Various Artists | Chip Deffaa's Irving Berlin's America

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Chip Deffaa's Irving Berlin's America

by Various Artists

The premiere recording of the first musical play about the life of famed songwriter Irving Berlin, written by ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award-winner Chip Deffaa, mixing Berlin classics with some terrific rarities and rediscoveries
Genre: Easy Listening: Show Tunes
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Medley: All By Myself / Nobody Knows
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
3:26 $0.99
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2. I Love a Piano
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
3:04 $0.99
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3. Simple Melody / Musical Demon
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
1:47 $0.99
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4. Home Again Blues
Michael Townsend Wright
1:25 $0.99
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5. The Circus Is Coming to Town
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
1:26 $0.99
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6. Mary's a Grand Old Name
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
1:36 $0.99
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7. The Yankee Doodle Boy
Jack Saleeby & Tyler Duboys
1:54 $0.99
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8. Yankee Love
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
0:51 $0.99
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9. Blow Your Horn
Jack Saleeby & Michael Townsend Wright
1:30 $0.99
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10. Grizzly Bear
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
0:51 $0.99
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11. Alexander's Ragtime Band
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
1:38 $0.99
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12. Everybody Step
Michael Townsend Wright, Jack Saleeby & Tyler Duboys
2:46 $0.99
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13. I'll See You In C-U-B-A
Michael Townsend Wright
3:05 $0.99
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14. When I Lost You
Michael Townsend Wright
2:47 $0.99
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15. Oh, That Beautiful Rag
Michael Townsend Wright
1:04 $0.99
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16. Some Sunny Day
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
2:23 $0.99
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17. This Is the Life
Michael Townsend Wright
1:45 $0.99
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18. Sadie Salome (Go Home)
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
2:04 $0.99
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19. I Want to Go Back to Michigan (Down On the Farm)
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
2:47 $0.99
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20. Mandy
Tyler Duboys
0:40 $0.99
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21. I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now
Jack Saleeby
2:20 $0.99
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22. When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam
Michael Townsend Wright, Jack Saleeby & Tyler Duboys
1:49 $0.99
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23. A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody
Jack Saleeby
2:05 $0.99
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24. Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
2:37 $0.99
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25. Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
1:25 $0.99
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26. When I Leave the World Behind
Michael Townsend Wright & Jack Saleeby
2:34 $0.99
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27. Bows Music: Everybody Step
Richard Danley, Chip Deffaa, Vince Giordano & Andy Stein
0:50 $0.99
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28. Exit Music: All By Myself
Richard Danley, Vince Giordano & Andy Stein
0:49 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"IRVING BERLIN’S AMERICA"...

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was the most popular single songwriter in American history. He wrote more hits–and made more money–than any of his competitors. He provided the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood film musicals. George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.” But no one has told Berlin’s life story in a show. Until now.... ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award-winning writer Chip Deffaa–who wrote and directed such Off-Broadway successes as "George M. Cohan Tonight!" and "One Night with Fanny Brice"--has dramatized the life of Irving Berlin. He has spent seven years researching and writing about Berlin.

Deffaa’s intimate musical play "Irving Berlin’s America" is the first of five plays that Deffaa has written--featuring different songs and stories, and written for different-size casts--celebrating the life and times of the legendary Berlin. This album--being released now exclusively in the United States--is the premiere recording of this new musical play.

As the lights come up, we find Berlin alone on stage. It’s late at night, September 22nd, 1989. The reclusive Berlin--standing at the easel in the upstairs living quarters of his New York townhouse--is painting. And he is singing to himself: “ALL BY MYSELF.” He pauses–and then is surprised to hear someone singing one of his early song hits back to him--from the sidewalk in front of his home, down below: “NOBODY KNOWS (AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE).” He tries in vain to get this enthusiastic sidewalk singer–who appears to be about 17–to be quiet.

The singer–who says his name is “Jack”; Berlin has seen him around the neighborhood–notes that Berlin’s front door is wide open. And he asks if he could come in for a bit. Grudgingly, Berlin agrees. Jack arrives bearing a gift: a piece of lemon meringue pie. Berlin says it tastes exactly like the pie he used to love at the long-gone Horn and Hardart Automat, many years before. The Automat opened the same year he first broke through to success. He observes: “That was my idea of paradise–the Horn and Hardart Automat.”

“I know,” says Jack, adding that he’s glad he’s managed to bring a smile to Berlin’s face.

“It won’t last long; I’m grumpy by nature,” Berlin insists.

He questions whether Jack is real or is, perhaps, merely a figment of his own imagination--the product of a fever dream. Berlin has been in poor health, he says, in and out of delirium: “I’m close to death; I can feel it.” Jack puts his hand on Berlin’s shoulder to comfort him.

He tries to warm up Berlin by singing a cheery, rollicking old Berlin number: “I LOVE A PIANO.” Berlin tells him: “You sing like an angel.” Jack replies, “I dance like one, too,” and taps a bit. Jack gets Berlin to join him, singing and dancing to “SIMPLE MELODY” / “MUSICAL DEMON.” Berlin is enjoying hearing his old songs again, noting: “My whole life is in my songs.”

Jack says he’s interested in hearing about Berlin’s life. He inquires: What are Berlin’s earliest memories?

They’re not always happy ones, Berlin acknowledges, recalling the pogrom that drove his family out of Russia when he was a small boy. He was just five–and terrified–when Russian soldiers showed up in their village, saying the Jews would have to leave. His mother told one of the soldiers: “You don’t frighten me; I have looked into the face of the Angel of Death himself, and he has a kinder face than yours.”

But the soldiers order everyone out. Berlin watches, in horror, as his family’s home is burned to the ground. And the family makes the long trek to America. One sister dies along the way. Berlin’s father reaches America a crushed, defeated man. His mother, stern and stoic by nature, is dazed; she never learns English.

Throughout his life, Berlin tells Jack, songs of loss and loneliness, and of homesickness, have always come easily to him. He sings, reflectively, “HOME AGAIN BLUES.”

But as a small boy in New York City, he adapted to his new home quickly–the first member of his family to learn English. He loved the energy of the city, and the excitement of street-parades letting everyone know that a show was on its way (“THE CIRCUS IS COMING TO TOWN”).

His parents, however, never fully make the adjustment to the new country. His father dies. His mother struggles to support five children. By age 13, Berlin is out on his own for good–a street kid, singing for spare change.

Within a few years, he finds steady work as a singing waiter in Mike Salter’s big, rough beer hall. There’s a whorehouse and opium den above the hall. Young Berlin sings bawdy parodies of popular songs. When he wants to sing a “class song,” he sings something by his favorite living songwriter/entertainer–his first idol–George M. Cohan (“MARY’S A GRAND OLD NAME”). He saves money so that he can go see the dynamic Cohan perform on stage (“THE YANKEE DOODLE BOY”).

While working at Mike Salter’s place, Berlin begins creating songs–at first, providing lyrics to melodies that the club’s pianist plays; later coming up with both words and music. Because he cannot read or write music himself, a trained musician must write down Berlin’s songs for him–a system that Berlin will use for the rest of his life. He is the songwriter; but he needs a “musical secretary” to notate the songs that he invents. His earliest efforts show clearly the influence of George M. Cohan (“YANKEE LOVE”)–who tells him that he’s too talented to be imitating anybody; he needs to find his own voice, and then sell himself as hard as he can (“BLOW YOUR HORN”).

Berlin has modest successes, writing catchy songs such as “GRIZZLY BEAR,” which a rising young performer named Mae West helps to popularize in vaudeville. Cohan offers Berlin a chance to get some good exposure by inviting him to join the star-studded cast of the annual “Friars Frolic” benefit show, which he is organizing.

Berlin takes a song that he had previously offered to the public–without any success–as an instrumental, and adds to words to it. He introduces it at the Friars Frolic, and it is a sensation: “ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND.” It becomes one of the greatest hits in the history of popular song, soon selling two million copies of sheet music, and making Berlin internationally famous. Billed as “the King of Ragtime,” Berlin begins writing scores for Broadway shows; he is considered a master of writing infectious upbeat numbers….

At his townhouse, the aged Berlin is enjoying these memories of a time when he was on top of the world. Berlin and his visitor have fun singing one of Berlin’s irresistible Broadway showstoppers: “EVERYBODY STEP.” Berlin tells Jack that he is glad he’s getting this chance to recall–to see once again, in his mind’s eye–the high points of his long life. He’s grateful to Jack for prodding him, for giving him this opportunity to look back. “Ehhh, it’s what I do,” Jack mutters–and asks Berlin, when did Berlin first fall in love?

Berlin tells how he was so smitten with Dorothy Goetz–a beautiful, aspiring singer who turned up at his office one day, in search of a song–that he proposed marriage within a few weeks of meeting her.

For their honeymoon, they sail to Havana (“I’LL SEE YOU IN C-U-B-A”), but she catches a virulent strain of typhoid fever. It proves to be fatal. Lost in grief, Berlin pours his feelings into a song—creating what Al Jolson will later refer to as “Berlin’s greatest song,” a song Berlin himself will call the first really good ballad, the first really mature ballad he ever wrote: “WHEN I LOST YOU.”

After the death of Dorothy, a dozen years will pass before Berlin will look at another woman romantically. He buries himself in his work.

As much as a he likes writing songs, though, a part of him wishes he could make it as an entertainer, too–the way that, say, Cohan has. He gets a chance to demonstrate what he can do on stage when the Shuberts add him to a big Broadway show they’re producing, starring the one-and-only Eddie Foy, Up and Down Broadway. Berlin introduces “OH, THAT BEAUTIFUL RAG.” But he hasn’t the stage presence of a Cohan or a Jolson, or even a Foy. Industry pros tell him to stick to his songwriting.

He’s glad he gets to write for the biggest stars in the country. Everyone is singing Berlin’s songs, from Eddie Foy and his seven high-spirited kids (“SOME SUNNY DAY”) to the indomitable Jolson (“THIS IS THE LIFE”), to Miss Fanny Brice (SADIE SALOME”).

In Berlin’s townhouse, Jack asks him about each of the great stars he mentions, wondering if Berlin would have wanted to have traded places with this star, or that one. Berlin reflects. He recalls that Foy, although highly paid, never handled money well and was always scuffling; Berlin knew a lot of stars like that; he learned to handle money prudently. As for Jolson, he was the most talented entertainer Berlin ever knew, but Jolson never really learned how to live; he could get jealous of–and feel threatened by–other performers. And Fanny Brice became America’s highest-paid singing comedienne, but the great love of her life, Nicky Arnstein, treated her terribly, causing her much anguish. No, Berlin realizes, he would not have wanted to trade places with any of these stars.

Jack gets Berlin to recall other showbiz legends he knew, including Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland (“I WANT TO GO BACK TO MICHIGAN,” “MANDY,” “I’VE GOT MY CAPTAIN WORKING FOR ME NOW,” “WHEN THE MIDNIGHT CHOO-CHOO LEAVES FOR ALABAM’”). He loved their work, and the way they sang so many great songs of his; but he knew them well enough to feel sure their lives were not as fulfilling as his own.

Jack notes that, over the years, Berlin met the most desirable showgirls and actresses on Broadway and in Hollywood (“A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY”). Surely, he must have found them tempting?

Berlin says he never knew anyone more beautiful, inside and out, than the woman who became the second Mrs. Irving Berlin, Ellin McKay. They wed, despite the strident objections of her parents. He paid no mind to such objections (“PACK UP YOUR SINS AND GO TO THE DEVIL”). They enjoyed more than 60 years of married life together.

Berlin wrote the songs for classic productions of stage and screen, including Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam, Easter Parade, and White Christmas, and he wrote countless stand-alone hit pop songs. Looking back over a lifetime of career successes, what was he proudest of? Jack asks. What did he consider the high point of his career?

That’s easy, Berlin suggests; it was entertaining the troops and boosting morale with an all-soldier show he created and starred in, during the Second World War, This is the Army. And he sings the song G.I.’s never tired of hearing him sing: “OH, HOW I HATE TO GET UP IN THE MORNING.”

Berlin realizes he’s lived a full life, and he’s lived it on his own terms. But now he’s outlived all of his friends. And with the recent passing of his wife, he’s been feeling all alone.

No unfulfilled wishes remaining? Jack wonders.

Well, Berlin suggests, maybe he would like another cup of coffee. Maybe he would like another piece of pie. Maybe he’s ready to step out with Jack for a bit of the night air. See if they can find a Horn and Hardart. Or die trying. Berlin asks for his exit music– “WHEN I LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND” –and steps out.

(And that concludes the play. We’ve also included on this premiere recording both the instrumental “bows music” that is heard during the curtain call, “EVERYBODY STEP,” and the instrumental music that is heard as the audience leaves the theater, “ALL BY MYSELF," played by Richard Danley, piano; Vince Giordano, string bass and banjo; Andy Stein, violin.)

* * *


A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR ON THE ORIGIN OF THIS PLAY...

The seeds for this play–a fantasy inspired by the career of our most successful songwriter, Irving Berlin--were planted many years ago. A couple of memories stand out.... First. My friend, the late singer/songwriter John Wallowitch, invited me to join him and other friends in serenading Irving Berlin at his home, one Christmas Eve. I turned John down, saying I already had plans but would try to go another time, if he did it again. And that Christmas Eve, the notoriously reclusive Mr. Berlin–who was then in his mid-90s--invited John Wallowitch and his friends into his home! I always regretted missing that opportunity to visit Mr Berlin at his home....

Next. When a New York supper club (Michael’s Pub) planned to do a salute to Berlin, telling his life story via songs and commentary, I wrote a preview piece in The New York Post. Irving Berlin read the article, called the club’s owner, Gil Wiest (who relayed the incident to me)--and got them to cancel the salute to him! Berlin said, in effect, that he did not want anyone telling his life story while he was alive; he wanted privacy. After he was dead, he said, people could tell his life story however they saw fit.... I’m happy to be writing about Mr. Berlin now. And I’m very grateful that the Open Eye Theater (founded by Joseph Campbell and Jean Erdman), which I always hoped would do the very first production of this show, wound up doing just that; thank you, Artistic Director Amie Brockway Henson and company.

I’ve always loved Berlin’s music. He remains, along with George M. Cohan, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins, one of my all-time favorite songwriters. It was as a kid, watching on TV such Berlin movie musicals as Easter Parade, Blue Skies, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band, that I first heard such Berlin songs as “I Love a Piano,” “I Want to Go Back to Michigan,” “All By Myself,” “I’ve Got My Captain Working for Me Now,” and “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’.” Even as a young boy, I knew that those musicals--and those songs--were something special; I’d set the family’s Wollensak reel-to-reel tape-recorder in front of the TV and tape such musicals. I taped, too, Ed Sullivan’s all-star salute to Berlin, celebrating Berlin’s 80th birthday. I still have those audio tapes. And I began collecting Berlin recordings, sheet music, memorabilia–much as I’d previously begun doing with Cohan.

I still remember the joy I got from hearing for the first time recordings of Jolson and Crosby’s duets on “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “All By Myself,” Eddie Cantor’s showmanly version of “Mandy,” Red Nichols’ jaunty, Jazz Age treatment of “Nobody Knows (and Nobody Seems to Care).” They’re timeless. I was lucky enough to come to know people, like music expert and author James T. Maher, who had personal insights to share concerning Berlin. And collector-friends shared memorabilia with me. (One, knowing my love of both Cohan and Berlin, gave me a copy of a letter I particularly cherish–from Berlin to Cohan’s daughter Georgette, expressing his appreciation and affection for both Cohan and Cohan’s first wife, Ethel Levey.)

In later years, both John Wallowitch and Jack Gottlieb encouraged me/prodded me to write about Berlin. I had to let that idea marinate for a while. I’ve been working on my “Berlin project”–five different plays celebrating the life and music of Irving Berlin–on-and-off for some seven years. This premiere recording--being released exclusively in the US--is the culmination of years of research.

Some of the songs I’ve selected for Irving Berlin’s America are famous. Others, by contrast, are rarely heard these days. (“Nobody Knows,” for example, was a big hit when it was new, selling over a million copies of sheet music, and prominent recording artists covered it; but it’s not often performed anymore.) As a playwright/director, I’ve sought to shine light on Berlin’s great career, and also to bring back songs well worth hearing again. On this album, you’ll hear some songs that most everybody seems to know (like “I Love a Piano” and “Simple Melody”), along with wonderful rarities and rediscoveries. Some songs in here have not been recorded by anyone for many, many years. (And, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever recorded “Blow Your Horn.” At least, I’ve never come across a recording of that number, in my years of collecting Berlin memorabilia. Michael Townsend Wright and Jack Saleeby may well have made its first-ever recording! And that makes me smile.) I’m only sorry that John Wallowitch and Jack Gottlieb, who loved this music and were always so supportive of me, are no longer with us. I wish they could have seen this show, and heard this album.

Incidentally, I wrote this show for the two performers heard on this recording, Michael Townsend Wright and Jack Saleeby. I've known Michael Townsend Wright a good quarter-century, and I've known Jack Saleeby eight years (since he was in another show of mine, "The Seven Little Foys.") I’m glad we’ve had a chance to develop this project together in New York. Playwrights and directors aren’t always so fortunate.

– CHIP DEFFAA

* * *
OUR COMPANY:

MICHAEL TOWNSEND WRIGHT, who plays Irving Berlin, developed his acclaimed comic timing doing “live” burlesque sketches with the late Joey Faye, and as a regular on television's vaudeville-flavored "Uncle Floyd Show" (starring Floyd Vivino); he’s also made many “live” appearances with Vivino. He has guested on TV shows ranging from "The Naked Brothers Band" (starring Nat and Alex Wolff) to "Rescue Me." He's performed in such films as "Lansky" (playing the brother of gangster Meyer Lansky) and "The Rat Pack" (playing Walter Winchell), and the forthcoming "Pizza With Bullets" (with Vincent Pastore and Talia Shire). Wright was featured in the original casts of such plays of Deffaa's as "George M. Cohan: In His Own Words" (published by Samuel French Inc.), "Yankee Doodle Boy" (Drama Source), "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge Plays), "The George M. Cohan Revue" (Bakers Plays), and "The Seven Little Foys." He may be heard on the premiere recordings of Deffaa's "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge) and "The Seven Little Foys" (Original Cast Records). Like Deffaa, Wright has been a longtime devotee of Berlin’s music; he even wrote to the reclusive Berlin, receiving replies from Berlin’s secretary.

JACK SALEEBY, who plays Irving Berlin’s mysterious young visitor, originated the role of “Charlie Foy” in Chip Deffaa’s musical comedy "The Seven Little Foys," and sang on early demo recordings for that show. He’s been in the first readings of various scripts of Deffaa’s, and contributed to the premiere recording of Deffaa’s "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge). He’s won the Halo Award, for outstanding performance by a young actor in Connecticut. Currently studying theater at Hofstra University, he has appeared in productions of many shows since he was a child, including "Footloose," "Singin’ in the Rain," "Gypsy," "Bat Boy," "Once Upon a Mattress," "Hello Dolly!," "Theory of Relativity," and "A Servant of Two Masters." At Hofstra, he recently directed a production of the musical "Carrie" and co-starred in "The Drowsy Chaperone."

CHIP DEFFAA (playwright/director) is the author of six published plays and eight published books. "George M. Cohan Tonight!,"which Deffaa wrote and directed Off-Broadway at the Irish Repertory Theatre, was hailed by The New York Times as "brash, cocky, and endlessly euphoric." It has since been performed everywhere from the United Kingdom to Korea. "One Night with Fanny Brice," which Deffaa wrote and directed Off-Broadway at St. Luke's Theater, was praised by The New York Times for delving "deeper into Brice's story" than "Funny Girl" ever did. The Associated Press acclaimed it as a "charming, fast-paced" musical. Deffaa’s books include "Swing Legacy," "Voices of the Jazz Age," "In the Mainstream," "Traditionalists and Revivalists in Jazz," "Jazz Veterans," "F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Princeton Years" (ed.), "Blue Rhythms," and (with David Cassidy) "C'Mon Get Happy." For 18 years, Deffaa wrote for The New York Post, writing news, feature stories, and reviews dealing with jazz, cabaret, and theater. He was also a longtime writer for Entertainment Weekly magazine. Deffaa has won an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award, a New Jersey Press Association Award, and an IRNE Award (Independent Reviewers of New England). Deffaa's most recent plays include "Yankee Doodle Dandy" " Song-and-Dance Kids," "Presenting Fanny Brice," and "Theater Boys." "Irving Berlin’s America" is one of five different plays about Berlin that Deffaa has written. All of Deffaa's plays are available for licensing. He is represented by the Fifi Oscard Agency, New York City. For more information, please visit: www.chipdeffaa.com.

RICHARD DANLEY (music director/pianist). A respected, New York-based accompanist, conductor, and arranger, Danley is Chip Deffaa’s first choice among music directors. He has worked with Deffaa on many projects, including recording sessions, readings, and full productions, such as "George M. Cohan Tonight!" (most recently in New Orleans), "The Seven Little Foys" (at the New York International Fringe Festival), and "One Night with Fanny Brice" (in both its original 2011 Off-Broadway production at St. Luke’s Theater, NYC, and its 2013 revival at the 13th Street Repertory Theater, NYC). He played on the premiere recordings of Deffaa’s shows "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge) and "The Seven Little Foys" (Original Cast Records). He has served as musical director/arranger for Peter Duchin's Broadway revues, music director for cabaret shows in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles. He was a featured pianist with “Broadway and Barbershop” at Carnegie Hall. Other credits include: arranger/conductor for Broadway-style revues in NYC, Montreal, Switzerland, and Texas. He has conducted industrials in South Carolina and Hawaii, and has appeared on daytime dramas in television. Training: B.S., David Lipscomb University. Member: AFTRA, AF of M.

Grammy-winner VINCE GIORDANO (string bass and banjo) is perhaps best known as the leader (since 1976) of his orchestra, The Nighthawks--generally recognized as the preeminent big band dedicated to music of the 1920s and early ‘30s. Giordano and his band have been both onscreen and in the studio for Gus Van Sant’s film "Finding Forrester," Martin Scorcese’s "The Aviator," and Sam Mendes’ film "Revolutionary Road." Other recording projects include soundtracks for Terry Zwigoff’s "Ghost World"; Tamara Jenkins’ "The Savages"; Robert DeNiro’s film, "The Good Shepherd"; Sam Mendes’ "Away We Go"; Michael Mann’s film "Public Enemies," along with HBO’s "Grey Gardens" and Todd Haynes’ HBO mini-series "Mildred Pierce." Giordano and his band are seen and heard on HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire," and have won a 2012 Grammy Award for their work on the CD "Boardwalk Empire-Volume 1–Music from the HBO Original Series." Giordano’s Nighthawks perform every Monday and Tuesday at the supper club "Iguana," in the theater district in NYC, and have given concerts everywhere from the Newport Jazz Festival to Lincoln Center. Giordano played bass in the original Off-Broadway production of Chip Deffaa’s musical play "George M. Cohan Tonight!," and may be heard on the original cast album of that show (Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records). Deffaa profiled Giordano in his book "Traditionalists and Revivalists in Jazz" (Scarecrow Press and the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies).

Grammy-winner ANDY STEIN, whose violin enhances this album, has worked with many of the greatest artists in the fields of jazz, classical, pop, and rock, including Wynton Marsalis, Itzhak Perlman, Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney, Placido Domingo, Bob Dylan, Charlie Daniels, Aerosmith, Barbara Cook, Audra McDonald, B. B. King, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Phil Woods, Paquito D'Rivera, Marilyn Horne. He is heard regularly on public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" and on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." He has appeared on numerous TV shows, including "Saturday Night Live" and "The Late Show" with David Letterman, and has been heard as a soloist in Broadway musicals ranging from "Fiddler on the Roof" to "Anything Goes," and on the soundtracks of films ranging from Francis Ford Coppola's "The Cotton Club" to Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Chip Deffaa notes: "There's no living violinist I enjoy more than Andy Stein. I've been a tremendous admirer of his, going back to the days when he was a founding member of the rock 'n' roll band Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen, and when he released his first rollicking jazz album as a leader, 'Going Places.' I've loved hearing him 'live' many times with my favorite current big band, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.”

TYLER DUBOYS, who shares choreography and tap responsibilities on this album with Jack Saleeby, has aided in the development of several of Deffaa’s shows. He’s participated in readings of "The Seven Little Foys" and "Song-and-Dance Kids," and was featured on the premiere recordings of "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge) and "The Seven Little Foys" (Original Cast Records). He’ll also be heard on the forthcoming recording of Deffaa’s "Theater Boys" (Original Cast Records). He’s performed in many touring musicals, such as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat," "Anne of Green Gables," and "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular." Since 2007, he has been a member of the Connecticut-based dance company “In Motion,” where he is also a frequent guest choreographer. In addition, he’s an aerialist, and a certified instructor in AntiGravity Yoga®--a hybrid technique that combines high-flying aerial acrobatics with restorative yoga. He is currently studying dance at NYU / Tisch School of the Arts.

Frank Avellino, who did the design and layout of this CD, is a graphic designer who specializes in promotional art for theater and the performing arts. Among his recent credits: doing the design and logo work for Chip Deffaa’s Off-Broadway production, "One Night with Fanny Brice," and for Carl Kissin and Rob Baumgartner’s new musical "Date of a Lifetime" (which he helped produce); and the boy-band musical by Damon Intrabartolo, "Ride," which is currently in development. Avellino has also done the design and layout for two other CD's of Deffaa's: "The Seven Little Foys" and "Theater Boys." www.logoyourshow.com.

Slau Halatyn, who recorded, mixed, and mastered this CD, has an international reputation in the recording field. He has served as recording engineer for the premiere recordings of four other shows of Deffaa’s--"One Night with Fanny Brice" (Original Cast Records), "Presenting Fanny Brice" (Eldridge); "The Seven Little Foys" (Original Cast Records); and "Theater Boys" (Original Cast Records). This album was recorded at Halatyn’s own BeSharp Studios, 30-80 33rd St., Astoria, NY 11102.

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"IRVING BERLIN’S AMERICA," a two-character play, is one of five spirited musical plays about Berlin that Chip Deffaa has written. The others, written for different-size casts, and featuring some different songs and stories, include: "IRVING BERLIN: IN PERSON," a 90-minute one-man show; "THE IRVING BERLIN RAGTIME REVUE," a song-driven biographical revue, written for 10 performers; "IRVING BERLIN & CO. ," a biographical musical play, written for 12-20 singing actors; and "THE IRVING BERLIN STORY," a full-scale two-act musical comedy, written for 20 or 30--or more--players (the chorus can be as large as desired). All of the shows are available for licensing. For more info: go to: www.chipdeffaa. com, or www.IrvingBerlin.biz, or www.Irving Berlin.co.

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CREDITS AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...

Our thanks to Michael Townsend Wright, Ben Orlando, and Bailey Cummings, who did private readings of "Irving Berlin’s America" with playwright/director Chip Deffaa, as it was in the process of being written, and to Jack Saleeby for his ongoing work on the project; Wright and Saleeby co-starred in the first New York presentation of "Irving Berlin’s America" (with music direction by Richard Danley), at Roy Arias Stage II/The Payan Theater, NYC. Our thanks to Bill Tari and Cedric Taylor, who co-starred in the premiere production of this show, directed by Amie Brockway Henson (with music direction by Kent Brown), at the Open Eye Theater in Margaretville, New York. Our thanks to Matt Nardozzi, who co-starred with Michael Townsend Wright in a production (directed by Deffaa, with music direction by Richard Danley) at the Rose Theater in Wayne, New Jersey. And our thanks to Giuseppe Bausilio, who co-starred with Michael Townsend Wright at the 13th Street Repertory Theater in NYC.

Our gratitude, always, for their encouragement and wisdom, to the one-and-only Carol Channing; to the late George Burns and Todd Fisher, for the tales they so generously shared from their early days in vaudeville, which influence this work; to the late John Wallowitch, who shared my love of Irving Berlin’s music and taught me some of these songs; to the late Jack Gottlieb, a lifelong mentor and the lover of the best in music, who encouraged me in this project; to the late James T. Maher, a great expert on American popular song; to ASCAPs unfailingly helpful musical-theater expert, Michael Kerker; and–for general inspiration–Tommy Tune. Thanks, too, to veteran broadcaster Joe Franklin, for not just sharing recollections of Berlin, but for being such a champion of this project.

This CD is being released now, exclusively in the United States.

Thanks for their assistance in various ways to Giuseppe Bausilio, Ted Kurdyla, Paul Burchett, Max Galassi, Jonathan M. Smith, Maryann Lopinto, Jonah Mayor, Jerry Wichinsky, Edith O’Hara, Sandra Nordgren, June Rachelson Ospa, Matt Buchwald, Max Morath, Jessee D. Riehl, Keith Anderson, Deb Deffaa, Louis Deffaa Sr., Alberta Deffaa, Emily Bordonaro, Michael Kasper, Brian Gari, Zack Riopelle, Ben Youngstone, Sam McCoy, Max Beer, Santino Fontana, Jack Sprance, Chase Brock, Renee Purdy, Eric Johnson, Michael Dikegoros, Bernice Burge, Jack Quinn, Jeff Sewell, Cody Green, Jamie DeRoy, Sharon Wilcox, Agnes Duggan Dann, Ed Bassett Jr., Michael Herwitz, Matt Zanfagna, Christine Henry, Danny Koelho, Eve Prouty, aide-de-camp Alec Bordonaro, and Bruce Yeko, President of Original Cast Records.

Thanks, too, to recording engineer Slau Halatyn, and his Be-Sharp Studios. Special thanks to Cracking Inc. (C. A. McCarroll, J. M. McCarroll, principals); to the irrepressible Victoria L. Hoffman; to the ever-inspiring Brodericks and Parkers; to our audience-research consultants, Max and Julia Deffaa; to Korean producers Hansaem Song and Ungsuh Kenneth Park; to show-people Tyler Patterson, Okey Chenoweth, and Anthony Rapp, who’ve helped more than they realized.

The music has been arranged primarily by Chip Deffaa. The music has been prepared primarily by Don Brown. Richard Danley, who made highly valued additional arranging contributions and has served as music director for the project, did the editing and proofreading of the charts. Other music copyists who have worked on the project include: D. Jay Bradley and Josh Clayton. All music preparation, arranging, and editing on this project has been done as work-for-hire for Chip Deffaa Productions LLC. Production photos by Jonathan M. Smith.

Irving Berlin’s America is available for licensing from The Fifi Oscard Agency (attention: Peter Sawyer), 110 West 40th Street, New York City 10018 USA, tel. (212) 764-1100.

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This CD--being released now exclusively in the United States--is part of a series of 500 Broadway, Off-Broadway, and cabaret recordings released by ORIGINAL CAST RECORDS, Box 496, Georgetown, CT 06829. Deffaa’s other cast recordings for this label include "The Seven Little Foys," "One Night with Fanny Brice," and "The Johnny Mercer Jamboree." This CD is for M.A.N.

Please visit: www.chipdeffaa.com

(p) and © 2013 Chip Deffaa

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Chip Deffaa’s new musical play

"IRVING BERLIN’S AMERICA"

A fantasy in two acts, starring

MICHAEL TOWNSEND WRIGHT

and introducing

JACK SALEEBY

Written, arranged, and originally directed in New York by CHIP DEFFAA

Featuring the songs of–and inspired by the life of--IRVING BERLIN

Music Direction by RICHARD DANLEY

with VINCE GIORDANO on bass and banjo, and ANDY STEIN on violin

Choreography and tap-dancing by Tyler DuBoys and Jack Saleeby

(Jack Saleeby is heard on this album, tap-dancing to his own choreography, on "I Love a Piano," "Simple Melody"/"Musical Demon," and "Some Sunny Day"; Tyler DuBoys is heard tap-dancing to his own choreography on "Everybody Step," "The Yankee Doodle Boy," "Mandy," and "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam."

Music preparation by Donald Brown and Richard Danley

Recording Engineer: Slau Halatyn; recorded at Be-Sharp Studios, NYC

Album design/layout by Frank Avellino

Executive Producer: Chip Deffaa

"Irving Berlin’s America" was first presented at the Open Eye Theater, Margaretville, New York (Amie Brockway Henson, Artistic Director), and developed with the assistance of the 13th Street Repertory Company, New York City (Edith O’Hara, Artistic Director/Founder; Sandra Nordgren, Producing Artistic Director). New York City premiere: June 15th, 2014 at the 13th Street Repertory Theater.

© and (P) by Chip Deffaa, 2013

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