Jersey Jazz, Joe Lang
“When discussing teams of writers who have successfully written for musical theater, the first names that usually come up are Rodgers and Hart or Hammerstein or Lerner and Lowe or Kander and Ebb, perhaps Bock and Harnick or Strouse and Adams. One pair who also deserves to be mentioned among the first rank are TOM JONES and HARVEY SCHMIDT, creators of The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade, I Do! I Do! and Celebration. They started out contributing songs to reviews like Shoestring ’57 and Julius Monk’s Demi-Dozen, before they achieved success with the long running Off-Broadway smash The Fantasticks. While their major works are limited, they wrote many songs for theater pieces that never reached Broadway and occasional songs for films. Much of this unfamiliar material is gathered in a two-disc set, Jones & Schmidt: Hidden Treasures, 1951-2001 (Harbinger – 3404). There are many delights to be found in this diverse collection. The quartet of songs from Julius Monk’s Demi-Dozen are superb examples of the kind of smart topical ditties that were to be found in the reviews that were popular in the 1950s. An appealing medley from a 1961 television review, New York Scrapbook, and a sampling of songs written for an often revised, but never successful musical, Colette, are ear catching. These are but a few of the “Hidden Treasures” to be found in this fascinating compilation. For musical theater buffs, it is a treasure chest indeed!”
”I Have Acted Like a Fool” is a poignant find sung sweetly with Nathan Goodrich and Samantha Bruce. An interesting mega-medley caresses songs from 1961’s television special, New York Scrapbook, joining “I Like the City of New York” with “Everyone Looks Lonely,” “I Know Loneliness Quite Well,” and “Where Has the Time Gone?” featuring Kaye Ballard, Kenneth Nelson, and Maureen Bailey. This is a highlight. There are some misty-eyed moments here such as the songs from Grover’s Corners, the aborted musical version of Our Town that had Mary Martin scheduled to play the stage manager.”
Hear the marvelous title song of the 1969 musical Celebration: “I want to celebrate every day!” exudes the optimism that many Golden Age musicals have. It doesn’t “deny the darkness” of contemporary life but exists “to defy it” with “belly laughs and belly dancers,” writes Jones.
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“Steven Suskin, author of The Sound of Broadway Music, “’Hidden Treasures’ ” is thoroughly wonderful, capturing the warmth and wit and humanity of Jones & Schmidt. Plenty of fun, too. It makes you feel like you’re sitting in the room with Harvey and Tom and friends. The accompanying booklet is special as well, and up to the visual standards of Harvey (who started out as a graphic artist and never lost the touch). What a fine way to spend time with this distinctive and uncompromising musical comedy team!”