flora.

Now drinking:  Iced coffee with Silk almond creamer

This was the latest Sauter-Finegan album to have entered my life, circa early 2000s, and it is one of only two Sauter-Finegan albums that I subsequently unloaded.

Why?  Maybe I felt like I had too many S-F albums, maybe I was in a mood, maybe I was disappointed that the cover wasn't by Jim Flora.

But my main recollection is that it represented almost everything I didn't like about S-F, and almost none of the qualities that drew me to them.  Even the titles are awful:  "Horse Play," "Child's Play," "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum," "Yankee Doodletown."  What was up with S-F's obsession with Doodletown?  Almost every album has a Doodletown track.

The worst was "Child's Play," in which our heroes take the childhood taunting motif of "NAAH NAAH nuh NAAH NAAH" and turn it into a bombastic, Kenton-esque magnum opus.  An exercise in cleverness that no one in their right mind would want to hear, especially with a hangover.

Here is the track list.

A1 Child's Play

A2 Horseplay

A3 Time To Dream

A4 The Honey Jump

B1 Nina Never Knew

B2 Love Is A Simple Thing

B3 Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum

B4 Stop Beatin' 'Round The Mulberry Bush

B5 Now That I'm In Love

B6 Yankee Doodletown

 For those braver than I, here is the full album.  If anyone thinks anything here is worth a listen, please share the timings.

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Esquivel was the master of his own domain.

 

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Now Playing:  

Concert Jazz - RCA LPM 1051.

Cover art:  Jim Flora.

Now drinking: La Croix orange sparkling water.

Side 1:

The Loop - Named in honor of Chicago.  Medium-up, full ensemble with plenty of soloing.  Jazz content with space-age touches, including a high-register marimba solo from Joe Venuto.

Concerto in F - Taken from the second movement of the Gershwin concerto.  Slow-tempo, moody, lots of varying textures.  This is very nice.

The Land Between - Another ballad, this time with Nick Travis featured on trumpet.  Serious with some definite space-age sparkle.  I'm picking up a Pete Rugolo vibe from the orchestration in certain passages.  This is also very nice.  So far, this album captures what I love about Sauter-Finegan, but I'm bracing myself for the inevitable Doodletown shenanigans that mar even their best albums. 

Madame X - Mid-tempo and space-age all the way.  Lots of orchestral variety.  All ensemble work with no solos.  

Where or When - The inevitable vocal number, delivered by the aforementioned Sally Sweetland.  Too much vibrato for my taste. The arrangement is fairly old-fashioned, almost like a society orchestra in places.  And her high note at the end is too much.  A completely unnecessary track in light of what has come before. 

Sadie Thompson - A slow, bluesy number that sounds like it could be on the soundtrack of The Man with the Golden Arm.  And that is meant as a compliment.  Some nice dissonances.

Side 2:

John Henry - Sung by Andy Roberts.  Unnecessary Doodletown silliness.  Beyond annoying.

Solo for Joe - A ballad featuring Joe Venuto on marimba.  Accompaniment includes wordless, sustained male and female vocals in octaves, along with rhythm section and trombones.  

Sleepy Village - A quiet ballad featuring Al Block on flute.  Nice harmonies and orchestrations.  More on the space-age side of the spectrum, I would say.

Pictures from Sauter-Finegan Land - A (fairly lengthy) travelogue of the US, with occasional narration, including musical passages depicting the bustling metropolis , snowscapes, steel factories, western sunsets,  night skies over the prairie.  It is much better than you may expect, with very minimal Doodletown content.

Overall:  While I'm not sure any of this rises to the level that Jsngry is seeking, it is a fairly solid album - the two vocal numbers aside - and I would recommend it (with caveats) to fans of either 1950s ensemble jazz or space-age bachelor pad music.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I am predisposed to not linking the mallet/flute mix on top of a lead that's already there, or even as lead itself. But that's my problem. This tour is definitely useful, and I'm hearing more meat than I had expected, which had been my beef about what I knew of the band already. Namely, that there should be more substance than I had heard. I'd be leery of thinking as too much of any of this as "jazz", to me, it's more orchestral music at its best, gimmickpop at its worst, in between...cats gotta make their nut, right?

Like I said, this is both enjoyable and useful, keep it up, please!

 

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Now Playing:  

New Directions in Music - RCA Victor LPM 1227.

Cover art:  Modern minimalist abstract.

Now drinking: Cabernet Sauvignon

This 1956 album may be a compilation of earlier singles, but I'm not sure.

Side 1:

Doodletown Fifers - No. Just no.

April in Paris - a ballad featuring wordless female vocals (Sally Sweetland?) and a few lines sung with lyrics.  This has some nice touches, but I wouldn't include it on my imaginary S-F compilation.

Midnight Sleighride - More Doodletown silliness.  I'm guessing they wanted to get in on some Leroy Anderson/David Rose action for a while.  Unfortunately, this doesn't come close to the best of either.

Rain - Nice, mid-tempo ensemble work including harp and marimba.  A space-age gem.

Camptown Races - This sounds like something that Glenn Miller may have done as a novelty number.  I was expecting this to be really awful, but I kind of like it.  Did they succeed here, or are the Doodletown pheromones starting to work on me?  I'm getting concerned.  

A Doodletown Yankee - See "Doodletown Fifers" notes above.

Side 2:

Azure-Te (Paris Blues) - A quiet ballad featuring alto flute. Nice colors with muted trumpets and harp accents.  

Stop! Sit Down! Relax! Think! - This sounds like another Glenn Miller novelty number, with the band singing in unison in parts.  

Moonlight on the Ganges - Full-on exotica with nice orchestral colors.  I have DJed this track during exotica sets.  Axel Stordahl referenced parts of this arrangement when he included it on his 1960 exotica masterpiece Jasmine and Jade (Dot), and I like Stordahl's version better.

When Hearts are Young - Subdued mid-tempo swing, with space-age touches, but it's missing the mark for me.

It's Mutual - A vocal number, a ballad.  I don't know this song.  Is it famous in jazz circles?  The singer is not identified. The backing is overall quiet, but it has some intricate, dissonant ensemble work that is very good.  This is the first S-F vocal number I've liked.

Exactly Like You - Medium up.  Another vocal, at least for one chorus. Teeters into corny territory in several spots.

Overall:  A letdown after Concert Jazz. I wouldn't recommend this album to Jsngry, or most others, for that matter, but when BMG hires me to do a Sauter-Finegan compilation, I will include a few of these tracks.  

 

 

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

I'd be leery of thinking as too much of any of this as "jazz", to me, it's more orchestral music at its best, gimmickpop at its worst, in between...

I would tend to agree, but in fairness, I think a lot of arrangers during this period were trying to take jazz in new directions, and also incorporate elements of jazz into other music.  I'm guessing Sauter-Finegan were taking a "something for everybody" approach.  They would probably tell you that they could play jazz, but that they could play any other type of music just as well, regardless of how we may contextualize it many decades later.

I should add here that whether I like or don't like this arrangement or that, EVERYTHING I've heard is very well executed.  These were top-shelf players and obviously very adept at playing in varying styles.  

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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1 hour ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I would tend to agree, but in fairness, I think a lot of arrangers during this period were trying to take jazz in new directions, and also incorporate elements of jazz into other music. 

Yeah, they were, but...The Sauter stuff from Goodman so often was pretty much not giving a damn about "jazz or not". It seems that he knew where it was, but he was quite comfortable leaving it alone if that was where the road went. I guess you could look at it as "dance band", but...not really. It was just a medium, this particular general instrumentation and rhythmic apparatus. And truthfully, I think I like Sauter best the less he thinks about "jazz". Finegan too, I like him best when he approaches things as "dance band/orchestra". He'll give you that beat, but is he really trying to make a "jazz statement", or is he instead seeing it all as a canvas/pallate to do HIS thing? Everybody's different, some people need a function to create the content, but these guys both seem like they don't need a function, they just needed a band. When they went ahead and rolled like that, that's when it seems it worked best (for me). But when they engaged with "functionality", eh, maybe not so much?

And somewhere, somehow...I'm thinking that Gil Evans not "being there" in the "marketplace"  for whatever reason for that space in the early-mid 1950s left a gap/vacuum in the "advanced writing" area of post-Big Band music. Funny, in retrospect, Gil got back out there how a lot of stuff kinda either stopped happening, lost relevance, or otherwise just went away, am I imagining that?

Meanwhile, here, look at these guys, 1947!

4843120275_3cc87fae99_b.jpg

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Did he just say "taste the feel of it"?

Have you seen this?

 

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12 hours ago, JSngry said:

 I'd be leery of thinking as too much of any of this as "jazz", to me, it's more orchestral music at its best, gimmickpop at its worst, in between...cats gotta make their nut, right?

 

Sounds a bit like what might have been said about Raymond Scott in some circles quite a few years earlier.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Next up:

Adventure in Time - RCA Victor  LPM-1240

Cover Art:  Minimalist moderne scientific

Now Drinking:  Lemon ginger tea

This album has eluded me, and judging by the cover art and track titles, I suspect that it is one of their best.  There are no references to Doodletown. I have only one track, "Swingcussion," on an RCA Space-Age Pop volume. It is rapped by Joe Venuto.

I can't find it on YouTube.  Does anyone here have this album, and can you describe it?

 

A1 The Jukes Family Takes A Holiday  
A2 E = MC²  
A3 Time Machine  
A4 World Without Time  
A5 The Minute
Read By – Ruth Yorke
 
A6 The Stone Age  
B1 Whoo Doo Voodoo  
B2 A Chinese Painting  
B3 Abstraction  
B4 Kinetic Energy  
B5 Swingcussion  
B6

Roulette - P.S. He Lost

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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23 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

 "Yankee Doodletown."  What was up with S-F's obsession with Doodletown?  Almost every album has a Doodletown track.

Maybe a bit what the Martians were to Shorty Rogers at about the same time? :lol:

 

 

3 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Next up:

Adventure in Time - RCA Victor  LPM-1240

 

I can't find it on YouTube.  Does anyone here have this album, and can you describe it?

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
   

Not yet - but hopefully soon. (I confess I took the plunge and just ordered a copy of the "Four Classic Albums" CD on Avid the existence of which I discovered this morning when, following your plug of the "Adventure in Time" LP, I did an online search for sources of that album and was pleased to see this CD fills my primary gaps among the S-F albums (Sons, Goodman/Miller) just spot-on. (Yes, I bow my head (somewhat) in shame and promise that when I find affordable vinyl copies of these the CD will go into the car player ... ^_^)

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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