Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE CHIC SOUND OF HENRY MANCINI

Today is one of my favorite composers birthday.....the wonderful Henry Mancini!!!! Not a dinner or cocktail party go by where I don't play some of his songs. Our public station will also be playing Mancini all day intermittent. I grew up with Mancini filling the ancestral home on most evenings and when the parents had parties. I'd be in bed and could hear the swank sound twisted in with the mingling, laughter, and glasses clinking......


Mancini was probably the most successful film composer of his time. Between 1958 and 1964, Mancini so dominated the television and film music scene that everything else seemed to be either an attempt to clone his sound or a reaction against it. The secret to his success was simple, though: he wrote catchy tunes. If you set aside Mancini's hit tunes like "Peter Gunn" and "Moon River," you find music that's not dramatically different from, say, Elmer Bernstein's, Mancini was raised in the mill town of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. His father taught him the flute and piccolo, and after some initial resistance, gave him perhaps his biggest break ever by setting him up with lessons from Max Adkins.

 
  In 1947,Mancini married Ginny O'Connor, a singer with the Miller band, who'd previously worked with Mel Torme's vocal group, the Mello Larks, and the couple settled in Los Angeles. Mancini spent the next few years scraping by as a free-lance arranger and musician. He worked on radio shows, played in studio sessions, and took on the odd orchestration or conducting job. He even provided music for Billy Barty's vaudeville act. He hooked up with choreographer Nick Castle and provided backing arrangement for the nightclub acts of numerous Hollywood singers and actors. One such job led to his publishing the tune, "Soft Shoe Boogie" and earning his entry into ASCAP, the American Society of Composers and Performers, which would later name an annual award after him. In 1952, Mancini was hired to do fill-in work for an Abbott and Costello movie, and ended up becoming a house arranger for Universal-International films. Much of the work was routine, but it proved an excellent school, as Mancini worked on over 100 films.

The real breakthrough came, though, on Orson Welles' film noir, "Touch of Evil," in 1958. Welles wanted a gritty, realistic tone for his film and insisted on using nothing but source music for the soundtrack. A former editor at Universal, Blake Edwards, remembered Mancini's work on this film and asked him to write music for a television series he was now directing: "Peter Gunn." Since he was working on a small budget, Edwards asked Mancini to write for a jazz ensemble of 11 players. Mancini's music--particularly the pounding, menacing theme--proved almost as popular as the series.  Mancini received an Emmy nomination for the theme and won two Grammys for the album. Edwards hired him to repeat the trick for his new series, "Mr. Lucky." Although the series failed, the album sold well, and Mancini won two more Grammys. The title track featuring a distinctive organ lead played by Buddy Cole became a popular instrumental. RCA gave him a contract to record under his own name, and his first release, Blues and the Beat, also won a Grammy. With these successes, Mancini was able to operate as a freelancer. Beginning a long and very productive film partnership, Edwards hired him to do the music for his 1961 film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's". He and lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote "Moon River" for a reflective scene with Audrey Hepburn, and the song became a huge hit. Andy Williams' cover outsold the original, and "Moon River" eventually became one of the biggest sellers of the 1960s, with over 500 covers. He went on from there too many more successes.
 
Moon River, to me, the most beautiful song ever composed. If the Mistress ever has a wedding to "the one" this will be the first dance together....
 


And if your at the Casa expect this song every party........ Can't you just see me filling in for Mag Wildwood??? This is the music that courses through my veins.
 


And it just hit me, the great Henry Mancini and his Birthday marks my 2000th post. I really need a cock-a-tail........

22 comments:

  1. One of the reasons why Breakfast at Tiffany's is my favorite movie is the music. Sometimes I can picture myself as Holly Golightly.. maybe this Halloween? ;-)

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  2. Great post!!!!!! I really enjoyed it. I agree, can't imagine some of the movies without his music, especially Breakfast at Tiffany's.

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  3. Good, educational post! :-) I remember when my parents bought their first stereo and packed it up for the trip to the wilds of coastal British Columbia. It sat in the bay window of our house overlooking the bay and we enjoyed it as the rain slashed in.

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  4. Congrats on 2000 posts, Mistress! More, more! You probably hear that a lot, ehehehe.

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    1. Debra,you been awfully frisky since getting back from vacation.

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  5. 2000! oh, I thought that was bottles of gin consumed, or men you have used, not blog posts. :(

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    1. Let us not discuss the number of men, unless you want to be here all night.

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  6. Class!... what more can be said. I remember as a little girl, my Grandma cleaning the house, and listening to the radio, when Moon River cam on, I can still hear the music playing.

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  7. I have always enjoyed Mancini. Just give me a cig and a nice, neat cocktail. style ,elegance , You can't get classier than that Mancini.

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  8. William and I saw Henry Mancini in concert in San Francisco many years ago...he was the best.... I believe it's amazing to look back at nostalgia. Our past is our history and it's good to have beautiful things to look back on. I don't know about you, but good things from the past help me to bring good things into the future. And it is perfect cocktail hour music .

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  9. Mistress, if ever there were theme song to represent you, it's the Loose Caboose! I can totally hear that at your cocktail parties.

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  10. What better way to celebrate your 2000th post than with the fantabulosa Mr Mancini? Congratulations, sweetie! Jx

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    1. Join me in the parlor for some loose caboose and a gin darling. Thanks Lambchop.

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  11. I agree with you about 'Moon River'. Marvelous, bittersweet lyrics and a haunting melody. Mancini also did the music for 'Two for the Road' staring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. A film of pure magic, the score weds everything together... a marvelous, bittersweet romance. I can't wait to see my huckleberry friend... again. Take care, sweets. - - Uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque

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    1. That is one movie I haven't seen yet, but will have to see that. Where is the music like this again?

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  12. ...ah......those days. Well said, and how very true. loved hearing about the young memories.

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  13. Henry Mancini defined class, grace and good upbringing. He was an absolute gem.

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  14. What a legendary composer.......both these songs are so great to listen to,

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  15. So glad you posted this. What a lovely post. I know I'm late but today I'm playing all my Mancini albums in honor. And yes, I still have a turn table.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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