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Positive Feedback ISSUE 71
january/february 2014


Percussion in Hi-Fi
by Teresa Goodwin


Hey, easy listening percussion fans have I got some thrills for you! Do you remember Dick Schory's New Percussion Ensemble's Music for Bang, Baaroom, And Harp on RCA Living Stereo? Well, here are some more percussion plus orchestra recordings that are just as beautiful and thrilling from Dick Schory's and David Carroll's ensembles. They are from four prerecorded reel to reel tapes reissued as two albums by High Definition Tape Transfers (HDTT) called Percussion in Hi-Fi Volumes I and II.

I'm reviewing the 24-bit 192kHz FLAC download of each recording.



Percussion in Hi-Fi, Volume I

Dick Schory's New Percussion Ensemble from Percussion From Melody to Madness

"Caravan, Speak Low, South Rampart Street Parade, Walkin' My Baby Back Home, Fascinating Rhythm, Safari Anyone?, Autumn in New York, Fly Now, Pay Later, I'll Remember April, Tortilla, Stranger in Paradise, A Foggy Day"

Lew Layton (Recording Engineer) Bob Bollard (Producer) Arranged and conducted by Dick Schory

Recorded in 1960 at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, sourced from an RCA 4-track tape.

David Carroll and His Orchestra from Percussion in Hi-Fi

"Hell's Bells, Bali Ha'i, The Chimes Of Swing, Malaguena, Discussion In Percussion, Quiet Talk, Chatter, Controversy, Jungle Drums, The Cricket, Spanish Symphonique"

Bill Putnam (Recording Engineer) David Carroll (Musical Director)

Recorded in 1956 at Universal Recording Corporation, sourced from a Mercury 2-track tape


Available Formats: Compact Disc, HQCD (High Quality Compact Disc), 24-bit 96kHz DVD, 24-bit 192kHz DVD-Audio, 24-bit 96kHz FLAC download and 24-bit 192kHz FLAC download.

In the early days of Stereo record companies were always looking for ways to show off the capabilities of two channel stereo over single channel mono. One musical genre that met with great success was instrumental pop, and especially percussive releases. Dick Schory was perhaps the greatest star of the many artists working in the percussive pop field that was so popular in the late 1950s. After getting his recording start on the Bel Canto label, he soon after signed with RCA.

Dick Schory's album, Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp is an audiophile staple, considered by many to be one of the greatest recordings of all time. This first volume begins with Dick Schory's second RCA release Percussion From Melody to Madness which was also recorded in Chicago's wonderful sounding Orchestra Hall prior to renovation by famed RCA engineer Lewis Layton. This was never released on CD, the original vinyl and even rarer reel to reel are still much sought after by audiophiles.

Percussion From Melody to Madness starts off with a spectacular rendition of the famous jazz standard "Caravan", followed by "Speak Low" which is exotic and enchanting. The Dixieland favorite "South Rampart Street Parade" really shows off the percussion section and a really lovely 50's sounding electric guitar. "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" is just flat-out beautiful, as are all the other selections.

The second half of Volume One features David Carroll with the recording this series was named after Percussion in Hi-Fi. David Carroll was a famous bandleader in the 1950's and 1960's who also joined the percussive pop bandwagon, and released several titles including his most famous: Percussion in Hi-Fi which was recorded on June 4, 1956, and released by Mercury a few years later. It was engineered by Bill Putnam and I feel it is the best sounding of these four classic percussion recordings.


Percussion in Hi-Fi, Volume II

Dick Schory's Percussion Pops Orchestra from Politely Percussive and Supercussion

"I Get a Kick Out of You, Playboy's Theme, Baby Bossa Nova, Summertime, Satin Doll, Lover, Baubles, Bangles and Beads, Shim-Wha, Quiet Bossa Nova, Sleepy Time Gal, Little Brown Jug, Night Train, Take the "A" Train, Perdido, On Green Dolphin Street, Nomad, Autumn Leaves, Hindustan, A String of Pearls, Shimboo, Stompin at the Savoy, Bijou, The Brush Off, Krazy Kwilt"

Politely Percussive and Supercussion recorded in Orchestral Hall, Chicago by Ron Steele in 1963 transferred from 4-Track RCA tapes.


Available Formats: Compact Disc, HQCD (High Quality Compact Disc), 24-bit 96kHz DVD, 24-bit 192kHz DVD-Audio, 24-bit 96kHz FLAC download and 24-bit 192kHz FLAC download.

In the first half of Volume II called Politely Percussive we have what are perhaps the most relaxed and beautiful percussion works of the four recordings. While the second half called Supercussion we have the pop/jazz of the 1950's to 1960's some call bachelor pad music, saucy, exotic, sexy and exciting.

The members of Dick Schory's Percussion Pops Orchestra are Bill Hanley and Rudolph Stauber on trumpets; Herbert Wise, Paul Crumbaugh and Bill Corti playing trombones; Mike Simpson, Kenny Sodcrblom and Harold Dessent on the woodwinds; Bobby Christian, Bob Wessberg and Gary Burton keeping time on the many colorful percussion instruments with Joe Morello of Dave Brubeck fame on the drum set; rounded off with Melvin Sehmidt thumping the bass, George Alien strumming the guitar and Willis Charkovsky tickling the piano keys.

Isn't percussion grand? To me percussion is the thread that holds all music together and when there is no percussion or drums I feel there is something missing. These recordings are a percussion lovers dream come true. The sound quality of the two 24 bit 192kHz downloads from all four of these albums was very good to excellent despite their source being consumer half a century old prerecorded reel to reel tapes from the golden age of music. See HDTT's FAQs  for the reason for such sourcing.

I've listened to all four recordings over a dozen times over the past six weeks, trying to take notes on each selection. I found the task impossible because the music is just so captivating, so I have given up. There is a brief description of the first four songs in volume one but rest assured all of the selections have very unique qualities compared to other versions due to the very colorful and often exciting wide range of percussion instruments employed. If you like percussion (with orchestra) music as much as I do these are a must have both musically and sonically.