The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra George M. Cohan: You're a Grand Old Flag
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- by Jon Peterson ~ George M. Cohen Tonight! [Original Cast Recording] ~ $17.08
- Released: November 11, 2008
- Originally Released: 2008
- Label: New World Records
- 1.There's Only One Little Girl for Me, one-step for pops orchestra - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 2.Yankee Doodle Boy, The ("I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy") - (with Colin Pritchard / George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 3.Talk of New York, musical: Overture, The - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 4.George M. Cohan's Rag (from the minstrel show "Cohan & Harris, Minstrels of 1909") - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 5.Eyes of Youth See the Truth, song, The (from "The Cohan Review of 1918") - (with Bernadette Boerckel / George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 6.March Medley, for orchestra (from the musical "George Washington, Jr.") - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 7.Harrigan (from the musical "Fifty Miles from Boston") - (with George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 8.Man Who Owns Broadway, musical: Selection, The - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 9.Mary's A Grand Old Name (from "Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway") - (with Bernadette Boerckel / George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 10.Give My Regards to Broadway (from Little Johnny Jones) - (with George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, featuring Colin Pritchard)
- 11.Popularity, musical - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 12.That Haunting Melody, song - (with Bernadette Boerckel / George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 13.Little Nellie Kelly, musical: Overture - (with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 14.Over There - (with Colin Pritchard / George M. Cohan / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
- 15.George M. Cohan in a 1938 speech - (with George M. Cohan)
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Personnel: The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra; Bernadette Boerckel (vocals, soprano); Colin Pritchard (vocals, baritone); C.J. Camerieri, Kevin Cobb (vocals, cornet); Tim Albright (vocals, trombone); The Yankee Doodle Singers, Deb Spohnheimer (vocals); George M. Cohan (spoken vocals); Leslie Cullen (flute, piccolo).
Liner Note Author: Rick Benjamin .
Recording information: American Academy Of Arts And Letters, New York, NY (04/24/1938-06/06/2008).
Editor: Rick Benjamin .
Unknown Contributor Role: Tim Albright.
In his extensive liner notes to this album (in a 36-page CD booklet of small print), Rick Benjamin, founder and director of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, writes that the music of musical theater songwriter George M. Cohan (1878-1942) is remembered largely through the 1942 film biography Yankee Doodle Dandy and the 1968 Broadway musical George M!, but that, in both cases, new orchestrations were used to make the music sound more contemporary. Here, Benjamin's purpose is to re-create the sound of Cohan's music as it was played originally, for the most part in the first decade of the 20th century. That means using the "Eleven & Piano" theater orchestra instrumentation of the day (flute doubling on piccolo, clarinet, two cornets, trombone, drums, piano, two violins, viola, 'cello, and double bass) and having that orchestra play the original orchestrations. Benjamin has also hired a Cohan soundalike, Colin Pritchard, to sing four songs, as well as a soprano, Bernadette Boerckel, to do another three. That accounts for seven of the musical tracks; the other seven are instrumentals. The album concludes with a speech given by Cohan himself in 1938. In his notes, Benjamin emphasizes Cohan's relationship to ragtime, suggesting that he popularized the style by bringing it to Broadway and by taking his shows on the road around the U.S. Certainly, listeners will recognize that connection. In these performances, Cohan's music comes across as similar to that of Scott Joplin (and occasionally, the march king John Philip Sousa). Since half the selections, constituting well over half of the running time, are instrumentals, this is much more music of the concert hall than the theater, and the recordings may serve to help the classical field claim Cohan from the popular realm. In any case, the album makes a welcome addition to the small library of recordings of one of Broadway's and popular music's outstanding songwriters of the early 20th century. ~ William Ruhlmann
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