Choosing a host/narrator for Bring on
the Brass was a no-brainer. Since the
album was a concert of music in the British
Brass Band tradition, and since I was at
the time an enormous fan of the British TV
series "Rumpole of the Bailey", who better
to go after than Rumpole himself - the
wonderful Australian character actor Leo

As with Ustinov, the agreement was quite
easily made. A proposal, an offer, and a copy of the sample "Peter Ustinov reads The Orchestra" CD was sent to Mr.

Outside the recording studio at BBC Bristol

McKern's agent, who forwarded it to Leo, who said yes. And as with Ustinov part of the
agreement was my going to Leo wherever and whenever, which in this case turned out
to be the audio recording studio at BBC Bristol (which was near Leo's home in Bath) in
the week before he was to start taping another series of Rumpoles.

Leo in person was every bit as warm and funny (and rumpled) as any fan of Rumpole
would have expected. He was eager to get to work (because his available time was
limited), so we went right up to the studio. I asked him if he wanted a clean copy of the
script, to which he said no the faxed copy he had received was perfectly legible, and

anyway he had written a few notes on it. As soon as
he was settled in the recording booth he asked if he
could speak with me privately for a moment as he had
"a few questions about the script". As I entered the
booth I could see that his script was in fact almost
entirely covered with handwriting, resulting in instant
paranoia to the effect that "oh my gosh he's
completely re-written the script we're going to have a
big argument and he's going to walk out on me".

The entire extent of this private discussion however
was Leo pointing out a couple of minor typos in the
script and confirming with me his corrections! All of the voluminous notes, arrows, and underlines on the script

"The tenor horns were quite forlorn".
During the actual recording session.
Click to enlarge.

were in fact just his extensive preparations for the session!! And sure enough, his reading of the script was both phenomenal and perfect. I don't believe he mis-read a single word! He was constantly stopping and asking "was

that all right? would you like anything different" to which I was constantly responding "yes that was certainly all right" while actually thinking "all right?! it's so amazingly glorious and so much better than my very minor script deserves that I can barely believe it!!!".

Because the recording session went so smoothly and
quickly Leo had a bit of time available afterwards, so we
headed to the studio cafeteria for tea, where I got to
hear wonderful stories about his work on Rumpole (he
was a bit frustrated at the time over the diminishing
rehearsal time being made available for the show), about
some of his other recent projects (he spoke with great
feeling about how he had loved being back home two
years previously for the shooting of the Australian film

"Travelling North"), and even about his experiences with
the Beatles during the 1965 shooting of "Help!" (Leo was
the hilarious "Clang" - the cult priest who was after
Ringo's ring!).

With the cover art planned but not
yet executed, I asked Leo to strike
the above pose for the illustrator
to work from. Click to compare the
above picture with the actual
CD cover!

Although I had no further direct contact with Leo
after our recording session, I was nonetheless
deeply saddened by the news of his death in 2002,
because I knew first hand that not only was this
the loss of an enormous talent and a consumate
professional, but also of one of the warmest,
sweetest, humblest, and most delightful souls that
it has ever been my privilege to meet.
- MR

Click to enlarge
Download the appropriate printable PDF
order form for Bring on the Brass

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