It is no secret that Creed Taylor was an anathema to many jazz aficionados and critics by the late 1960s, but is Kai Winding’s “Mondo Cane #2” 1964 album the worst jazz album Creed produced?

The album consists of 12 tracks, a lot for a single 12″ album you might think, and you’d be right, except the longest track is just 2:21 and the whole album just shy of 25 minutes. In terms of style, the “wunderkinds” on Discogs have tagged this as jazz and stage & screen genre and soundtrack and soul-jazz for style, it’s none of that [1]https://www.discogs.com/release/2878460-Kai-Winding-Mondo-Cane-2.

Here is a link to the album on various streaming platforms, pick one and play while reading on. There is “More” to this, much more!

I have two copies of the US original mono pressing [2]https://www.discogs.com/master/350289-Kai-Winding-Mondo-Cane-2. I bought the second at Downtown Sounds in Greeley [3]https://www.dtsvinyl.com/ last weekend for the princely sum of $5.99. It has a NM+ cover, an original Verve liner, and at least a VG+ record. Now that I have two pressings, I can honestly say the mono pressing is “whiny” and the equalization lacks enough bass. In terms of style, this is a Hawaiian-themed, space-era pop record. Think “Telstar” by The Tornados vs the “Theme from Hawaii Five-O”.

The album is the second from Winding that covered an original soundtrack theme tune, from the films “Mondo Cane” and “Mondo Cane 2.” While Anglophiles typically pronounce “Cane” as in “walking cane,” in Italian it’s pronounced “cah-nay”.

This album uses the film name for its title, whereas the first album was originally released under the title “Soul Surfin'” [4]https://www.discogs.com/release/6293512-Kai-Winding-Soul-Surfin and, when the Winding cover of the title started to chart in 1963, the album was repressed using the title track “!!!MORE!!!”. Verve didn’t even change the back sleeve, where the original title still persists [5]https://www.discogs.com/release/4111662-Kai-Winding-Featuring-Kenny-Burrell–More–Theme-From-Mondo-Cane until at least the third repressing in 1963 [6]https://www.discogs.com/release/2914754-Kai-Winding-Featuring-Kenny-Burrell–More–Theme-From-Mondo-Cane.

Review clipping for Variety July 1963.

The albums were remastered and issued as a combined, compilation a 2012 Verve Jazzplus CD series [7]https://www.discogs.com/release/5764813-Kai-Winding-Soul-Surfin-Mondo-Cane-2.

Both albums feature a guitarist, “!!!MORE!!!” has Kenny Burrell, the second has Les Spann. There is also the question of super-session guitarist Vinne Bell playing as well.

Is it the worst jazz record Creed ever produced? No.

It was never meant to be a jazz record in the first place; if you judge it against Miles Davis seminal “Birth of the Cool” bebop classic, on which Kai Winding also played, your head will explode. Many of the albums Creed produced, all the way through his career were pop albums in search of success built off artists and label recognition and distribution. Many of the artists he produced could also be considered pop artists.

Listening to the music now, you need context in order to understand that they were not simply popular-jazz; many were just “popular” music before ‘Pop’ became shorthand for Rock-and-roll in the 1950s and especially from the late ’60s onward.

Perhaps, more than any other producer of the time, Creed had an ensemble of leading artists and sidemen that would play across genres. In essence a virtual big band. They were mostly all jazz specialists, but their talent went way beyond the ability to just play jazz. It’s hard to imagine now, but the stresses and strains of a jazz musician on the road were unreal by today’s standards.

Set aside problems with race, which were plenty, touring on buses hundreds of miles per day, for sometimes weeks or months on end was simply exhausting. Musicians would arrive on a bus often with just enough time to set-up and eat before performing twice per-night and then getting back on the bus and travelling a few hundred more miles to their next gig.

Along with big band residencies, one way to keep these fantastic musicians paid was to use them as frequently as possible on studio dates. In the north-east tri-state area that would mean that the musicians could have as much as normal family life and stability as was possible for any jazz musician. The problem was, by the mid-1960’s touring big-bands had pretty much imploded.

Thus, “Mondo Cane #2” was nothing more than a studio album put together at the start of 1964, purely to capitalize on Winding’s chart success with a cover of the original theme from the film “Mondo Cane”. The theme tune you would more likely recognize as “More,” and it has been covered by anyone and almost everyone. My favorite jazz version is by Clark Terry [8]https://www.discogs.com/master/611362-Clark-Terry-Sextet-Featuring-Ben-Webster-More-Theme-From-Mondo-Cane; for a vocal version, Irene Reid’s from the 1965 Creed Taylor-produced “Room For One More” album [9]https://www.discogs.com/master/735410-Irene-Reid-Room-For-One-More runs Julie London’s classic version, sung down-tempo and slightly behind the beat, a close second [10]https://www.discogs.com/master/359439-Julie-London-Our-Fair-Lady.

Since the post is headlined “The Worst Jazz Album,” I’ll include the worst version of the English language track “More.” Sadly, it’s by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Their cover appears on the hit 1963 album “Heat Wave.” There is no doubt in my mind that this is the worst cover of “More” and also the worst track on the album. It reminds me of a bunch of kids who can’t sing doing a TikTok video. Another truly awful cover was made by Rick Nelson in 1966; it’s a double-tempo, Muppets-style cover. In my mind’s eye, I can see Statler & Waldorf singing the “More” refrain as the track fades out.

Listening to Mondo #2 now as an album, it isn’t just that it’s not jazz, it’s also not that the mono pressing are ‘whiny”, it is that the mix totally allows an analog early version of a French synthesizer called an “Ondioline” while leading the melody, almost completely overpower the other instruments. Maybe that was the point?

Reviews of the “!!!MORE!!!” album in September 1963 call the ondioline “the exotic sound of a new instrument”. L.W. reviews the album in the November 10th, 1963 issue of the Memphis Tennessee Commercial Appeal newspaper and says of it “something is missing: it isn’t really jazz; it’s semi-jazz and who wants semi-jazz? There is an interesting instrument called an ondoline which is crazy — like crazy, -crazy, but not crazy-man.”

Having had a chart hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Best Selling Pop Singles “More” the theme from the first Mondo Cane film, spent 15-weeks on the chart. The album “!!!More!!!” also made the top-50 album chart. Taylor and Verve would have been keen to follow-up on it’s success.

Mondo #2 didn’t enjoy the same success of “!!!MORE!!!” either on the album or singles chart. It only spent only two weeks and reached #120 in the pop singles chart,

Famous for his trombone playing and long time partnership with J.J. Johnson, the sleeve notes for Mondo #2, purportedly written by WDAS Philly DJ Kal Rudman, note that: “All guitar solos are played by Les Spann, and Kai Winding plays lead trombone on Now And Forever, The Gospel Truth, and The Mouldau. Kai plays the ondioline on all the other numbers.”

This is consistent with the credit for Winding playing the ondioline on the album and single hit with the original Mondo Cane theme “More”. It is not clear though how the initial credit for Winding playing the ondioline came about. It is quite possibly just a misreading of the sleeve notes.

That crazy sound you hear at odd times through the record is a wild instrument called the Ondoline, and Kai’s Ondoliner really makes it wail.

This album is the big one for all you surfers out there…on the dance floor or in a hearse or knee deep in an ocean.

Steve Brindl sleeve notes for “Soul Surfin’ and !!!MORE!!! – Verve V/V6-8551

This text I think explains the misunderstanding, which once established on the hit track, Verve marketing just went with it for the second album. Liner/sleeve notes often bend-the-truth.

It could mean both Kai’s ondoliner, as in the instrument. It was more likely to have meant the person playing the ondioline. The word ondoliner or ondioliner does not for all purposes appear to exist anywhere else except the liner notes for the “!!!MORE!!!” album.

I couldn’t find any other notes, reports of Winding playing the ondioline. Note that on the sleeve notes, it is misspelt “Ondoline”. The Wikipedia article claims, without citation/reference that Vinnie Bell “who worked on the session, claimed that it was played by Jean-Jacques Perrey, a pioneer of electronic music.” [11]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kai_Winding [12]While I have not done an exhaustive search, the sleeve notes and Taylor’s recording/studio notes do not show Bell as a sideman for the sessions. Bell died on October 3rd, 2019 – age 87. … Continue reading

Bell was though recording a Verve album in 1963, and was in the same studio with Claus Ogerman on October 25th, December 16-17, 22nd 1963. His Verve album, “Whistle Stop” V/V6-8574 says on the intro to the sleeve notes “This is not a JAZZ recording.”

SPECIAL NOTE TO THE CONSUMER AND RECORD REVIEWER:

This album contains recordings by VINNIE BELL,
at this writing New York’s busiest studio guitar 
player. It is designed to show-case Vinnie’s
electronic genius and his musicianship. 

Bell would later record a version of “More” on his 1967 album “Pop Goes The Electric Sitar”. Honestly, it’s not bad. It borrows both the tempo and orchestration from the Winding track. Bell is “Vincent Bell” for the purposes of this recording. The album was produced by Artie Butler, I’ll return to Artie later.

Doug Payne, in his discography and biography of Kai Winding also notes “Jean Jacques Perrey has indicated in a radio interview with Jack Diamond [13]KFJC “House of Games” DJ Jack Diamond aka David Singer https://www.radiosurvivor.com/2010/11/radio-obituaries-farewell-to-wtju-folk-dj-kzgm-founder-and-kfjc-dj/ – Diamond was a champion on … Continue reading that he is the ondioline player on these sessions[CTP: “!!!MORE!!!” and “”Mondo Cane #2”][14]https://www.dougpayne.com/kwdverv.htm#SOUL%20SURFIN.

One of the most contemporary releases of the Winding “More” and “Mondo Cane #2” theme tunes came in the 5x CD Compilation “Verve – The Sound Of America – The Singles Collection” released in 2013 [15]https://www.discogs.com/release/8420039-Various-Verve-The-Sound-Of-America-The-Singles-Collection. In the listings for both Winding singles in the accompanying booklet it lists Jean Jacques Perrey as the player of the ondioline.

On the balance of the evidence I’d Winding didn’t play the ondioline on either album.

Only if you are buying a Kai Winding album. If Winding isn’t playing the ondioline on this album, that only leaves three of twelve tracks that Winding plays on, “Now And Forever”, “The Gospel Truth”, and “The Mouldau”.

Jazz Discographies and online sources list no other credits for Winding playing the ondioline on any of his other albums or on any albums recorded during that period. It is almost impossible to imagine learning to play an otherwise complex instrument and then not playing live or on other recordings. I’d love to hear I’m wrong, please let me know.

A nod to both the Hawaiian slide guitar and xylophone, the ondioline keyboard spans three octaves, but by adjusting a register knob, a player can render up to eight octaves. It was a long-time invention and development of Frenchman Georges Jenny. Sometimes referred to as the “Jenny Ondioline,” the instrument is considered a forerunner of the synthesizer. First conceived by Jenny in 1939, he continued refining and reconfiguring the device, producing dozens of variant models until his death in 1975 [16]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ondioline.

The foremost practitioner of the ondioline was French electronic music performer, composer, producer, and promoter Jean-Jacques Perrey. He is considered a pioneer of pop electronica. Perrey relocated to New York City in March 1960, under the sponsorship of percussionist and businessman Carroll Bratman.

Perrey would record a number of sides with punchy short tracks aimed specifically at introducing the ondioline to the American public. On July 11th, 1960, Perrey appeared on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar, and both his future and that of the ondioline seemed to be set. He also appeared on April 28th, 1961, and again on February 2nd, 1962, on Captain Kangaroo, a Saturday morning kids’ show. It’s unclear if these were different appearances or the same appearance on replay.

In some Capt. Kangeroo tv-show listings, Perrey is said to have “invented” the ondioline [17]https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-daily-news-leader/94420878/.

Jean-Jacques Perrey would go on to become a leading exponent of the Moog synthesizer and partnered with German-American composer/musician Gershon Kingsley in 1965 to record two Moog albums for Vanguard Records [18]https://www.discogs.com/label/1058-Vanguard?searchParam=perrey&sort=year&sort_order=asc.

The clipping shown here was first seen at the end of November 1960, syndicated across newspapers on the east coast. The same picture and mostly the same text would continue to appear throughout 1962.

Although other artists would play, and records would contain the ondioline, including pianist Shirley Scott on her Joel Dorn produced 1970 album “Something” – The only other album that I’m aware of that Creed Taylor produced that included an ondioline was Artie Butler’s 1968 A&M/CTI album “Have You Met Miss Jones” [19]https://www.discogs.com/master/363207-Artie-Butler-Have-You-Met-Miss-Jones.

Butler’s album is another in the Creed Taylor field of “This is not a JAZZ recording.” – again, while continuing to produce some to the era’s defining jazz albums, at the same time, Taylor always had an ear for, and an eye open for music, tracks and artists that could make it in the popular music field.

Riz Ortolani, a celebrated Italian composer, gained global recognition for scoring films beyond Europe, notably with his Oscar-nominated song ‘More’ from the 1962 film Mondo Cane. The original Italian version was called ‘Ti guarderò nel cuore’. Ortolani’s wife, Katyna Ranieri, performed the song in Italian. The English lyrics were subsequently written by prolific British songwriter and producer Norman Newell at the request of EMI, the British distributor for the film. It won the “Best Instrumental Theme” Grammy at the 6th Grammy awards in 1964.

Given it was an instrumental Grammy, it is surprising that Newell was recognized. The English language lyric was nominated for an Academy Award for MUSIC (SONG) at the 36th Academy Awards also in 1964, where it lost out to Sammy Cahn’s “Call Me Irresponsible” from the film “Papa’s Delicate Condition” which was sung by Jackie Gleason, the film’s star.

“More” has become a classic, covered by notable artists such as Shirley Bassey and Frank Sinatra, and one of the most recorded ever with over 1,000 covers.

The 1963 catalog of copyright entries, for music from July-December includes eight entries for “More”, the entries cover for piano, guitar (by Charlie Byrd) and accordion as well as lyrics and other instruments. The primary licensee of the song at the time was Edward B. Marks music publishing. Marks used an electrician and magic lantern to promote on of their earliest songs – “The Little Lost Child” in 1894 [20]https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?id=3990. It seems somehow fitting that its song should win the Grammy for what the Guardian Newspaper described in 2011 as “The strangest commercially successful film in the history of Cinema.”

If you read the comments on youtube for the title track of the film on the original soundtrack album, it’s clear that most of those commenting have not seen the film. Norma Chenevert, youtube user @fnchen1 says “This was our wedding song, played just before we took our vows. That was 1969. We still play it now and then just to remind us of how in love we still are.” User @sawahtdeekrahp says “This is the most beautiful song ever written! A masterpiece!”

User sal pellegrino / @salx10 is at least honest when commenting 13-years ago said “I’m 77 this song always brings tears to my eyes i never seen the movie but this song has been with me all my life its so beautiful.”

Why so? – The film version didn’t contain the English language lyrics which were later added to Nino Oliviero’s music. Also the film was far from a love film, very far!

Mondo Cane is a 1962 Italian mondo documentary film directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara, and Franco E. Prosperi, with narration by Stefano Sibaldi [21]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondo_Cane The title of the film is a mild Italian profanity, literally meaning “Dog World”. The term “Mondo Cane” has since been used to refer to a subgenre of documentary films that emerged in the 1960s, characterized by their sensationalist approach and often shocking subject matter or shockumentary.

The original soundtrack sleeve notes describe it more loosely calling it ‘‘a world gone to the dogs.”

Leonard Maltin’s movie guide describes the film as “Mondo Cane (1962-Italian) C-105m. Producer: Gualtiero Jacopetti. First and best of Italian shockumentaries,. with dubbed American narration; focuses on bizarre peculiarities of man in various parts of the world. Features hit song “More.””

It’s R-rated today and simply described as “A shockumentary that explores the culture of life and death, and the taboos of sex and religion, all amidst the barbarism of civilization gone insane.” I remember seeing the film in the late 1970’s, I rewatched it while writing this, it is really quite vile. The fact they found enough material to make two of these films, “Mondo Cane” and “Mondo Cane #2” is really dubious.

The streaming version of “Mondo Cane” I rewatched has truncated some of the scenes, and surprisingly, the original Italian song, or the English lyrics for the title theme song are NOT included at all in the film. The theme instrumental is included in at least four different arrangements.

At the start of the streaming version of “Mondo Cane 2” there is reference to the British Board of Film Censors and mention of cuts made to the first film, followed by the inclusion of a scene with dogs undergoing surgery which is placed at the start of the film, which we are told is so it can be cut by the censors without impacting the rest of the film.

I rewatched the first film so you didn’t have to. I stopped watching the second film after the intro.

Georges Jenny’s Ondioline History [ondioline.com]
Jean-Jaques Perrey Bio [Spaceage Pop]
Jean-Jaques Perry auto-biography via Dana Countryman [Part-1] [Part-2]
Norman Newell Obituary and biographical details [The Independent]
Riz Ortolini Obituary [New York Times]

Artist and Kai Winding’s Wife, ​Ezshwan Winding Art & Art Workshops [ezshwan.com]
Ezshwan Winding’s Blog and 2024 Workshop schedule [blogspot.com]

“The Horror Of It All” – Adam Rockoff – Published 2017, Scribner. ISBN13: 9781476761879, ISBN 978-1-4767-6186-2 (ebook)

References

References
1 https://www.discogs.com/release/2878460-Kai-Winding-Mondo-Cane-2
2 https://www.discogs.com/master/350289-Kai-Winding-Mondo-Cane-2
3 https://www.dtsvinyl.com/
4 https://www.discogs.com/release/6293512-Kai-Winding-Soul-Surfin
5 https://www.discogs.com/release/4111662-Kai-Winding-Featuring-Kenny-Burrell–More–Theme-From-Mondo-Cane
6 https://www.discogs.com/release/2914754-Kai-Winding-Featuring-Kenny-Burrell–More–Theme-From-Mondo-Cane
7 https://www.discogs.com/release/5764813-Kai-Winding-Soul-Surfin-Mondo-Cane-2
8 https://www.discogs.com/master/611362-Clark-Terry-Sextet-Featuring-Ben-Webster-More-Theme-From-Mondo-Cane
9 https://www.discogs.com/master/735410-Irene-Reid-Room-For-One-More
10 https://www.discogs.com/master/359439-Julie-London-Our-Fair-Lady
11 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kai_Winding
12 While I have not done an exhaustive search, the sleeve notes and Taylor’s recording/studio notes do not show Bell as a sideman for the sessions. Bell died on October 3rd, 2019 – age 87. His website has been preserved by musician and producer Dana Countryman and can be read at https://www.danacountryman.com/vinnie/main.htm where Bell lists “More” as a track he performed on.
13 KFJC “House of Games” DJ Jack Diamond aka David Singer https://www.radiosurvivor.com/2010/11/radio-obituaries-farewell-to-wtju-folk-dj-kzgm-founder-and-kfjc-dj/ – Diamond was a champion on the Moog, and would regularly play entire programs with similar music, the Internet Archive has a May 14th, 1995 show recording that includes Jean Jacques Perrey playing the ondioline. https://archive.org/download/kfjc-jack-diamond-moog-special-19950514/KFJC_Jack_Diamond_Moog_Special_19950514.mp3
14 https://www.dougpayne.com/kwdverv.htm#SOUL%20SURFIN
15 https://www.discogs.com/release/8420039-Various-Verve-The-Sound-Of-America-The-Singles-Collection
16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ondioline
17 https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-daily-news-leader/94420878/
18 https://www.discogs.com/label/1058-Vanguard?searchParam=perrey&sort=year&sort_order=asc
19 https://www.discogs.com/master/363207-Artie-Butler-Have-You-Met-Miss-Jones
20 https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?id=3990
21 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondo_Cane

Updates: Feb. 25th, 2023 – Thanks to subject matter expert Doug Payne for catching the Miles Davis/Coltrane error, as well as pointing out that that the two albums were combined and reissued and that Artie Butler produced the Vinnie Bell album. Numerous other minor corrections.
March 3rd, 2024 12:45pm – Adding Variety July 1963 review clipping

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.