“A Gershwin Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, Arranged by Stan Freeman and Reconstructed by Brad Dechter for Richard Glazier”
Here are Richard Glazier’s comments on Stan Freeman:
“I first became familiar with the genius of Stan Freeman in the mid 90s when I learned his piano transcription of Someone To Watch Over Me. One of the great thrills of my life was going to his home in Studio City, CA a few months before he passed away. We spent a wonderful afternoon together and I had the opportunity of playing a few of his transcriptions for him. Stan is one of the key figures in show business history. Here is a short bio…
A fine all-around talent–pianist, composer, comedian, writer–Stan Freeman tends to get pigeon-holed as “that guy who played the harpsichord” on Rosemary Clooney’s huge early 1950s hit, “Come on-a My House.” Freeman studied classical piano through college, earning a bachelor of music degree from the University of Hartford in 1942. After serving in World War Two, however, he joined ex-Glenn Miller star Tex Beneke’s big band and played swing music.
Although he continued to perform occasionally in concert halls after leaving Beneke’s band in 1947, he primarily worked in nightclubs, quickly adding a comic patter to his piano playing. By the early 1950s, he was getting hired as a comedian as often as as a musician. He also picked up studio work on the side, and when Columbia Records producer Mitch Miller was looking for a distinctive sound to accompany Clooney on “Come on-a My House,” he brought in Freeman to play harpsichord. At about the same time, Percy Faith used Freeman’s harpsichord to play the melody on his early hit, “Delicado.” From then on, Freeman could rely on dusting off the harpsichord whenever he needed a quick buck (viz his Twist album, which is … well, a bit of an oil-and-water creation).
Freeman’s career was hardly as narrow as this, though. He did his nightclub act for years, appearing on television variety shows, and regularly teaming up with fellow pianist Cy Walter. He scored and appeared in a Broadway musical, “I Had a Ball,” in 1965, and did studio work behind Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and other singers. And in the late 1970s, he wrote comic material for “The Carole Burnett Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” He continued to perform live in clubs and concerts well into the 1980s.
In the 1950s Stan had a radio show in NY called Piano Playhouse. This brilliant radio show also starred the great Cy Walter who was known as the Park Avenue Art Tatum. Cy’s son Mark Walter has setup a fantastic website here.
Shortly after Stan’s death in January of 2001 Michael Feinstein gave me a very rough manuscript entitled A Gershwin Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra. Through a great stroke of luck the amazing John Clayton introduced me to Brad Dechter. Brad is one of the leading orchestrators in Hollywood and is in the process of arranging an entire pops symphony show for me.
The first project we tackled was Freeman’s Gershwin Fantasy which sat on my shelf for about 4 years after Michael Feinstein made it available. It is finally finished and you are going to be one of the first people to hear it.
Since my wife Jan is the Director of Music of PianoDisc (a modern day player piano system). I was able to go to their studio and perform the piano part on their piano. The result was that midi was captured of my actual piano performance. This is the same method that is used for all of PianoDisc’s projects.
The midi data was then sent to Brad and he synthesized an enitre symphony orchestra around my piano part based on his reconstruction of Stan’s manuscript. We were able to produce this piece as a demo without hiring an entire symphony. Although this process can never replace actual players, at the very least it gives the listener a very good idea of what the piece sounds like. We have brought a piece back to life and here it is.”
Gershwin Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra (arr. by Stan Freeman and reconstruced by Brad Dechter) Richard Glazier, piano
All best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.