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Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School Soundtrack (2006)
Composer: Mark Adler
Artists: Mark Adler, Kaulana Kanekoa & Vince Esquire, Royal Crown Revue, Robert J. Walsh, Mel Young, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Warren H. Luening, Sid Page, Charlie Loper, Bill Le Blanc, Moody Rivers, Scott Nickoley & Ronald Dunlap, and Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra 
Label: Milan M2-36160 (2006)
19 tracks
Running Length: 55 minutes

 As you can imagine, Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School movie is about ballroom dancing. No, this isn’t a reality show; it is a tender film on grief, loss and moving forward. The film centers on Robert Carlyle, as a widowed baker who comes upon John Goodman, who was in a serious auto accident. Goodman gives Robert a ticket to the Hotchkiss School to meet “Lisa,” but she isn’t there. Carlyle comes back again and again to the school and eventually meets Marisa Tomei. There are other stories here, such as the men in Robert’s grief therapy group, Goodman’s story told in flashbacks, and Mary Steenburgen who runs the Hotchkiss school in the shadow of her late mother.

The soundtrack by Mark Adler has as the main themes, that of Frank (Robert Carlyle), Steve (John Goodman) and music for a ballroom dance school. Adler uses piano, violin and clarinet to express the moods of longing and loss. Pieces such as the first track, “Frank Cries” or track 12, “Rita’s Clothes” or track seven, “Joyous Shades of Brilliant Magenta/Hey Bread Man” or track 14 “Scattering the Ashes” tie the dance sections together well. Adler is at his best with track nine, “Steve’s Story,” with a soulful violin solo by Sid Page who could double for Joshua Bell.

Music selected for the dance lessons include arrangements of  “Ciribiribin” with Warren H. Luening as the smooth-as-butter soloist. There is also “Cha Cha Charlie,” “Swing Tango,” “Pedro Goes To Town,” “Zip Gun Bop” and a pleasing “Begin the Beguine” with Dan Huggins on clarinet.  

Judy Garland fans may never tire of hearing “Over The Rainbow,” and here is another version by Kaulana Kanekoa and Vince Esquire on ukulele. Despite the unusual word phrasing, it’s OK. The CD ends with Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra with “On The Sunny Side of the Street.”  

This CD is a very good collection of mood music and danceable tunes. Just right for easy listening or grabbing your partner for a whirl around the living room. My favorite is “Begin the Beguine,” shades of Benny Goodman.

Copyright 2006 Marie Asner
Submitted 4/28/06



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