Album Review: Standards Shine Anew on ‘Andrew Scott Plays Laurindo Almeida’
Andrew Scott Plays Laurindo Almeida
Andrew Scott (Sleeveless Records)
REVIEW BY TIM PANTING
I was delighted to be given this recording to review because the material on it has a special place in my heart, as it probably has for many guitarists the world over. My well-thumbed and dog-eared copy of Contemporary Moods for Classical Guitar—Twenty-three Unique Arrangements Including Instruction by Laurindo Almeida was a stalwart of my repertoire for playing in restaurants, etc. My edition has a publication date of 1970. And yes, it does have a preface of basic guitar instruction, which bafflingly purports to familiarize players with the guitar from complete beginner to accomplished musician in about six pages! Wonderful stuff.
Anyway, this recording has most of the pieces from the book with a few notable omissions—the theme from Zorba the Greek by Mikis Theodorakis, being one; perhaps understandably, as you might get a plate thrown at you if you started playing it in a Greek restaurant! I also missed the Almeida original Mimi, a fine bossa nova.
Laurindo Almeida was a Brazilian guitarist who made his home in Hollywood establishing himself as a great arranger and composer. Playing with Stan Kenton and the Modern Jazz Quartet, his jazz credentials matched his classical connections, and on the classical side he was known for performing concertos by fellow Brazilians Heitor Villa-Lobos and Radames Gnatalli.
There is lots of a glamor here of a bygone eras of Hollywood era spanning several decades. The Shadow of Your Smile, from the film The Sandpiper, is one example. Dimitri Tiomkin, a giant in terms of great soundtracks, is represented here by The Green Leaves of Summer from the film The Alamo, and that neatly segues with Over the Rainbow—certainly one of the greatest songs of film history. Almeida’s arrangements are beautifully streamlined and never over-embellished; one could say they are even sparse, compared to some other notable examples by the likes of Brouwer, Takemitsu, and Assad, etc. But they have a solidity and conviction of a musician who manages to encapsulate the lushness of these great melodies in relatively simple terms.
Andrew Scott plays them as wonderfully as they can be played, and brings each page to life. I found the whole experience highly evocative and it made me search through my piles of music and to play through these pieces that created great atmospheres wherever I played them. I you haven’t already, I recommend you track down a copy of the above mentioned publication (as well as this album)—many of these pieces are great encores, and will also add more pizzazz to your repertoire.
All pieces arranged by Laurindo Almeida: Blue Moon (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart); Mam’selle (Edmund Goulding); Ebb Tide (Carl Sigman, Robert Maxwell); Somewhere my Love (Maurice Jarre); I’m Always Chasing Rainbows (Harry Carroll, M. Jarre); The Shadow of Your Smile (Johnny Mandell);The Green Leaves of Summer (Dimitri Tiomkin); Over the Rainbow (Howard Arlen);Stairway to the Stars ( Matty Malneck, Frank Signorelli); Softly, As I Leave You (Tony DeVita); Spring is Here (Rodgers & Hart); Invitation,Hi-Lili Hi-Lo, On Green Dolphin Street (Bronislau Kaper); Star Eyes (Gene de Paul, Don Raye); Laura (David Raksin); Intermezzo (A Love Story) (Heinz Provost)