LATEST BY BENTON AND DINAH IS HIT
By HARRY BACAS
The Mercury Records people finally got Dinah Washington and Brook Benton together for a recording session and the result, their record of "Baby." Is climbing the bestseller lists fast.
Mercury's New York recording director, Clyde Otis, tried to record the two singers in a duet last summer. He had them rehearse a song he and Brook had written, "Thank You, Pretty Baby," but the night of the session, Dinah turned up with a sore throat and Brook sang it alone. He did it so well that his solo record was the one eventually released.
This winter, Mr. Otis decided to try recording the two again.
He dragged out another song, "Baby," which he had written four years ago with the late Murray Stein.
He got Belford-Hendricks, a Mercury staff arranger, to score it. Mr. Hendricks arrange the tune for eight violins, two violas, tow cellos, bass, piano, drums and two guitars. He also conducted the orchestra at the session.
The recording was made in December at the Fine Recording Studios, with Clyde Otis supervising.
Both Dinah and Brook were in a gay mood and a lot of clowning and ad libbing resulted.
There was so much of it during the successive recording "takes." In fact, that everyone was surprised when Mr. Otis said they could stop recording, he was satisfied.
If Dinah feels uneasy with the way a song is turning our, she eases the tension by making up her own lyrics, changing things around, interjecting phrases. Brook picked it up and tossed phrases back at her.
But Mr. Otis didn't insist on a straight version. He was astute enough to realize that the ad libbing had given the song more vitality than it had before.
Consequently, much of what you hear on the record was invented on the spot, in this case, at least, a happenstance that's paying off big.
The Clyde Otis Music Group is a part of African-American history. For 40 years, T.C.O.M.G. has been in the forefront of modern publishing history. We are quite possibly the only African-American, family owned and operated traditional music publishing company in the world. We were the first African-American publishers to receive a country music award. Our father and founder, Clyde Otis, Sr., was the first African-American to head an A&R Department at a major record label, (Mercury Records), successfully paving the way for those who followed. Additionally, he is credited with being the first producer to use string instruments in arrangements for black artists such as Sarah Vaughn, Brook Benton and others, including the classic "What A Difference A Day Makes" by Dinah Washington, which Clyde Otis produced.