Niagara Gazette


June 9, 2013

SINGER: The power of certain oldies


Niagara Gazette — Some no longer know that “Stardust,” penned by Hoagy Carmichael back in the late ’20s, supposedly after being jilted, was at one time arguably the great American “standard,” or certainly one of them. All sorts sang it through the ’40s, including Frank Sinatra, still with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. Artie Shaw said of his fine band-and-strings version circa 1941 that he knew it was a classic the day he made it; and I believe he was right. Some will remember as well Nat King Cole’s “Stardust” he made during the ’50s.

And yet, Tempo and Stevens took the tune into the early ’60s entirely in their own wild, yet disciplined manner, again making their version unique and still enjoyable. (I’m sure some internet-savvy young may now check it out, and I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.)

Will we get a hip hop or techno version of “Deep Purple,” or of that great old chestnut, “Stardust?” Call me old hat, but I hope not. For me the last “Stardust” that really counted was by that brother-and-sister duo from the Falls, both born in the mid-’30s.

Their father was a grocer and their mother, some say, a frustrated artiste. In any event, the family got nearer the entertainment action by moving during the ‘40s to the promised land of a still orange-scented, unpolluted Southern California. Tempo’s jazzy feeling on the above-mentioned records came in part from his youthful efforts out there on a variety of instruments, and he remained a honcho primarily on tenor sax. He also appeared in Hollywood movies.

And his sister (originally named Carol) also sang as a youngster.

Funny how there are certain significant moments in your lives and more generally, in the life of a culture. These two deservedly scored with that dazzling “Deep Purple” in the early ’60s, but right around the corner lurked a new era marked by the British Invasion, bringing massive success to the Beatles, Stones, and the rest; and the moment passed.

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