G&S Instrumental Arrangements: 1950s

Melodies from the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas

Harry Davidson and his Orchestra

Chris Webster provided the following review of this record:

Harry Davidson was known as a dance band leader, and this style shows through on this pleasant little record. I like these arrangements. Nice links and key changes. I enjoy listening to this—what more can I say about an instrumental record. The front cover is a B&W still (with lilac tint) of Yum-Yum and Nanki Poo from the 1939 film.

Contents are as follows:

Side 1Side 2
1. The Mikado
2. The Pirates of Penzance
1. H.M.S. Pinafore
2. Patience

The issue history below lists 45rpm records with the Patience and Mikado medleys on them; presumably, there were also 45rpm records for the other operas, and probably 78's as well. Chris Webster recalls seeing an old catalogue which indicated that the 10" LP was issued after the individual selections had already appeared separately.

Issue History
Mid-1950s Columbia 10" Mono LP 33S-1070  
45rpm SCD 2041 Contains the Mikado selection from the above album
45rpm SCD 2046 Contains the Patience selection from the above album

Gilbert and Sullivan Revisited (1958)

Jim Timmens and his Jazz All-Stars

Mel Moratti reports:

Warner Brothers W 1278
Warner Brothers W 1278

This album includes jazz arrangements of twelve popular numbers from three of the Operettas. These are quite interesting arrangements, some treated fairly traditionally and others needing some stretching of the imagination to recognise the originals. In the former category, "I am the very model of a modern Major-General" becomes quite bland and boring. In the second, "Farewell My Own" is beautifully scored but is almost unrecognisable. "When I was a lad" is given a Dixieland arrangement, "Three Little Maids" is nicely harmonised by three saxophones, and "Little Buttercup" is given a haunting muted trombone solo.

For Jazz enthusiasts some of the performers are very well known. These include Donald Byrd, Trumpet, Kenny Burell, Guitar, and Joe Venuto, Vibes and Marimbas. All have gone on to bigger things!

This recording, as well as "Gilbert and Sullivan Restyled" [not yet separately listed at this site], made Larry Garvin's list for the worst G&S recordings ever. He commented:

Both are, as the names suggest, not very respectful perversions of G&S in a range of jazz styles. Most are in that particularly cheesy late-fifties manner, with the first of these a litle more edgy than the second. The vocals in the second lend a special period flavor to the works. I'll listen to them again soon and prepare something to submit to the discography. But I can say that these combine dubious taste and minimal ability in an almost unparalleled way. As party albums, they would leave the crowd either shrieking with laughter or in agony.

For what it's worth, G&S Revisited mangles "We Sail the Ocean Blue" (with trumpet solo and guitar and marimba challenge), "With Cat-like Tread," "A Wand'ring Minstrel," "The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring," "When I was a Lad," "Modern Major-General," "I am the Captain of the Pinafore," "Buttercup," "Poor Wandering One," "Farewell, My Own," "Tit-Willow," and "Three Little Maids."

G&S Restyled, blessedly shorter, though more jaw-droppingly peculiar, works its will on "Three Little Maids," "The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring," "Love is a Plaintive Song," "We Sail the Ocean Blue," "Braid the Raven Hair," "Tit-Willow," "When I was a Lad," "I Love Him, I Love Him," "Fair is Rose," "Buttercup," and "Sighing Softly." Points for relative novelty, if nothing else.

Issue History
1958Warner BrothersLPW 1278

Angel 35788
Angel 35788 (partial scan)

The British Bandstand: Music of G&S

Band of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall
Director: Col. D. McBain

This recording contains excerpts from The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers, arranged for band. A generation later, the same ensemble made an extremely enjoyable CD of G&S highlights and Sullivan instrumental music arranged for band, entitled Sullivan Salute.

Issue History
1959 Angel Mono LP 35788
Stereo LP S-35788

More G&S for Band

Regimental Band of the Scots Guards

This recording contains excerpts from Iolanthe, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance, arranged for band. Bob Lang says, "They play the selections very well, but you know they are a marching band at all times. I guess that's why they sound best (to me) when they do stuff like Entrance of the Peers from Act I of Iolanthe."

Issue History
1959 Angel Mono LP 35625
Stereo LP S-35625