Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Listen, Move & Dance - Stories In Movement

I realised at work today (yes, I think about vinyl, amongst other things, to help pass the time) that I totally forgot to mention my favourite John Dankworth record in the last post. Don't know how because I've been meaning to write about it for a while now. I think maybe because it's a 45 and I'd immediately delved into the Jazz section of my LP's after hearing of his passing.

Anyway, this 7" E.P. - 'King Monkey - Stories In Movement 4' - is somewhat of an obscurity, recorded in 1969 and intended for play in primary school lessons as a tool to help encourage children's' use of imagination and their expression of it through dance. The liner notes give suggestions for teachers on how they might want to try incorporating the music within drama sessions, each 'band', or track, designed to stimulate different actions or emotions. I've scanned in the back cover so you can read the full guidelines but the basic story of 'King Monkey' (Side-B) "takes place in China, long ago, on the Mountain of Fruit and Flowers". As the tale unfolds, moods are set with music and notes are given on how the accompanying dances should be acted out. Side-A is split into five bands - The Chinese Elements - 'Earth', 'Water', 'Fire', 'Wood' and 'Metal', again with suggested dance expressions for each.

The actual music on here is completely bonkers! The best way I can describe it is - quirky Oriental themed Jazz. It kind of has that U.K. 'Library' type sound and features Laurie Hall (Piano/Hammond Organ), Denis Walton (Flute/Clarinet), Ralph Izen (Trumpet), Brian Odger (Bass Guitar) and Stan Barrett (Percussion) playing John Dankworth's original scores. For sampling it's a producers dream with loads of stabs, percussion sounds and even straight loops - I remember freaking out when I first found it.

I've actually got two copies of this record now, the first turning up at a bootsale about ten years ago. The vinyl was a bit battered so I instantly added it to my eBay search notifications and finally managed to cop a nice mint one six months or so ago - it took that long for another one to turn up! Typically I can't find the good copy at the moment so you'll have to make do with a sample from the scratched up one...

John Dankworth 'Wood' (1969 E.M.I. Records)

Whilst I'm on the subject of these 'Stories In Movement' type records I thought I'd include a couple of others with similar concepts - 'Listen, Move and Dance, Nos.1-3' and 'Listen, Move and Dance, No.4', again released in the sixties on the E.M.I. label.

'Nos. 1-3' features a cover shot that instantly takes me back to my own primary school days - sitting cross legged on a cold wooden floor, in shorts and a T-shirt with accompanying black plimsolls, being forced to participate in a weekly lesson which I absolutely dreaded. 'Expression through Dance' was not my thing at all. As a young lad all I wanted to do was kick a football about or sit quietly by myself drawing. In fact thirty years later and it takes a good few pints and sounds far removed from this to get me moving in public.

The music on this one is mainly Classical (arranged by Vera Gray) but does feature some interesting 'Electronic Sound Patterns' composed and created by Daphne Oram who was a founding member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and a credited pioneer in the Electronic music scene. I don't know about you, but I find the 'music' kind of scary and definitely wouldn't have played it to my children when they were five years old, not unless I wanted to torment them for some sick reason.

Again, there's samples to be had off this album so if you see it cheap, pick it up.

(click for supersize, readable scan)

Daphne Oram 'Rhythmic Variations' (1962 E.M.I. Records)

I love the sleeve artwork for 'Listen, Move and Dance - 4' and out of the three records here, definitely includes the most sample material. The vinyl is split into two basic themes - 'Moving Percussion' and 'Electronic Sound Pictures'. Side-A features an endless supply of drum and assorted percussion sounds set across sparse arrangements which allows each individual hit plenty of breathing space, supplying perfect food for the MPC, SP12 or whatever your preferred weapon of choice. I've put together a really decent library of sounds just from this one recording. Side-B is much like the Electronic pieces from 'Listen, Move and Dance, Nos.1-3' but the liner notes on this one include suggestions for imaginative expression, much like the John Dankworth E.P. Desmond Briscoe (the other founding member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) composed and arranged the 'sounds' in collaboration with Vera Gray, who in turn composed 'Moving Percussion' on the flip.

I've recorded a track from the 'Electronic Sound Pictures' as an example of the music on here but if you're one of the very few traditional Hip-Hop beatmakers still left out there, who like to dig for original sample material instead of relying on lame 'stock' sounds, trust me when I say you won't be disappointed turning this one up. I haven't ripped any of the percussion side as with these sorts of records I save the best for myself. Get digging if you wanna hear the rest.

(click for supersize, readable scan)

Desmond Briscoe & Vera Gray 'Machine' (1966 E.M.I. Records)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That Dankworth King Monkey piece turns up on this LP that I picked up recently.It includes the rest of the compositions in the Stories In Movement series and strangely it has the same cover photo as the second album you feature in the post.I added it to Discogs as there is nothing at all about it online.