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From the start, dedicated Lugosi scholar, Gary Don Rhodes and musical collaborator Art Greenhaw (a Texas-based composer, arranger, and musician) were apparently undeterred by their limited budget. Instead, they turned that potential liability into an asset by making judicious use of existing soundtrack material, and augmenting it with Greenhaw’s original music and his new arrangements of existing melodies. Further, Rhodes located rare, seldom-heard Lugosi radio broadcasts, mining them for moments that sum up Bela’s special appeal. The result is unique - the last a much-over-used word, yes, but one that best describes this CD. For instance, take Greenhaw’s treatment of the overture to Tchaikovsky’s "Swan Lake", the Dracula signature melody, interpreted here three times - first by piano, baritone saxophone, and (hold on) banjos, playing the melody as a lively fox trot. I know this seems peculiar, but Greenhaw and the Dallas Banjo Band make it work. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard as effective a mix of 19th-century European classicism and 20th-century Americana. "Swan Lake" turns up again in Greenhaw’s pleasingly orchestrated version dominated by electric organ, and, lastly, as "Swan Lake Rock", the arranger’s audacious and completely successful melding of the Tchaikovsky piece with the Ventures-style guitar. The cut is simultaneously rockin’ and traditionally melodic. I loved it. Greenhaw’s other adaptations/arrangements of existing melodies are no less clever. Original compositions include Greenhaw’s "A Hunchback Named Ygor", a regrettably brief piece dominated by melancholy oboe; and "Child of the Night", a sincere Rhodes-Greenhaw collaboration that seizes upon Bartok, and other early 20th-century modernists, for inspiration.
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