Archive | January, 2012

Pan Am Soundtrack Jets You Back To A More Glamorous Era For Air Travel

14 Jan

Pan Am — yes, I have flown on the airline — it’s been a long while though. Pan Am the TV show? Haven’t seen it yet. Pan Am the Soundtrack? It sends me. I admit it is a quirky mix of songs and artists. But that is what the early to mid-sixties were all about. Take a look at the Billboard charts during that time and you’ll see that I am right. So don’t get all uptight. Recline your seat, ask your attendant for a strong cocktail, and enjoy the flight.

Your ears will encounter very little turbulence as your musical journey cruises from Buddy Greco to Grace Potter or from Brenda Lee to Nikki Jean. Some tracks are pretty well-traveled, while others just might be new destinations for you and flying companions. You can’t go wrong with Bobby Darin’s Call Me Irresponsible, Getz and Gilberto’s Girl from Ipanema, or Count Basie’s swinging groove on an instrumental I Can’t Stop Loving You. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 injects even more Latin spice to the cabin with Mas Que Nada and Nikki Jean turns in an impressive twist on Do You Want To Know A Secret?

My top pick of all is Dinah Washington’s Destination Moon.

Bang! Zoom! It is a complete and total gas.

So get your ticket and take a trip back in time.

Travel was far more classy then – and so was the music.  

***I prefer Engelbert Humperdinck’s version of Quando, Quando, Quando

Pan Am: Music From and Inspired By the Original Series, a collection of music from and inspired by the ABC television drama, slated for January 17, 2012 CD release from Verve Music Group, is a non-stop flight back to the early ’60s. The collection features 14 songs by Buddy Greco, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz & João Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Peggy Lee, Shirley Horn, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis and Dinah Washington, plus new artists Grace Potter and Nikki Jean.

According to the Verve Music Group’s SVP of A&R Jay Landers, “The Pan Am series goes to great lengths to capture the dawn of the jet age with accuracy, and music plays a vital role. Many of the artists of the era are found in the classic Verve catalog so it was a great synergistic opportunity.” Also, S-Curve/Universal recording artist Nikki Jean sings the Lennon & McCartney classic “Do You Want To Know a Secret.”

The TV series Pan Am follows the travels of a young flight crew as they set off on international adventures at the dawn of the Jet Age in the 1960s. The show captures a time when only a few could experience a global adventure or gain a front-row seat to history. Those lucky enough flew Pan Am, the largest, most prestigious airline in the world. More than Coca-Cola, Elvis Presley or the transistor radio, Pan Am exported American culture to the world abroad and brought that world back to American shores. The crew travels to intoxicating cities such as Paris, Berlin, Monte Carlo and Rome and bumps into history along the way. Through their eyes, Pan Am revisits an era nearly half a century ago. So, buckle up . . . adventure calls . . . and thank you for choosing Pan Am.

Track List:
1. Buddy Greco – “Around The World”
2. Grace Potter – “Fly Me To The Moon”
3. Bobby Darin – “Call Me Irresponsible”
4. Ella Fitzgerald – “Blue Skies”
5. Stan Getz & João Gilberto w/Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim – “The Girl From Ipanema”
6. Peggy Lee – “New York City Blues”
7. Shirley Horn – “The Best Is Yet To Come”
8. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – “Mais Que Nada”
9. Billie Holiday – “Just One More Chance”
10. Count Basie – “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
11. Brenda Lee – “Break It To Me Gently”
12. Nikki Jean – “Do You Want To Know A Secret”
13. Connie Francis – “Quando Quando Quando (Tell Me When)”
14. Dinah Washington – “Destination Moon”

A Trio of Delicious Sweet Treats from “The Old Dominion”

14 Jan

Red Rocker Candy’s Cashew Brittle with White Chocolate. Where do I begin to sing your praises? To say it is simply good would be a gross understatement. It is really, really, really good. OK, now we’re getting closer to reality. Now I am not the world’s most passionate brittle fan. I like peanut brittle all right, I guess. I am a native Virginian, after all. But most of it is average at best. Too sweet. Not enough peanuts. Far too hard and dangerous for my somewhat fragile dental work.

Sue Charney, owner of Red Rocker Candy, is pictured above. I’m not sure what her secret is, but she has obviously found a winner in this particular brittle recipe. The soft layer of white chocolate on top is a perfect foil for the crunch that lies below. It is indeed a crunch. However, it is decidedly not a bridge breaker. The incredible, buttery candy brittle is generously spiked with cashews — one of my favorite nuts on the planet. Well, it’s actually a seed, not a nut. But that’s another story for another day.  

Sue’s confections have recently been discovered by famous folks like TV’s Rachel Ray. This attention is certainly well deserved. I just mentioned on Facebook that Red Rocker’s Cashew Brittle with White Chocolate may be one of the best things I eat all year in 2012. Yup, I know it’s only January, but these crunchy, crackly beauties are a world class treat and without a doubt worthy of your immediate time and attention. Get some quickly before the entire world finds out — and order some for a friend. Order some for an enemy too. That person will not remain an enemy long.

Pistachio Brittle is just one of many irresistable varieties offered

Spice Rack Chocolates are made in Fredericksburg, VA. They’ve been making artisan chocolates since 2006. It’s a family oriented business founded on a “quality over quantity” philosophy. Their products are handcrafted in small batches and you can clearly taste the difference. The Belgian chocolate they use is excellent — pure and lacking in the waxy texture that plagues most mass-produced chocolates. But let’s not stop there — the chocolates are frequently goosed up with uniquely exotic spices/flavors like chipotle peppers, crystallized ginger, Jamaican curry, and Celtic smoked sea salt.

Spice Rack kindly sent us a variety of products to sample and enjoy — and enjoy we did! The dark chocolate chipotle peanuts (billed as “Fire Antz”) were spicy and superb. It didn’t hurt that they feature first class gourmet Virginia goobers grown just down the road by Belmont Peanuts. They’re not overly spicy, but they do deliver a pleasant afterburn. The Ginger Cubes offer a highly unique marriage of dark chocolate and crystallized ginger. I love ginger, so these little nuggets were a special treat.

Even better was the Spice Rack Collection. This attractive & informative (it suggests wine pairings) 15-piece gift box featured 3 each of the following flavor combos: Fresh Lemon with Sweet Basil, Celtic Smoked Sea Salt and White Ground Pepper, Key Lime and Jamaican Curry, Rosemary with Mint Leaves, and Spicy Cayenne and Chili Powder. The coupling of curry and chocolate (a first for this guy) was surprisingly noteworthy.  My personal fave was the sea salt variety — I’ve long been a softy for that now trendy salty/sweet combo. Spice Rack offers 5 other, equally interesting 15-piece collections. Next on my list will be their On The Rocks mix, which boasts matches such as Rum and Cola, Pina Colada, Amaretto, Orange Cognac, and Butterscotch Brandy. Cheers, y’all!

Pretty much everyone loves banana pudding. Southerners certainly crave it. But how often do you actually prepare it at home? Probably not all that often. The slicing of the bananas part is pretty easy. So is the pulling the Nilla Wafers from the box part. So what’s the big deal? Most folks will tell you it’s the preparation of the pudding part. Well, Reggie Rodgers of Chesapeake, Virginia has solved that problem for you.

Rodgers Banana Pudding Sauce is smooth and delicious — and comes in refrigerated jars. How cool is that??? Just layer your Nillas and sliced nanners, poor the sauce over top, and you’re done. It’s good too — creamy and tasting of pure vanilla extract. No baking required. The ingredients are all natural and you make as little or as much as you’d like — then put the rest of the sauce back in the fridge for later. How convenient! Reggie Rodgers — you are THE MAN. We love their logo too. The cartoony wafer and banana both appear to be thrilled about their pending collision course with the pudding bowl. Their ultimate demise will be your gain, that’s for sure!

We hear Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce makes a great shake too!

——————————————————–

Red Rocker Candy – PO Box 1135, Troy, VA

www.redrockercandy.com ; (434) 589-2011

Spice Rack Chocolates – 10908 Courthouse Road, Fredericksburg, VA

www.spicerackchocolates.com ; (540) 847-2063

Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce – (757) 558-4964

www.rodgersbananapudding.com ; reggie@rodgersbananapudding.com

Maynard Ferguson Early 60’s Cameo Sessions Re-Issued by ABKCO

14 Jan

Maynard Ferguson was one of the great Big Band trumpet blowers. Sure, the heyday of the Big Bands had long passed by the time these sessions were laid down in 1963. But Maynard, a native Canadian, continued to carry the torch — and did so in spectacular fashion. Ferguson was best known for his amazing ability to hit and sustain high notes, yet please do not consider him a “one trick pony.” He could play with the best of them and consistently surrounded himself with talented young musicians. This is certainly the case for these takes, which were recorded during the peak of the Cameo-Parkway label’s financial success. That success was due in great part to Chubby Checker’s mega-hit, “The Twist.”

ABKCO’s upcoming release of the NEW SOUNDS OF MAYNARD FERGUSON and COME BLOW YOUR HORN (both LPs are included on this single CD) do a fine job of displaying Maynard’s versatility and virtuosity. Many songs will be immediately familiar to the casual jazz or pop music fan. These tunes would include Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, the traditional Oh Danny Boy, Count Basie’s rousing One O’Clock Jump, Ray Allen’s groovy Gravy Waltz, Duke Ellington’s hit Take the A Train, Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town), and Billy May’s Naked City TV theme. Slightly lesser known compositions by Hammerstein-Kern, Oliver Nelson, Benny Golson, Elmer Bernstein, and the prolific team of Cahn-Van Heusen help to round out the collection. Yes, Maynard had great taste as well as great musical chops.

I must say I really dig this stuff. Some of you whippersnappers out there may think Big Band music is out of date or even, GASP, uncool. I beg to differ — in fact, I strongly beg to differ. I’d take this over your Gaga and your Bieber any day, Junior. And if you’re an older music fan with a fondness for Big Bands like Basie’s or The Tonight Show’s Doc Severinson, this will surely send you soaring as high as one of Maynard Ferguson’s stupifying trumpet blasts.  This is far out, groovy, Buddy Rich, Jack Sheldon, Old Blue Eyes’ “Koo-Koo” kind of good.

The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson/Come Blow Your Horn—the Complete Cameo Recordings  

PRE-ORDER-NOW! Available January 31, 2012

Released through Real Gone by arrangement with ABKCO Records, this twofer features two of the most collectible albums in the entire Maynard Ferguson catalog, the two records he recorded in 1963 for the Cameo label in between his stints at the Roulette and Mainstream labels. Maynard still has his great Roulette band of Lanny Morgan, Willie Maiden, Frank Vicari, Mike Abene, Ronnie Cuber and master arranger Don Sebesky et al. with him on these recordings. Sourced from the original master tapes, this marks the first time these rare gems will be legitimately released on CD. Both albums feature driving big band arrangements of both standards and originals, and we have unearthed an unreleased bonus track from the New Sounds sessions, a take on the classic The Song Is You, exclusively for this reissue. Remastered straight from the original tapes with new liner notes—Maynard’s complete Cameo recordings!

The New Sounds Of Maynard Ferguson C1046 (1963)

1. Take The “A” Train; 2. Bossa Nova De Funk; 3. Gravy Waltz; 4. Cherokee (Indian Love Song) 5. I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; 6. One O’Clock Jump; 7. At The Sound Of The Trumpet 8. Maine Bone; 9. Watermelon Man; 10. Danny Boy; 11. The Song Is You (previously unreleased)

Maynard Ferguson – Come Blow Your Horn C1066 (1963)

12. Groove; 13. Country Boy; 14. Blues For A Four String Guitar; 15. Whisper Not 16. We’ve Got A World That Swings; 17. Chicago That Toddling Town; 18. Naked City Theme; 19. New Hope; 20. Antony And Cleopatra Theme; 21. Come Blow Your Horn