Preserving Vintage Scores, PS Classics, Inc. Releases Swift's Fine and Dandy, With Creel, Cantone, Carmello

News   Preserving Vintage Scores, PS Classics, Inc. Releases Swift's Fine and Dandy, With Creel, Cantone, Carmello PS Classics, Inc., the not-for-profit organization devoted to restoration and preservation of American musical theatre, is releasing its new studio recording of the Kay Swift musical, Fine and Dandy, in May.
Carolee Carmello
Carolee Carmello

Early orders are being taken via www.PSClassics.org May 11, with an in-store date of May 25.

Co-founded by Philip Chaffin and Tommy Krasker, PS Classics, Inc. — as opposed to the commercial company, PS Classics LLC (Nine, "The Maury Yeston Songbook," the upcoming Fiddler on the Roof) — has as its primary focus the location and preservation of performance materials toward a goal of recording scores and songs that are part of musical theatre heritage.

The vocal recording sessions of Kay Swift's 1930 musical, Fine and Dandy, were completed Jan. 26 in Manhattan. The disc will feature Carolee Carmello, Gavin Creel, Andrea Burns, Mark Linn-Baker, Mario Cantone, Deborah Tranelli, Anne Kaufman and Jennifer Laura Thompson.

"Tommy and I have always been interested in recording forgotten works of the American musical theatre," Philip Chaffin previously told Playbill On-Line. "Tommy of course got started as a record producer doing cast albums of old Gershwin shows. His background is as an archivist. But the bottom line is that these projects take years - [musical director] Aaron Gandy and [orchestrator] Russell Warner have been working on the restoration of Fine and Dandy since the fall of 2001. And then when you get around to recording, and factor in the size of the orchestra and cast, and the potential sales, these projects simply don't pay back. The truth is that there's a passionate audience for these vintage cast albums — we count ourselves among the fans — but it's a limited audience. Tommy learned that lesson early on when the Gershwin recordings, one by one, lost money. We simply couldn't bring investors aboard promising them any hope of a return, but at the same time, we didn't want to give up on a lot of hopes we had to restore and record vintage works. So we opened a nonprofit company designed specifically for the locating, restoration and, ultimately, recording of vintage American works."

PS Classics Inc. got its 501(c)(3) status from the IRS in fall 2003. "We've been approaching individuals, foundations, and corporations, but anyone can go to our website and make a donation, large or small, and we hope they will," Chaffin said.

Why Fine and Dandy?

Krasker previously told Playbill On-Line, "Back in the fall of 2001, I received an e-mail from Kay Swift's granddaughter Katharine Weber. I had spoken with her briefly back when I was recording Pardon My English for the Gershwin Trusts a decade ago. Kay had restored a lot of Gershwin's unnotated songs from memory in the years following his death, and we thought she might have some sketches from Pardon My English that would help us with the restoration. Katharine obliged very kindly and very quickly, but I hadn't spoken to her since.

"Katharine was writing because of her desire to see Fine and Dandy, Kay's biggest musical comedy, recorded. The lyrics were by Kay's husband, James Warburg, writing under the pseudonym Paul James. Kay had been working with orchestrator Russell Warner restoring the score just before she died, and Russell in turn had been working on the restoration for over a decade. Katharine sent me a vocal score, and I thought it was delightful. I really didn't know Kay's work at all, other than the title song, but she was an accomplished classically-trained musician and composer. I think the work will surprise a lot of people, and although the original charts survive for only one number, Russell has been orchestrating the remainder of the work for the original number of musicians: 28."

In addition to the aforementioned cast, the recording will also feature several bonus tracks of other songs by Kay Swift (including her now-standard "Can't We Be Friends?"), performed by jazz and cabaret artists Ann Hampton Callaway, Jack Donahue, Natalie Douglas, and Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli.

In May, Yale University Press will release a Kay Swift biography, "Fine and Dandy: The Life and Work of Kay Swift."

The track list of the Fine and Dandy recording follows.

1. Overture (Orchestra)
2. "Machine Shop Opening" (Mark Linn-Baker & Ensemble)
3. "Rich or Poor" (Gavin Creel & Jennifer Laura Thompson)
4. "Fine and Dandy" (Carolee Carmello & Mario Cantone)
5. "Sing High Male" (Ensemble)
6. "I'll Hit a New High" (Andrea Burns & Male Ensemble)
7. "Starting at the Bottom" (Gavin Creel)
8. "Can This Be Love?" (Carolee Carmello)
9. "Fordyce" (Ensemble)
10. "Let's Go Eat Worms in the Garden" (Gavin Creel, Carolee Carmello & Ensemble)
11. "Etiquette" (Mark Linn-Baker & Ensemble)
12. "The Jig-Hop (Andrea Burns & Ensemble)
13. "Can This Be Love?" (reprise) (Jennifer Laura Thompson & Gavin Creel)
14. "Wedding Bells" (Ensemble)
15. "Nobody Breaks My Heart" (Carolee Carmello)
16. "Nature Will Provide" (Deborah Tranelli)
17. "Finale Ultimo" (Carolee Carmello & Ensemble)
Also by Kay Swift:
18. "Up Among the Chimney Pots" (Natalie Douglas)
19. "Can't We Be Friends?" (John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey)
20. "Whistling in the Dark" (Jack Donahue)
21. "Once You Find Your Guy" (Ann Hampton Callaway)