Paul Weston: Mood for 12/Solo Mood - JazzWax

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April 22, 2011


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Ed Leimbacher

Must be something in the air... "A Paul had settled over Weston. 'I need a cuppa Jo,' he said aloud, making a beeline for the Stafford Cafe."

Last night at 11 I posted a longish essay on Cajuns and Louisiana, but also featuring yet another Weston masterpiece, his Columbia album titled Crescent City, a richly varied, Jazz-spiced suite composed in tribute to the old New Orleans that he and wife Jo Stafford loved. Forgive the plug, please, Marc, but this is too fine a coincidence; can be read at

"Weston looked around and spotted his wife curled up in a corner booth. Smiling, he called out, 'So where y'at, cher?'"

Michael Steinman

Dear Marc,

Like all evocative Thirties tunes, EMALINE is not entirely forgotten: here's an all-star group taking a stroll through the song in 2009: An early recording of this song (Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins) featured Mildred Bailey, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and someone named Hawkins on the tenor (yes, a racially mixed date in 1934): Oh, yes -- and a fellow from the Midwest named Tatum liked the song, too: In this century, EMALINE is identified as another song by the Ben Folds Five, but the 1934 composition still sounds pretty good.


Weston might have felt hemmed in by the commercial music industry, but he got his revenge with a series of musical parody albums under the alias of "Jonathan & Darlene Edwards." With all due respect to Spike Jones, Weird Al, Harpo & Chico, the Simpsons musicals, etc., these may well be the funniest music ever recorded. (Very funny liner notes as well.) I should warn, though, that some just find them annoying - it depends on how perverse your sense of humor is, I suppose.


Ziggy stopped playing after this album came out in 1954: "Jess Stacy And The Famous Sidemen" with Ziggy Elman (tp) Murray McEachern (tb) Heinie Beau (as, cl, arr) Vido Musso (ts) Chuck Gentry (bars) Jess Stacy (p) Allen Reuss (g) Artie Shapiro (b) Nick Fatool (d) - Hollywood, CA, April 15 & 29, 1954 (Atlantic LP 1225) -- Ziggy faked his famous trumpet solo on "And The Angels Sing" in "The Benny Goodman Story" (1955). It was Manny Klein who dubbed it then.


Correction: Ziggy may have played his very last chorusses on the "Mood For 12" LP, 'cause his career has ended actually in 1956, after a heart attack:

It's a very sad story.


I'd go out and get "Mood for 12" if only for the cover art.
What a cool recording; it swings.

John P. Cooper

"Eventually, Weston shredded his jazz credibility by arranging increasingly insipid easy listening albums."


That was a long time coming and even then it's a matter of taste.

Every Paul Weston album I have ever own was filled with great tunes and great playing and arranging.

His reputation regarding Jazz credibility was hardly shredded because most Jazz fans don't know anything about easy listening. (Same guys who thought the strings on the Parker session were well done when they were actually crap.) But ask musicians from that era if his credibility was "shredded".

Didn't care for that one although it was well down and conceptually clever.

Listen for yourself.

Bill Kirchner

Not all of the Bird with Strings writing was "crap". The first date was written by Jimmy Carroll, a commercial arranger. Neither Parker nor Norman Granz was happy with what he did, so the follow-up string sessions were scored by the much more jazz-oriented Joe Lipman, whom Parker liked a lot.

As for "easy listening," some of the finest recordings in that genre were written by the Canadian Robert Farnon, who spent his career in England. Farnon was and is an idol of many arrangers, especially for his string writing. One of his many fine albums is "Pictures In The Fire" (London).

John P. Cooper

I've heard the Joe Lippman charts - simpy strings. Dreadful.

I've heard Farnon. He does/did nice work.

Bill Kirchner

"Arranger? I'd have Joe Lipman. He writes the greatest."
--Charlie Parker

"The greatest writer for strings in the world."
--André Previn on Robert Farnon (1917-2005)

John P. Cooper

Parker was wrong about Lipman.

So does anyone hear actually listen to classic easy listening music?

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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