Cool sounds for a summer drive

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(Left: Bobby Hackett. Right: Arnold Dean)

Here are a couple of the things that have been blaring out of my car stereo of late:

One Night Stand with the Big Bands. My friend and former colleague Tom Reney hipped me recently to a 1972 interview on Hartford radio station WTIC with Bobby Hackett, the great Providence-born trumpeter, cornetist and sometimes guitarist (especially, as Hackett put it, if someone were to punch him in the mouth) whose gorgeous tone and beautiful melodies graced classic recordings by Glenn Miller, Jackie Gleason, the Eddie Condon gang, et al. What a find! Were there more like it?

You bet; in fact, it came from a substantial archive of interviews with big bandleaders (e.g., Artie Shaw in especially voluble form, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton), sidemen and arrangers (e.g., Hackett, Sy Oliver, Billy Butterfield), singers  (e.g., Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell), the big band historian George T. Simon, and even a lone be-bopper, saxophonist Charles McPherson — who, along with bandleader Larry Elgart, is the last survivor among the interviewees.  Alas, the list of those who’ve since passed on includes host Arnold Dean (D’Angelo), a Connecticut radio legend best known for sports, but whose unassuming but very sharp hosting recalls the old adage that interviewers, like referees and umpires, are best when least noticed. New Englanders will get a kick from the local focus of many of the guests and subjects. And man, dig those crazy commercials! A vast and precious treasure trove, this.

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Four Tet: “Morning/Evening.”  Kieran Hebden, the 37-year old Brit who produces music under the moniker Four Tet, has reflected his Indian heritage on previous releases, but never to the extent of his eighth album, “Morning/Evening.” The title refers both to the daypart-specific nature of Indian raga, as well as to the names of the album’s two tracks. Stronger of the two is “Morning,” based on a sample of Bollywood legend Lata Mangeshkar singing “Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon” from the film “Souten.” (Admission: While I have many friends who would have recognized the song right away, I had to look it up.) Click here to see it “sung” on-screen by actress Padmini Kolhapure — Bollywood songs, if you didn’t know, are invariably dubbed by “playback singers,” of whom Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosle are the most prolific and most celebrated. Anyhow, while the song clip loops in and out, all sorts of cool stuff happens above, below and around it. The somewhat less consequential “Evening” also samples what sound like Bollywood vocals though wordless and unidentified (hey aforementioned friends, I need some help here!). Like the interviews above, “Morning/Evening” makes for a splendid time-passer during a boring drive. And if you’re like me, you won’t find yourself reaching to take it out of your car stereo when it ends. One more spin? Sure!

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