Wednesday, June 18, 2008

78s fRom HeLL: Ferrante & Teicher - That Old Black Magic b/w Beezwhacks (circa 1953)

It was in 1960 that the music of piano duo
Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher took an abrupt and lucrative turn, as it headed firmly down Easy Listening's middle-of-the-road.

Their formulaic crowd-pleasing pop was a sharp contrast to the more sonically adventuresome 'prepared' piano sound present on many of their 1950's recordings, including the two posted here.

Ferrante and Teicher met in New York, while attending Julliard. They began performing together while teaching there in the latter half of the '40's.

Early on they began experimentation by modifying their instruments - - "...stuff(ing) wads of paper, sticks, rubber stops, masonite strings, cardboard wedges, and sandpaper into the pianos conjuring up weird effects
(a la [John] Cage) resembling gongs, castanets, drums, xylophone, and harpsichord." **

Pianos became percussion instruments as the team learned to play them from the inside.

Though it's currently lapsed out of print, the 1997 CD reissue of Ferrante and Teicher's 1958 'Blast Off' LP is highly recommended and worth seeking out.

But all good things come to an end.
Whether it's for the better is a matter of opinion and perspective.

Upon signing with United Artists Records in 1960, Ferrante and Teicher soon curtailed their gimmickry, filled out their sound with orchestral accompaniment, and played it straight (and safe) - - all to enormous success throughout the '60's and beyond.

Listen to:
Ferrante & Teicher - That Old Black Magic
(Columbia 78, circa 1953)

(click for audio)

Listen to:
Ferrante & Teicher - Beezwhacks
(Columbia 78, circa 1953)

(click for audio)

For more on Ferrante and Teicher, see also:
- All Music.Com

- The Official Homepage

- Space Age Pop's Ferrante and Teicher page clearly delineates the division between their prepared piano works and easy listening era.

- At Showcase, a Dutch record collector relates a tale of discovering the 1955 LP, 'Soundproof', and has posted a track.


K. R. Seward said...

Beezwhacks is especially amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

The Piano duo was also busy doing jingles for radio stations in 1959 & 1960. They cut a package for our local pop-top 40 station (WPTR-1540AM 50Kw) here in the Albany, NY area that became legendary. The effects in the recordings you presented were more advanced (perfected) and gave the station an edge on the competition because of thier unique qualities. Sure would love to find them again.

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