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Thursday, June 04, 2009
THE FASTEST PIANO ALIVE
by Henri Rose on piano with accompaniment
WARNER BROTHERS RECORDS W 1125 1958 Vitaphonic
It might be well to clear up some possible misconceptions about the title of this album, "Fastest Piano Alive." First of all, piano is not alive. Secondly, the piano in not being propelled by jet engines at a speed somewhat greater than that of sound.
However, the young man who plays this piano is very much alive, and he has ten fingers which move with a rapidity that is amazing even in this day when the supersonic is commonplace. So, for the moment, we'll change the title to "Fastest Pianist Alive" and then set out to justify that seemingly extravagant claim.
To mangle a couple of metaphors, the proof of the pudding is in the listening and hearing is believing, Just touch the needle to the track titled "The Gypsy in My Soul" and be convinced! If further evidence should be necessary, try "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Just One of Those Things."
But there is more to being a pianist than sheer speed. To be assured that Henri Rose is a truly great musician in every way, listen to the taste, imagination and sensitivity displayed on such lovely ballads as "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Yesterdays" and "You've Changed." It will take only a few minutes to experience that tingling thrill of "discovering" a magnificent talent.
"Fastest Piano Alive" is the record album debut of Henri Rise, one of the really amazing artists of our time. Born in Marseille, France, he came to the United States in 1930 at the age of two. A child prodigy, young Henri gave his first solo piano concert in Detroit when he was four years old. At age nine he performed as soloist with the Detroit Symphony. From then until he entered the Army, Henri continued to amaze audiences in concert halls across the nation.
While in the Army, Henri's great flair for popular and jazz music became apparent. When he began to apply his superb technical facility to the more popular idiom, the reaction was immediate and overwhelming. The servicemen whom he entertained in hospitals and camps wouldn't allow him to leave the stage. It was obvious that a musical giant was in the making.
Following his release from the service, Henri returned to the concert hall, adding pop concerts to his classical repertoire. He also began playing many of the best supper clubs. In these latter locations he emerged as a full-fledged entertainer. With his easy manner and off-beat sense of humor, he literally "took over" the rooms in which he played. Today, managers of the clubs in which he performs are reluctant to have him leave, even after a stay of two or three years.
Now, through the mass medium of records, millions will discover the vast talent of Henri Rose. They will hear a musician of incredible technical facility, plus a fluid, tasteful, wonderfully imaginative jazz feeling. For Henri has a style distinctly and characteristically his own. His performance shows an appreciation of the melody and an honest desire to present that melody in the best possible manner. His embellishments are smooth, flowing and in immaculate taste. His improvisation is at once forceful and subtle. In addition, he swings!
Fastest piano alive? We think so. Bust just as in the days when the expression was "fastest gun alive," there will no doubt be someone to step up and challenge the title. Let 'em come. Like they say in Missouri, "We gotta be showed."
ALBUM PRODUCED BY BOB KEENE
* * *
For Your Listening Pleasure May We Suggest:
TILL, ROGER WILLIAMS Kapp 1081 SOLILOQUY, ERROLL GARNER Columbia CL 1060 EVERYBODY LIKES HAWES, HAMPTON HAWES Contemporary 3523 THE ART OF TATUM, ART TATUM Decca 8715 COLE PLAYS COLE, BUDDY COLE Warner Bros. W 1226
Warnes Bros. Records, Inc. THE FIRST NAME IN SOUND
VITAPHONIC HIGH FIDELITY, THE FIRST NAME IN SOUND, is the optimum in modern sound recording technique, conforming to the fine tradition of sound reproduction that has been the standard of Warner Bros. for more than thirty years. Only the finest materials and equipment are used in these recordings, from actual studio recording session to final pressing.
TECHINCAL DATA: Recorded range, 20-25,000 cycles. Three channel Ampex 300 tape recorders, latest condenser microphones in conjunction with Vitaphonic FNV optimum frequency range control. Mastering on specially designed, electronically controlled variable pitch Scully lathes, and Westrex feedback cutters. RIAA playback curve. Rolloff, 13.75 DB at 10 KC.
CAUTION: Be sure your playback stylus is in good condition. A worn needle will not reproduce the full fidelity of this recording, and will shorten its life.
Cover photo: Gene Kornmann
COPYRIGHT 1958, WARNER BROS. RECORDS, INC. PRINTED IN U.S.A.
The Gypsy In My Soul Laura I Get A Kick Out Of You Some To Watch Over Me My Romance Mad About The Boy
Just One Of Those Things All The Things You Are Yesterdays Isn't It Romantic You've Changed Abdullah
Editor's note: the "fastest piano alive" is a complete and utter misnomer! He's not even old west saloon fast. I guess I can't pin it on HIM, Henri Rose, because he's just the guy playing what the corporate big wigs more than likely made him play. I guess that's what gets the deal done though and seeing that this was his first album he probably didn't complain much about the exploitation. It certainly didn't further this former child prodigy's career very much. I can find very little about his life or career except that he started on Del-Fi Records with Bob Keane, the producer of this record, and his contract was sold to WB for $8,000. That's all. Bob Keane is apparently still alive and maintains a MySpace page though he hasn't updated since 2007 due to illness (He's 87 years old!).
I came across this record on a few blogs and managed to track down some audio from WFMU's site. I would love to hear more from this honky-tonkin' caterwaulin' queen. Listen to the tracks below and I think you will too!