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The Duke's Ideas by Charlie Barnet

The Duke's Ideas by Charlie Barnet Album Cover

What a fantastic album and one that I highly recommend.  I got my hands on this LP just before the holidays and is well worth the $1 purchase price.  I truly love that you can still find gems like these in used record stores at bargain prices.

"The Duke's Ideas" Volume 1 (1939-1941) was the first in a reissue program dedicated to Charlie Barnet.  The album, as the liner notes state, is built around themes by Duke Ellington or compositions inspired by the Duke's style. Charlie was a very big fan of Duke Ellington and it shows through in these recordings.

I've added the majority of the songs contained in this album to the Swing City Radio normal playlist including the tracks The Duke's Idea, Harlem Speaks and Midweek Function.

Like I said, if you have a chance to pick this up somewhere, do it!  It's a keeper.

I included a link below where you can purchase the MP3s of this album from Amazon.  It's a different cover but the song listings appear to be the same so I'm trusting they are the same versions as well.  And please, please remember, the small commissions made from purchases go to the station and help us continue to "Bring the Swing!"

Recommended: (Affiliate Links)

Charlie Barnet

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Happy Birthday, Ray!

Ray turned 98 today

Warm Birthday Wishes go out to Ray Anthony!  Ray turned 98 today and by all reports is still going strong.  Ray Anthony is the last surviving member of the original Glenn Miller Orchestra and had  a very memorable solo career as well.

Swing City Radio wants to thank you for all the great music you have provided us over the years.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.


1942–44 Musicians' Strike

American Federation of Musicians Logo

On August 1, 1942, the American Federation of Musicians, at the instigation of union president James C. Petrillo, began a strike against the major American recording companies because of disagreements over royalty payments. This strike seriously hurt Big Band artists and helped bring on the denise of the era.  Beginning at midnight, July 31 1942, no union musician could make commercial recordings for any commercial record company.  That meant that a union musician was allowed to participate on radio programs and other kinds of musical entertainment, but not in a recording session. The 1942–44 musicians' strike remains the longest strike in entertainment history.

The strike did not affect musicians performing on live radio shows, in concerts, or, after October 27, 1943, on special recordings made by the record companies for V-Discs for distribution to the armed forces fighting World War II, because V-Discs were not available to the general public. However, the union did frequently threaten to withdraw musicians from the radio networks to punish individual network affiliates who were deemed "unfair" for violating the union's policy on recording network shows for repeat broadcasts.

The strike had a big impact, since at the time, union bands dominated popular music. After the strike, and partly as a result of it, vocalists dominated popular music.

Petrillo had long thought that recording companies should pay royalties. As head of the Chicago local chapter of the union in 1937 he had organized a strike there. Petrillo was elected president of the American Federation of Musicians in 1940. When he announced that the recording ban would start at midnight, July 31, 1942, most people thought it would not happen. America had just entered World War II on December 8, 1941, and most newspapers opposed the ban. By July, it was clear that the ban would take place and record companies began to stockpile new recordings of their most popular artists.

Several months passed before any effects of the strike were noticed. At first, the record companies hoped to call the union's bluff by releasing new recordings from their unissued stockpiles, but the strike lasted much longer than anticipated and eventually the supply of unissued recordings was exhausted. The companies also reissued long deleted recordings from their back catalogs, including some from as far back as the dawn of the electrical recording era in 1925. One reissue that was especially successful was Columbia’s release of Harry James’ "All or Nothing at All", recorded in August 1939 and released when James' new vocalist, Frank Sinatra, was still largely unknown. The original release carried the usual credit, "Vocal Chorus by Frank Sinatra" in small type. It sold around five thousand copies. When Columbia reissued the record in 1943 with the now famous Sinatra given top billing, and "with Harry James and his Orchestra" in small type below, the record was on the best–selling list for 18 weeks and reached number 2 on June 2, 1943. In 1942, the song "As Time Goes By" became immensely popular after it was featured in the Warner Bros. film Casablanca. Rudy VallĂ©e recorded the song for RCA Victor in 1931, and the reissue of his 12 year old record became a number-one hit.

As the strike extended into 1943, record companies bypassed the striking musicians by recording their popular vocalists singing with vocal groups filling the backup role normally filled by orchestras.

One unexpected result of the strike was the decline of the importance in popular music of the big bands of the 1930s and early 1940s. The strike was not the only cause of this decline, but it emphasized the shift from big bands with an accompanying vocalist to an emphasis on the vocalist, with the exclusion of the band. In the 1930s and pre–strike 1940s, big bands dominated popular music; after the strike, vocalists dominated popular music.

During the strike, vocalists could and did record without instrumentalists; instrumentalists could not record for the public at all. As historian Peter Soderbergh put it, "Until the war most singers were props. After the war they became the stars and the role of the bands was gradually subordinated."

Before the strike began there were signs that the increasing popularity of singers was beginning to reshape the big bands. When Frank Sinatra joined Tommy Dorsey's band in 1940, most selections started with a Tommy Dorsey solo. By the time Sinatra left in 1942, his songs with the band began with his singing, followed by any solos by Dorsey or others.

The other major cause of the decline of the big bands was World War II itself—and the resulting loss of band members to the military, curtailment of traveling by touring bands because of gasoline rationing, and a shortage of the shellac used to make records.

If you'd like to learn more about this strike visit the full article here.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.


Girls in the Band

Video of Girls in the Band

Here is a short video documentary that explores the history and impact of all-female jazz and big band groups.  Includes interviews and music.  I found it very interesting.  Enjoy!



Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.



This Week on Live at 5


This week we have some great Big Band performances on Live at 5 including:

Monday (01/20): Stan Kenton: Live on All Star Parade Of Bands

Tuesday (01/21): Harry James: Live on Columbia Presents... - June 7, 1944

Wednesday (01/22): Benny Goodman: Live at the Manhattan Room - Oct 16, 1937

Thursday (01/23): Russ Morgan: Live from the Trocidaro - Jan 18, 1945

Friday (01/24): Earl Hines: Live from The Grand Terrace - Aug 3, 1938

Please keep in mind, some of the recordings featured on the show are almost 100 years old. Time has been spent trying to clean up some the audio, but the quality at times, on some of these recordings can be a little sketchy.  There may be some audio garbles, a brief volume drop or two and some pops, but they shouldn't take away from the enjoyment of the recording.  That being said, the content of these shows are classic, so if you need to adjust your volume a bit, I hope you'll find that it's worth it.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA

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