Podcast: Episode 83 - Victory Gardens and Cabbage Patches

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Victory Gardens and Cabbage Patches - Episode 83 - 

This episode features recordings from Harry James, Woody Herman, The Andrews Sisters and many more.  We also learn a little bit about Victory Gardens.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Watch: Dance With The Dolly...

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Today's video features The Andrews Sisters singing the old catchy classic - "Dance With The Dolly With The Hole In Her Stocking."  This clip is from the 1945 movie titled "Her Lucky Night", which stared Martha O'Driscoll.  I've never seen the movie myself, but from what I've heard, it's simply awful.  Apparently, the only thing that saved this movie were the appearances by The Andrews Sisters.

The Andrews Sisters' version of "Dance With The Dolly With The Hole In Her Stocking" is great one. Their performance is both energetic and quirky, an Andrews trademark.  The part that shows them playing with dolls of themselves may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but just comes off a little silly and weird. 

Here is a quick plot summary from IMBb in case you are interested: "A fortune teller predicts Connie (Martha O'Driscoll) will find her true love sitting next to her in a movie theatre. Connie buys two tickets on an aisle and tosses one of them away...and hopes for the best."  - Sounds like a true Hollywood classic, huh?

All of that being said, it's still The Andrews Sisters in the prime of their careers so it's definitely worth watching.  And I'm sure you'll get a chuckle out of that awkward doll scene.  Enjoy!

Watch: The Andrews Sisters perform "Dance With The Dolly With The Hole In Her Stocking"


Her Lucky Night Movie Poster

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Freddy Martin

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Freddy Martin's childhood was filled with challenges. He was bounced around by various relatives, but spent the majority of his younger years in an orphanage.  Martin started out as a drummer, then moved on to learn saxophone, the instrument that would define his career.

Martin led his own band while he was in high school, then played in various local bands after leaving school.  His playing style was heavily influenced by Guy Lombardo.  In fact, Lombardo had a chance to hear Martin's band and at one point recommended Martin to fill in on a date that Lombardo's band couldn't fulfill.  That event gave Freddy Martin the break he needed.

By the early 1930's, Martin was cutting records for both Columbia and Brunswick.  He became quite popular in the Hotel Ballroom circuit, and his band at the time had the "sweet" sound that was popular with the public.  

As the Swing Era took hold, Martin adapted with a bit of a "hotter" sound but retained his smooth style and his band rode the craze into the 1940's.  Freddy also had a great ear for vocalists.  During his career he employed singers Merv Griffin, Buddy Clark and Helen Ward.   His popularity as a bandleader led him to Hollywood where he and his band appeared in a handful of films, including Seven Days' Leave, Stage Door Canteen, Melody Time and a few others.

Martin continued to record throughout the 1950's and into the 60's.  You can hear the sweet, smooth, saxophone of Freddy Martin right here on Swing City Radio.

Listen to: On A Slow Boat To China by Freddy Martin and His Orchestra

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Dean Hudson and His Orchestra

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The story behind Dean Hudson and His Orchestra is a bit of a weird one.  The band was originally formed at the University of Florida in the mid 1930's and performed as the "Clubmen".  The first leader of the band was a student named Eli Katz, who used the name Dean Hudson as an alias. When Katz graduated, another band leader needed to be chosen, but under the condition that the new leader would assume the "Dean Hudson" fictitious moniker.  

1n 1936, the Clubmen chose Marion Brown to become the new "Dean Hudson" and the band recorded their first records as "Dean Hudson and the Florida Clubmen".  Marion Brown, who played trumpet and was a decent singer, retained the alias "Dean Hudson" for the rest of his career.

Listen to: "Holly Hop" by Dean Hudson and His Orchestra

The Clubmen name was dropped after a couple years, and they continued as "Dean Hudson and His Orchestra."  Though the band never became a huge name, they did attract a following.  Dean Hudson and His Orchestra recorded and performed throughout the 1940's and into the 50's.

Pic of Dean Hudson and His Orchestra

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A Little Jive Is Good For You

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Today's Soundie features the beautiful, and quite talented vocalist, Martha Tilton.  This entertaining clip was filmed in August of 1941 and also includes some dancing by The Three Slate Brothers.  The swingin' music is provided by Ben Pollack and His Orchestra, but they don't make an appearance in the film.  It's a shame, because Pollack and his boys put together a nice performance in this one.

This Soundie was filmed shortly after Tilton had moved on from Benny Goodman's band to embark on a solo career.  She had major success from 1942 to 1949 as one of the first artists to record for Capitol Records.  She also recorded a handful of Soundies in her career.

In my opinion, this is a great Soundie that truly captures the perkiness and energy that made Martha Tilton so lovable.  The song itself is also top shelf, as long as you can get past the first two lines: 

"It makes no difference what your ailment is,
It may be gout it may be rheumatism"

Wow, what a weird way to open such a bouncy song.  Enjoy!

Watch: "A Little Jive Is Good For You" by Martha Tilton

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Podcast: Episode 82 - Now I Want A Magic Wand

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Now I Want A Magic Wand - Episode 82 - 

This episode includes some vintage music by Benny Goodman, The Merry Macs, Glen Gray and Artie Shaw. We also listen to selected clips from an old social guidance film called "Cindy Goes To A Party".

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Soundie: House On 52nd Street

Pic of Henry "Red" Allen

Today's Soundie is called "House On 52nd Street" and features Henry "Red" Allen and J.C. Higginbotham.  Even though the credits in the title list this as a 1946 release on YouTube, my resources state that this was released to the nationwide network of Panorams in late 1944.  But I could be wrong, because the person that originally posted this online included some very good and detailed information in the description.

This is a straight-forward, stage performance Soundie that features some great music provided Red Allen's Combo.  Allen's Combo at the time included Higginbotham on trombone, Bill Thompson, Alvin Burroughs, Don Stovall, Bennie Moten, and of course, Henry "Red" Allen on trumpet and vocals.  Some pretty big names in there.

By the time this was filmed, Red Allen had made quite a name for himself as a featured soloist for bands led by Luis Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman and many others.

Such a good Soundie!  Enjoy.

Watch: "House On 52nd Street" performed by Henry "Red" Allen

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Billy May

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Billy May was a very good trumpet player, but his influence on The Big Band Era was felt most in his skills as an arranger.  May wrote arrangements for many of the top singers of the time, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Prima, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and many, many more.

May got his start in 1938 when he joined Charlie Barnet's Orchestra.  He played trumpet and arranged for the band.  His arrangement of the Ray Noble's "Cherokee" became a major hit of the era and a defining song for Charlie Barnet.  May remained with Barnet from 1938 to 1940 and played a large role in Barnet's rise as a bandleader.

In 1940, Glenn Miller hired May away from Barnet.  Billy May's trumpet playing can be heard on many of those Miller hits from the early 1940's, but his arrangements were rarely used. His arranging skills were, in my opinion, under-utilized with Glenn Miller's Orchestra. May's trumpet playing mixed well into the "Miller Sound", but his arrangements did not.  Jerry Gray and Miller himself were the arrangers responsible for that classic sound and style, but May's contributions should never be overlooked.

After leaving Miller's orchestra, May relocated to Los Angeles, where he became a much-coveted arranger and studio orchestra leader, working for top recording stars of the day.  He also led some good bands of his own that put out some great, swinging music throughout the 1950's.

Listen to "Charmaine" by Billy May and His Orchestra from 1952

In the late 1950's, May made his debut as film composer and went on to find much success in film and television through the 1960's and 70's.

You can hear many of Billy May's arrangements and recording right here on Swing City Radio.

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Podcast: Episode 81 - Jumpin‘ and Waving

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Jumpin‘ and Waving - Episode 81 - 

This episode features vintage recordings from Tommy Dorsey, Larry Clinton, Duke Ellington and many more.  Ronnaldo thanks Hepcats for their support and briefly discusses Louise Tobin who will turn 103 years old in November of 2021.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Luis Russell

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Luis Russell was a pianist from Panama that led a couple of great bands in the 1930's and 40's.  He began playing professionally in 1917 at a casino in Colon, Panama, where he would provide the live music for silent films.

He later won $3,000 in a local lottery and used it to move to the U.S. along with his mother and sister. They settled in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he worked as a pianist for a few years.

Russell relocated to Chicago in 1925 to play with bandleader King Oliver, then left to form his own band in 1929.  His first band became one of the leading groups in the New York City scene and included some big names including Red Allen and J.C. Higginbotham. They soon became the backup band for Louis Armstrong, who eventually took over the band in 1935. Russell remained with the orchestra for over eight more years serving as the musical director.

In 1943, Russell formed a new band under his own name, which played at the Savoy and Apollo in Manhattan and Atlantic City, New Jersey. He retired from the music business in 1948.

Listen to "Ease On Down" by Luis Russell and His Orchestra

You can hear the music of Luis Russell right here on Swing City Radio.

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"You Was Right, Baby" by Peggy Lee

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Today's video features Peggy Lee singing one of my favorite tracks by her, "You Was Right, Baby."  This Snader Telescription was filmed in September of 1950 in Hollywood, CA and was released into television syndication shortly afterward.  Learn more about Snader Telescriptions.

"You Was Right, Baby" was one of ten "Snaders" Peggy filmed in the fall of 1950.  She is backed by her then husband, Dave Barbour, and his Quartet.  Dave Barbour is the gentleman on the guitar along with Jess Bourgeouis on bass, Sid Hurwitz playing piano and drummer Alvin Stoller.  The Dave Barbour Quartet was such a talented group and provided the perfect musical background for so many great Peggy Lee songs.

Such a great video.  Enjoy!

Watch: "You Was Right Baby" by Peggy Lee

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Podcast: Episode 80 - Some Forrest and Sherwood

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Some Forrest and Sherwood - Episode 80 - 

This episode includes some vintage music by Louis Jordan and Tony Pastor.  We also listen to some performances from the old AFRS variety show, "Mail Call" by Helen Forrest and Nora Lou Martin.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Blanche Calloway

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Blanche Calloway was the older sister of Cab Calloway and was a successful singer before her brother.  She was the first woman to lead an all-male orchestra and had a music career that spanned over fifty years.  Blanche had a brilliant stage presence and her style was known to be very flamboyant and a major influence on her brother's performance style and music.  Take a listen to "Just a Crazy Song" by Blanche to hear how much she influenced her little brother.  Keep in mind this song was recorded and released prior to Cab's famous song "Minnie the Moocher".

Listen to "Just a Crazy Song" by Blanche Calloway.

Blanche had become a successful entertainer in Chicago by the mid- 1920's.  At that point in time Chicago, was considered the  jazz capital of the world. She made her first recordings in 1925, hiring a young, up and coming musician named Louis Armstrong as a sideman.

In the early 1930's, Blanche joined Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy as their featured vocalist. Her stay with Kirk's band was brief because she was fired when Andy found out that Blanche had plans to take over the orchestra. Shortly afterward, Blanche put together her own orchestra, first named Blanche Calloway and Her Joy Boys, later changing the name to Blanche Calloway and Her Orchestra.

After having a successful run throughout the mid-1930's and releasing some great sides including: "I Need Lovin", "Make Me Know It" and "You Ain't Livin' Right",  Blanche decided to disbanded her orchestra in 1938. She formed an all-women band in the early 1940s, but that band was short-lived and never came close to achieving the success of her earlier band.

You can hear many of Blanche Calloway's songs right here on Swing City Radio.

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Soundie: A Knife, a Fork and a Spoon

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Today's Soundie is a bit on the silly side.  It stars the The Fashionaires, which were a vocal quartet cut from the same cloth as The Merry Macs and The Modernaires.  The Fashionaires perform their version of the song "A Knife, a Fork and a Spoon" and the music is provided by Hal Bourne and His Orchestra.  (The orchestra is not shown in the Soundie.) 

The song is quite catchy and The Fashionaires add some nice harmonies to the number.  The Soundie was filmed in February of 1942 and also features multiple sets which was quite elaborate for these small budget films.  It shows that the studio was really behind this one and felt like they had a winner.

There is not much information out there about The Fashionaires, but I can tell you that they found their way into about six different Soundies.  Enjoy!


Watch: The Fashionaires perform "A Knife, a Fork and a Spoon"

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Podcast: Episode 79 - So Tired and Need Some Pep

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - So Tired and Need Some Pep - Episode 79 - 

This episode features recordings by Russ Morgan, Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey and more.  We listen to some Soundies and hear about some great little prizes included in boxes of Pep Cereal.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Louise Tobin

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Louise Tobin will turn 103 years old this November and is one of the few remaining links we have left to The Big Band Era.  She is most known for her work with Benny Goodman's band in which she recorded the hits "There'll Be Some Changes Made", "Scatterbrain" and "Blue Orchids" among others.  Tobin was also the first wife of Harry James.

Louise, in my opinion, was a great vocalist. Her time with Goodman's band was quite short.  She was originally brought in to replace Martha Tilton who had recently just left the band but in that brief time she was able to leave her mark. It's sometimes forgotten that she recorded with other big names from the era including Will Bradley, Bobby Hackett, Ziggy Elman and Emil Coleman.

Throughout the 1950's and early 60's, Tobin took a break from the music scene as she raised her two children she had while married to Harry James.  In 1967, Tobin married famed clarinetist, Peanuts Hucko.  Hucko went on to lead the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Tobin toured worldwide with the band as well.

Watch: Louise Tobin with Emil Coleman's Band

It was last reported that Louise Tobin now lives with her son, Harry James, Jr., in a suburb of Dallas, Texas.  You can learn more about Louise at: louisetobin.com.

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Soundie: Sentimental Journey

Picture of Bob Anthony and Eugenie Baird

Today's Soundie is "Sentimental Journey" by Glen Grey and The Casa Loma Orchestra.  This simple and straight-forward performance was released to Panoram machines in July of 1945.  The Soundie features the vocals of both Bob Anthony and Eugenie Baird.  For some reason, many resources list the vocalist as Skip Nelson, but that is incorrect.

The performance itself lacks the strong emotions usually associated with this song but still remains entertaining. Bob Anthony provided vocals for the bands of Randy Brooks, Bob Chester and Harry James as well as forming his own band in the early 1950's.  Eugenie Baird sang for Jan Savitt, Tony Pastor and a few others.  She was also the first female vocalist to be featured in the long history of The Casa Loma Orchestra.

Watch: "Sentimental Journey" by Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra

"Sentimental Journey" was the first of seven official Soundies that Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra filmed for the Panoram.  Enjoy!

Picture of Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra

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Podcast: Episode 78 - A Doozy On The Upbeat

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - A Doozy On The Upbeat - Episode 78 -

This episode includes songs by Ray Anthony, Count Basie and Dick Stabile. We listen to some music by bandleader Tommy Carlyn as well as hearing a PSA that stresses the importance of driving safely.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Lani McIntire

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As a bandleader, Lani McIntire led his Aloha Islanders from 1935 to 1950.  They released dozens of successful records, and the American public, who was simply fascinated with Hawaiian culture during that time, turned them into hits.

McIntyre is most remembered for featuring the Hawaiian guitar and steel guitar and helped popularize the instrument, which eventually became a mainstay in American country and western music.  His brother Dick McIntire is considered a steel guitar legend.

The Aloha Islanders later changed their name to Lani McIntire and his Hawai'ians and worked with Bing Crosby on the original versions of "Blue Hawaii" and "Sweet Leilani". In the 1940's, Lani McIntire also starred in about a half-dozen Soundies and also appeared in four Hollywood Films.

My personal favorite by McIntire is a song called "Holoholo Kaa".  It's a great example of how Hawaiian music can blend so well with Big Band music, if done correctly.  And Lani knew how to do it correctly.  This Soundie also features Lani's brother Dick McIntire singing in this one.  

It's also important to note that Lani last name was spelled "McIntyre" on some recordings.  Enjoy.

Lani McIntire performs "Holoholo Kaa"

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Soundie: Jumpin' At The Jukebox

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Today's Soundie is called "Jumpin' At The Jukebox" by Al Donahue and His Orchestra.  This catchy little song was released on December 6, 1943 to be played in Panorams all across the United States, but this was originally filmed in 1941 by a company called Phonovue Productions.  Phonovue Productions was later purchased by Soundies in 1943 and their clips were rebranded with the Soundies logo overlay to start off the film.

The vocalist is named Dee Keating who eventually went on to become the female lead with Ray Anthony's Orchestra.  Actually, she also ended up marrying Ray Anthony as well. 

I just love the fact that the producers decided to stick Keating into a hollowed out Panoram cabinet to sing her song.  The song is a little bit silly, but then again, most catchy songs are.  Enjoy!  

Watch: Al Donahue & His Orchestra - "Jumpin' At The Jukebox" from 1943

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Podcast: Episode 77 - Such a Wonderful Feeling

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Such a Wonderful Feeling - Episode 77 - 

This episode features music by Glenn Miller, Peggy Lee and Gene Krupa. We also enjoy an old radio ad from Lux Soap.  Mmmmm! That's such a wonderful feeling.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Georgie Auld

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Georgie Auld's sax playing can be heard on some of the greatest songs of The Swing Era.  Born in Toronto, Canada in 1919 , he later moved to Brooklyn, New York where he taught himself how to play saxophone.

It's surprising to me that Georgie Auld's name isn't more well known.  He was a featured player in many great bands including the orchestra's of: Artie Shaw, Bunny Berigan, Benny Goodman, Jan Savitt and many more.  Auld had the ability and talent to adapt his playing to blend into a variety of styles and moods.

He led his own band from 1944 to 1946.  They had a good sound and a promising future ahead of them.  Unfortunately, Auld began to face some medical issues that forced him to dissolve that first orchestra.  Georgie recovered from his illness and later started two other bands, one in 1948 and another in 1955. 

All of the bands Auld put together were very good.  They contained some big names, but he never really took that step to the next level as a bandleader. That may be reason his name isn't mentioned more.  But all of that being said, Georgie Auld recorded well into the 1960's under his own name and will always be remembered as one heck of a sideman.

Georgie Auld plays "In The Middle" - 1945

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Soundie: "Whatcha Know Joe?"

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Today's Soundie is "Whatcha Know Joe?" by Larry Clinton.  This is a simple, straight-forward Soundie that features the band playing on a studio stage.  The vocals are handled by Butch Stone.

The footage was originally filmed in 1941 but was released as a Soundie in August of 1943.  By the time of it's release, Larry Clinton was already serving in the armed forces in World War II.

Take notice that the Phonovue prints (the credit overlay at the beginning) cite the title of the song as "Watcha Know Joe?." I know the budgets on the production of these Soundies were quite tight, but you think they could have afforded that extra "H" they left out of the word "Whatcha".  :)

All jokes aside, Clinton and the boys perform a unique and entertaining version of this song.  Enjoy!

Watch: "Whatcha Know Joe?" by Larry Clinton and his Orchestra.

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Podcast: Episode 76 - Humming and Dancing With a Dolly

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Humming and Dancing With a Dolly - Episode 76 - 

Includes music by Benny Carter, Count Basie, Henry Busse and Ben Pollack. We also listen to a classic Soundie by the Modernaires.  Please remember to leave a review with your favorite podcast provider.

* All music in this podcast are Creative Commons.  Artists are credited within the podcast.

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Tex Beneke

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Tex Beneke was a talented saxophonist and singer closely associated with Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.  His personal band is also associated with the careers of Eydie Gormé and Henry Mancini. It's Tex we hear soloing on the iconic Miller song "In The Mood" and it's his unique vocals we hear on Miller's recording of "Chattanooga Choo Choo".  Beneke has one of those voices that just stands out.

Tex Beneke started playing saxophone when he was nine years old.  His first professional work was with bandleader Ben Young in 1935, but it was when he joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra three years later that his career took off. Glenn Miller immediately featured Beneke as his primary tenor sax soloist and Beneke played all but a few of the tenor solos on the recordings and personal appearances made by the Glenn Miller Orchestra until it disbanded in late 1942.

Tex moved on to play in Horace Heidt's band for a short time then led a couple of bands while serving in the navy.  Beneke kept in touch with Glenn Miller while they were both in the military and he made it clear that he wanted to reunite with Miller after the war and learn more about leading a band.  That sadly never happened due to Miller's death overseas.

Listen to: "Give Me Five Minutes More" by Tex Beneke

Tex Beneke eventually went on to lead his own successful band as well as becoming the first leader of the post-war, Glenn Miller "ghost" band.

You can hear his music right here on Swing City Radio including the songs:  "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop", "Give Me Five Minutes More" and "A Girl in Calico".

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King Sisters: Route 66

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This video is a fun little clip of The Four King Sisters performing "Route 66" with Alvino Rey and His Orchestra providing the music.  This was originally released as a Snader Telescription in the early 1950's.

The King Sisters included: Luise, Alyce, Vonnie and Marilyn.  Luise King was the wife of Alvino Rey.  

This is just a simple and fun little video and pairs up well with the feel of the song.  Enjoy!

Watch: The King Sisters in "Route 66"

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Podcast: Episode 75 - V-Discs and Some More V-Discs

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - V-Discs and Some More V-Discs - Episode 75 - 

Features vintage V-Disc recordings from Tommy Dorsey, Hal McIntyre, Perry Como and Tony Pastor.  Ronnaldo takes a closer look at the historic V-Disc program of the 1940's and barely scratches the surface of this fascinating collection of music.

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"Smiles" and a Horrible Film Crew

Picture of Tommy Reynolds and Sunnie O'Dae

Today's Soundie features a pretty catchy song by Tommy Reynolds and His Orchestra called "Smiles".  It also contains the worst filming of a dance act, EVER!

Tommy Reynolds never managed to establish a big name for himself as a bandleader, but his orchestra was pretty good overall.  He recorded a handful of Soundies and I think you'll find his version of "Smiles" entertaining and fun to listen to.

The Soundie itself is filmed so badly, it makes it a classic.  It was released in 1942 and the female lead in this is an actress/dancer named Sunnie O'Dae.  For the record, Sunnie O'Dae is remembered as a very good dancer, but you would never know it by watching this film.  O'Dae's performance in this Soundie wasn't the problem.  It was the simple fact that the film crew recorded her dance routine so poorly.  The clip barely shows her from the knees down as she dances and we never see her feet.  Have you ever seen a tap dance performance where the dancer's feet aren't shown? 

Watch the Soundie: "Smiles" by Tommy Reynolds and His Orchestra

When I watched this Soundie for the first time I just figured they were covering up the limitations of a poor dancer.  But over time, as I learned more about Sunnie O'Dae and her dancing talent, it became quite clear that the film crew simply screwed up.  I would NOT be surprised if a few of the crew were fired that day. It's important to note that Soundies were made on a VERY tight budget. So a reshoot, most likely, was not a possibility. 

All that being said, I'm glad they released it because watching it always gives me a good laugh and I do like the song.  I've also included another clip of Sunnie O'Dae dancing.  Enjoy!

Watch: A clip of Sunnie O'Dae dancing in the movie "Sing Another Chorus"

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Vaughn Monroe

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Vaughn Monroe was a gifted vocalist, trumpeter and a very successful bandleader. He rose to popularity in the 1940's and maintained that popularity throughout the 1950's.  His voice was unmistakable.  One of his well deserved nicknames was "Leather Lungs".

In 1940, Monroe formed his first band in Boston and became its main singer. He was signed to the Bluebird label of RCA Victor.  Monroe recorded extensively until 1956, and his signature tune was "Racing With the Moon". It sold more than one million copies and Monroe was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.  Among his other hits were "In the Still of the Night", "There I Go", "There I've Said It Again", "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow", "Ballerina", "Melody Time" and "Riders in the Sky."


Listen to "There I Go" by Vaughn Monroe

Monroe's orchestra had a number of excellent musicians. They focused mainly on romantic ballads in the studio, these songs became the hits for them.  When live, the band had a fiercely swinging side only occasionally captured on record. In ballrooms, Monroe often reserved the final set of the evening for unrestrained, swinging music.  I need to find some of those sets and put them on the air.

Listen to Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra on Swing City Radio.

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Podcast: Episode 74 - Melodies and a Lullaby

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Melodies and a Lullaby - Episode 74 - 

Includes music by The Andrews Sisters, Dick Stabile, Tony Pastor and Ralph Flanagan. We also learn what happens to a fish out of water. Spoiler Alert: It Dies!

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Jan Savitt

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Jan Savitt was born in a part of the old Russian Empire which is now a part of Ukraine.  He moved to the United States with his family very early in life and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  At an early age, it was quite apparent that Jan was a very good violinist.  This caught the attention of Leopold Stokowski who led the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the time.  When Savitt finally joined on with the symphony he remained with them for a good part of seven years.  Hence his nickname "The Stokowski of Swing".

But don't be fooled by Savitt's classical training.  Jan Savitt really knew how to swing.  In the late 1930's, he formed his own band and became one of the biggest swing acts in the Philadelphia area.  He also received a lot of air time on the radio; for years his band, Jan Savitt and The Top Hatters, was the staff band on KYW radio in Philly.

Throughout the war years of the 1940's, Savitt's band released many recordings and made quite a name for themselves.  Even after the war, the band continued to tour and enjoyed a good deal of popularity.  While touring the west coast of the U.S. in October of 1948, Jan suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage before a show and was rushed to a local hospital.  Savitt passed away two days later at the young age of 41. Such a shame.

Listen to "720 In The Books" by Jan Savitt

You can hear many of Jan Savitt's songs right here on Swing City Radio.

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George T. Simon

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Today's post isn't about a Big Band artist or band.  It's about a writer/reporter named George T. Simon, who covered the scene and left behind volumes and volumes of information that helps fans, like myself, understand and appreciate the era.

The Big Band Era was filled with colorful personalities, constant drama and most of all, incredible music.  George Simon (1912–2001), covered all of it as the editor-in-chief of Metronome (the most influential magazine to cover the Swing scene) from 1939 to 1955.  The books he later wrote about the times are, in my opinion, the best books that cover the era.  His writing can also be found in the liner notes of so many old Big Band albums and collections. 

Simon was probably the most influential jazz commentator during the swing era. Thanks to his inside connections with the jazz world, he was able to report information about bands and their personnel with great accuracy.  Simon would honestly critique the bands of the time, sometimes upsetting bands and record labels, but he also had strong friendships and relationships throughout the Swing Scene.

He was also an early drummer in the Glenn Miller Orchestra. George later became known for being the most comprehensive writer and resource on Glenn Miller's career, his personal life and his bands.

George Simon's brother was Richard L. Simon, the co-founder of the American publishing house Simon & Schuster.  One of his nieces, Carly Simon, later became a singer-songwriter that topped the charts throughout the 1970's.

I highly recommend reading his books to get a true feel for the Big Band Years, it's music and it's drama.  Here are three of them that I have in my collection: "The Big Bands" (1968), "Simon Says: The Sights and Sounds of the Big Band Era" (1971) and "Glenn Miller and His Orchestra" (1974).  All of these books, in my humble opinion, are EXCELLENT!

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Podcast: Episode 73 - Shakes, Zigs and a Gentle Zag

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Shakes, Zigs and a Gentle Zag - 

Episode 73 contains some great vintage recordings by Gus Arnheim, Claude Hopkins, Louis Jordan and Jimmie Lunceford.  We also learn a little bit about Alvino Rey and Stringy the Talking Guitar.

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Gene Krupa

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Gene Krupa was a fantastic bandleader and composer, but he is most remembered for his energetic drumming style.  His solos were simply legendary. Krupa is also considered "the founding father of the modern drum set".

Krupa broke into the Chicago music scene around 1927.  In his early years Gene appeared on recordings by Eddie Condon, Bix Beiderbecke and Thelma Terry.   In December 1934, he joined Benny Goodman's band, where his drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes on the hit "Sing, Sing, Sing" were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.

Krupa decided to leave Goodman's band shortly after the famous Carnegie Hall concert in January 1938 to form his own band.  The band was a complete success and recorded a boatload of hits in the early 1940's.

Watch: Gene Krupa and His Orchestra play "Drum Boogie.  This version is from the 1941 movie "Ball of Fire". The female vocalist in this clip is actress Barbara Stanwyck, whose singing was dubbed by Martha Tilton.

In 1943, Krupa was arrested on drug charges which resulted in a short jail sentence and bad publicity. Krupa broke up the orchestra and returned to Goodman's band for a few months moved on to Tommy Dorsey's band for a short time before putting together his next orchestra.

Through the 1950's and 60's, Krupa continued to perform and even had some roles in Hollywood. His drum battles with Buddy Rich were outstanding and the two recorded a couple of albums together.

You can hear Gene Krupa and His Orchestra right here on Swing City Radio.

The Andrews Sisters in "Private Buckaroo"

Private Buckaroo

If you are an Andrews Sisters fan, I strongly recommend you set aside a rainy afternoon to watch the movie "Private Buckaroo".  The movie itself should manage to keep you entertained for about an hour, but it's the music that shines in this film.  I've just watched it again recently and it gets a little better every time.  Let me sum it up by describing it as "brain candy" with a great soundtrack.

Songs by The Andrews Sisters dominate this 1942 release including hits like "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree", "Six Jerks in a Jeep", and the song I included below, "Three Little Sisters".  Altogether, the film features six songs by Patty, Laverne and Maxene.  Harry James plays a large part in the movie as well and his trumpet playing can be also heard throughout.

Watch: The Andrews Sisters perform "Three Little Sisters" from Private Buckaroo

Also, I can't forget to mention that Shemp Howard's role as Sgt. Muggsy had me looking up old classic Three Stooges clips afterwards.  Enjoy.

Shemp Howard

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Podcast: Episode 72 - Exploring The Cafe Rouge

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Exploring The Cafe Rouge - 

Episode 72 includes vintage performances from Glenn Miller, Woody Herman and Artie Shaw. Ronnaldo dusts off the ol' Time Machine and takes you back to 1943 to visit the iconic Cafe Rouge.

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Happy Birthday: Buddy Clark

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Today we celebrate the birthday of a true crooner - Buddy Clark.  Buddy was born on July 26th, 1912 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Buddy Clark and hear a couple of his songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - July 26: Buddy Clark




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The Jingle Maker

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Raymond Scott is best known for his classic recordings of songs like "Powerhouse", "Twilight in Turkey" and so many more.  Personally, he is one of my favorite artists from the Era.

Throughout the 1950's and well into the 60's, while other bandleaders were fading into the past, Raymond Scott pursued another of his many passions, the commercial jingle. 

During a span of roughly 15 years, Scott and his then wife, Dorothy Collins, recorded dozens and dozens of commercial jingles for products like Listerine, Sprite, Hamm's Beer, Tareyton Cigarettes, Vicks Medicated Cough Drops, and many others!

I'm telling you, the more I learn about Raymond Scott over the years, the more he just simply amazes me with his creativity and versatility.  I've included a couple of samples below for you to enjoy.

By the way, I found a very funny line in one of the descriptions describing the collection of these recorded jingles.  It simply states, "Products may contain soy, wheat, dairy, or Mel Tormé." - Enjoy!


Listen to: RCA Victor TV - "New Sensations in Sound"


Listen to: "When You Shop at a Food Town Store"

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Watch the Soundie: Tampico

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Today's Soundie features Stan Kenton and His Orchestra. "Tampico" was a Top 10 Hit for the band and just happened to be the first Kenton song to feature the vocals of June Christy.  Christy later commented, "She had been disappointed that her first recording with Kenton was 'Tampico', but was fortunate that it was a hit and established her right away."

The Soundie was released to the Panoram Nation in November of 1945.  The song pokes fun at the Mexican city of Tampico suggesting it had become more Americanized than the United States itself.  There are many lines of the song that point out that most of the "Mexican" souvenirs which could be bought in Tampico had been ironically manufactured in the U.S. 

Also, I just have to add that June Christy is by far, my favorite Kenton vocalist. Enjoy!

Watch: "Tampico" by Stan Kenton with June Christy on vocals.

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