Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finegan's wake

When composer-arranger Bill Finegan passed away last week at the age of 91, a New York Times writer (on the recommendation of a mutual friend and Flora admirer) contacted me for some background on the music legend. I confessed that, in all honesty, I knew less about what Finegan did for Glenn Miller, Nelson Riddle, and Tommy Dorsey than I do about what Jim Flora did for Bill Finegan.

Flora gave Finegan two right arms, dressed him in weird toreador togs, and made him swallow a saxophone:

The above RCA Victor sleeve appeared in 1954. Flora admitted that as a caricaturist he "could not do likenesses" — a failing that worked to his artistic advantage. He dealt another mutant makeover the following year on The Sons of Sauter-Finegan (RCA 1104, detail):

This time the arms issue has been resolved (and the duo's intestinal contents are concealed). Flora illustrated two other S-F LPs: Concert Jazz (RCA 1051) and Inside Sauter-Finegan Revisited (RCA 2473).

The Inside S-F cover illustration is available on a T-shirt. The Sons of S-F illustration was adapted for the cover of The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora. Death does not stop the merch march.


Anonymous said...

What gets me is, in photos Sauter and Finegan appear so mild-mannered. But in Flora portraits, they look like they need to be locked up for the good of society.

Ernie said...

News of Bill Finegan's passing somehow escaped me. That's a shame.

Anonymous said...

My favorite passage from the NYT obit that appeared last week:

"Wit was implicit, and unexpected instruments were the most conspicuous novelty. These included the piccolo, flute, oboe, bass clarinet, harp, English horn, recorder, tuba, glockenspiel, tympani, kazoo and not one but two xylophones. In their arrangement of "Troika" from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije suite, Mr. Finegan conveyed the dull pounding of distant horses' hooves by beating out the rhythm on his chest. At the band's peak 21 musicians played 77 instruments, not counting Mr. Finegan's chest."