The Coolest Mikado (1958-?)
The Gilbert and Sullivan Jazz Workshop
Bruce Miller transcribed a bit of the liner notes and then added his own review of the album:
THE COOLEST MIKADO (2:26)
Entrance and exit music used by the big boss, who is the hippest. He has just imported the wailingest cats from Yokahama down to Titipu to gas the populace. [Translation for the uninitiated: "…big boss, who is ultra-cool. He has just imported the finest jazz musicians…to wow the populace." You probably could get that all from the context, but I was a little concerned about "gas." Ed.]
PUNISHMENT AND CRIME, OOOO BABY! (2:13)
'Mik' (Mikado for short) has just drunk three cups of Cafe Expresso, and is feeling no pain.
Mood music as Yum-Yum, casing herself in the mirror, figures that the moon and I are hip, that she cuts any dame in Titipu.
THE WEDDING BELL BIT (2:30)
Nanki-Poo meets Yum-Yum; Nanki-Poo loses Yum-Yum; Nanki-Poo gets Yum-Yum, and they all live "hippily" ever after.
[And so on.]
Jazz is about my least favorite genre in Western music, so I was not expecting much pleasure from it when I put it on the turntable. My reaction was that it wasn't so bad. It did seem to be a serious project, and not unpleasant to hear.
I asked a jazz musician colleague at College of the Holy Cross, Bob Principe, to give me an assessment and he had this to say, which I paraphrase:
This is not strictly classical jazz, but pop arrangements heavily influenced by movie soundtrack Hollywood work of the 1950's and 60's. It sounds like typical "West Coast jazz" [and indeed, the publisher is Rex Productions, Inc. of Los Angeles, California. Bob didn't know this when he made the comment.] It sounds very much like a Henry Mancini score. [Mancini wrote the scores for the Pink Panther movies, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the television series Peter Gunn.]
In the highest form of jazz, one expects more improvisation and group interaction that is heard on this record. These arrangements are well played, however, and seem influenced by the likes of Miles Davis and Bill Evans.
My own final thoughts: the most creative and interesting thing about the record is the liner notes.
Phil Sternenberg wrote:
I remember taking it out of the Ridgewood Public Library about 17 years ago. Since they did away with LPs a long time ago, my chances of ever hearing it again have vanished, I fear.
It's about 12-15 instrumental arrangements of Mikado melodies in various jazz styles and in no particular order. The jacket assigns each one a name like "Here's a Howdy Doody!" The one I best remember is a Dixieland version of "For he's going to marry Yum-Yum."
J. Donald Smith wrote:
In his talk at the 1995 Gilbert & Sullivan Festival, Stephen Turnbull played an excerpt from it as an example of one of his "Ten Worst G&S Recordings." It was.
Bruce adds that the issue date of the recording must be 1958 or later (given the simulataneous mono and stereo issues). The publisher's address is in the format that predates the introduction of zip codes.
The arranger, Jack Fascinato, was perhaps best known as musical director of the Kukla, Fran, and Ollie show. As Bruce observed, "It would be interesting to know whether Fascinato was introduced to The Mikado via his work on on that show, or whether he was an inspiration for its being used on the show."