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Ravel’s Bolero: The Dance-Band Version

March 18, 2010

Maurice Ravel in 1912.

Jack Hylton and His Orchestra
Bolero

Recorded in 1937

There are people who love Ravel’s Bolero, and people who hate it, and a sizeable number who think it would be just fine if you cut out about three-quarters of it. For that last group, I present Jack Hylton’s version, sped up and cut down for impatient listeners. Nothing essential is lost: Ravel himself described the piece as an experiment with no development—”it has no music in it,” as he put it, so obviously reducing it doesn’t take the music out. Hylton’s arrangers have done a skillful job of adapting this famous orchestral showpiece to be played by a large dance band, and to fit on one side of an ordinary ten-inch record.

We’ll hear more of Jack Hylton’s ambitious band in the near future.

Jack Hylton in 1930, from the German Federal Archive. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

See the licensing information for the photograph above.

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