Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Willy Langestraat made many records under other names.
He used different pseudonyms for every genre in which he operated. A handful of people in Holland will remember the jazz records that he made as Billy Longstreet, because those were quite popular in the 60’s. But none of that material is available on CD. And the exotic records that Willy Langestraat recorded as Laguestra are even more obscure.The kind of people that work for the record companies, which have the master tapes of Laguestra, often don’t really care about music. And if there ever comes a greatest hits CD of Laguestra it will be the work of people outside the record companies. Like Roland Vonk, who has been doing serious audio archaeological research on this subject for several years now. Another problem with the music of Laguestra is that much of it was never released in the first place. Roland Vonk traced a few hours of great music, that was on some low fi cassette tapes, that Willy Langestraat’s daughter Nicolette had been given by her father. But so far the master tapes are not found yet and it is doubtful if they still exist at all.
Today I listened to the 10 inch LP that Laguestra recorded in 1957, Utopia. It is music for exotic and western instruments, played by a large orchestra. I would lie if I said that I could whistle a tune from this LP; it is more an interesting experiment than a hit record, like some of his later exotic recordings were. But the fact that this project was done in Holland in 1957 is stupifying: to my knowledge there was no single other musician in Holland doing something similar. Laguestra was way ahead of his time!
On one of the cassette tapes that Roland Vonk dug up, is a recording of a forgotten live performance of Utopia by the famous Metropole Orchestra. I have no information, but I can hear that Laguestra is playing the clarinet here and there. Laguestra also loved to play the sitar, which is of course also used in Utopia. I would not be surprised if that was the first sitar ever recorded on a record in Holland. The sound quality of the live performance is poor, but I hope that there are better recordings in the vaults of the Dutch radio stations. The chance that these tapes will ever come out of these archives is rather small, but there is hope: Roland Vonk will not give up as easily as I do.
I am working on a little booklet/fanzine about Laguestra, with some information and illustrations. I have no idea when it will be finished, but if you are interested, just ask, and I will put your name on the mailing list.
For today’s Soundtrack I choose a tune that Laguestra made for a Philips commercial. Willy Langestraat had a recording studio, Cinesound, where many advertising tunes were produced in the 60’s. I wish I knew where the archives went, because the few tunes that I have heard are among the best of the man’s work. So, Roland, if you are finished going through the Dutch Radio archives, please do a search after the lost Cinesound tapes.