Macabre-Banshee Sessions: Evolution from “Macabre” to “Banshee”

The Macabre-Banshee Sessions EP (1958-1959) by Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds documents the evolution of the original home demo, “Macabre,” to its later, re-christened studio form, “Banshee.”

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - Macabre 1958 Audiodisc demo alt

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – “Macabre” (1958) Audiodisc demo #1

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - Macabre 1958 Audiodisc demo

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – “Macabre” (1958) Audiodisc demo #2

In 1958, Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds made their first home recordings in a basement studio in Weston, Massachusetts. The first original track they cut was “Macabre,” an unreleased instrumental written by Art Bearon, James K. “Hap” Snow, and Stefano Torossi and featuring Bearon on piano, Harry Lewis on saxophone, Torossi on drums, and Snow on lead guitar.

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - Banshee 1958 Audiodisc demo copyrighted June 19 1958

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – “Banshee” (1958) Audiodisc demo

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - Banshee 1959 Ace Recording Studios demo

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – “Banshee” (1959) Ace Recording Studios demo

As the Williams College-based band members continued to polish the song through the next year, they decided the original title, “Macabre,” might be perceived as too dark or unappealing as compared to a more simple, friendly one. Therefore, “Banshee” was chosen, which became the A-side for the single recorded by Bearon, Lewis, Snow, and Torossi at Ace Recording Studios in Boston, Massachusetts in 1959.

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds’ complete Macabre-Banshee sessions are on SoundCloud:

A video for “Macabre-Banshee (Special Extended Early Mix) (Instrumental)” that uses “Macabre #2 (Banshee Early Version) (Instrumental)” and “Banshee (Semifinal Version) (Instrumental)” is online. This is the first Whirlwinds’ video to include images of all the musicians who took part in a specific recording session:

Stefano Torossi, the drummer at the Macabre-Banshee Sessions, continues to release music.

“Wild West,” an original composition made in collaboration with Alessandro Varzi on Pop Harmonica (2012) Deneb Records (DNB 761), one of a dozen albums of production music released by Torossi in the 2010s, is on Vimeo: