Bunny Berigan

Picture of Bunny Berigan

Bunny Berigan was one of the most talented trumpeters of The Big Band Era and a bandleader whose career was tragically cut short by alcoholism.

Berigan started his career playing with local bands as a teenager in his home state of Wisconsin. He joined Hal Kemp's Orchestra in 1929 after failing his first tryout for the band.  By late 1930 he had already become a sought out studio musician providing trumpet solos for Abe Lyman, Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman.  From late 1932 through early 1934, Berigan was a member of Paul Whiteman's orchestra, before playing with Abe Lyman's band for a bit in 1934.

In 1934, Bunny returned to freelancing and recorded as a sideman on hundreds of recordings, most notably with the Dorsey Brothers and Glenn Miller's earliest recordings as a band leader.

At the same time, Berigan joined Benny Goodman's Swing band. With Berigan and Gene Krupa both on board, the Goodman band made the tour that ended at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. That tour and performance are often credited with the launch of the swing era.  Berigan recorded a number of solos while with Benny Goodman, including "King Porter Stomp", "Sometimes I'm Happy", and "Blue Skies".

Listen to Bunny Berigan's version of "I Can't Get Started"

Berigan led his own band full-time from early 1937 until June 1942, with a six-month hiatus in 1940 as a sideman in Tommy Dorsey's band. Berigan's alcoholism worked against his financial success as a bandleader. The stresses of bandleading drove Berigan to drink even more heavily. Some of the most notable members of his band were Buddy Rich, Ray Conniff and Les Elgart.

Berigan sadly passed away in 1942 of cirrhosis of the liver.

You can hear Bunny Berigan right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Special Podcast: Celebrating Harry James

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Celebrating: Harry James


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Hello there fine People of Swing! In this special episode of The Big Band and Swing Podcast we celebrate the music of a true icon of the Big Band Era, Harry James. We play some of his hits and take a closer look look at the trumpet playing bandleader. Join us in this musical celebration of Harry James.

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.

Roy Eldridge

Picture of Roy Eldridge

Roy Eldridge, nicknamed "Little Jazz", was born in 1911 and passed away in 1989.  His unique trumpet solos mark him as one of the most influential musicians of the swing era and a precursor of bebop.  Eldridge was also a featured vocalist at times in his career.

Eldridge, originally from Pittsburgh, led and played in a number of bands during his early years, touring extensively throughout the Midwest of the United States. He was influenced greatly by Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins.

At the age of 20, Eldridge led a band in Pittsburgh, billed as "Roy Elliott and his Palais Royal Orchestra".  His agent at the time intentionally changed Eldridge's name to Elliot because "he thought it more classy."  The name change didn't last very long.

Roy soon left to try out for the orchestra of Horace Henderson, younger brother of Fletcher Henderson, and joined the band, which was then being billed as "The Fletcher Henderson Stompers under the Direction of Horace Henderson."  Eldridge then played with a number of other territory bands, he drifted from band to band making a name for himself and making strong contacts throughout the industry.

Listen to Roy Eldridge's trumpet playing featured on "Rockin' Chair"

Eldridge moved to New York in November 1930, playing in various bands in the early 1930's.  At this time, Eldridge was also making records and radio broadcasts under his own name. He laid down his first recorded solos with Teddy Hill in 1935, which gained almost immediate popularity.  In October of 1935, Eldridge joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, playing lead trumpet and occasionally singing.  Until he left the group in early September 1936, Eldridge was Henderson's featured soloist, his talent highlighted by such numbers as "Christopher Columbus" and "Blue Lou."

Eldridge, fed up with the racism he had encountered in the music industry, quit playing in 1938 to study radio engineering. But in April of 1941, after receiving many offers from white swing bands, Eldridge joined Gene Krupa's Orchestra, and was successfully featured with rookie singer Anita O'Day.  This made Eldridge one of the first black musicians to become a permanent member of a white big band. Eldridge and O'Day were featured in a number of recordings, including the novelty hit "Let Me Off Uptown" and "Knock Me a Kiss".

Listen to Gene Krupa's "Let Me Off Uptown" with Roy Eldridge and Anita O'Day on vocals.

Krupa's band soon broke up when Krupa was jailed for marijuana possession in July 1943.  After leaving Krupa's band, Eldridge freelanced in New York during 1943 before joining Artie Shaw's band in 1944. Racial incidents that he faced while playing in Shaw's band prompted Eldridge to leave and form a big band, but this eventually proved financially unsuccessful, and Eldridge returned to small group work.

You can hear the influential trumpet playing of Roy Eldridge right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Podcast: Episode 23

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 23: Frankie, Bing and Delicious Homemade Pickles


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Hey there People of Swing! In this episode we hear some great music by The Ink Spots, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Benny Goodman Sextet, Ella Fitzgerald and more. We also listen to an old Chase and Sanborn Coffee radio ad. Oh, and I almost forgot: Pickles.

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.

Don Redman

Don Redman

Don Redman had moderate success as a bandleader, but left a huge impact on the Big Band Era as an arranger.  Redman was also an accomplished musician playing both clarinet and saxophones.

In 1923, Redman joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and began writing arrangements that did much to formulate the sound that was to become "Swing".  Don Redman's arrangements were sophisticated, highly innovative, and formed much of the foundation of the Big Band sound.  In my opinion, the work he did with Fletcher Henderson and His Band was some of his most impressive work.

Redman then joined McKinney's Cotton Pickers in 1927 as their musical director and leader. He was responsible for their great success and arranged over half of their music. He was a main fixture with McKinney's Cotton Pickers until 1931 when he left to form his own Orchestra.

Don Redman and His Orchestra signed with Brunswick Records and also did a series of radio broadcasts. During the early 1930's, the records Redman made were some of the most complex, "hot" arrangements of the period. Both Harlan Lattimore and Redman himself handled the vocals for the band.  He signed with the Bluebird label in 1938 and recorded with them until 1940, when he disbanded the orchestra.

Listen to Lazybones by Don Redman and His Orchestra

The 1940's saw Redman spread his musical influence as a freelance arranger. His arrangements provided hits for Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, and Harry James.

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.

August Birthdays

Picture of Big Band Birthday Cake

Here is a list of August Birthdays of notable Big Band and Swing artists that we play right here on Swing City Radio.  I also included the date the artist passed away for age purposes. If you feel that I missed someone, then send me an email through the website.  View more Big Band related Birthday and Events on our Swing City Radio Station Calendar.

August 3
Les Elgart (August 3, 1917 – July 29, 1995)

August 4
Abe Lyman (August 4, 1897 – October 23, 1957)
Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971)

August 7
Freddie Slack (August 7, 1910 – August 10, 1965)

August 8
Benny Carter (August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003)
Lucky Millinder (August 8, 1910 – September 28, 1966)

August 9
Harry Mills (August 9, 1913 – June 28, 1982)

August 10
Claude Thornhill (August 10, 1908 – July 1, 1965)

August 13
Anna Mae Winburn (August 13, 1913 – September 30, 1999)
Skinnay Ennis (August 13, 1907 – June 3, 1963)

August 17
Larry Clinton (August 17, 1909 – May 2, 1985)

August 19
Eddie Durham (August 19, 1906 – March 6, 1987)

August 20
Jack Teagarden (August 20, 1905 – January 15, 1964)

August 21
Count Basie (August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984)

August 23
Bob Crosby (August 23, 1913 – March 9, 1993)

August 24
Buster Smith (August 24, 1904 – August 10, 1991)

August 26
Jimmy Rushing (August 26, 1901 – June 8, 1972)
Lester Lanin (August 26, 1907 – October 27, 2004)

August 27
Lester Young (August 27, 1909 – March 15, 1959)

August 30
Kenny Dorham (August 30, 1924 – December 5, 1972)

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.

Special Podcast: Celebrating Count Basie

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Celebrating: Count Basie


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Hey there People of Swing! In this special episode of The Big Band and Swing Podcast we celebrate the music of Count Basie. We play some classic tracks and dive deeper into the jumping music of The Count. Join us in this celebration of Count Basie.

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.

Podcast: Episode 22

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 22: A Real Swingdinger!


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Greetings, fine People of Swing! In this episode host Ronnaldo plays some classic Big Band icons including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Charlie Barnet, Fletcher Henderson and more. We listen to an old Dristan radio commercial. All in all, this episode is a real Swingdinger!

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.

The Wizard of the Keyboard

Frankie Carle picture

Frankie Carle, nicknamed "The Wizard of the Keyboard" enjoyed great success as a bandleader and pianist in the 1940's and 1950's.  He was best known for his song "Sunrise Serenade" which reached Number 1 in the United States in 1938 and sold more than one million copies.  The song was covered by many bands.

Before having his own band Frankie Carle played with Mal Hallett and His Orchestra in the mid 1930's and joined Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights in 1939.  The popularity he attained while with Heidt’s band allowed him to leave the band in 1944 and form his own band, The Frankie Carle Orchestra.  His band disbanded after 1955 and he performed mainly as a soloist until the 1980s maintaining a close following of loyal fans.

Listen to Sunrise Serenade by Frankie Carle and His Orchestra

You can hear the music of Frankie Carle right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Free Music Download

Harry James

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Harry James - Radio Recordings: 1945:
This recording features the songs: "920 Special", "Tea for Two", "I'm Beginning to See the Light" (with Kitty Kallen on vocals) and "Two O'Clock Jump" from a Live Radio Performance that took place in 1945.  The audio has been cleaned up and is a classic performance by Harry James and His Melody Makers.

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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.

Special Podcast: How I Became a Fan of Big Band Music


Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Special: How I Became a Fan of Big Band Music


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Hi there everyone! This episode of The Big Band and Swing Podcast is a bit different than other episodes. Listen to Ronnaldo tell the story of how he became a fan of Big Band and Swing music.

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.

Record Finds From This Past Weekend - Part 1

Some records


After months of spending the majority of my time in my house and home studio I decided to venture out and do some record shopping.  Armed with hand sanitizer and a face masked I visited some local used record stores and had some great finds.  I'm sure some of this great music will be finding it's way onto Swing City Radio in the next few weeks as I go through the process of converting some of the good tracks over to the mp3 format.  I find quite a bit of material so I will probably be presenting my notes in two posts...

Dance to the Bands!:

Album Cover

I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Big Band recordings that were made after 1950.  My personal opinion is that the music is usually over produced especially in the 1950's through to the 80's where producers had a love affair for the echo-reverb sound.  Don't get me wrong, the music is fantastic.  I just prefer the more simple methods of the 1930's and 40's.  To me, it helped capture the "feeling" of the music better.

So all that being said, I was impressed with this album.  Yes, it has that echo chamber qualities that I'm not a fan of, but the music is very good.  The album contains selections from Les Brown, Stan Kenton, Billy May, Harry James, Ray Anthony and Woody Herman.  The liner notes on the back cover are fun to read as well.  They discuss the trend that was happening at the time of turning your penthouse apartment, suburban living room or college dorm into mini dance halls.  Take a look at a picture from the back cover.

Back Cover
(click on image to enlarge)

A Variety of British Dance Band Collections:


Album Cover  Album Cover

As I was browsing through some dusty stacks of vinyl I came across a small collection of records featuring British Dance Bands. As I looked through some of the tracks I noticed that there were more than a few names that I haven't been playing on Swing City Radio.  Over the next month or so, I'm sure you'll be hearing more Ray Noble, Jack Hylton, Ambrose, Jack Jackson and Lew Stone of the station.

There are some fun songs on these records.  A Great Buy!  Plus, some of them contained some nice booklets filled with information.

Album Cover

The Film Tracks of Tommy Dorsey:

Album Cover

This record is horrible.  Not because of the content, but because of the recording quality.  This was taken from old Radio Remote source copies.  I know that these can sometimes be hit or miss, but I dropped the needle on this one and was VERY disappointed.  Such great material, but the source copies on these were horrible.  And a quick note, I sort through poor quality, old classic radio transcriptions all of the time looking for material for The Big Band and Swing Podcast.  But this was sadly unlistenable.  If you ever stumble upon this one, just move on.

Dixieland Big Band All Stars:

Album Cover

Now this record is the complete opposite of the Tommy Dorsey record I just describe.  This record also features old radio transcriptions from 1949 through 1957.  It focuses on a variety of dixieland style radio performances and the music is outstanding.  The sound quality is a little dull from time to time but that's to be expected.  The original source copies these were taken from were good, so it makes it very enjoyable to listen to.  To quickly summarize, this is Dixieland jam session including some of the bigger names of the era.  Names like Red Nichols, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Dorsey, Ziggy Elman, Ben Pollack and more.

This album is a lot of fun.  If you enjoy your Big Band and Swing with a side of Dixie, then you'd enjoy this one.

In my next post I'll write about a few other finds I had this past weekend.

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.

Podcast: Episode 21

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 21: Hop, Skip and Jump for a Little Fond Affection


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Hello Everybody! This episode features some fine music by Gene Krupa, Harry James, Charlie Spivak, Les Brown and The Andrews Sisters. Sorry this recording is not available on a 45 rpm.

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.

Record Finds From This Past Weekend - Part 2

Records

Here is Part 2 of my record hunting travels over the past weekend.  One note that I forgot to mention in the first post was my experience of record shopping with the mask.  I'm not a big fan of wearing masks.  I find them almost claustrophobic, but that being said, I also understand they are a necessity at the moment until we figure this whole Covid-19 thing out.  Wearing a mask in this instance had a benefit I didn't anticipate.  When I'm out record shopping, I'm that silly guy that will get on the floor to look under racks, dig through crates and the dust I usually kick up gets annoying.  It was almost a pleasure to wear the mask as I did my digging.  Okay, enough of my rambling...

Big Bands - Big Stars:

Album Cover

This is a simple 3 record set that is just a good ol' fashioned collection of Big Band songs by various artists.  Nothing special about it, but it's a solid collection.  It contains the original recordings by the artists which is what I look for.  Whenever you are out at flea markets or buying old Big Band recordings online, be sure to confirm that they are the original recordings.  If not, you may get stuck with an album filled with some no-name orchestras performing the hits you love.  If you don't mind that, then that's great, but I prefer the originals in most cases.

Giants of Jazz - Jack Teagarden:

Album Cover

The Giants of Jazz series is such a great collection of music.  If you ever see one of these collections while out and about, buy it!  These were put out in the late 1970's and early 1980's and they contain great quality original recordings.  The booklets that come with these collections are also first rate.  I'll be listening to this collection for years to come.  Not bad for a dollar.

Harry James - For Listening and Dancing:

Album Cover

This one I had mixed feelings about.  It was put out by Reader's Digest in the early 1980's.  Reader's Digest has surprisingly put together some amazing collections in the past.  The Glenn Miller collections come to mind as some of their best work.  I have to admit I was disappointed to find out that this collection contained recordings from the late 1960's and early 1970's.  As I said before, I prefer the originals and not re-recorded material. But, this collection won me over.

First, even though they are re-recordings, Harry James is still Harry James.  His playing on these tracks is excellent.  Another cool twist is that Helen Forrest reunited with James for this collection and handles most of the vocals. It was the first time they had recorded together since 1942.  So many of the hits that originally featured Kitty Kallen on vocals, we re-recorded with Helen on vocals.  That was fun to listen to and provided a different feel to many of his old standards.

The collection also came with an informative booklet as well.  So, I consider this a very good purchase.

In Closing:
To sum everything up, I like writing about these little record hunting adventures to give you all a "behind the scenes" look at the station.  I just want you all to know that the playlists and content on Swing City Radio aren't put together by some "suit" from some corporate office.  The music you listen to and love on Swing City Radio is put together by someone just like you, someone that is going to the dustiest part of the second-hand stores to find those Big Band gems only found in the discount bins.

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.

The Glen Island Casino

Glen Island Casino

The Glen Island Casino was one of the centers of the Big Band Universe in the 1930's and 40's.  Many of the era's most influential bands made their names there including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Charlie Barnet and The Dorsey Brothers.  It was located in New Rochelle, New York and overlooked the Long Island Sound, which made it an attractive location for dining and entertainment.

The term "casino" had a different meaning back then.  At that time a casino was defined as a social place for public entertainment and not associated with legal gambling. The Glen Island Casino did develop a reputation for being a speakeasy towards the end of Prohibition.

In the early 1930's the casino began to book up-and-coming musicians for weekend dances. Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra were one of the first bands to fill the hall with packs of young fans in 1932. The next summer, the Casa Loma Orchestra, drew in the large crowds and ushered in the Big Band and Swing Era for the casino.

The live performances at the Glen Island Casino were being heard nationwide via Radio Broadcasts.  The casino's enormous ballroom was ideal for the rowdy, dancing crowd. The structure and acoustics of the performance area were perfect for the crystal-clear radio transmissions.

Glenn Miller had so many great performances at the Glen Island Casino.  Many of those remote Radio Broadcasts were turned into albums years later.

Other artists that had notable engagements at the Glen Island Casino were Larry Clinton, Les Brown, Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Hal McIntyre and Claude Thornhill.

After the end of the Big Band Era, the Glen Island Casino was eventually converted to a restaurant and catering hall.

Glen Island Casino

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.

History of the Song: "Sing, Sing, Sing"

Sing, Sing, Sing

"Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)" is a classic Swing recording that was originally written by Louis Prima and covered by artists like Jimmy Dorsey, The Andrews Sisters and taken to new heights by The King of Swing, Benny Goodman.

In early 1936, Louis Prima recorded the first version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" with the New Orleans Gang.  Prima wrote both the music and the lyrics for the song.  It contained all of the Louis Prima trademarks including a fun, bouncy beat and catchy lyrics.

Listen to "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Louis Prima

In July of 1937, Benny Goodman and His Band recorded their instrumental version of the song. The length of standard songs released at that time were about 3 to 4 minutes so they could be recorded on one side of a 10-inch 78-rpm record. Goodman's version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" clocked in at 8 minutes and 43 seconds and it took up both sides of a 12-inch 78.  It's still retained some of Prima's catchy riffs, but overall the Goodman version only slightly resembled the original recording.  The song became "a full out jam session" featuring Benny and his band members.

...and what a band!  In 1937, The Benny Goodman Orchestra included names like: Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Red Ballard and, of course, Gene Krupa on drums. In an interview, band vocalist Helen Ward, who was there for the recording sessions stated that changes in the song just started happening spontaneously. Helen said, "One night Gene just refused to stop drumming when he got to the end of the third chorus, where the tune was supposed to end, so Benny blithely picked up the clarinet and noodled along with him. Then someone else stood up and took it, and it went on from there."  Elements from the song "Christopher Columbus" were also incorporated "Sing, Sing, Sing" and the credits for the Goodman version acknowledge this in the title - "Sing, Sing, Sing" (introducing Christopher Columbus)”.

Listen to: "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman played a classic variation of his version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" at his famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert that was filled with impromptu solos by band members. That recording is a bit different from the studio cut and is over 12 minutes in length. In my opinion, it may be the best version of them all!

Note: The Gene Krupa drum solo in the Goodman studio release was one of the first commercial recordings to feature an extended drum solo. Also worth noting is the Goodman version was arranged by Jimmy Mundy.

All three of the versions mentioned in this post are played right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Bonus Podcast - Celebrating: Benny Goodman

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Celebrating: Benny Goodman


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Hey there everybody! In this special episode of The Big Band and Swing Podcast we celebrate the music of Benny Goodman. Ronnaldo plays some classic tracks and some lesser known tracks by The King of Swing. Join us in this celebration of Benny Goodman.

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.

Benny Carter

Picture of Benny Carter

Benny Carter was an important bandleader in the Swing Era. He also played many instruments including saxophone, clarinet and trumpet. He was a pioneer on the alto saxophone. As an arranger, his charts for Fletcher Henderson's big band helped shape the swing style. He had an unusually long career that lasted into the 1990's.

In the 1920's, Benny Carter performed with likes of June Clark, Billy Paige, and Earl Hines, then toured as a member of the Wilberforce Collegians led by Horace Henderson. He appeared on record for the first time in 1927 as a member of Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten. He returned to the Collegians and became their bandleader through 1929, including a performance at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City.

Audio Recording of "There, I've Said It Again" by Benny Carter and His Orchestra

In his early 20's, Carter worked as arranger for Fletcher Henderson after that position was vacated by Don Redman. He had no formal education in arranging, so he learned by trial and error.

In 1932 he formed a band in New York City that included Chu Berry, Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole along with some other great musicians. Carter's arrangements were complex. Among the most significant were "Keep a Song in Your Soul", written for Henderson in 1930, and "Lonesome Nights" and "Symphony in Riffs" from 1933, both of which show off his writing for saxophones.

By the early 1930's, Carter and Johnny Hodges were considered the leading alto saxophonists. Carter also became a leading trumpet soloist, having rediscovered the instrument. He recorded extensively on trumpet in the 1930's. Carter's short-lived Orchestra played the Harlem Club in New York but only recorded a handful of records for Columbia, OKeh and Vocalion. The OKeh sides were issued under the name The Chocolate Dandies.

Carter died in 2003 at the ripe old age of 95.

You can hear Benny Carter's music and arrangements right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Podcast: Episode 20

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 20: Savitt, Sherwood and Swing!


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Howdy, fine People of Swing! This episode features music by Bobby Sherwood, Jimmy Dorsey, Vaughn Monroe, Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer. We also listen to a great radio remote by Jan Savitt from 1944.

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.

History of the Song: "Rum and Coca-Cola"

Picture of The Andrews Sisters

In 1945, "Rum and Coca-Cola" became a huge commercial for The Andrews Sisters.  This great song topped the charts in the United States and also did quite well worldwide.  Ironically, some radio stations refused to play the song because it mentioned rum, missing the blatant hints that women were prostituting themselves for the "Yankee Dollar."

So what did The Andrews Sisters think of these risque lyrics laced with social commentary? They later claimed that they had given little thought to the meaning of the lyrics.  In my opinion, I can understand that because it had such an innocent, catchy little feel to it.

Patty Andrews shed some light on the song in an interview stating: "We had a recording date, and the song was brought to us the night before the recording date. We hardly really knew it, and when we went in we had some extra time and we just threw it in, and that was the miracle of it."

In under ten minutes The Andrews Sisters had recorded a song that sold seven million units and sat at number one on the Billboard magazine chart for seven weeks.

Maxine Andrews also recalled, "The rhythm was what attracted the Andrews Sisters to 'Rum and Coca-Cola'. We never thought of the lyric. The lyric was there, it was cute, but we didn't think of what it meant; but at that time, nobody else would think of it either, because we weren't as morally open as we are today and so, a lot of stuff—really, no excuses—just went over our heads."

Audio and Lyrics of "Rum and Coca-Cola" by The Andrews Sisters

More History...

The melody was taken from a song that was written by a Venezuelan calypso musician named Lionel Belasco.  The lyrics to "Rum and Coca-Cola" were written by Rupert Grant, a Trinidad based musician who went by the interesting performance name: "Lord Invader".

The song was copyrighted in the United States by entertainer Morey Amsterdam and was published with Amsterdam listed as lyricist and Jeri Sullivan and Paul Baron as composers.

The original version of "Rum and Coca-Cola" lamented that U.S. soldiers were debauching local women who "saw that the Yankees treat them nice and they give them a better price." The final stanza described a newlywed couple whose marriage is ruined when "the bride run away with a soldier lad and the stupid husband went staring mad." The Amsterdam version dropped the final part, but also hints that women are prostituting themselves by preserving the Lord Invader chorus which says, "Both mother and daughter - Working for the Yankee dollar."

Note: After the 1945 release of "Rum and Coca-Cola", Belasco and Lord Invader sued for copyright infringement of the song's music and lyrics, respectively. In 1948, after years of litigation, both plaintiffs won their cases.

For more information visit this Wikipedia article about the song.

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.

Bonus Podcast - Celebrating: Glenn Miller

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Celebrating: Glenn Miller

Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello everyone! In this special episode of The Big Band and Swing Podcast we celebrate the music of Glenn Miller. Ronnaldo plays some classic tracks from one of the biggest names of the Big Band Era. Join us in this audio celebration of Glenn Miller.

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.

Louis Jordan

Picture of Louis Jordan

Louis Jordan was a bandleader who was very popular from the late 1930's to the early 1950's. He was known as "The King of the Jukebox" and his highest success came towards the end of the swing era.

Jordan was a talented singer with great comedic flair, some of his songs are simply hilarious but always catchy and memorable. He fronted his own band for more than twenty years and he performed duets with some of the biggest solo singing stars of his time, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to name just a few. 

Louis played all forms of the saxophone but specialized in the alto. He also played the piano and clarinet. Jordan was a successful songwriter, he wrote or co-wrote many songs that are considered classics of 20th-century popular music and staples of the Big Band Era.

Audio Recording of "G.I. Jive" performed by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five


Jordan began his career in big-band swing jazz in the 1930's, but he became known as one of the leading innovators of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo, dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie. As his style developed into the 1940's, it strongly focused on the rhythm section of piano, bass and drums, and after the mid-1940's, this focused mix included the electric guitar. Jordan's band also pioneered the use of the electronic organ.  He was quite the musical innovator!

With his Tympany Five bands, Louis Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R/B, Urban Blues and early Rock-and-Roll genres with a series of highly influential 78-rpm discs.  When you listen to some of Louis music from the 40's, you can almost hear Rock and Roll music banging on the door wanting to come in.

Jordan ranks as one of the most successful African-American recording artists in musical history. Louis Jordan regularly topped the R/B charts and was one of the first black recording artists to achieve significant crossover in popularity with the mainstream American audience, having simultaneous Top Ten hits on the pop charts on many different occasions.

You can hear many of Louis Jordan's hits right here on Swing City Radio including: "G.I. Jive", "Saturday Night Fish Fry", "Five Guys Named Moe" and "Is You Is or Is You A'int My Baby".

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.

Podcast: Episode 19

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 19: The Poor Jingle Segue


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello there People of Swing! Host Ronnaldo plays music by Tommy Dorsey, Johnny Long, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and many more. We also listen to a great Raymond Scott performance from 1961.

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.

July Birthdays

Picture of Big Band Birthday Cake

Here is a list of July Birthdays of notable Big Band and Swing artists that we play right here on Swing City Radio.  I also included the date the artist passed away for age purposes. If you feel that I missed someone, then send me an email through the website.  View more Big Band related Birthday and Events on our Swing City Radio Station Calendar.

July 1
Alvino Rey (July 1, 1908 – February 24, 2004)

July 2
Jack Hylton (2 July 1892 – 29 January 1965)

July 3
Dick Robertson (3 July 1903 - 1979)
Jerry Gray (July 3, 1915 – August 10, 1976)

July 6
LaVerne Andrews (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967)

July 8
Billy Eckstine (July 8, 1914 – March 8, 1993)
Louis Jordan (July 8, 1908 – February 4, 1975)

July 9
Cootie Williams (July 10, 1911 – September 15, 1985)

July 12
Will Bradley - (July 12, 1912 – July 15, 1989)

July 15
Howard Lanin (July 15, 1897 – April 26, 1991)

July 18
Deek Watson (18 July 1909– d. 4 November 1969)

July 24
Bob Eberly (July 24, 1916 – November 17, 1981)

July 26
Buddy Clark (July 26, 1912 – October 1, 1949)

July 29
Donald Redman (July 29, 1900 – November 30, 1964)

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.

Independence Day


Happy Birthday America!  I can't believe you are 244 years old!  You don't look a day over 200.  :)

The USA is going through some rough times right now.  No country is, or ever will be, perfect.  We have hit some major bumps in the road, but if I know this country, I'm sure we will eventually figure this all out.

A lot of turmoil, illness, fear, anger and uncertainty has filled our country, an in most cases, the whole world.  I know that those of you in our listening audience living in different countries around the world are experiencing versions of the same issues the United States are currently facing.  I hope you all feel, wherever you are listening from, that Swing City Radio is a place you can go to escape for awhile.

With all of its faults and shortcomings - I love the United States and I'm proud to be an American!  So Happy Birthday America!

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.

Video: World War II Radio Programs

Picture from World War 2 Video

In May of 1942 the Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) was formally established to generate additional programming for the troops.

Initially AFRS programming included mostly transcribed commercial network radio shows with the commercials removed. Soon numerous original AFRS produced programs such as "Mail Call," "G.I. Journal," "Jubilee," and "G.I. Jive" were added to the mix. At its peak in 1945 the AFRS was generating about 20 hours of original programming each week. The AFRS could retain the services of the best writers and performers without regard to their network or studio contractual obligations. This was especially beneficial during The Musicians' Strike of 1942-1944.

Unlike network programming in the States, AFRS programs were recorded for later broadcast.  These original programs were broadcast to the troops overseas, and usually were not heard by Americans at home.

Check out this video that highlights some of the entertainment that was provided for American Troops during World War II.

Video of World War II Radio Programs

If you like this video, I encourage you to check The Second World War Youtube Channel.  It has many interesting videos that are fun to watch!  (Especially for history buffs such as myself.)

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.

Podcast: Episode 18

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 18: Celery Stalks, Barbeque and Woodchucks


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello there people! In this episode you will hear some fantastic music from Will Bradley, Kay Starr, Tex Beneke, Peggy Lee, Bob Crosby and more. We also learn about Sensible Jane and her "ducky" new slip!

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.

Alvino Rey

Picture of Alvino Ray

Alvino Rey was born Alvin McBurney.  He was an underrated band leader and fantastic steel guitarist.

From 1932–1938 he served as a member of Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights. Alvino drew a lot of attention to himself and the band when he started playing pedal steel guitar. Later on down the road, the Gibson corporation asked him to develop a pickup for the guitar since Alvino also had a background in electronics.

In 1937, he married Louise King of the King Sisters and two years later formed his own band along with the other King Sisters. In my opinion, this was the period that produced Alvino's most noteable music.

In 1941, Alvino Rey released "I Said No!" featuring Yvonne King on lead vocals.  Excellent song!  Yvonne's voice just melts your soul.  In 1942, the band released "Idaho" and their version of "Deep in the Heart of Texas," which was a big hit.

Audio Recording of "I Said No!" by Alvino Rey

In the 1990s, Alvino, still with his wife Louise King (they were married until her death in 1997 - that's 60 years of marriage), moved to Utah.  Rey passed away in 2004 at the ripe old age of 94.

You can hear Alvino Rey right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Doris Day

Doris Day

Doris Day began her career as a big band singer with Barney Rapp and His Orchestra in 1939 and later moved on to achieve commercial success with Les Brown and His Band of Renown.  In 1945, she had two No. 1 recordings, "Sentimental Journey" and "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" with Les Brown.  Day eventually left Brown's band to embark on a solo career and recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967.

Audio Recording of "Sentimental Journey" with Doris Day on Vocals

Doris Day was born with the less marketable name of Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff.  While working with Barney Rapp he suggested she adopt the stage surname "Day" because he felt that "Kappelhoff" was too long for marquees.  She had singing stints with bandleaders Jimmy James and Bob Crosby and settled in with Les Brown where she found huge success.  Her hit recording, "Sentimental Journey", became an anthem of the desire of World War II troops to return home after the war.  Les Brown had once paid her a huge compliment by stating that, "As a singer, Doris belongs in the company of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra."

Doris Day

Day went on to have a successful film career as well.  By the early 1960's Doris had become one of the biggest film stars in Hollywood.  She later starred in her own sitcom on television, "The Doris Day Show," which ran from 1968 to 1973.

You can hear many of Doris Day's songs right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Swingadelic: "Bluesville"

Picture of Swingadelic Bluesville

Swingadelic celebrated their 22nd Anniversary this May with the release of their 8th album, “Bluesville”.  The new release features the single "The Late, Late Show" which you can hear right here on Swing City Radio.  Swingadelic continues to showcase their versatility on “Bluesville” with large ensemble versions of tunes by Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Muddy Waters, Mose Allison, Count Basie and other artists.

You can purchase their new album at:
https://swingadelic.bandcamp.com/album/bluesville

About Swingadelic

Swingadelic - based in Hoboken, New Jersey - began in 1998 as the neo-swing movement was cresting. Upright bassist Dave Post gathered his jazz & blues playing friends together to play engagements at New York City's Supper Club, Swing 46 and Windows On The World, the former restaurant atop of the World Trade Center. As the swing scene waned the band was able to turn to swing dance groups, concerts, festivals, schools and private engagements to keep active.

The band plays about 100 dates per year and has traveled from Maine to Atlanta. Swingadelic has maintained a residency for eight years at Swing 46 in NYC where it performs every other Monday as a ten piece "little big band."

Listen to Audio of  "The Late, Late Show" by Swingadelic

Swingadelic has eight CDs and has been recording for the ZOHO Music label since 2011. Swingadelic CDs have been in the JazzWeek Radio charts top thirty and garnered many critically acclaimed reviews in jazz publications such as Jazz Times and All About Jazz.

Learn more about Swingadelic by visiting their website at: www.swingadelic.com

You can hear Swingadelic on The Modern Block which airs every weekday on Swing City Radio at 3pm EST.

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.

Podcast: Episode 17

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 17: Tiskets and Taskets

Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hey there People of Swing! This episode features some great tracks from Benny Goodman, Will Bradley, Charlie Barnet, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. We also listen in on an old radio performance by Glen Gray from April of 1944. You will also learn where to send your letters to the makers of Lava Soap.

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.

History of Record Albums

78 Record out of its album sleeve

Have you ever wondered where the term "Record Album" came from?

Originally, 78 rpm records were normally sold individually in brown paper or cardboard sleeves that were plain, or sometimes printed to show the producer or the retailer's name. They were extremely generic.  Just imagine great musical works packaged in plain thin cardboard, not very pleasing to the eye, huh.  Generally the sleeves had a circular cut-out exposing the record label to view. Records could be laid on a shelf horizontally (not recommended) or stood on an edge, but because of their fragility, breakage was common.  As 78s became more popular it became clear that something needed to be done to make storage more safe, consistent and reliable.

We can thank Germany for the idea of the "album."  The German record company Odeon pioneered the album in 1909 when it released the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky on 4 double-sided discs in a specially designed package.  Deutsche Grammophon had also produced an album for its complete recording of the opera Carmen around the same time.  For the first time, a collection of music was packaged together for easier storage and organization.

Record Album Cover
Generic Record Album Cover
By about 1910, bound collections of empty sleeves with a paperboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records (the term "record album" was printed on some covers). These albums came in both 10-inch and 12-inch sizes.  In most cases, the inside cover provided an index area to write down information about the recording as well as where the record was located within the album. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, safely suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them.

Record Album Index
Record Album Showing Index
In the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums, typically with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight tunes per album. When the 12-inch vinyl LP era began in 1948, each disc could hold a similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, so they were still referred to as an "album", as they are today.

Glenn Miller Record Album
Glenn Miller Record Album Containing 78s
To learn more about this I encourage you to read the Wikipedia article on The Phonograph Record.

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.

Vera Lynn Dies at the Age of 103

Pic of Vera Lynn

Sadly, one of the few remaining icons from the Big Band Era passed June 18, 2020.

Vera Lynn, the British female vocalist whose touching songs helped lift the spirits of countless British citizens and soldiers during WWII, died today at the age of 103.  Lynn is most remembered by songs like "We'll Meet Again," from 1939 and "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover," released in 1941. She affectionately became known in England as the ‘Forces Sweetheart.’

She remained popular after the end of the war, releasing music, appearing in films and continued performing live.

Vera Lynn also touched the lives of many through her charities, including several that support ex-service personnel and others concerned with polio, breast cancer, blindness and cerebral palsy.

Audio Recording of Vera Lynn singing "We'll Meet Again"

Just this past April, The Queen of England invoked the spirit of the song "We Will Meet Again" as she addressed a nation in coronavirus lockdown by assuring Britons “We will meet again”. The Queen's statement echoed Lynn’s own message she made to fans in March saying: “In these uncertain times, I am taken back to my time during World War II, when we all pulled together and looked after each other. It is this spirit that we all need to find again to weather the storm of the coronavirus.”

Picture of Vera Lynn
Vera Lynn: March 20, 1917 - June 18, 2020
Rest in Peace.

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.
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