Sauter-Finegan Orchestra: Child's Play
The Best of Sauter-Finegan (Collector's Choice Music CCM 078-2)
Nick Travis, Joe Ferrante, Bobby Nichols (trumpets), Kai Winding, Eddie Bert, Bart Varsalona (trombones), Bill Barber (tuba), Sid Cooper, Russ Banzier, Al Klink, Charles Albertine, Danny Bank (reeds), Ralph Burns (keyboards), Mundell Lowe (guitar), Verlye Mills (harp), Trigger Alpert (bass) Don Lamond (drums), Bunny Shawker, Walter Rosenberger (percussion)..
Composed by Eddie Sauter.
Recorded: New York, February 18, 1953
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
For those who believe that this ensemble was not a jazz band, this track would probably be one of those cited. To this day, there are quite a few people who think that the Sauter-Finegan ensemble was a novelty band that had little or nothing to do with jazz. While it is true that RCA A&R man Dave Kapp had his eye on the bottom line (what A&R person doesn't) and novelty was the byword in pop music during this era, any time Eddie Sauter and Bill Finegan got a group of musicians together to record their music was an opportunity for greatness. Both are among the finest American composers of the twentieth century, and when invited to write compositions of four-plus minutes to promote the 45 extended play format, they responded with some ambitious music.
Both "Horseplay" and "Child's Play" are rooted in a children's nursery tune, "Horseplay" is edgy; "Child's Play" is fun from beginning to end. Using such instruments as a toy piano, toy trumpet, woodwinds that sound like toys, muted brass and lots of percussion, this piece is pure Bill Finegan, displaying his puckish sense of humor, yet also showing his mastery of harmony and form. In fact, listening to both pieces cited is instructive, showing the differences and similarities in musical approach using the same tune. This was no mere novelty band; this was one of the great musical laboratories in ensemble music.
I can't help closing this review without citing a four-bar phrase that was used during the game show "Jeopardy" for many years. Those who remember the show during that time will surely smile when they hear this piece "Child's Play" for the first time, and remember when the curtain opened to reveal the categories that day. I've always wondered what Bill was paid for the use of this music.
Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof
Tags: big band