1. 'Echoes of Paris': The Literary Soundtrack

    By Heiko Baumann on 2005-06-28

    CBn looks back on the Echoes Of Paris record, featured in the fourth James Bond novel, Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming.

    Bond walked over to the gramophone and picked up the record. It was George Feyer with rhythm accompaniment. He looked at the number and memorized it. It was Vox 500. He examined the other side and, skipping La Vie en Rose because it had memories for him, put the needle down at the beginning of Avril au Portugal.

    Ian Fleming – ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, Chapter 5

    'Echoes of Paris'

    ‘Echoes of Paris’

    Those memories of course come from Casino Royale and Vesper Lynd, where La Vie en Rose is mentioned as well. Remarkable nonetheless, by Mr Ian Fleming. This Vox 500 record (named ‘Best light record ever made’ by Tiffany Case) can be identified as Echoes Of Paris, but both sides of this beautiful piano record have been recorded as a medley, without visible track marks on the record. Skipping one track on a record that one has never seen or listened to before seems to be quite difficult. And as Avril au Portugal actually is track #3 on the record, one wonders, why track #2, Trois cloches has been skipped as well. On a side note, La Vie en Rose, originally written by Edith Piaf, was a minor hit by A View To A Kill‘s Mayday, Grace Jones in 1977.

    Miss Case resumed the silent contemplation of her face in the mirror while the pianist played J’attendrai. Then it was the end of the record.

    Ian Fleming – ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, Chapter 5

    'More Echoes of Paris'

    ‘More Echoes of Paris’

    Fleming took his liberties with the track list anyway. J’attendrai is not the end track of one of both sides. It’s located in the middle of side 2. But this had to be, for the real end of side two features a mini-reprise of La vie en rose (not mentioned on the album’s track list). That one would have already brought up those unpleasant memories, thus giving away the dramatic effect of Bond skipping the song on purpose. It is of course possible that Fleming never heard the record himself and was only relying on a track list, maybe he just had consulted his friend Noel Coward on a record with La Vie en Rose on it. But this is subject to speculation. On the other hand, how could he have given such a matching description, had he really never heard the music?

    He thought that the music was appropriate to the girl. All the tunes seemed to belong to her. No wonder it was her favourite record. It had her brazen sexiness, the rough tang of her manner and the poignancy that had been in her eyes as they had looked moodily back at him out of the mirror.

    Ian Fleming – ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, Chapter 5

    About The Artist…

    George Feyer

    George Feyer

    George Feyer, born 27 October 1908 in Budapest as Gyorgy Fejer, studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest (alongside famous conductor Sir Georg Solti) and at the Budapest Conservatory.

    He had a reputation of being one of Hungary’s most promising young concert pianists and his decision to turn to popular music caused quite a stir. He started accompanying silent movies and touring Europe, and he and his partner, a drummer, played in the most exclusive night clubs and hotels in Paris, Deauville, Nice, Monte Carlo, The Hague, Geneva and St. Moritz. Feyer also had a regular weekly radio program on Radio Paris.

    If there is any originality in my arrangements, it lies in the fact that they do not try to be original. They are based on the eternal laws of music, which apply equally whether you play classical or popular, Mozart or Jerome Kern, Brahms or Johann Strauss.

    George Feyer

    He returned to Hungary when World War Two broke out and was put into a forced labour brigade by the Nazis after they took over the country. After his liberation from Bergen-Belsen and a short time of living in Budapest, he and his family went to Switzerland (this time on the run from the Communists) and moved to New York in 1951. He made his New York debut in famous Gogi’s La Rue, and played a series of gigs at clubs such as Delmonico’s. In 1955, he signed a contract as a piano player at the Hotel Carlyle, which would last until August 1968, when he was replaced by Bobby Short.

    He took off two weeks that summer, and Peter Sharp, who owns the Carlyle, asked Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, of Atlantic Records, who to get as a replacement. They said, ‘Get Bobby Short.’ I did my best to make those two weeks as successful as anything I’d done, and when Feyer’s contract ran out they offered me half a year. Feyer found a better deal elsewhere, and I work there now eight months of the year.

    Bobby Short

    Feyer and his combo recorded numerous albums for Vox Records in the 1950’s, among them the highly successful Echoes series, which contained not only Echoes of Paris, but also a part 2, More Echoes of Paris and a variety of others, like Broadway, Italy, Vienna or Hollywood. None of the Echoes series have been released on CD until now.

    Having been a resident of the French metropolis for many years, and having absorbed its culture and spirit, Feyer presents this selection of well-loved tunes with the elegance and dash of the cosmopolitain artiste.

    ‘Echoes Of Paris’ Liner Notes

    It is said that, unlike his live performances, these are pleasant but unexciting, lacking perhaps their variety and spontaneity. But that has to be only normal for a studio recording. When you play for an audience, you can interact with people. Audiences loved his clever commentaries, nimble playing, and occasional cabaret-style singing, something that can hardly be caught on a studio record.

    He literally plays his audience, which invariably includes longtime fans, fitting in a remark to a table on the left, acknowledgement of a request from a far corner, drawing his listeners in with an anecdote, a recollection, or an Ogden Nash poem, and creating an ambience that is informal but delicately controlled.

    John S. Wilson, 1980 – New York Times

    His repertoire was literally limitless, he played the classics with a touch of Broadway, and Broadway with a touch of the Continent. After the Carlyle, he found a new home at the Hotel Stanhope’s lounge, were he played for twelve more years, then spending his last few years of active performing at the Hideaway Room in the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He retired in 1982 after his first wife’s death, though he appeared at private parties and rare hotel engagements, mostly as favors to friends. For many years, up to just weeks before his death, he put on a weekly show to entertain patients at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

    George Feyer died in New York on 21 October 2001, just a week before his 93rd birthday.

    Record Information:

    George Feyer, piano, with rhythm accompaniment
    Echoes of Paris
    VOX VX 500, 1953
    10″ disc, 33 1/3 RPM

    Track Listing (Side 1):
    La vie en rose | Trois cloches | Avril au Portugal (April in Portugal) | La mer | Domino | Je n’en connais pas la fin | Darling, je vous aime beaucoup | Mon homme | Alouette | Sur le pont d’Avignon | C’est si bon | 14’55 total

    Track Listing (Side 2):
    Feuilles mortes (Autumn leaves) | Clopin-clopant | La ronde | La Seine | Pigalle | J’attendrai | Vous qui passez | Valentine | Paris je t’aime | 14’30 total