The New Friends of Rhythm – Performances from 1939-1947 – Hep Records

by | Feb 21, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

The New Friends of Rhythm – Performances from 1939-1947 – Hep Records CD 1086 **** []:

Back in the 1930s and 40s classical hits and classical performers were heard on popular mass network radio programs as well as in Hollywood movies – quite a different situation from today. Swing bands frequently did big band versions of various classical chestnuts, and even the movie cartoons occasionally presented a humorous take on classical fare (i.e.: Bugs Bunny in “The Rabbit of Seville”).

Young dance band and radio band arranger Alan Shulman had graduated from Juilliard and also during the Depression played cello in the pit orchestra for Cole Porter’s Anything Goes on Broadway.  For a musicians’ party in 1938 Shulman did a humorous string quartet arrangements of the Andante Cantabile of Tchaikovsky.  It was well received and Shulman added other players to make it a septet – including pivotal harpist Laura Newell. As The New Friends of Rhythm, they had their debut on NBC Radio in March 1939 and began a busy time of radio performances and cutting 10-inch 78s of their tunes, 27 of which have been carefully remastered on this CD, including five tracks from radio station transcriptions.  They received great reviews and became quite an asset to the RCA Victor label. Shulman and the other string players were part of the Stuyvesant String Quartet, which recorded for Columbia, and harpist Newell joined them for some recordings. In addition to the “swinging the classics” numbers, Schulman penned originals which sometimes sound close to the style of Raymond Scott. 

This CD is a fun document of a unique musical ensemble which still provides some very enjoyable listening. Among the sources for some of these sides are: Bach, Brahms, Stephen Foster, Gliere, Mozart, Paganini, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Victor Young and Fats Waller.

– John Sunier


1. Droschky Drag
2. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
3. Capriciousness No. 24
4. Barber’s Hitch
5. Bach Bay Blues
6. Fable in Sable
7. Riffin’ Raff
8. Yorkshire Pudding
9. Shoot the Schubert to Me Hubert
10. Goulash
11. Foster Chile
12. High Voltage
13. Heavy Traffic on Canal Street
14. Mood in Question
15. Coo, Dinny, Coo
16. Sweet Sue, Just You
17. Sailor’s Dance
18. Mood in Question
19. Southern Comfort
20. High Voltage
21. Nightcap
22. Platter Chatter
23. Peter Ilych on the Flying Trapeze
24. Capriciousness No. 24
25. Droschky Drag
26. Honeysuckle Rose
27. Barber’s Hitch
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