Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chris Dedrick (1947–2010)

Composer, singer, instrumentalist Chris Dedrick of The Free Design has died. Here’s a Free Design sampler, via YouTube:

“Bubbles” : “I Found Love” : “Kites Are Fun” : “Love You” : “My Brother Woody” : “Peekaboo”

I came to the music of The Free Design very late, via their recording of Bruce Johnston’s “Endless Harmony” on the 2000 compilation Caroline Now! (Marina Records). That was all it took.

comments: 4

Adair said...

The Free Design were marvelous. They belong to that great tradition of American vocal groups that includes The Singers Unlimited, The Mel-Tones, The Hi-Lo's, The Randy Van Horne Singers with Marnie Nixon, The Johnny Mann Singers and back to The Modernaires and Pied Pipers. Of them, The Free Design was perhaps the most delicate and subtle. "My Brother Woody" is moving and exquisite (especially the female vocal), and their version of "Light My Fire" is turned into something complex, haunting, full of an emotional and musical subtlety that one might not have expected in the familiar song. The Free Design deserve to be much better known and their recordings much more widely available. Thanks for this post!

Michael Leddy said...

That’s a helpful list. I’d add The Four Freshmen and The Association. I’d never heard of The Randy Van Horne Singers, though now I realize that I’ve heard them, many times.

Here’s “Light My Fire.”

Adair said...

The Randy Van Horne Singers with Marnie Nixon had possibly their greatest recording with Russ Garcia on the amazing "Sounds in the Night" lp from the 50's. They practically invented a certain kind of sound that was expanded and developed in the 60's. Marnie Nixon can be heard also on many Stravinsky recordings and even on a Mr. Magoo record (believe it or not, it is sublime!). Yes, the Four Freshman--I forgot! And the Association! Of course! What was I thinking? Thanks for filling the gap.

Michael Leddy said...

That looks like a very interesting record. It turns up at Amazon with a search for Russell Garcia. Thanks, Adair!