Another star of another time, now pretty much forgotten. Carmen Cavallaro. “The Poet of the Piano”, they called him. American born, of Italian heritage, Cavallaro was classically trained but in the 1930s he shifted to playing jazz and swing in ballrooms and nightclubs. He used his classical expertise to adorn popular tunes with what the liner notes to this 10-inch LP describe as “glittering and rippling arpeggios to augment his melody, which was often arranged in thick and lush triple- and quadruple-octave chords”. If this makes you think of Liberace, you are on to something: Cavallaro pretty much invented that style, “light music” it used to be called.
Though I have, myself, occasionally been called both “thick” and “a lush”, I must admit, I can live without rippling arpeggios. Syrupy is the word which comes to mind. A lot of people loved it, and it probably works better in performance than on a slightly battered mono LP – even so, just not my cup of tea.
However, on Planet Vinyl, we give everything a listen, and this is why. On the last track of Carnival in Venice, after many lush and thick moments, is the sorta-title-track “Carnival of Venice!”. This is an old folk tune which has been arranged in dozens of different ways – the tune was borrowed for “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?” – but this recording is a jazz adaptation. By no means stripped down, but low on ripple, low on arpeggios, high on energy and dexterous musicality. It rocks.
- Artist: Carmen Cavallaro
- LP Title: Carnival in Venice
- Side 2, Track 4: “Carnival of Venice!”
- Format: 10” LP 33⅓ rpm
- Label: Festival FR10-899
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: no date (1950s)