There is so much to say about Russ Garcia that it's hard to know where to start. Obviously I'm going to have write an in-depth post about this brilliant man. He was swindled out of an Oscar, literally wrote the book on arranging and has provided me with some of my favourite music.
But all that will have to wait for another time. For now just allow me to recommend Mark Myer's splendid blog JazzWax and his fine article on Garcia. And then pass along quickly to Sounds in the Night.
This eerie tapestry of vocals featuring singer Marni Nixon is one of Garcia's rarest records and I was lucky enough to track down a couple of copies of vinyl. (The true vinyl nut needs at least two copies because it was released on two different labels, Bethlehem and, originally, Aamco.)
Recently it was reissued on CD by the enterprising Él label. And it is that CD which prompted this post. Last night I was listening to the irreplaceable Late Junction on Radio 3. And I heard an extraordinary track (actually, I heard several. But stay focused, Andrew). It featured Marni Nixon and was arranged by Dennis Farnon, talented brother of the more famous Robert. (The otherwise informative booklet notes for the Él CD are hopelessly confused about which Farnon brother did what. But we'll come to that CD in a minute...)
The track was called Very Contrary Mary based on the nursery rhyme. And it was, believe it or not, originally written for the Mr Magoo cartoon series. It was rediscovered by the legendary Jonny Trunk and reissued on a collection called Mr Magoo in Hi-Fi.
This was once an LP from RCA. Now, unfortunately it is a download-only entity. So I dropped Jonny a line and asked if he might be prevailed upon to release it in a physical format (even a CD would do). Jonny tantalisingly hinted that there might be a vinyl sampler featuring the track sometime in the future.
But then I realised something. The Él CD I had of Sounds in the Night... Didn't that have some bonus tracks at the end of the disc? Not by Russ Garcia but featuring Marni Nixon? I scrambled around in my CD collection and... sure enough. There it was. Track 14: Very Contrary Mary.
Plus six other tracks featuring Dennis Farnon and Marni Nixon. They are all based on nursery rhymes and originally featured in Mr Magoo. Hence the umbrella title, The Mother Magoo Suite.
I'd never paid much attention to them, foolishly curtailing my listening after the Russ Garcia tracks ended. Well I'm playing the CD now, and after the last of Russ's music, baby I'm going to go on playing.
And here's a heads-up for you. You can still pick up this CD at a bargain price.
Or, if you're impatient and don't want to shop around, buy it straight from the nice people at Él right here. In any case, I urge you to grab a copy.
(Image credits: The cover of the Él CD is from Last FM because Él's own image is not very good. Pull yourselves together, guys! The Aamco cover is from Space Age Pop, an old favourite and a great site. The Bethelehem cover is from the Spanish La Red Chair blog, a new discovery and also very cool. The original Mr Magoo LP cover is from Technology Tell, an intriguing blog about vinyl hunting.)