Henri René

Music for Bachelors

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Henri René led one of the finer sweet bands of the '50s, at least when he wasn't acting in an executive capacity at RCA Records. His Music for Bachelors LP from 1956 is a paragon of the style -- soft melodies, sweetly played by strings, on a set of standards including "Time on My Hands," "La Vie en Rose," and "I'll See You in My Dreams." Since the very premise of the record is to supply background music, it can fulfill its purpose and still be relatively unaffecting at the same time. Two ingredients lift this above the usual orchestral pop record of the '50s, first the virtuosic piano of Buddy Cole and second the occasional soft guitar shadings of studio whiz-kid Barney Kessel. René undoubtedly has a knack for arranging -- he often highlights unusual brass instruments -- but the core of this record is background music, which doesn't usually reward close listening.

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