The In Sound (1965)
Gary McFarland

  1. The Moment Of Truth (Piero Piccioni)
  2. Bloop Bleep (Frank Loesser)
  3. The Hills of Verdugo (Gary McFarland)
  4. Over Easy (a.k.a. Monkey Beams) (Gary McFarland)
  5. Here I Am (Burt Bacharach/Hal David)
  6. Fried Bananas (Gary McFarland)
  7. The Sting of the Bee (Nino Oliviero/Bruno Nicolai/Alan Blandt)
  8. Wine and Bread (Gary McFarland)
  9. I Concentrate on You (Cole Porter)
  10. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)
  11. Anna (Roman Vatro/Francesco Giordano)  

Gary McFarland – vibes, vocals
Bob Brookmeyer – trombone
Sadao Watanabe – tenor sax, flute
Spencer Sinatra – flute, alto flute
Gabor Szabo (except 5, 9, 10), Kenny Burrell – guitar
Bob Bushnell or Richard Davis – bass
Grady Tate or Sol Gubin -drums  
Candido – congas
Willie Rodriguez or Joe Venuto – percussion

Conducted and arranged by Gary McFarland

Produced by Creed Taylor
Engineer by Rudy Van Gelder
Notes by Felix Grant

Recorded on August 2 (5, 9, 10) and August 3 (1 to 4, 6 to 8 and 11), 1965, at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

1 to 10 issued on LP in 1965 as Verve V/V6 8632
6 and 8 issued on single as Verve VK-10380
11 issued on CD in 1998 as Latin Lounge, Motor Music 533 912-2

Note: The August 31, 1965, date provided on the LP sleeve is probably incorrect. Date information here from Michel Ruppli’s The Clef/Verve Labels – A Discography Volume 2: The MGM Era

The following is excerpted and adapted from my notes to the The In Sound & Soft Samba (Ace/2018) compilation.

The success of Soft Samba in early 1965 enabled Gary McFarland to form his first working group featuring Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo, Japanese reedman Sadao Watanabe, Puerto Rican-born bassist Eddie Gomez and Bostonian drummer Joe Cocuzzo.

The combo spent the summer of 1965 on the nightclub circuit – and featured an appearance on The Tonight Show – playing to mostly good notices and appreciative (although not very large) audiences. Performances in Seattle were caught on the “Jazz At The Penthouse” CD, included as a bonus on the DVD This Is Gary McFarland (2014) and the LP Soft Samba Live!

Producer Creed Taylor took advantage of McFarland’s momentum to invite the composer, arranger, vibist – and now vocalist – back to the studios for a Soft Samba sequel.

The In Sound was recorded over two days in early August 1965 and released just in time for Christmas of that year. The album upped the jazz ante a bit and veers away from the samba stylings of the previous record to the more Latin mood of his compelling collaboration with organist Shirley Scott on their vastly underrated “Latin Shadows” (recorded only a week and a half before).

McFarland had become increasingly attracted to Latin music during this time. “I get very hung up on Latin-type music”, he stated. “I can notice how Latin music has influenced my approach to arrangements.” Its greatest appeal to McFarland was Latin’s harmonic and rhythmic richness and, most especially, its attractive simplicity.

Here, McFarland crafts a tremendous and remarkably cohesive program consisting of four of his finest originals, three unusual movie themes (“The Moment Of Truth” and “The Sting Of The Bee” from the Mondo film “Go Go Go World,” and “Here I Am” from “What’s New Pussycat”), a standard (Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate On You), an obscure novelty song (“Bloop Bleep”, a 1947 MGM single by Frank Loesser of “How To Succeed In Business” fame) and the 1965 Rolling Stones hit “(I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”.

“Anna,” an additional song from these sessions, remained unreleased for many years. Originally known as “El Negro Zumbari” from the 1951 film “Anna”, “Anna” was a 1953 MGM in-name-only hit for the film’s star, Silvana Mangano, who lip-syncs the tune on screen. Many others covered the little-remembered song over the years but McFarland’s “Anna” has thus far only appeared on the 1998 compilation Latin Lounge.

The line-up here includes studio musicians Spencer Sinatra, Kenny Burrell and Richard Davis – all returning from Soft Samba – aided by Gabor Szabo and Sadao Watanabe from the McFarland quintet. Notable additions to The In Sound include trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, who previously worked with McFarland on the 1962 album Trombone Jazz Samba, bassist Bob Bushnell, drummer Grady Tate and a percussion trio of Candido, Willy Rodriguez and Joe Venuto.

While there is no doubt this is Gary McFarland’s record, a good deal of solo space – and indeed much of the album’s dominant sound – is given over to Gabor Szabo. It turns out to be the best of their several collaborations on record, as well as a showcase for one of the guitarist’s best-ever recorded performances. Although, to be fair, Bob Brookmeyer takes a number of beautifully notable features.

Quite simply, The In Sound represents some of the best music Gary McFarland ever recorded: jazz, pop or otherwise. As before, even the covers sound like Gary McFarland tunes, so successfully does he make them his own – most especially on “The Moment Of Truth” and “The Sting Of The Bee.” They have that unusual melodic clarity McFarland always possessed and, after only these two albums, a unique musical signature; something most listeners either loved or loathed.

McFarland’s “Fried Bananas” was chosen as the album’s single, yet it failed to elicit much radio airplay. Like the better-known “Flea Market”, it’s derived from music McFarland wrote for a TV commercial. The song was later covered by Cal Tjader (with McFarland in tow), Benny Golson and years later by Sadao Watanabe himself. Even the ironic “Wine And Bread” humorously foreshadows the musical stance McFarland would take rather more seriously on the later “America The Beautiful” (Skye/1969).

For the album’s cover, songwriter Margo Guryan – a frequent collaborator of McFarland’s, who at the time was married to trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and worked as secretary to producer Creed Taylor – suggested a painting she purchased, Fried Egg On A Polka Dot Tablecloth, by her cousin, the pop artist Peter Shulman. Taylor liked it but chose to whiten the background for some reason. It is the most striking cover in McFarland’s discography but Guryan was dismayed by the album’s title – when song titles like ‘Wine And Bread’, ‘Fried Bananas’ and especially ‘Over Easy’ seemed to suit the image so much better. The image was later adapted to accompany the 1999 Stereolab 7-inch EP, also called “The In Sound”.

It’s fair to say that not many knew what to make of The In Sound.

A trade ad for the record in Playboy magazine surreally proclaimed: “Newer than Camp, so in it might even be out, that’s ‘The In Sound’ and Gary McFarland’ But listen deep…” Even the men’s market – to whom the record was presumably being pitched – gave it a miss.

The jazz critics were miffed too. Damning with faint praise, DownBeat gave the album three stars, saying “It’s an interesting tightrope McFarland walks, but it does not seem likely he can keep pleasing both factions of his audience for long.” Leroy Robinson in Jazz magazine claimed the Rolling Stones song heard here described his feelings for the record and even went so far as to say that he found McFarland “lacking in real roots for jazz immortality.”

One presumes the album was intended as a musical piece of pop art, celebrating the commercial aspects of pop culture in ironic and kitschy ways. At the time, no one got it. But six decades later, it sounds better than ever. The In Sound is just as infectious and memorable as any pop record while delivering all the artistry, creativity and dynamics of any classic jazz record. It is Gary McFarland at his very best.