Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael wrote some of the 20th century's most endearing and enduring popular songs. Active as pianist and vocalist and later famous as a character actor in motion pictures, Carmichael left behind a trail of phonograph recordings both timeless and charmingly dated. Living Era's Sometimes I Wonder brings together some of his best work recorded between November 1927 and December 1947. Some of these performances use drawling Southern dialects that typify a sizeable portion of the material composed and performed in the U.S. entertainment marketplace during the first half of the 20th century. The son of an electrician and a movie theater pianist, young Hoagy Carmichael received musical instruction from his mother, Lida Robison Carmichael, in his hometown of Bloomington, IN. He also learned how to swing by hanging out in the cathouses and speakeasies of Indianapolis, developing his technique under the influence of African-American ragtime pianist Reggie Duval. Part of the charm in Carmichael's musical legacy is his unusual singing voice; he hadn't set out to be a vocalist and was at first reluctant to sing at all in front of a microphone. His knack for conjuring pleasant melodies is well documented here and elsewhere; most importantly he would wish for everyone to recognize his primary influence. In Stardust Road, his first autobiography which was published in 1946, Carmichael immortalized his poetically charged friendship with Bix Beiderbecke, describing the two of them sprawled in front of the phonograph in 1924, sipping caustic prohibition whiskey while listening to Igor Stravinsky's Firebird. Part of the magic of that intimate scenario is present in all of Hoagy Carmichael's best melodies. Living Era's Sometimes I Wonder spans the first two decades of Carmichael's career, documenting his collaborations with some of the most influential jazz musicians of his generation, including the Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Red Norvo, Louis Armstrong, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Bubber Miley and, of course, Bix Beiderbecke.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Sidney Arodin