Thursday, December 17, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: The Latin-American Music of Desi Arnaz.

In The Fade Out #6, Maya Silver is seen arguing with famous bandleader Desi Arnaz: my conjecture is that she thought Phil Brodsky and Victory Street Studios had pressured Arnaz to replace her ex-husband Armando Lopez, when it is more likely that Armando was simply unable to continue playing the trumpet after Brodsky's men got done with him.

The influence of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball remains immense, with a pair of colorized reruns of I Love Lucy getting better ratings than the Mad Men finale, albeit on broadcast television rather than on cable.

Even apart from the work produced after it was sold and renamed Paramount, their production company Desilu may cast an even longer shadow, both with a multi-camera approach to studio television and with its producing a ground-breaking sci-fi show pitched as "Wagon Train in the stars;" the former revolutionized the sitcom and dominated the genre for more than half a century, and the latter has resulted in a massive franchise with its thirteenth film and sixth television series due in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

But long before all that was the band that Desi Arnaz led in real life -- the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, which performed on Bob Hope's radio show before transforming into the Ricky Ricardo Orchestra for I Love Lucy.  In a 2008 story on the last surviving member of the Ricky Ricardo Orchestra, NPR reports that Arnaz and his band had clear crossover appeal, tailoring his Latin music to the "Americanos" in upscale venues.

The best example of Arnaz' crossover approach might be seen, not in the song "Babalu" that was made famous on the TV show, but in "Quizás, Quizás, Quizás:"  the English version "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" has been recorded many times since, but it was first recorded in 1948, by Desi Arnaz.

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