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George M. Cohan: You're a Grand Old Flag

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
In his extensive liner notes to this album in a 36-page CD booklet of small print, Rick Benjamin, founder and director of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, writes that the music of musical theater songwriter George M. Cohan 1878-1942 is remembered largely through the 1942 film biography Yankee Doodle Dandy and the 1968 Broadway musical George M!, but that, in both cases, new orchestrations were used to make the music sound more contemporary. Here, Benjamin's purpose is to re-create the sound of Cohan's music as it was played originally, for the most part in the first decade of the 20th century. That means using the "Eleven & Piano" theater orchestra instrumentation of...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
In his extensive liner notes to this album in a 36-page CD booklet of small print, Rick Benjamin, founder and director of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, writes that the music of musical theater songwriter George M. Cohan 1878-1942 is remembered largely through the 1942 film biography Yankee Doodle Dandy and the 1968 Broadway musical George M!, but that, in both cases, new orchestrations were used to make the music sound more contemporary. Here, Benjamin's purpose is to re-create the sound of Cohan's music as it was played originally, for the most part in the first decade of the 20th century. That means using the "Eleven & Piano" theater orchestra instrumentation of the day flute doubling on piccolo, clarinet, two cornets, trombone, drums, piano, two violins, viola, 'cello, and double bass and having that orchestra play the original orchestrations. Benjamin has also hired a Cohan soundalike, Colin Pritchard, to sing four songs, as well as a soprano, Bernadette Boerckel, to do another three. That accounts for seven of the musical tracks; the other seven are instrumentals. The album concludes with a speech given by Cohan himself in 1938. In his notes, Benjamin emphasizes Cohan's relationship to ragtime, suggesting that he popularized the style by bringing it to Broadway and by taking his shows on the road around the U.S. Certainly, listeners will recognize that connection. In these performances, Cohan's music comes across as similar to that of Scott Joplin and occasionally, the march king John Philip Sousa. Since half the selections, constituting well over half of the running time, are instrumentals, this is much more music of the concert hall than the theater, and the recordings may serve to help the classical field claim Cohan from the popular realm. In any case, the album makes a welcome addition to the small library of recordings of one of Broadway's and popular music's outstanding songwriters of the early 20th century.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/11/2008
  • Label: New World Records
  • UPC: 093228068525
  • Catalog Number: 80685-2
  • Sales rank: 112,762

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra Primary Artist, Choir, Chorus, Performing Ensemble
George M. Cohan Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part, Spoken Word
Deb Spohnheimer Bass, Vocals, Group Member
Rick Benjamin Conductor, Group Member
Tim Albright Trombone, Vocals, Group Member
Kevin Cobb Cornet, Vocals, Group Member
Leslie Cullen Flute, Piccolo, Group Member
C.J. Camerieri Cornet, Vocals, Group Member
Bernadette Boerckel Vocals, Soprano (Vocal)
Colin Pritchard Vocals, Baritone (Vocal)
The Yankee Doodle Singers Vocals
Technical Credits
George M. Cohan Composer
Judith Sherman Producer, Engineer
Paul Zinman Mastering
J. Bodewalt Lampe Orchestration
Frank Saddler Orchestration
Rick Benjamin Liner Notes, Orchestration, Concept, Orchestra Director
Tim Albright Contributor
Spoken Wordz Composer
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