Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Review by Ian King
Issue 341 – March 2016
Alan Haven & Brian Sharp
January brought the sad news that both Alan Haven and Brian Sharp passed away. Brian was a popular figure on the organ circuit while Alan made far fewer appearances, however both were very much at home as far as recordings were concerned.
You may know that we have our own record label called ORGAN1st and while we haven’t released anything for several years, we released twelve CDs from 2005-08 and were very pleased to include Alan Haven amongst these releases. Alan did two CDs for us in 2008, one was a re-release of his 1982 “Collectors Item” LP (with some un-released extras), while the other contained brand new recordings of jazz standards and was called “Everybody’s Talkin’”. As we released these CDs before I started to review for this publication, I thought it would be nice to mention them now.
“Collectors Item” was a re-release of his rare 1982 LP which was recorded on the JVC Victron M-1210 organ. This had a limited run and was probably more of a promotional LP for the organ than the organist (as quite a few organ LPs were). The CD also contained thirteen minutes of more recent unreleased material, played on the Wersi Beta DX400 & Yamaha DX7 synthesiser. The bonus tracks being, “Here’s That Rainy Day” and a nine-minute medley of “Stardust”, “Moonglow” & “Theme from Picnic”. The tracks from the LP showcased the ‘hi-tech’ organ sounds of the day, so as you would expect they do sound a little dated thirty-four years later. However there are some nice arrangements and jazzy playing in here including, “In the Still of the Night”, “Poinciana”, “Mama Yo Quiero” and “Canadian Sunset”.
Full Tracks of Collectors Item (54 minutes / £5.95): In the Still of the Night • Poinciana (Song of the Tree) • The Way We Were • (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sing • Amor Amor • Mama Yo Quiero (I Want My Mama) • Lazy Days • Super Trouper • Once in a Lifetime • Canadian Sunset • BONUS MATERIAL: Here’s That Rainy Day • Medley: Stardust / Moonglow & Theme from Picnic.
The “Everybody’s Talkin’” CD was a different matter and contained all-new recordings of jazz standards, recorded with keyboards linked to various rack mounted synths and computer-based software instruments and effects processors. This seemed to be the way Alan was going with his keyboard setup at the time.
The CD starts with a gentle jazz violin/piano improvisation which takes around a minute before you realise you’re listening to “The Shadow of Your Smile”. This is a lovely and unusual arrangement with some beautiful laid-back playing on the piano backing as well as the solo violin and it’s latter percussive jazz organ lead. A jazz-funk arrangement of “Summertime” next with a sax lead and a DX7 slap bass, again the lead changes to jazz organ. “What a Difference a Day Made” is next with a solo trumpet and a semi-latin rhythm, strings and funky bass backing.
We’re working our way through the solo instruments now with a harmonica lead on the organ-classic “Perfidia” with everything going on in the background with piano, organ and latin percussion and timbale fills. Lennon & McCartney’s “The Fool On The Hill” next with the lead moving from jazz organ to sax to vibes. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” next and probably my favourite track on the CD with some lovely jazz organ improvisations. The title track follows with the return of the solo jazz violin (top and tailed with jazz organ in the middle), all played over a laid-back latin rhythm.
A smooth piano, vibes and sax arrangement of “Embraceable You” next, followed by “How Insensitive” with a sax lead over block piano chords, pizzicato strings and vibes. A lounge piano/organ (six and a half minute) arrangement of “Misty” follows before we have a Bossa Medley with flute and organ lead. “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte” closes the show nicely with the most relaxed piece on the CD.
When we approached Alan to do a CD on our label we left the content and style completely to him (although to be fair, I don’t think we had a choice). I hadn’t listened to it in a while and I must admit it does sound different to any other CD out there, both in the arrangements and overall sound. I can’t think of any other organist who would (or could) come up with some of the arrangements. Unless Alan had some more recordings ‘in the can’ then this could well have been his final CD and I think it shows just what a talented player and arranger he was, even in his seventies when this was recorded.
Full Tracks of Everybody’s Talkin’ (56 minutes / £8.95): The Shadow of Your Smile • Summertime • What a Difference a Day Made • Perfidia • The Fool on the Hill • Killing Me Softly With His Song • Everybody’s Talkin’ • Embraceable You • How Insensitive • Misty • Bossa’s Medley: Meditation / Watch What Happens / Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) / The Girl from Ipanema • Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte (Ravel).
Brian Sharp recorded for various labels over the years including Grosvenor and OS Digital. His last few releases were produced under his own steam and included a mixture of re-releases, compilations as well as some very nice new ones which many people may have missed unless they picked them up at his shows. We started stocking these titles in 2013 and these included what turned out to be his final recordings; “Orlitzer” volumes 1 & 2 (both released in 2011) and “Keyboard Kaleidoscope” released the following year.
All three of these CDs had a similar feel as they were recorded on the Orla GT9000 organ linked to the Reg Rawlings Digital Wurlitzer (i.e. the Roland Fantom XR “Theatre Organ in a Box” software). The sound of all three was superb and the playing was also top-notch. I reviewed the Orlitzer CDs in the September 2013 issue of this magazine, so won’t go into detail again, but needless to say I was extremely impressed with all three at the time (and still am). They are very much TOiaB recordings rather than Orla as that gets relegated to the solo instruments and backing with the theatre sound being the main ‘draw’. It did cause me to wonder if the CDs were aimed at theatre or electronic organ fans, but perhaps they were just what Brian liked hearing and playing, which as it turned out was no bad thing.
Another CD of Brian’s worth mentioning is “My Cinema Organ Compilation” which he did in 2013. The CD contains tracks from five cinema organs; Sandford Park, BBC Theatre Organ, Dormston House, Blackpool Tower and The Cecil Cinema, Hull. At 75 minutes the CD is packed full of great material taken from broadcasts and deleted LPs and cassettes. I reviewed this in the same issue as the Orlitzer ones and thought it was a lovely mix of different theatre organ sounds.
Full Tracks of OrliTzer 1 (65 minutes / £9.95): The Great Little Army • Carousel Waltz • All the Things You Are • Muskrat Ramble • Poem • Westminster Waltz • After All • Spanish Harlequin • Paquita • My Tribute to Sandy MacPherson, MBE • My Tribute to Reginald Dixon, MBE: The Sunshine of Your Smile / Smiling Through / Count Your Blessings / I’ll Walk Beside You • Autumn Concerto – for Stella • Spanish Gypsy Dance • Romantica • Waltz in E flat – Durand • The Nearness of You • Prelude in Classical Style • In a Persian Market • Mr. Sandman • My Blue Heaven • I’ll See You Again.
Full Tracks of OrliTzer 2 (65 minutes / £9.95): That’s Entertainment • Glamorous Night Selection • I’ll Be Your Sweetheart • Samum • Body and Soul • You Stepped Out of a Dream • Don’t Blame Me • Deanna Durbin Medley: When April Sings / Beneath the Lights of Home / My Own / Waltzing in the Clouds • 1920s Medley • I’ll Follow My Secret Heart • Radetszky March • Falling in Love is Wonderful • Coronation Scot • This is My Lovely Day • The Dream of Olwen • Somewhere in Time • I Dreamed a Dream • Romance • Emily.
Full Tracks of Keyboard Kaleidoscope (74 minutes / £9.95): MacArthur Park • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly • One Day in Your Life • You Make Me Feel Brand New • WURLITZER THEATRE ORGAN SOUNDS: My One and Only Love • How Deep is the Ocean • Autumn Leaves • You Started Something / At Sundown • Tiger Rag • PIANO SELECTION: I Only Have Eyes for You • The Last Rhapsody (Piano and Wurlitzer) • Tenderly • Joanne • Parisienne Medley: Love’s Last Word is Spoken Cherrie / J’attendrai / La Vie En Rose • LIGHT CLASSICS DEPARTMENT: The Devil’s Gallop (Dick Barton Special Agent) • The Light Cavalry Overture • Eternal Father, Strong to Save • Dance of the Hours.
Full Tracks of My Cinema Organ Compilation (75 minutes / £9.95): SANDFORD PARK CHRISTIE: The Great Little Army (March) • Chopin Nocturne Op.9 • Deanna Durbin Medley: When April Sings / Beneath the Lights of Home / My Own / Waltzing in the Clouds • BBC THEATRE ORGAN: Disco Classics • The Lonely Shepherd • More Than You Know • Twenties Medley: Honeysuckle Rose / Sweet Georgia Brown / Tiger Rag • DORMSTON HOUSE WURLITZER, SEDGLEY: The Carousel Waltz • Blumen-Corso • Charlston Medley • Poet and Peasant • BLACKPOOL TOWER WURLITZER: In the News (March) • Fly Home Little Heart • Love Changes Everything • Phantom of the Opera • St. Bernards Waltz • Boston Two Step • CECIL CINEMA, HULL: Body and Soul • The Lost Chord.
Latest from Alan Haven
Latest from Brian Sharp
Review by Ian King from Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Magazine.