Category: Performers

Pianist Irving Fields Mixed Bagels and Bongos

By , August 2, 2017 9:52 am

Irving Fields-playing piano

Two weeks after his 101th birthday, pianist and composer Irving Fields passed away August 20, 2016 in Manhattan. He was perhaps the longest working musician in the world. At the age of hundred, he used to play the piano several nights a week at Nino’s Tuscany restaurant in Manhattan. Irving Fields became known by fusing Jewish tunes, jazz, and popular songs with Latin music.

Born as Isidore Schwartz in 1915 New York City to Jewish immigrants, Irving Fields started working as a pianist in the thirties during the years of the Great Depression. In this time of high unemployment, he started playing piano in resort hotels in the Catskills Mountains, and then he found work as a pianist on cruise ships sailing from New York to Havana, capital city of Cuba. In Havana, Irving Fields listened to the great Cuban orchestras, and developed his love for Latin music. Attracted by pictures from palm trees and beaches in travel magazines, Irving decided to settle in Miami Beach and performed in hotels playing dinner music, and did sessions with local orchestras.

After joining the army, he began the Irving Fields Trio, with a bass and a drummer, and started composing his own songs. In 1947, his song Miami Beach Rhumba became a big success by versions of Kay Kyser, Freddy Martin, Carmen Miranda, and even by the popular band leader Xavier Cugat. During the Latin craze trend in the 40s, Irving Fields was at the right time and place, and soon Miami Beach Rhumba was followed by the number one hit song Managua, Nicaragua (1947) recorded by big band leader Guy Lombardo, and ten years later by Chantez-Chantez (1957) by singer Dinah Shore.

Bagels and Bongos - Irving Fields TrioIn 1959, the Irving Fields Trio recorded the album Bagels and Bongos blending popular Jewish tunes with Latin rhythms such as Bei Mir Bist Du Schön as a mambo, Havannah Negila a paso doble, and I Love You Much Too Much a rhumba. The album became a big hit all over the world, and was followed by the albums More Bagels and Bongos (1960), Pizzas and Bongos (Italian traditionals), Champagne and Bongos (with French standards), and Bikinis and Bongos (with Hawaiian music). Every song was mixed with a Latin beat, which turned out to be a story of success.

After the success with his trio in the sixties, Irving Fields went back working as a solo pianist on cruise ships again, where he sailed the whole world, and finally settled as a music entertainer in restaurants, from 2004 six nights a week in Nino’s Tuscany, Manhattan. This would become the place, where he started his second career.

In the last decade, several films appeared about Fields playing piano on YouTube. These films form a good impression of his talent, wisdom, and humor. Although Irving Fields was not a user of a computer or the Internet, he did compose the YouTube theme song.

 

Regarding my research about the influence of Jewish tunes in American popular song, I contacted Irving Fields, and then I received several handwritten letters from him. At my birthday March 2010, I met Irving Fields and his lovely wife Ruth in person in Nino’s Tuscany restaurant, where he entertained the guests with his music. From my letters, he knew that I should visit him this special evening. To my surprise, he welcomed me with a newly composed personal anniversary song. When listening to his music and talking to him, I knew that I was close to one of the last persons, already in his nineties, who could tell me first-hand about the history of popular music in the Tin Pan Alley period before the second World War.

 

Irving Fields and Niels Falch at Nino's

Irving Fields and Niels Falch at Nino’s

Of course, I also asked him about his secret for longevity, and he replied with more than ten rules. The first three rules for longevity are; (1) Have a sense of humor (you’ll never get ulcers), (2) Think of these three magic letters before you make a decision: L.T.D. Look, Think and Do, and (3) Be the first to say “hello” with a smile on your face and a friendly glow. Following these rules during his life, Irving Fields became ultimately 101 years young.

Even U.S. President Donald J. Trump admired Irving Fields, and shared one of his secrets for longevity: “Irving has said that work is a blessing, especially when you like your work. He loves his work, and that love is evident in his music. Irving is a great pro.”

Irving Fields will be remembered as the pianist who blended bagels and bongos, although he never had a way to play a bagel…

You can listen to over 30 recordings by Irving Fields on the Recorded Sound Archives website by clicking here.

 

RSA Guest Blogger, Niels Falch, is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently writing a dissertation on the influence of Jewish music in American popular songs.

Please note, due to copyright some of these recordings may only play for 45 second snippet to give the user a taste of what this music sounded like back in the day, if you are interested in full access considering applying for Research Station Access. Access to Research Station is limited to educators, students and serious researchers.

Highlighting the Voice of Cantor Zvee Aroni

By , July 25, 2017 1:31 pm

2016-Slideshow-cantorial-songs-zvee-aroni

There was a “joke” in the cantorial world that “If you can’t get Koussevitzky, get Aroni!”  Personally, I think Aroni (my dad) had a better voice.

His voice instructor and many others told him that he could have been, or should be an opera singer, but he loved being a cantor too much.

His voice didn’t age noticeably from his first recordings, specifically The Grape Song recorded in 1950, to his last recording Kohanecha Yilb’shu Tzedek recorded in 1990.

Both recordings can be heard on the RSA website, along with 34 other recordings by Cantor Zvee Aroni, just one of over 260 cantorial voices to choose from in the Cantorial Voices Collection.

Recently Added to Research Station (Spring 2017)

By , May 11, 2017 3:23 pm

recentlyaddedmusic Did you know the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries has over 49,000 albums along with over 150,000 songs in its databases, which is growing everyday with the help of volunteers? With so many recordings to choose from, we have given Research Station users the ability to request items be digitized.

Below you’ll find a list of recordings that were recently added to the Research Station this Spring Semester from requests made by Research Station Users.

Please note, due to copyright some of these recordings may only play for 45 second snippet to give the user a taste of what this music sounded like back in the day, if you are interested in full access considering applying for Research Station Access. Access to Research Station is limited to educators, students and serious researchers.

Recently Added Music

Simcha L’artzecha by Dov Levine & Sherwood Goffin

The Fifth Chasidic Song Festival 1973 by Various Artists

Chabad – Songs of the Lubovitcher Chassidim volume 2 by Various Artists

Hold On Just a Little Bit Longer by Mordechai Ben David

613 Torah Avenue – Songs for Chumash B’reishis by Elie Goldberg

18 Years, Due Re’im by Various Artists

The Reim by Various Artists

Toronto Pirchei Choir by Various Artists

Shomoh Vatismach Zion by Gershon Sirota

Sh’ma Yisroel by David Kusevitsky

Concerto in E Minor – Finale by Jascha Heifetz

Autopsy on Schubert by Larry Wagner and his Rhythmasters

Get Out Those Old Records by Guy Lombardo

One Night Stand with Ziggy Elman – Hollywood Palladium August 1948 by Ziggy Elman

Echo’s of Cantorial Concert in Honour of Cantor Shmudel Vigoda by Ben-Zion Miller

Kalanit Israeli Folk Dances by Josef Milo and David Edery

Na’ Arah, Folk Dances of Israel by Shlomo Shai

Kibbutz Festival by Various Artists

Songs of David and Cantorial Prayers by Ray Roberts

Chasidance by Shmuel Goldman and Yaron Gershovsky

The Flames – Chasidic Pop Songs by Various Artists

Achdus by Various Artists

Shim Sholom by Shloimele Rothstein

Tutzi Mutzi by Aaron Lebedeff

Or Chodosh by Yossi Toiv

Samuel Sterner Choir by Samuel Sterner Concert Choir

The Songs of Rabbi Shalom Mirkin by Various Artists

Israeli Chassidic Song Festival 1982 – No. 14 by Various Artists

Mordechai Ben David Sings [V’kol Maaminim] And All Believe by Mordechai Ben David

 

 

See a recording that hasn’t been digitized?

As a research station user you can request it using the Music on Demand forms on the website.

Please note, due to copyright some of these recordings may only play for 45 second snippet to give the user a taste of what this music sounded like back in the day, if you are interested in full access considering applying for Research Station Access. Access to Research Station is limited to educators, students and serious researchers.

Celebrate High Holy Days with Music from the RSA!

By , September 30, 2016 3:24 pm

High Holy Days Collection Looking for music to celebrate the High Holy Days this year? Look no further, the Recorded Sound Archives has a collection of over 40 recordings for you to choose from and share and enjoy with your family.

Included in this collection is a mixture of cantors, and other musicians such as Leibele Waldman, Gershon Sirota , Moishe Oysher, Shimon and Ilana Gewirtz, Ramon Tasat and Cindy Paley.

 

Click here to view this collection.

Click here to view past blog posts on the High Holy Days.

3 Interesting Facts about Sergei Rachmaninoff

By , June 13, 2016 8:15 am

Sergei Rachmaninoff Playing PianoWhile digitizing recordings by Sergei Rachmaninoff at the Recorded Sound Archives, we found some interesting facts about Rachmaninoff that you may not of known. Such as did you know….

1. Rachmaninoff was twice offered the position of conductor at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He refused both times.

2. Aside from being a magnificent composer, Rachmaninoff was also a man of strong moral character. In 1912, Rachmaninoff resigned from his position as vice-president of the Russian Musical Society in protest to a musician being dismissed from his duties because he was Jewish.

3. Rachmaninoff’s last piano recital included Chopin’s Sonata no. 2, which includes a famous funeral march. Rachmaninoff died 40 days after performing the funeral march. Rachmaninoff’s composition All Night Vigil was sung at his funeral.

Want to learn more about Sergei Rachmaninoff and his music?

Click here to listen to over 40 recordings that have been digitized and learn more about the life of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

High Holy Days Collection

By , September 14, 2015 2:25 pm

High Holy Days CollectionIn years past, the Recorded Sound Archives Judaic collection or the Judaica Sound Archives as most know it has highlighted the music of Leibele Waldman, Gershon Sirota and Moishe Oysher for the High Holy Days along with some of today’s finest cantors.

This year the Recorded Sound Archives has created a High Holy Days collection for you to  share and enjoy with your family. Included in this collection is a mixture of cantors, and other musicians such as Shimon and Ilana Gewirtz, Ramon Tasat and Cindy Paley.

Click here to view this collection.

Click here to view past blog posts on the High Holy Days.

Theodore Bikel, A Versatile Man

By , August 24, 2015 6:53 pm
Theodore Bikel on stage as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

Theodore Bikel on stage as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

With his grey beard, clear voice, and room filling performance, Theodore Bikel had so much in common with Tevye the Milkman. He was the fiddler on the roof, a versatile man.

Theodore Bikel, actor, activist and folk singer, passed away at the age of 91 last month on July 21, 2015 in Los Angeles. He played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof onstage in thousands of performances, created the role of Baron von Trapp in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music, recorded as a singer and guitarist for many albums in different languages, and was involved in civil rights causes.

Bikel was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, and named after Zionist Theodore Herzl. They fled to Palestine in 1938. and according to his mother in his autobiography, he sang before he could talk. Theodore started acting at a young age and performed in the Habimah Theatre in Tel Aviv in 1943. Bikel moved to London in 1945 and next to the United States in 1954, where he started his acting career on Broadway.

Bikel released thirteen albums between 1955 to 1965. The most popular recordings were: Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folk Songs (1958), Songs of a Russian Gypsy (1958), Theodore Bikel Sings More Jewish Folk Songs (1959), A Harvest of Israel Folk Songs (1961), and Theodore Bikel Sings Yiddish Theatre and Folk Songs (1965). With this repertoire, he paved the way for a renewed interest in Yiddish folk songs, and ultimately for the klezmer revival in the late seventies.

Along with folk singer Pete Seeger, Bikel became one of the founders of the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. This festival is known for the performances of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in 1963 and played a crucial role in the American folk music revival of the sixties.

Just recently, a documentary film was released about the intertwining of Theodore Bikel’s life with writer Sholom Aleichem, the great storyteller of Jewish life in Eastern Europe: Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem. In March this year, Record Sound Archives’ Alethea Perez wrote a blog about this portrait. click here to read more.

Listed below are some of his popular tunes.

 Dona Dona

Di Mame Iz Gegangen

Az Der Rebbe Zingt

Dodi Li

 Click here for more Theodore Bikel recordings.

Due to copyright concerns only snippets can be heard on the RSA public website. Full versions are available to users of the RSA Research Station.

If you enjoyed this guest blog post you may enjoy Gone but not forgotten – the Barry Sisters.

RSA Guest Blogger, Niels Falch, is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently writing a dissertation on the influence of Jewish music in American popular songs.

 

Gone but not forgotten – the Barry Sisters

By , January 5, 2015 8:50 pm
Bagelman Sisters/Barry Sisters

Bagelman Sisters/Barry Sisters early photo with Claire Barry on the right.

Yiddish music icons, Merna and Claire Barry, entertained generations of Jewish Americans with their jazzy versions of Yiddish songs.

For over 40 years the Bagelman Sisters, later known as the Barry Sisters, were the darlings of Jewish entertainment. Their recordings could be found in almost every Jewish household in the 1950s and 60s. The younger of the two sisters, Merna, passed away in 1976. The older sister, Claire Barry, died on November 22, 2014 in Hollywood, FL at 94. Click here for full NY Times obituary.

Who were the Barry Sisters?

Two beautiful girls, dressed in the latest fashion, hair  perfectly coiffed, singing with sultry voices that could make your heart leap.

Born in New York, the two sisters were originally known as the Bagelman Sisters. Many saw them as the Yiddish answer to the popular Andrews Sisters in the 1940s. They combined old Jewish folk songs and Yiddish Theater ditties with swing arrangements and perfect harmony. When Clara and Minnie changed their names to Claire and Merna The Bagelman Sisters became The Barry Sisters. They have often been credited with creating Yiddish Swing, a music genre which did not exist previously.

The glamorous Barry Sisters were regular guests at Yiddish radio programs like Yiddish Melodies in Swing. They toured with the Ed Sullivan Show to the Soviet Union and performed in Israel in October 1962.

The popularity of their catchy and jazzy tunes may have paved the way for the Broadway hit, Fiddler on the Roof, and the klezmer revival of the late 70s.

Listed below are some of their most popular tunes. The Judaica Sound Archives has 41 recordings by this dynamic duo of Yiddish music.

Abi Gezunt (Stay healthy)

In Meine Oigen Bistie Shain (To me you are beautiful)

Channah from Havannah (A Gala Concert with Moishe Oysher album, no. 3).

Bublitchki (About the last bagel)

Dem Neyem Sher (At Home With album, no. 2).

Roumania

Click here for more Barry Sisters recordings. Due to copyright concerns only snippets can be heard on our public website.  Full versions are available to users of the RSA Research Station.

 

RSA guest blogger, Niels Falch, is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently writing a dissertation on the influence of Jewish music in American popular songs.

Hanukkah music for grown-ups

By , December 5, 2014 3:13 pm

Kenny ellisEveryone loves the traditional Hanukkah songs we all learned in childhood.  We teach these songs to our children and our grandchildren. L’dor v’dor.

Today we highlight an album that encourages us to experience Hanukkah as an adult. Embracing the mood and sounds of Swing and Jazz era music, Kenny Ellis has created a truly one-of-a-kind album.

The album includes many old favorites and two wonderful medleys that evoke an upbeat Post WW2 vibe. This is Hanukkah music as you have never heard it before.

Hanu-calypso is so funny that it just might  replace Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song as my go-to Hanukkah ditty.

For more information about Kenny Ellis or to purchase this CD, click here.

For more Hanukkah songs,click here.

Romance is in the Air: Efrem Zimbalist & Alma Gluck

By , June 25, 2014 9:26 am
Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist

Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist

Before there was Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt…before there was Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall…before there was Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton…There was Efrem Zimbalist and Alma Gluck.

A little over100 years ago, a nice Jewish boy who happened to be a violin genius  met a lovely Jewish young woman who was making a name for herself as a singer. I guess you could say that when these two Jewish superstars of classical music fell in love they were destined to make beautiful music together.

The Zimbalist-Gluck romance provided lots of material for the gossips of their day. While the idea of such a wonderful pairing of talents was thrilling, there were those who pointed out that Gluck was six years older, as well as a divorcee with a daughter. Scandalous!

 

Read more about Alma Gluck’s relationship with Efrem Zimbalist.

Read more about Efrem Zimbalist.

Browse 40 recordings the talented couple made together.

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