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Billy Mayerl - Original Recordings, Vol. 2 (1934-1946)

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Album Review

Arguably, for those who would care to argue about such things, the best introduction to Billy Mayerl (1902-1959) is probably ASV/Living Era's Billy Mayerl Plays Billy Mayerl, released on compact disc in 1995. A different level of Mayerl appreciation was attained a few years later by Shellwood through multiple albums packed with Mayerl's compositions interpreted by pianists Eric Parkin and Peter Jacobs, prime exponents of the patented Mayerl manner. Yet hearing Mayerl himself in action offers an especially delectable thrill that cannot be duplicated by emulators. In 2003 Naxos reissued a marvelous load of Original Recordings in two volumes, each decorated with flowers after which Mayerl had named a special composition. As a sequel to the Marigolds of the first installment, Volume Two displays a bouquet of Sweet William blossoms, but it could just as easily have been Mistletoe, for Mayerl carefully concocted an etude in honor of that toxic parasitic growth and it too found its way onto this collection. Unlike much of the recorded music associated with Billy Mayerl and available today on the digital format, this particular sampling includes vintage radio broadcasts with period banter and other historic recordings with singers and an orchestra under the direction of George Melachrino. The timeline (1934-1946) skips the 1920s but allows for a colorful glimpse of later developments. Mayerl was a master interpreter of melody whose technique was conspicuously facile. In addition to the piano he is heard operating both the harpsichord and a primitive keyboard synthesizer known as the novachord. This charming visitation from London's most successful "nimble-fingered gentleman" includes fishy profiles from the "Aquarium Suite," an aromatic sprig of "Orange Blossom," a procession of "Sandwich-Board Men," and a version of Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are" complete with the often omitted verse. While Volume One was visited by vocalists Al Bowlly and Pat O'Malley, Volume Two features a regular team of singers in Stanley Lupino, Luanne Shaw, Eric Fawcett, George Gee, Hal Gordon, Billy Scott Coomber, Laddie Cliff, and internationally renowned Austrian tenor Richard Tauber.


Born: 31 May 1902 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '20s, '30s

Pianist Billy Mayerl was born on May 31, 1902, in London's West End. His talent for the instrument was immediate, and by the age of seven he was studying at Trinity College of Music. By his late teens he was earning decent money tinkling the ivories at dances and silent movie cinemas throughout London and its environs. As a natural showman he enjoyed the attention. However, the gigs also afforded Mayerl plenty of room to improvise, and this would come to influence his own compositional style. In...
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Billy Mayerl - Original Recordings, Vol. 2 (1934-1946), Billy Mayerl
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