Mundell Lowe Plays Music Of Alec Wilder – Riverside lp – 12-219 – 1956 – Riverside Records –
Five from Mundell Lowe tonight. From his tribute album to American composer Alec Wilder, recorded in 1956 and never reissued (why? No idea.) Here are the tracks:
1. Walk Softly
2. Let’s Get Together And Cry
3. Mama Never Dug This Scene
4. Pop, What’s A Passacaglia?
5. No Plans
Alec Wilder was one of those composers whose music defied category – it did lots of things and went lots of places. He was severely overlooked during his life, but had a few champions who did their level best to get his message across. One of those was Frank Sinatra whose 1940’s Columbia album featured Sinatra conducting an ensemble of Wilder’s music moved the needle slightly, but his music was considered too quirky and curious. And even though he was an accomplished song writer, his more serious endeavors went over several heads and it made for a lot of frustration on his part.
This album, which briefly made an appearance in 1956 on the Riverside label came and went without much notice, except in Japan where the vinyl was reissued in 1994, but no CD. When asked why this album didn’t see the light of CD issue, the answer from the powers-that-be was simple: “it didn’t sell at all then, there’s no point in putting it out now.”
Like Alec Wilder, Mundell Lowe travelled in a number of genres; doing a wide range of session work and scoring a few feature films, among them Billy Jack, as well as the TV series Starsky and Hutch. He later became closely associated with Andre Previn’s Trio (before the days when Previn became, among other things, Music Director of the L.A. Philharmonic).
Lowe’s work on this album is more straight-forward than other Wilder albums by other outfits. One of the characteristic qualities in the music of Alec Wilder was his free use of a wide range of different instruments, among them the Harpsichord. That’s missing here but there is a lot of scoring for French Horn.
Needless to say, the music of Alec Wilder covers different ground. It’s an interesting adventure whose perceived oddness has tamed considerably over the years. Maybe it’s time to give him another visit.
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