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Larry Adler ... once believed to have played on Your Own Choice

From Tower Records' (free) magazine PULSE! August, 1999

Lary Adler, who died in August 2001, was formerly reckoned to have been the uncredited mouth-organ player on Your Own Choice from the Home album : many fans previously imagined it was Gary Brooker, who is credited with playing the same instrument on the previous record. In February 2007, however, Gary assured BtP that the musician in question was Harry Pitch; and Pitch himself wrote to BtP on 22 December 2008 to confirm this, adding that that he could still 'recognise a number of features of my playing in the excerpt, such as trills and grace notes ...'

Nevertheless, below is a summary of Adler's amazing career (the appearance of the original page can be gleaned from the little image opposite this text).

PULSE! Presents MUSICAL LEGENDS by Justin Green
Don't Call It a "Harmonica !" Larry Adler

This peerless musician single-handedly changed the status of the humble instrument from rural novelty to mouth organ. Adler is an expatriate whose career spans Broadway and Hollywood, jazz clubs and orchestra halls all over the world. He is also an author, a humorist, and a food critic. Describing his life in just a few panels is like a blind man trying to picture an elephant, but here goes ...

Eddie Cantor discovered the then prodigy playing for pennies on the sidewalks of New York, then recruited him for his vaudeville show.

"Hey, kid. Wanna make some Real money?"

Adler's rise to stardom was meteoric. At a party in '34 George Gershwin accompanied him on Rhapsody in Blue.

"The goddang thing sounds like I wrote it for you!"

The composer Ravel was so taken with Adler's treatment of Bolero that his will includes a passage giving Adler unconditional right to perform it.

"...and he owes my estate not a sou for that privilege in perpetuity!"


In '48, a hysterical housewife from Greenwich, Conn. Noted that Adler was to give a concert in her town. She started a campaign against the musician, impugning his patriotism.

"He not only has ties to several RED FRONT organizations, but he actually campaigned for Wallace! *

*The Progressive Party candidate of '48 who wanted peace with Russia.

(Staunchly holding to his ideals, Adler sued for libel and lost to a hung jury.

"Regarding the plaintiff's claim that he is not now, nor has he ever been a communist, the jury is unable to reach a verdict."

So Adler emigrated with his family to England, where he was revered. He performed with the London Philharmonic, and presented the Queen Mother with a token of his appreciation.

"Nobody will believe me when I tell them that I have held Larry Adler's organ in my hand."

Despite Adler's exile, he performed for the troops on the front lines of Korea, just as he had done in both theaters of World War II.

"Can the 'Rochester' crap, Jack -- and I'm not playing to segregated audiences, either."

He suffered many professional slights for his politics. Adler's soundtrack for Genevieve ('53) was nominated for an Academy Award, but his name got removed from the credits.

"Also nominated is Genevieve, with music composed by its conductor, Muir Mathieson...The envelope please.."

Adler, an orthodox Jew, played Gerschwin tunes in the very Nuremberg stadium where Hitler once held forth. The venue was a triumph for the music and the world.

For his 80th birthday (in '94) an album was produced for Adler by George Martin, with Gershwin interpretations by some of the greatest singers of the postwar generation, backed by Adler's solos. He continues to astonish and delight.

Sinead   Sting   Elvis II   Cher   Elton

Thanks, Joan May

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