In a world filled with cacophonous cries of rage masquerading as singing and interminable electronic thumping passed off as rhythm, it does the music lover's heart good to hear a living artist who still appreciates those rapidly vanishing attributes known as melody and sentiment. Sure, we have our Frank Sinatra memories and our Ella Fitzgerald reveries, our favorite Benny Goodman recordings and cherished Billie Holiday performances. But so many of today's musicians - if such a term can be applied to rappers and shouters and distortion merchants - seem oblivious to the beauty, the very real possibility of joy and pleasure, that heartfelt music can bring into our lives. How many times have you put an old Tommy Dorsey disc on the stereo and, letting the waves of music wash over you like a warm sonic sea, thought, 'they just don't make 'em like they used to'? Well, Alan Kaplan still does. Welcome to Lonely Town, a place where love and regret, pining and rejoicing, and everything else that makes us human can be heard emanating from the bell of a trombone. This collection of timeless songs, arranged and performed by some of the Los Angeles area's best musicians, makes you realize all over again that beautiful music never completely goes away. It just waits to be rediscovered. Kaplan's Lonely Town is the realization of a life-long dream. One of the entertainment industry's elite studio players - he can be hard on everything from Star Trek to The Simpsons, Barbra Streisand in Concert to Sleepless in Seattle - Alan Kaplan is accustomed to performing every kind of music imaginable. (The license plate on his car reads MANOWA, in tribute to the thousands of cartoons he's accompanied throughout his recording career.) But playing ballads is his first love. While most kids in the 60s were stamping their feet to the Rolling Stones, Kaplan was tapping his to bittersweet torch songs. Even as a lad in high school, the fledgling trombonist listened to every ballad record he could find, envisioning himself someday recording classic arrangements of classic songs with a classic orchestra. A musician since age eight, Kaplan tried to prepare for a 'real' job, majoring in engineering at LA Valley College, but by 19 he was on the road with Buddy Rich, the youngest trombonist ever to play lead with that band. The next decade found him working with big band legends such as Harry James, Louis Bellson, Don Ellis and Lionel Hampton. By the late 70's, Kaplan was being compared to trombone greats Carl Fontana and Frank Rosolino. And all the time he kept listening to those ballads. Dreaming. Never mind that T. Dorsey has been replaced by the likes of Snoop Dogg. In a place called Lonely Town, one man's dreams still come true. In turn, so do countless other fantasies harbored deep in the hearts of every music lover who adores a good tune played well. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, beautiful music still aches to be heard. Rare artists like Alan Kaplan and his orchestra keep our hopes alive. THE TRACKS 1. Ebb Tide. Arranged by the legendary Russ Garcia. The signature Kaplan style: legato, relaxed, effortless. Feel the waves wash you away. 2. Angel Eyes. Arranged by pianist and composer Bill Cunliffe. A testament to the superb musicianship on this recording: This multi-layered melange of strings and winds and one plaintive horn, along with the other 12 orchestral tracks on Lonely Town, were all recorded in just seven hours. 3. Their Hearts Were Full of Spring. Arranged by Joe Curiale. On this Bobby Troup tune Kaplan overdubs five trombone parts to emulate the vocal qualities of the original Four Freshmen recording. 4. I Think of You. Arranged by Russ Garcia. This is the melody from Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto famously transformed into a pop song and immortalized in 1941 by Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra. Here Kaplan expertly emulates their timeless style. 5. Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry. Arranged by Joe Curiale. Even if you didn't know the words, your soul hears a broken heart. 6. Only The Lonely. Arranged by Bob Alcivar. On this 3 AM and a bottle of whiskey tune, Kaplan produces the kind of long and languorous phrases that would make Mr. Sinatra proud. 7. Nancy. Arranged by Joe Curiale. See above! 8. I Fall in Love too Easily. Arranged by Tom Ranier. This is a song Kaplan has always adored. In Tom Ranier's beautiful arrangement you might hear the influence of the great Urbie Green, whose recording of this song is a classic. 9. You'll Never Know. Arranged by Bob Alcivar. Dedicated to Alan Kaplan's mother and his late father. This was their wedding song, and he always dreamed of recording it for them. 10. Emily. Arranged by Joe Curiale. With apologies to Tony Bennett, this could become the definitive recording of this pretty tune. Kaplan plays his horn as though he were a singer. 11. The Night We Called it a Day. Arranged by Steve Bernstein. Here Kaplan introduces the seldom-heard verse to this wonderful Matt Dennis song, dear to anyone whose ever had a broken heart. 12. My One and Only Love. Arranged by Russ Garcia. An homage to two special people: Dick Nash, who played the definitive version of this (and so many other songs) on trombone; and Kaplan's beautiful wife, the singer Tierney Sutton. In fact, this was their wedding song, which they performed together post-nuptials! 13. Lonely Town. Arranged by Joe Curiale. This wonderful song by Leonard Bernstein closes the orchestral portion of the album, bidding us adieu to a solitary place we'd like to re-visit again and again. BONUS TRACKS: 14. Try to Remember. A Hoyt Bohannon transcription of a Gene Puerling arrangement. Both these bonus tracks were recorded at Kaplan's home studio on a Tascam 788 Porta-Studio. They're arranged for a variety of tenor trombones and bass trombones, eight in all, including a King 2102L, a Conn 8H, a Conn88H and a Conn 62H 15. Don't Like Goodbyes. Arranged by Bob Alcivar. No one does - not unless they lead to many more helloes, with the sounds of a lush orchestra and an assured trombone welcoming us to a world of aural pleasure.
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