The Norman Paris Trio - The Cocktail Hour
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Columbia Records CL 867

I'll Remember April
Lullaby of the Leaves
Hello, Young Lovers
I'll Take Romance
Someone to Watch Over Me

This Nearly Was Mine
Can I Forget You
Right As the Rain
Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'!
Fascinatin' Rhythm

The gladsome and uniquely agreeable sounds in this collection are confected by The Norman Paris trio, a blend of the musical taste and talents of the leader at the piano, Frank Cerchia on guitar and Ed Arndt on bass. As the fortunate habitues of Le Ruban Bleu in New York long ago discovered, this small group can invest familiar melodies with more unfamiliar and surprising twists than any similar organization around. After a spell of playing at various hotels and lounges around the country, the Trio came to rest at Le Ruban Bleu some years back, and has been brightening the midnight and early morning air of that east side haven with music decidedly outside the bounds of conventional conversation music ever since, in addition to accompanying a variety of singers during their engagements.

The attentive listener will discover that Norman Paris is a pianist whose technique is expended on tone and touch rather than flash. The discovery will also be made that far more can come from an electric guitar than the mournful twang of the hillbilly manipulators. Frank Cerchia, by a remarkable arrangement of amplifiers, produces some strangely beautiful and lambent sounds, and the fancies of the piano and the guitar are bound into a formal whole by the thoughtful bass of Ed Arndt.

This collection of their delightful music has been chosen largely from the showtune catalog, and the Trio proceeds to make virtually new creations of old favorites and to add a remarkable sheen to the newer ones. Playing with extraordinary sensitivity to each other, they maintain precision and a crisp incisiveness through a succession of rubati and harmonic shifts that might give other groups considerable pause. Music-making of the creative school is always rare, but here is the building of music on a charming tune that is engrossing from any point of view.

The program opens with I'll Remember April, a sort of musicians' song that enjoys great favor among professionals and a small group of ardent aficionados. Next comes a charmingly conceived presentation of Lullaby of the Leaves, and a rippling treatment of the Richard Rodgers waltz Lover. Continuing with another Rodgers waltz, from "The King and I," they play Hello, Young Lovers in a sentimental and lyric setting. I'll Take Romance follows a lilting waltz pattern with a delicate interplay of piano and guitar figures, and in the Gershwin Someone to Watch Orer Me, a more reflective tempo is used to emphasize the wistful quality of the enduring melody.

Yet another Rodgers waltz, This Nearly Was Mine from "South Pacific," once more demonstrates the Trio's thoroughly individual approach to a number with rubati, shading and an effective use of understatement contributing to the mood. Jerome Kern's Can I Forget You begins with a gentle sentiment, builds to a climax and fades back to the quiet reverie of its opening bars. Harold Arlen's Right As the Rain follows in a delightfully characteristic treatment, and a final Rodgers waltz, Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' is played in a setting that emphasizes its sunny charm. (Rodgers is a clear favorite with the Trio, as are his lovely waltzes.) Morton Gould's saucy Pavanne demonstrates the intricacies the Trio sets up for itself, and the program concludes with the Gershwin Fascinatin' Rhythm in an antic mood.