"I want to make music for everyone. It must be enjoyed by all. Otherwise it is pointless."
In 2003 The Bert Kaempfert Orchestra directed by Tony Fisher took to the stage of the Opera House, Buxton to perform the work of their late founder. As anniversary celebrations go it was a night charged with emotion, A Swingin' Safari, Strangers In The Night and Red Roses For A Blue Lady bringing the audience to their feet. You too can now enjoy that very special evening. – from the CD back cover
Recorded October 16, 2003.
The Bert Kaempfert Orchestra, directed by Tony Fisher
Trumpets: Mark Cumberland, Martin Shaw, Pat White, Henry Lowther
Trombones: Cliff Hardie, Gordon Campbell, Steve Wilkes, Bill Geldard
Saxes/flutes: Al Newman, Bob Sydor, Roy Willox, John Wheelan
Voices: Joan Baxter, Lee Gibson, Ken Barrie, John Evans
Strings: Godfrey Salmon, Stephanie Nimiera, Laila Titley, Natalia Bonner, Brent Snell, Scott Taggart
Keyboards: John Coleman
Drums: Jeff Lardner
Bass: Dave Richmond
Guitar: Judd Procter
Producers: Marion Kaempfert & Allen Botschinsky
Recorded by: MA Music Studios (UK)
Sound Engineer: Noel Rafferty
Assistant Producer: Stefan Haake
MA Music International MCCD552
Live In Concert (MA Music Int'l MKP 1998-2)
Always the quiet man of popular music, Bert Kaempfert did not achieve his fame as a superstar or a showman, but as a writer of a series of phenomenal hits and as the leader of the renowned orchestra of the sixties and seventies. This collection, recorded by the contemporary Bert Kaempfert Orchestra and directed by Tony Fisher, Kaempfert’s lead trumpeter throughout the 1970s, brings a modern flavor to the ever popular Kaempfert sound. Recorded in 2003, at the Buxton Opera House, this recording celebrates both the tenth anniversary of the orchestra and what would have been Bert Kaempfert’s eightieth birthday.
Tony Fisher has played with most of the top orchestras in Europe in a career that began with professional solo performances at the age of fourteen. A popular choice with many bandleaders of the day, Tony has played with Eric Delaney, Ted Heath, John Dankworth, the London Symphony Orchestra and the band of the Michael Parkinson Show and recorded with the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle to name a few. His trumpet playing can be heard on many classic songs including Tom Jones’ Delilah and the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever. His association with Bert Kaempfert began in 1970 as lead trumpet player. With such a pedigree, Tony was the natural choice to lead the new Orchestra, with Bert Kempfert’s daughter Marion as the band’s patron. The Orchestra has performed concerts throughout the UK and in much of Europe, including television shows with Bert Kaempfert’s colleague, the singer Freddy Quinn. As well as acting as compere and musical director, Tony plays trumpet himself on these recordings, bringing the authentic sound of the original recordings to a new audience.
Bert Kaempfert recorded with Polydor from 1958 to 1980, and was one of Germany’s most popular musical stars, working with many top artists of the time including Brenda Lee, Ivo Robic and Freddy Quinn. His big break came when his single of Wonderland By Night, initially released without fanfare in Europe, went to the top of the American charts for three weeks in 1961 and established him as a world star. In an age of rock ‘n’ roll and vocal stars, Kaempfert found success with a new big band sound, recorded to the highest musical standards, playing styles from swing to classical and rock.
The early to mid sixties were Kaempfert’s heyday. He was the first producer of the Beatles, recording some of their singles in Germany with Tony Sheridan, before they went back to England to sign to Brian Epstein. Polydor and Decca were keen for him to do film music and he produced scores for a Bavarian thriller, 90 Minutes From Midnight and an American spy caper, A Man Could Get Killed. The American film was not a critical or commercial success but the soundtrack was. The theme music was Strangers In The Night, perhaps his most well known composition. Frank Sinatra recorded it and had his first million seller and Kaempfert received the Golden Globe for Best Song in 1966.
Al Martino, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis, to name just a few, recorded Kaempfert compositions to great acclaim, a hit factory that included Spanish Eyes, The World We Knew, L.O.V.E. and Danke Schoen. Bert Kaempfert, still essentially the quiet family man, could no longer stay out of the limelight, and in 1967 made a rare television performance on the Jackie Gleason Show. Public appearances and film work were still not his great passions and he concentrated on his output of three or so albums per year, typically containing half arrangements and half compositions co-written with his friend and fellow musician, Herbert Rehbein.
1974 saw a turning point as Bert Kaempfert was persuaded to make a tour of Great Britain. He was nervous at first, as he was not a natural public speaker, and the tour took a great deal of time and management, involving work with musicians he did not know, but the result was worth it. A sell out tour of the UK began with a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and the rapturous applause gave him the confidence to tour more often and do more television concerts. The records too kept coming, with his tribute to big band swing, always his first love, being released in 1978 and entitled “Swing.” It was after another successful tour of the UK in 1980, that Bert Kaempfert suddenly died unexpectedly at the young age of 56, from a stroke.
For his millions of fans the Kaempfert sound was never simply “easy listening,” but a formidable big band sound that played some of the most amazing compositions in the world. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest with the formation of the new Bert Kaempfert Orchestra in the UK by Tony Fisher, the re-release of a lot of his albums onto CD, and the use of his music in TV and film. Like the original Kaempfert band, this Orchestra is built around a core of regular players, jazz and big band enthusiasts from the big Orchestras of today. This collection, covering classic compositions and arrangements, captures the essential sound of Bert Kaempfert with the live Orchestra.