I was noodling around Amazon a few days ago, and my heart stopped. “After the Ball” the collaboration between the American pianist and composer William Bolcum, and his wife the mezzo soprano Joan Morris is available on CD. It even includes some tracks from their second Nonesuch album “Vaudeville.” I clicked so fast on “Buy Now’ that I got whiplash. 14.99 isn’t chump change in my house, or yours, but go here and buy it. Now.http://www.amazon.com/After-Ball-plus-Highlights-Vaudeville/dp/B000005IY5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1280367757&sr=1-1 The reason we haven’t ditched our crummy turntable years ago is that I can’t bear to think about being separated from Bolcum and Morris and American music. I think that Nonesuch should be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors for allowing “Wild About Eubie” to slip from their catalogue: Bolcum matches Eubie Blake stride for stride pianistically, and the memory of Morris’s version of ‘Good Night Angeline’ makes the fact that I bought “Wild About Eubie” on cassette tape brands me as FAIL. But, as I said, I’m gonna bug Nonesuch.
They’ve done Kern, Rogers and Hart, Irving Berlin — the whole songbook, but better than anyone. But let me return to “After the Ball”
It’s a four generation favorite. We took the album as a gift to Ottawa in the late 70s, while my parents were in Paris and my grandmothers were babysitting my sisters. When we staggered in the door after ten hours of a miserable drive we beheld two tiny ladies, literally wringing their hands and flinging themselves on our breasts. My sister Megan had been acting up in a bad way, and they were beside themselves. The cure: spinning ‘After the Ball.” Lor lummee, these were the songs of their youth and they sang along to “She’s Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage” and “Waltz Me Around Again Willie” as I might to “Big Yellow Taxi.”
My parents arrived the next day , were entranced by “After the Ball” and bought every single output of Bolcum and Morris.
My daughter was entranced too. Her paternal grandfather was astounded that she Knew the introduction to “Shine on Harvest Moon.”
So that’s four generations who love this music. Bolcum somehow combines stride piano and Brahms in his accompanying. I wept when I heard “On the Banks of the Wabash” thirty years ago. I wept last night.