Hugo Montenegro – Colors Of Love

Artist: Hugo Montenegro
Genre: Jazz, Easy listening, Soundtrack
Title: Colors Of Love
Released: 1970
Label: RCA
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Unknown
Producer: Jack Pleis
Engineer: Mickey Crofford

Hugo Mario Montenegro (September 2, 1925 – February 6, 1981) was an American orchestra leader and composer of film soundtracks. His best known work is derived from interpretations of the music from Spaghetti Westerns, especially his cover version of Ennio Morricone’s main theme from the 1966 film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He composed the musical score for the 1969 Western Charro! which starred Elvis Presley.

This LP is a collection of his interpretations of some popular hits and is officially part of his discography.
This is yet another one of those crazy LPs I pick up now and again. I am familiar with Hugo Montenegro from an LP of his Dylan interpretations I picked up years ago, which is actually quite good. I’ll get around to reviewing it later. On this LP though, there seems to be an overuse of echo on the flute for some reason.

Side One:
1 Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles) – Yes, starting off with this rendition of a Beatles tune. This version does not have the same impact as the original, which I prefer.
2 Didn’t We (Jim Webb) – This is not an original by Hugo Montenegro, but was written by Jimmy Webb and first released by James Darrin. This is a ballad and sounds like one expects.
3 Undun (The Guess Who) – “Undun” is a popular song by Canadian rock band The Guess Who. It was written by Randy Bachman after hearing Bob Dylan’s “Ballad in Plain D”, which included the phrase “she was easily undone”. The song takes its structure from new jazz guitar chords Bachman had learned from his friend and neighbor Lenny Breau. This rendition fits, but I like the original better. There is an interesting flute solo in the bridge though.
4 Something (The Beatles) – While this is certainly a different take, I still prefer the original.
5 Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (BJ Thomas) – This was also part of the soundtrack to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid done by Burt Bachrach. This version almost doesn’t change anything from the original.

Side Two:
1 When It Was Done (Jim Webb) – I have not heard the original to compare this to.
2 Holly Holy (Neil Diamond) – This is one of those songs where the original can not be bested. Hugo and orchestra rock this one a little bit though, but not like Neil Diamond himself.
3 Just Like A Woman (Bob Dylan). – Hugo Montenegro did a whole LP of Dylan songs called Dawn Of Dylan, which I do have and will review at a later time. However, this song is not on that LP. This sounds just as cool as the rest from his Dawn of Dylan LP.
4 Good Morning Starshine (song from the second act of the musical, Hair). – We don’t know who wrote this song. Strangely, they chose to fade this song in instead of a true start. This version is ok.
5 Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (Steam) – This song by the one-hit-wonder, Steam appears here in an interesting version, but I like the original better.


Frank Sinatra – Come Dance With Me

Artist: Frank Sinatra (with Billy May and his Orchestra)
Genre: Vocalist, Big Band, Swing
Title: Come Dance With Me
Musicians: Frank Sinatra – vocals, Billy May – arranger, conductor
Heinie Beau – arranger

Come Dance with Me! was Sinatra’s most successful album, spending two and a half years on the Billboard charts. Stereo Review wrote in 1959 that “Sinatra swaggers his way with effortless verve through an appealing collection of bouncy standards, aptly described in the album notes as ‘vocals that dance'”.

This is my favorite type of Sinatra sound I like to call “the swingin era”. This is not the best pressing or is it? The vocals are a bit noisy, but this was done in 1959 after all.

I’m not going to breakdown the entire LP here, but my favorite cut is:
“Something’s Gotta Give” (Johnny Mercer) – 2:38 – “Something’s Gotta Give” is a popular song with words and music by Johnny Mercer in 1954. It was published in 1955. It was written for and first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1955 musical film Daddy Long Legs, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1955 as Best Original Song, losing to Love is a Many Splendored Thing. The song playfully uses the irresistible force paradox – which asks what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object – as a metaphor for a relationship between a vivacious woman and an older, world-weary man. The man, it is implied, will give in to temptation and kiss the woman. The song’s lyrics echo the plot of Daddy Long Legs, in which a reserved man in his 50s (Astaire) falls in love with a woman in her early 20s.


Somethings Gotta Give:

David Zasloff – Born To Be Happy

Born to be happy

Artist: David Zasloff
Title: Born To Be Happy
Released: 1994
Label: Zasloff Records
Genre: Jazz
Format: CD
Musicians: David Zasloff-Vocals, Sakuhachi flute, Trumpet, Rhythm Guitar, Timbales and cowbells, Steve McLalan-Lead guitar & all guitar solos, Jim McGrath-Percussion, Peter Marshall- Bass, Richard Martinez-Drums, Angela Carol Brown, Lesa MacEwan, Jennifer Meller, Danny Peck & Teresa Tudury-backing vocal group
Producer: David Zasloff & Richard Martinez
Engineer: Steve Shepard, Mastered by Jeff Silverman
Not an easy CD to get.

How I came about this album is rather weird. I was at the OC Home and Garden show back in 1994 and heard what sounded like live music coming from somewhere and it sounded interesting to me. Unable to ignore my curiosity, I had to go seek out where this sound was coming from. I just followed my ears and that led me to a stage in one corner of the huge building. When I saw the source of the music I was blown away, there was this guy on stage who looked exactly like Steve Martin and in between songs he was funny and joking around! I recalled that Steve Martin is a musician as well, but what the hell would he be doing at a home and garden show? Answer: He wouldn’t.
Now knowing it was not Steve Martin of course, I settled in and listened to the whole show which I had already missed a song and a half. They played several though, but I don’t recall exactly how many, I think it was around six.
It exceeded the venue in terms of quality. These folks were serious musicians. No jumping around, no flashing lights, no extra stuff, just straight music and it was a joy to watch and listen. Each person was also show cased at different times in the concert as well. The band was simply well beyond playing gigs at such things as a home show.
I looked around and I remember there were maybe 40 people watching the concert.
After the show I did something I normally never do and walked right up and purchased a CD with all due speed. I recall that I was one of only two or three people who bought one. Pretty poor showing for such great talent in my opinion. I then spent another 15 to 20 minutes talking to a couple of the musicians and other associated folks about the music and show. I walked away thinking “of all the places to catch a concert and one like this”!

This CD is somewhat rare, but is available direct from David Zasloff and he is still making music. It is available in MP3 format on Amazon, but don’t get it in that format, please.

This CD has what I would call a “recovery” influence, which makes sense because it so happens I found that Mr. Zasloff and the other musicians are all recovering from one thing or another.
So let’s get into it:

  1. Oh Boy Oh Boy-This opening track has a world afro flavor and features David on flute. The words (as with all the songs) are simple and positive, but overall the song is great. There is a good percussive break and by the time your half way into the song, you’re in a good mood.
  2. I Am Not Afraid Of Love-This is more of a jazz fusion tune featuring David Zasloff on trumpet and vocals. Great groove, the bass doesn’t sound as defined as one might think it should be, but it fits well, good percussion work and David does some scat singing.
  3. Manhattan Tokyo-This is one tune that I remember hearing at the show, featuring David on Shakuhachi flute. This is an instrumental number with a kind of Men At Work flavor without the vocals and synths. I’d describe it as aboriginal fusion with an Asian flavor. The percussion break will get you moving or tapping however I think the panning is a little overdone.
  4. African Lullabye-Obvious afro style number with a neat break and just a fun tune.
  5. Warm Heart – This is another instrumental number that is more up tempo and really speeds up after the bridge. When hearing this it is hard to tell if it is computer generated at one point or done live. I can tell you without doubt that there are no computers involved because I saw it performed live.
  6. Living In The Universe-I don’t recall if I saw them play this one or not, but it has a great groove and hook and the lyrics are a bit more thought out. This one is a real toe tapper and you’ll be singing along by the time your halfway through.
  7. You Give Me Freedom From The Blues-This is another instrumental I saw played live. It’s kind of a blues fusion number with a mellow mood combined with chill and the bass is featured nicely in the bridge.
  8. Born To Be Happy-Obviously the title track and another I recall seeing live.  It’s one of my two very most favorite tracks on the album. This is a fun toe tapper with kind of a blues flavor in the lyrics. Great percussion, listen to the supportive hand percussion work, it really carries the tune well. The guitar work is the rhythm support and the whole track is mixed very well, which can also be said about the majority of this album.
  9. Go Slow-Another instrumental with interesting percussion work. Kind of a jazz fusion, chill/lounge feel.
  10. Tomorrow-Instrumental again that is up tempo with a percussion lead in. It has a spanish/rio/cuban feel to it. If I had to choose a least favorite on this LP, this would be it, but it’s still a hard choice.

If you are not toe tapping by at least the second track into this album, check your pulse.

For your enjoyment, here is a little taste: