One of the most difficult problems that we encountered in the background score to JOLSON SINGS
AGAIN was the smooth tying together of the actual songs with the background music. The actual vocal numbers were recorded at various times over a period of almost a year.
The excerpts of the songs in the Santa Barbara preview sequence of course were recorded several years ago for the first JOLSON picture.(The Jolson Story (1946)
Which all meant that there was a certain amount of difference in the sound quality of all these recordings, due to various conditions such as atmospheric conditions, different types of orchestrations, mechanical changes in our recording and dubbing equipment. In other words our background score had to match as nearly as possible the various recordings of the songs.
The medley of songs that Jolson sings on his overseas trip were each recorded as separate songs without endings. It was not until after the picture was in its final cut that we knew what the actual order of the songs would be. Each song was connected by very short bridges written and recorded long after the vocals were made but I doubt whether anyone would be able to detect this fact, I attempted to match the orchestration and recording quality of each song as nearly as possible, and the rest was up to the superb conducting and judgment of Morris Stoloff, head of the Columbia music department.
It has been estimated that Mr. Stoloff spent a total of 109 hours on the scoring stage while doing the pre-recording and the final scoring of JOLSON SINGS AGAIN. Finding thematic material for the background score was relatively simple. I used treatments of APRIL SHOWERS for the scenes which referred to Jolson's first marriage. You may recall that APRIL SHOWERS was used extensively in the first Jolson picture.
In the present picture I used paraphrases of "Baby Face" for the character of Jolson's wife as played by Barbara Hale. This was motivated in the scene where Jolson comes out of his coma in the hospital where he meets the nurse who later became his wife. The rest of the background score I based on short original themes among which was an "action" theme for Jolson, a "show business" theme, and a somewhat nostalgic theme for some of the scenes with Mama and Papa Jolson.
All in all, the scoring of the new Jolson picture was a most interesting job, though a long and tedious one. There were some 75 or more cues written for the picture, including the bridges for the song medleys I have turned out heavy dramatic original scores of an hour in length in half the time it took to do the background score for JOLSON SINGS AGAIN. It was the type of score where you actually spend more time in the projection and dubbing rooms than you do in putting down the notes on paper! By the way, I would like to acknowledge the wonderful job that my orohestrator, Arthur Morton did for me.
JOLSON SINGS AGAIN.. Columbia. Larry Parks, Barbara Hale. Directed by Henry Levin. Music score by George Duning. Technicolor.
by George Duning from Film Music Notes, September-October 1949
Note : The "JSA" vocals were done in 9 sessions from August 20, 1948 until February 2, 1949.