In January we posted the first tune from Focus, a 1961 album by Stan Getz and Eddie Sauter. One of our favorite things about “I’m Late, I’m Late” is that the song refers to the White Rabbit as he appears in the Disney adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Whether its his resemblance to character actor S.Z. Sakall or his jaunty tune, we’ve always loved the White Rabbit. He was performed by Bill Thompson, aka “Droopy,” in the cartoon.
“I’m Late, I’m Late” captures the character’s manic dash, and also sets the tone for one of the more entertaining classical/jazz hybrids on record. Sauter, best known for the big band he led with Bill Finegan, was a jazz composer who collaborated with Getz once again for the score to the surreal 1965 Warren Beatty film, Mickey One. A commercial flop, it is now considered a cult classic, and Sauter’s score runs the range of jazz experimentation.
Sauter also wrote an original suite for Getz to perform with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. An arrangement of his “Doodletown Fifers” (a 1952 tune by the Sauter-Finegan Big Band) has become a nearly annual tradition at Tanglewood, but “Tanglewood Concerto” has not seen a revival. The piece is very much along the lines of Focus, and sure to be of interest to fans of that album. This particular recording, though, is a little worn out. It’s a withdrawn St. Paul Public Library copy we found in a recent jazz collection.