Got To Get Over the Hump! Easy Listening Edification Day #1 (Now Includes Link)


Largely forgotten now, Gary McFarland was one of the more significant contributors to orchestral jazz during the early ’60s. An “adult prodigy,” as Gene Lees accurately noted, McFarland was an ingenious composer whose music could reveal shades of complex emotional subtlety and clever childlike simplicity. While in the Army, he became interested in jazz and attempted to play trumpet, trombone, and piano. In 1955, he took up playing the vibes. Displaying a quick ability for interesting writing, he obtained a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music. He spent one semester there and with the encouragement of pianist John Lewis, concentrated on large-band arrangements of his own compositions. He attained early notoriety and success working with Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Hodges, John Lewis, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, and Anita O’Day. McFarland began devoting more attention to his own career by 1963 when he released what is often regarded as his most significant recording, The Gary McFarland Orchestra/Special Guest Soloist: Bill Evans. He also recorded in small-group settings, which featured his clever vibes playing. The success of his instrumental pop collection, Soft Samba, allowed McFarland to form his first performing group. But his recordings thereafter, more often than not, featured an easy listening instrumental pop bent. McFarland went on to excellent work with Gabor Szabo, Shirley Scott, Zoot Sims, and Steve Kuhn, but only rarely featured his outstanding compositional talents (as in 1968’s America the Beautiful). He formed the short-lived Skye Records label with Szabo and vibist Cal Tjader in the late 60s and continued to record prolifically. By the late 60s, though, he was forgotten by his initial jazz followers and he died in 1971 after being poisoned in a New York City bar.

– By Douglas Payne

According to Wikipedia, his drink was poisoned with methadone.  That is messed up.  Anyways, this  offering is, you might have surmised, from Gary McFarland.  He was joined by Gabor Szabo, whose name I know but recordings do not.


Released on Verve in 1965, The In Sound is a laid-back affair, which makes it perfect for Got To Get Over the Hump Easy Listening Edification Day.  In fact, it even contains a song titled “Over Easy.”  Put on some house shoes, crack open a bottle of wine and kick back.

The album opens with “Satisfaction.”  Yes, that “Satisfaction.”  Gary’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ hit strips the cock rock swagger and infuses it with a breezy, western southern hemisphere vibe.  Thoroughly solid, just extremely different than the original.  It features some nice whistling.

Whistling is present at the get-go of “I Concentrate On You.”  Be ready for lots of whistling.  Also, be ready for a steady stream of mellow horn, xylophone, and drum parts plus scat singing.  There isn’t too much to say about a solid, genre album like this.

Gary and the band slow it down even a bit more on “Here I Am.”  As challenging as the album may be, try to stick it through.  There are a couple of pretty dope cuts later on the album.

“The Moment of Truth” is a dope cut.  Sounding like Don Quixote, and utilizing the “so happy together” riddim, “The Moment of Truth” is a beautiful song.  Very mellow, but much faster than the previous song, it features a nice flute and xylophone.

“Fried Bananas” is the most energetic song on the album.  It is also perhaps the best song on the album.  The bass plays a gorgeous melody.  I want to learn and play it often.  The rhythm guitar work as excellent as well.

“Bloop Bleep” is a funny, original tale about the annoyance caused by a dripping faucet.  Good horn and rhythm guitar work carry the song.  Time to call Joe the Plumber and take some ambien.  Another of the best songs on the album.

A very fine stretch of three songs.  “The Hlls of Verdugo” is another solid song, although it brings a return of the slow tempo.  It ventures into the same territory as “The Moment of Truth”.

“The Sting of the Bee” maintains the mellow mood, but is better than the songs right at the beginning.  I love the whistling on this cut.  Thankfully, there is no vocal.

The penultimate track is “Over Easy,” words which defines the sound of the album.

“Wine & Bread” is title, but “bread & wine” is the order of the words in chorus.  The lyrics are strange, and seem to be about redneck extremists.  The title and chorus allude to religion, and the word bible appears at the beginning.  An interesting end to the album.

Is it just me or does Gary McFarland sound a little like Lou Reed?  Perhaps, it is just because both use the quiet man voice.

And this marks the end of the first ever Got To Get Over the Humpday!


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