“Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus” was a 12-inch LP produced on the Cricket label for the children’s record market. It includes recordings of a good portion of the Ringling show in 1959. The sound mix isn’t perfect but it still a treasure to have this recording available. The woodwinds are hard to hear, the high brass is distant, and the low brass dominates, all due to microphone placement. The tuba player is excellent.
See Eric Beheim’s article on the 1959 Ringling-Barnum Musical Program included in the MAY-JUNE 2022 Circus Fanfare. Click HERE for that article.
The bandleader 1956-1959 was Izzy Cervone. See also the soundtrack recordings from Ringling’s two 1959 TV Specials — its annual one hosted by Ernie Kovacs and the Christmas special hosted in December by James Arness and Dennis Weaver of Gunsmoke fame. Additional comments on this page provided by Don Covington.
Track 1 – Grand Entry, Cats (7:51)
Includes: Entr’act (Billboard March); Opening announcement & fanfare; Opening Spec; Wild animal acts (3 rings – mixed big cats, lions, polar bear); Ibarra Bros. on the aerial bar; Elephants; Clowns. The announcer heard on this recording is Don Forbes.
Track 2 – Aerial Ballet: Ballet of the Buccaneers (2:51)
Track 3 – Spec: Around the World at Carnival Time (8:28)
An excellent example of the way circus bandmasters utilized a wide variety of musical styles ot keep the audience’s interest as a long procession of features circled the arena. Over the course of this routine, there are 23 different tunes, including marches, classics, John Ringling North ballads, waltzes, rags, trombone smears, jazz licks, latin melodies, and galops. The arranger (presumably bandmaster Izzy Cervone) toes them all together with transitions based on a recurring theme.
Track 4 – Aerial acts … the Flying Comets/Flying Rockets; Jugglers (3:30)
The aerial acts include trapeze (Flying Comets), aerial juggling, and hair hang by Chris Holt. The glop played at the end of the hair hang number is to highlight the club juggling that climaxes the act. See Chris Holt at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris accompanied by the marvelous Cirque d’Hiver Orchestra at this link: http://www.circopedia.org/Chris_Holt_Video_(1968)
Track 5 – Viennese Interlude … the Liberty Horses; The Sciplini Chimps (9:21)
Includes Equestrian Spec (big menage) “Viennese Interlude”; Chimps; High Wire with Harold Alzana The Liberty Horses Spec was themed “Viennese”, but opens with a medley of Hungarian dances (similar to the Hungarian Medley that Merle Evans liked to use for teeterboard troupes.) This medley contains 14 tunes, mostly classical.
Track 6 – Drum Majorettes; Zacchini Cannon Act (6:06)
The track begins with the Final Spec (“little menage”), the drum majorette announcement is tied to the John Ringling North song by that name. The Zacchini double cannon is integrated into the finale (a great example of how the director was able to stretch an act that requires only a few seconds into a longer feature by using dramatic music while the performers slowly examine the cannon, climb into the barrel, and signal they are ready. Farewell announcement. Chaser (blow off) with Thunder & Blazes.