Moonlight Bay: Bolcom & Morris



Moonlight Bay


Songs As Is And Songs As Was




Joan Morris






William Bolcom








Moonlight Bay Songs As Is And Songs As Was




On the Road to Mandalay was a setting of Rudyard Kipling's poem from Barrack Room Ballads. Lawrence Tibbett sang it in the 1935 movie, Metropolitan. It was later performed by Frankie Laine in his act and recorded in a shortened version by Frank Sinatra.




As well as Moonlight Bay, Percy Wenrich wrote such hits as Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet in 1909 and When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose in 1914. Dorothy Connolly, wife of the composer Percy Wenrich, recorded Moonlight Bay, as did Bing Crosby and Gary Crosby. The American Quartet, with the star recording artist Billy Murray on tenor, put out a number one selling record of the tune.




Joe Howard had evidently a stormy collaboration history; Hello, Ma Baby was written with Howard's then wife, Ida Emerson. His next hit, in 1904, was Goodbye, My Lady Love, credited to him alone. In 1909 he wrote I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now Harold Orlob later sued for and won the right to be listed as co-composer on it. Howard was still performing live into the 1950s, in concerts featuring Beatrice Kaye, introducing his songs as "my latest hit"




Billy is defined by the historian Sigmund Spaeth as "one of those 'April fool' songs that turned out not to be naughty after all." All three of its writers collaborated with many different songwriters in their careers, Goodwin to write They're Wearing 'em Higher in Hawaii, Kendis on the dialect novelty, Nat'n, for What are You Waitin', Nat'n? and Paley with I Can Hear the Ukuleles Calling Me, all three written in 1917. Wee Bonnie Baker revived Billy in 1939 with Orrin Tucker's Orchestra.




School Days was the title song of Gus Edwards' Vaudeville act, featuring among others George Jessel and Eddie Cantor. Cobb & Edwards also collaborated on Anna Held's most famous song, I Just Can't Make My Eyes Behave. A good friend of Thomas Edison's, the singer Byron G. Harlan made a recording of School Days that was number one for 11 weeks.




In 1919 Noble Sissle recorded Mirandy accompanied by James Reese Europe's all-black 369th U.S. Infantry ("Hell Fighters") Band. Europe's band also played for performances by the famous dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle. Sissle and Europe had served in France during World War I, but Eubie Blake was too old to serve in that war. Jim Europe was tragically killed shortly after their return stateside, but Sissle and Blake toured in Vaudeville as "The Dixie Duo," and were one of the first black acts not to "black up" onstage.




Poor Butterfly was introduced in The Big Show, an extravaganza produced by Charles Dillingham at the Hippodrome. The Japanese soprano who introduced it was eventually replaced by an American one, and the song became an even greater hit. In the same show Anna Pavlova danced part of "The Sleeping Beauty," which had decor by Bakst. The Victor Military Band had a number one seller of the tune; Fritz Kreisler recorded it, as later did Sarah Vaughn.




Bob Cole and the Johnson brothers, James Weldon and James Rosamond, collaborated on several hit songs: Nobody's Looking But The Owl and The Moon, My Castle on the Nile, and for Ziegfeld's wife, Anna Held, The Maiden with the Dreamy Eyes, all from 1901, and Under the Bamboo Tree in 1902. They also collaborated on the musicals The Shoo-Fly Regiment (1906) and The Red Moon (1908). James Weldon wrote the words for Lift Every Voice and Sing to his brother's tune, a song which has become the unofficial African-American national anthem.




H.W. Petrie, composer of Asleep in the Deep, had an earlier hit with I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard. The librettist, Arthur Lamb, also wrote the words for Harry Von Tilzer's 1900 hit, A Bird in a Gilded Cage.




Among many artists who recorded Beale Street Blues were Jelly Roll Morton and the violin-guitar duo of Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. Other leading recordings were by Prince's Orchestra, Alberta Hunter, and Guy Lombardo. In 1912 W.C. Handy had sold his own Memphis Blues outright for a reputed fifty dollars; after St. Louis Blues (1914) he published his own compositions.




Three of the Four Cohans starred in George M.'s first major Broadway musical in 1904, Little Johnny Jones. The biggest hits from that show were The Yankee Doodle Boy and Give My Regards to Broadway; Life's a Funny Proposition After All was sung late in Act III. Cohan recorded the song in 1911.




James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent all had separate contracts with publishers that led them to conflate their names into Jaan Kenbrovin for credit on I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles. It was interpolated into The Passing Show of 1918, which also featured the young Fred and Adele Astaire as singing and dancing chickens.




William H. Gardner wrote the dialect lyric for Can't Yo' Heah Me Callin', Caroline to Caro Roma's tune. In 1908 Roma had written the lyric for one of Ernest R. Ball's songs, In the Garden of My Heart; Roma's given name was Carrie Northey. Caroline was a big hit for the Canadian-born baritone, George MacFarlane.




Though the score for Angel Face (1919) was written by Victor Herbert and the plot, by Harry B. Smith, featured the then-newsworthy subject of monkey glands to rejuvenate the old, the show only ran 57 performances. Harry's brother, Robert B., wrote lyrics for the one song in it that became a hit, I Might Be Your "Once-in-a-While." The hit recording was by Olive Kline, a member of the Victor Light Opera Company. Kline and her colleagues used to travel by train to the Victor Recording Studios in Camden, New Jersey. She recalled in the 1950s, "We were a convivial group and whenever we arrived at the dining car of the train, one of the waiters used to say, 'Here come the Victor Light Uproar Company.'" Mary Martin sang it in the film, The Great Victor Herbert (1939).




A. Balwin Sloane, who composed Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl for Tillie's Nightmare, also wrote scores for two other musicals that same season. Marie Dressler sang the song, accompanying herself, after a fashion, at the piano. The story of the show was later reworked by Rodgers and Hart into their 1926 musical, with Tillie renamed Peggy-Ann. It was also a staple of Cole Porter's repertory while he was a student at Yale.




When Charles Coborn first sang The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo at the Trocadero, the audience hooted him and the song off the stage. He challenged them, "I am engaged here for twelve weeks, and I am going to sing this song every night, and repeat the chorus, till you join in with me." In three months it was sung and whistled all over London. It was based on the exploits of a fabulous swindler, Charles "Monte Carlo" Wells, who, without any particular system but a most incredible run of luck, broke the casino bank half a dozen times in one memorable day.




Some Little Bug Is Going to Find You was written in response to the germ scare of 1915. (Three years later, the great influenza epidemic would kill more people in the United States than the number of U.S. forces killed in the entire First World War.) The actor, Roy Atwell, who co-wrote the lyrics with Benjamin Hapgood Burt, interpolated the song into Franz Lehar's musical, Alone at Last, where it became the biggest hit of the show.




Harry Dacre, an Englishman who came to America to sell his songs, couldn't interest New York publishers in Daisy Bell until an English singer, Katie Lawrence, took it back to London with her; at that point it became an international hit. An earlier song, Playmates (1889), had been something of a hit, as had the later Elsie from Chelsea (1896), but neither rivaled Daisy's success.




Carrie Jacobs lost her father at twelve and married the town physician, Dr. Frank Bond, at twenty-five, only to be widowed while their


son was young and she an invalid. Jacobs-Bond began writing songs that music publishers thought "too artistic" for popular taste. With the encouragement and financial support of the singer Jessie Bartlett Davis, she had a volume entitled "Seven Songs" privately printed in 1901. Jacobs-Bond also gave recitals, which succeeded in helping popularize her music. I Love You Truly, and Just A-Wearyin' For You were big successes, as was A Perfect Day. As a child she studied piano and painting, later designing and doing the artwork for the sheet music covers for several of her songs.




Little Annie Rooney was sung by its creator, Michael Nolan, in the English music halls. Annie Hart, "The Bowery Girl," introduced it in New York at the London Theatre. When it became a big hit, Nolan was unable to collect royalties as there was no international copyright law in 1890; he became bitter and gave up composing.




Ned Harrigan and Tony Hart performed together in variety shows in Chicago and New York, eventually taking over the Theatre Comique in New York in 1881 to present their series of plays about life and people in the city. At the time of Squatter Sovereignty, the musical from which The Widow Nolan's Goat is taken, the upper East Side where Central Park meets Harlem was a shantytown. Tony Hart, famous for what in minstrel times were called "wench" roles, played the Widow Nolan.




Victor Moore introduced the song, Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway in the eponymous George M. Cohan show. Cohan did not appear in that musical, but one of his favorite co-stars Fay Templeton introduced two of his most durable hits, So Long, Mary and Mary's a Grand Old Name. James Cagney, playing Cohan, also sang it in Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cohan's film biography, in 1942.




Paul Dresser knew his last song, My Gal Sal, would be a hit. On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away (1899) had been hugely successful, earning a fortune for him and his publishing partners. Always generous with friends and profligate to a fault, by 1906 he lacked the money to promote the song. After his death of what his younger brother, the novelist Theodore Dreiser, intimated was a broken heart, My Gal Sal went on to sell two million copies.




Oh, Johnny, Oh, Johnny, Oh! sold over a million copies when it came out. It was dropped into the score of Follow Me, a Shubert musical of 1916 that starred Anna Held. It again became a million-seller in 1939 when it was recorded by Wee Bonnie Baker with Orrin Tucker's Orchestra.




Joan Morris, with a tip of the hat to Robert Kimball




Joan Morris




Mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, born in Portland, Oregon, attended Gonzaga University in Spokane prior to scholarship studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She appeared in several off-Broadway and road productions as well as with harpist Jay Miller at the Cafe Carlyle, the Waldorf-Astoria's Peacock Alley, and other Manhattan night spots.




Since 1972 Ms. Morris has been concertizing with her husband and accompanist, William Bolcom. Together they perform American popular songs from the late 19th-century through the 1920s and 30s, the latest songs by Leiber and Stoller, and cabaret songs by Bolcom and poet-lyricist Arnold Weinstein. Performances have taken them throughout the U.S., Canada and abroad to Lisbon, Florence, Istanbul, Cairo, London, and Moscow.




To date Bolcom and Morris have recorded 19 albums; the first, After the Ball, garnered a Grammy nomination for Ms. Morris. Their other discs include two collections of cabaret songs, Black Max and Lime Jello - An American Cabaret, as well as anthologies of Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, Porter, Kern, and Youmans. Let's Do It was taken from a live concert given at the Aspen Music Festival in 1989. Their two latest compact discs, songs of Vincent Youmans, Orchids in the Moonlight and The Carioca with tenor Robert White, have been released on Arabesque.




Since 1981 Ms. Morris has taught in the musical theater program at the University of Michigan where she produced an original musical in April of 1998 based on the life of poet Mina Loy.




In addition to cabaret and concert performances with her husband, she has also appeared as Polly in the Guthrie Theater's 1979 production of The Beggar's Opera (with music by Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom); as soloist in the 1984 world premiere in Stuttgart of Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience (texts by William Blake), which she repeated in 1996 at London's Royal Festival Hall. The performance was broadcast live over BBC Radio 3. She was featured in the world premiere of Weinstein/Bolcom's musical theater piece, Casino Paradise (available on Koch Classics), Charles Kuralt featured them on CBS Sunday Morning in May 1993, and her voice can sometimes be heard on TV documentaries of the period about which she sings.




Recent events include return engagements for Bolcom and Morris at several venues in New York and Jordan Hall in Boston. Spring and summer 1998 found them teaching at the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in Chicago and performing at the Spoleto, Ravinia, Mohawk Trail (Mass.), and Bowdoin (Maine) Festivals.




William Bolcom




Seattle-born composer and pianist William Bolcom entered the University of Washington at age 11, studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College and the Paris Conservatoire, and completed his doctorate in composition at Stanford University in 1964. Recent premieres of his compositions range from the opera McTeague at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1992 (directed by Robert Altman) and Lyric Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (written for James Galway), to a Second Piano Quartet (for clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and the Beaux Arts Trio) and his Sixth Symphony (for the National Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin). He has just completed the musical score for John Turturro's new movie, Illuminata, and is working on a new opera, View from the Bridge (libretto by Arthur Miller and Arnold Weinstein) due for premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in October 1999. To date, Bolcom is featured on nearly 40 albums as both performer and composer (several of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards), including 19 made with his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, with whom he tours worldwide. He has taught composition at the University of Michigan since 1973, where he is the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Music. Recent honors include honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Albion College, and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Twelve New Etudes for Piano. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.




Producer: Robert Kimball






Moonlight Bay Songs As Is And Songs As Was




Joan Morris, mezzo-soprano · William Bolcom, piano




1 On the Road to Mandalay (1907) Rudyard Kipling/Oley Speaks (3:46)


2 Moonlight Bay (1912) Edward Madden/Percy Wenrich (2:46)


3 Hello, Ma Baby (1899) Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson (2:29)


4 Billy (1911) Joe Goodwin, James Kendis, Herman Paley (3:03)


5 School Days (1907) Will D. Cobb/Gus Edwards (2:18)


6 Mirandy (1919) James Reese Europe, Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake (3:01)


7 Poor Butterfly (1916) John Golden/Raymond Hubbell (4:38)


8 Nobody's Lookin But De Owl an' De Moon (1901) Bob Cole, James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson (3:44)


9 Asleep In The Deep (1897) Arthur J. Lamb/H.W. Petrie (3:47)


10 Beale Street Blues (1917) W.C. Handy (3:09)


11 Life's a Funny Proposition After All (1904) George M. Cohan (3:02)


12 I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (1919) Jaan Kenbrovin/John W. Kellette (2:40)


13 Can't You Heah Me Callin', Caroline? (1919) William H. Gardner/Caro Roma (3:26)


14 I Might Be Your "Once-in-a-While" (1919) Robert B. Smith/Victor Herbert (2:19)


15 Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl (1910) Edgar Smith/A. Baldwin Sloane (2:31)


16 The Man That Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (1892) Fred Gilbert (2:38)


17 Some Little Bug Is Going to Find You (1915) Benjamin Hapgood Burt and Roy Atwell/Silvio Hein (3:20)


18 Daisy Bell (1892) Harry Dacre (2:06)


19 Just A-Wearyin' For You (1901) Frank Stanton/Carrie Jacobs-Bond (2:21)


20 Little Annie Rooney (1890) Michael Nolan (3:37)


21 The Widow Nolan's Goat (1881) Edward Harrigan/Dave Braham (3:27)


22 Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway (1906) George M. Cohan (2:11)


23 My Gal Sal (1905) Paul Dresser (3:14)


24 Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh! (1917) Ed Rose/Abe Olman (2:08)




Total Time = 73:03