Music Note:
Moonlight Bay
27 July 2018

ΒΆ I don’t remember not knowing the old song, “Moonlight Bay,” but the version that I hold close is Claude Thornhill’s. Thornhill ran the best big band, before and after the War but not during, whose fame did not survive the big band era. I discovered him as I discovered so much interesting music: an LP showed up one day at the radio station. As it was the sort of thing that a classical radio station would not be expected to play, I felt free to steal it. There were two LPs, actually, and “Moonlight Bay” was one of the cuts, along with much more notable Thornhill fare, such as “Snowfall” and “Sunday Kind of Love.”

Although most of  the numbers were orchestral, there were a few vocal solos and a few vocal ensembles. Among the latter, the one that made the biggest hit with me was “Small Hotel,” which would later be the first dance at our wedding reception. 

The Thornhill sound is suave but jazzy, and perhaps a little too sophisticated. Thornhill was hardly the only bandleader to feature charts of classical chestnuts, but instead of tacky, his “Danse Arabe” (taken from The Nutcracker) seems absolutely right, completely authentic. It’s impossible not to wonder what Tchaikovsky would have made of it. 

All week, I’ve been singing “Moonlight Bay” to myself. What a rude surprise to discover that I haven’t got it on CD! (The LPs were discarded years ago.) I’ve found a recording at Amazon, but I won’t have it until next week! 

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