With the fertile songbook of The Great White Way to guide him, Arthur Lyman and crew salute the American stage. On Broadway (1959) mixes the bandleader's distinct brand of jazzy instrumental exotica with four extended suites. Selections lifted out of The King and I -- which is the first of two medleys spotlighting the voluminous cannon of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein -- get things started. The staged presentation -- which debuted in 1951 -- had been based on an autobiographical story of a school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Its success was secured not only by garnering a Tony Award for Best Musical but also in its ability to spawn an equally endearing cinematic adaptation in 1956. Lyman drew upon the memorable score that included the classics "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "March of the Siamese Children," "Getting to Know You," "We Kiss in a Shadow," and "Shall We Dance?." From Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner's revision of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion was born the smash My Fair Lady. The upbeat optimism of "I Could Have Danced All Night" kicks things into a swinging start as Lyman's runs up and down the vibraphone alternately shimmer and resound. Porgy and Bess is the oldest entry, dating back to the mid-'30s when George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin adopted the operatic libretto of DuBose Heyward and Dorothy Heyward. The play is replete with unforgettable music. Namely "I'm Getting Married in the Morning," "A Woman Is Sometimes a Thing," and Lyman's soulful interpretation of "Summertime" -- all of which are among the best offerings on the entire platter. Bookending On Broadway is the second Rodgers & Hammerstein-derivation by way of South Pacific. In terms of chronology, concurrent consumers of this long-player would have unquestionably been familiar with not only the 1949 stage presentation, but more recently, the 1958 movie version. The wall-to-wall highlights are bolstered by "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and the truly ageless "Some Enchanted Evening." In 2008, Collectors' Choice Music issued On Broadway onto CD coupled with the Colorful Percussions of Arthur Lyman (1962) album -- making both available again after decades out of print.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer