Happy Birthday: Red Norvo

Picture of Red Norvo

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of swings best vibraphonists, Red Norvo.  Red was born on March 31st of 1908 in Beardstown, Illinois.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 31: Red Norvo


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Viola Smith

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Viola Smith was one of the first professional female drummers and gained notoriety as the "female Gene Krupa" and the "fastest girl drummer."  She was an inspiration to many female musicians and a true talent.  Smith died in October of 2020 at the age of 107.

In 1938, Viola and her sister Mildred started the Coquettes, an all-female orchestra.  They eventually altered their name to Frances Carroll and the Coquettes when Carroll joined as the lead vocalist.  Regardless of the name change, Viola Smith and her drums were the true draw for this band. 

Take a moment to watch this video from 1940 directly below featuring Frances Carroll and the Coquettes.  Viola Smith was truly a fantastic drummer.

Watch: Frances Carroll and the Coquettes from 1940

1942 was a big year for Viola Smith.  The Coquettes had split up and she moved on and joined Phil Spitalny's Hour of Charm Orchestra, another commercially-successful all-girl orchestra.  She also wrote a famous article for Down Beat magazine that year titled "Give Girl Musicians a Break!". In the article she stated that woman musicians could play just as well as men.  She argued, "In these times of national emergency, many of the star instrumentalists of the big name bands are being drafted. Instead of replacing them with what may be mediocre talent, why not let some of the great girl musicians of the country take their place?"

Throughout her long career, Smith spent time with NBC Symphony Orchestra, The Hour of Charm, The Kit Kat Band and eventually led her own band Viola and her Seventeen Drums.  As recent as November 2019, it was reported that she occasionally still drummed with bands near her home in Costa Mesa, California, as one of the oldest living mainstream musicians. How incredible is that! At 107 years old, still drumming.  I haven't seen any footage of these performances and I'm sure they were more of a novelty, but it's still very, very, impressive.

In October of 2020, when Viola Smith passed, Big Band and Swing lost one of it's last true links to it's glory days.

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Watch: "What To Do On A Date."

Picture of What To Do On A Date

Meet Nick.  Nick has a bit of a "thing" for Kay.  He'd like to ask her out on a date, but what would he say?  What if Kay says "No"?  ...and even scarier, what if she says "Yes".  What would they do, where would he take her?

Well, all of these nerve-racking questions are answered in this short Educational film from 1950.  Be sure to catch Nick's phone call to Kay at about the 2 minute mark.  In my humble opinion, it's an award winning performance and I'm surprised this film wasn't at least considered for an Oscar.  

The Scavenger Sale scene is simply a "hoot" as well.  Enjoy!

Watch the Short Film: "What To Do On A Date" from 1950

You can listen to audio clips from this film and others just like it every night on "After Dark", right here on Swing City Radio.  After Dark starts at 8pm EST and runs to Midnight.

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Happy Birthday: Paul Whiteman

Picture of Paul Whiteman

Today marks the birthday of the legendary Paul Whiteman.  Paul was born on March 28th, 1890 in Denver, Colorado.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 28: Paul Whiteman


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Happy Birthday: Hal Kemp

Picture of Hal Kemp

Today marks the birthday of bandleader Hal Kemp.  Hal was born on March 27th, 1904 in Marion, Alabama.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 27: Hal Kemp


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Podcast: Episode 54 - Saturday is a Blue Ribbon Night

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Saturday is a Blue Ribbon Night - 

Episode 54 features songs from The Andrews Sisters, Frances Carroll and The Coquettes, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm and more. Ronnaldo discusses the passing of both Viola Smith and Helen Jones Woods in 2020.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

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Happy Birthday: Frankie Carle

Picture of Frankie Carle

Today we celebrate the birthday of "The Wizard of the Keyboard", pianist Frankie Carle.  Frankie was born on March 25, 1903 in Providence, Rhode Island.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 25: Frankie Carle


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Tony Pastor

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Tony Pastor had such a recognizable voice.  You don't hear many people ask, "Is that Tony Pastor singing?"  You just know it's him.  Pastor played a great saxophone but he also featured that gravelly voice that helped him and his band stand out.

Pastor broke onto the scene in the late 1920's playing for some of the bigger bands of the time including the bands of Irving Aaronson and Austin Wylie.  In the 1930's he played with Smith Ballew, Vincent Lopez and his long time friend Artie Shaw.  It was with Shaw's band where Pastor really came into his own.

In late 1939, Artie Shaw abruptly left his own band and Tony Pastor was talked into taking over as the leader of the orchestra.  Pastor retooled the remnants of Artie Shaw's old band into his own creation and led that band from 1940 into the mid 1950's.  The band had some fine musicians and also featured the vocals of Rosemary and Betty Clooney Sisters along with his own.  Helped with a lot of exposure on radio, Pastor scored quite a few hits.


Listen to "One Meatball" by Tony Pastor

In the late 1950's, Pastor gave up the band to lead smaller combos at several Las Vegas casinos and lounges, featuring his young sons Guy and Tony Jr. on vocals. He was forced to retire due to health problems in early 1968 and died the following year.

You can hear the fun and playful music of Tony Pastor right here on Swing City Radio.

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Video: Would You Do This?

Picture of Record

So have you ever cleaned your old vinyl records with wood glue?  I've been so tempted to try it.  There's many videos on Youtube showing a few different methods in case you'd like to try for yourself.  I recommend that you start with a record that doesn't mean too much to you for practice.  Don't start with your rare Live Glenn Miller Album.  Also, you may want to consider watching a few different video just to compare methods.

I've read in the comments of many videos that Elmer's Glue does not work very good. Supposedly, it flakes a lot when removing.  Also, be careful to not mess up your turntable. If you are braver than me and decide to try this, send me an email and let me know how it went.  Have fun!

Watch Video:  Cleaning Vinyl Records With Wood Glue

Not one of my better articles. I just thought that some of you out there that still have record collections, like myself, might find this interesting.  😀

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Happy Birthday: Ozzie Nelson

Picture of Ozzie Nelson

Today marks the birthday of bandleader and actor Ozzie Nelson.  Ozzie was born on March 20th, 1906 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 20: Ozzie Nelson


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Happy Birthday: Bob Chester

Picture of Bob Chester

Today marks the birthday of bandleader and saxophonist Bob Chester.  Bob was born March 20th 1908.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 20: Bob Chester


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Podcast: Episode 53 - Who's Buzz Adlam?

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Who's Buzz Adlam? - 

Episode 53 includes music from Bunny Berigan, Jan Savitt, Duke Ellington and Bobby Sherwood.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

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Happy Birthday: Sam Donahue

Picture of Sam Donahue

Today we celebrate the birthday of saxophonist and trumpeter Sam Donahue.  Sam was born on March 18, 1918 in Detroit, Michigan.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 18: Sam Donahue


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Happy Birthday: Nat King Cole

Picture of Nat King Cole

Today we celebrate the birthday of vocalist and pianist Nat King Cole.  Nat was born on March 17th, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama.

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


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Happy Birthday: Harry James

Picture of Harry James

Today marks the Birthday of the trumpet great - Harry James.  Harry was born on March 15th, 1916 in Albany, Georgia.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 15: Harry James


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Tommy Dorsey

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Tommy Dorsey was known as the "Sentimental Gentleman of Swing." He was also among the most influential bandleaders of The Big Band Era.  The smooth-toned trombone player was also the younger brother of Jimmy Dorsey.  The Dorsey Brothers led a band together in the 1930's but never really got along with each other.  In fact, it was quite well known that they were constantly fighting and having issues.  After Tommy broke away from his brother in the mid-1930s, he led an extremely popular and highly successful band from the late 1930s into the 1950s. He is best remembered for the songs "Opus One", "Song of India", "Marie", "On Treasure Island", and his biggest hit single, "I'll Never Smile Again".

I've always wondered how much of the success that both Dorsey Brothers experienced was a direct result of their constant drive to "show up" the other brother.


Listen to "I'll Never Smile Again" by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra

Tommy Dorsey had a quite impressive run of 286 charted hits.  His bands were a revolving door of incredible talent.  Just some of the names associated with Tommy's band were Bunny Berigan, Ziggy Elman, Buddy DeFranco and Buddy Rich.  He also featured some high profile singers including Jack Leonard, Edythe Wright, Jo Stafford, Dick Haymes, Connie Haines, Connee Boswell and some guy named Frank Sinatra.  I'm leaving a lot of musicians and singers off this list simply because the list would be so long. It should be noted that Tommy had a bit of a reputation for raiding other bands for talent.

Tommy also had the reputation of being a perfectionist and that sometimes led to some tense recording sessions.  He was also known to hold a grudge.  In 1938, Tommy loaned Glenn Miller money to launch his own band. Dorsey saw the loan more as an investment and later felt entitled to a percentage of Miller's income after Glenn's band became a success. Well, Miller balked at this, so Tommy got even by sponsoring a new band led by Bob Chester, and hiring arrangers who deliberately copied Miller's style and sound. Now that's holding onto a grudge.
  
As time went on, Glenn and Tommy reconciled their differences.  He also managed to patch things up a with his brother as well.  Tommy sadly passed away in November of 1956 at the young age of 51.  Big Band music had lost a true icon.

You can hear the music of the "Sentimental Gentleman of Swing" 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! - Listener Supported, Commercial Free and Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Watch: Hawaiian War Chant

Picture of Tommy Dorsey and Buddy Rich

I can never get enough of old film footage that captures our favorite Big Bands in action.  This is a clip of Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra jammin' out to Hawaiian War Chant.  This clip is from the 1942 motion picture entitled "Ship Ahoy".

Take a look at a young Buddy Rich pounding away at the drums.  It's so great to be able to watch him in action.  The Youtuber that put this video together did a very good job restoring the footage and the overall sound.  Check it out!

One last thing, I'm pretty sure that the "special effect" in the opening part of the film which makes it appear like Buddy Rich and his drum set are floating onto the set caused many of the 1940's audience to experience vertigo.  But that's just my theory. 😁  Enjoy!


Watch - "Hawaiian War Chant" by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra

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Happy Birthday: Les Brown

Picture of Les Brown

Today, we celebrate the birthday of bandleader, Les Brown.  Les was born on March 14th, 1912 in Reinerton, Pennsylvania.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 14: Les Brown


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Happy Birthday: Sammy Kaye

Picture of Sammy Kaye

Today we celebrate the Birthday of bandleader Sammy Kaye.  Sammy was born on March 13th, 1910 in Lakewood, Ohio.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 13: Sammy Kaye


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Happy Birthday: Ina Ray Hutton

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Today marks the birthday of bandleader, vocalist and entertainer - Ina Ray Hutton.  Ina Ray was born on March 13th, 1916 in Chicago, Illinois.

 - If you'd like to learn a little more about Ina Ray Hutton and hear a couple of her songs, then check out the Podcast Extra: 

Big Band Birthdays - March 13: Ina Ray Hutton


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Podcast: Episode 52 - My Favorite Object

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - My Favorite Object - 

Episode 52 features songs from The Boswell Sisters, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway and more.  Ronnaldo thanks the newest Hepcats for their support.

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Happy Birthday: Marion Hutton

Picture of Marion Hutton

Today marks the birthday of vocalist Marion Hutton.  She was born on March 10, 1919 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 10: Marion Hutton


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Consider Becoming a Hepcat

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So if you've been listening to Swing City Radio or The Big Band and Swing Podcast,  I'm sure you've heard me asking you to become a Hepcat.  So what does "Become a Hepcat" mean?  

It simply means becoming a supporter for the Radio Station and the Podcast through my Patreon Page.  My goal is to become listener supported and not have to rely on Commercial Advertising to cover the expenses of the station and the podcast.  There's no pressure - no guilt - just asking you to consider it.  

It only takes a pledge of $3 a month to become a Hepcat.  That's about the cost of a cup of coffee a month.  You can learn more by viewing the video below or by visiting supportswing.com.

Thank you so much and keep listening!


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Podcast: Episode 51 - The Bandleader Factory

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast - The Bandleader Factory - 

Episode 51 features music from former members of the great Ben Pollock Orchestras from the 1920's and 1930's. These talented musicians later became the iconic bandleaders of the 1940's.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

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My Little Panoram

Little Panoram

Just for the record, I'm not one to buy toys.  When I do spend my personal money, I usually go for old records and CDs.  Bet you wouldn't have guessed that, huh.  But, a few weeks ago, while on ebay, I stumbled upon this little gem. It's a miniature version of a Mills Panoram Movie Jukebox.  These Panorams are the very machines that featured the Soundies I play on The Big Band and Swing Podcast all of the time.

For those of you that are not familiar with Soundies, they were three-minute musical films, produced between 1940 and 1947 in the US, each displaying a song, dance, or Big Band clip.  The films were shown in a coin-operated "movie jukebox" named the Panoram.  I now have my very own "Mini Panoram!"  How cool is that.

Below, I've included a picture of my Mini Panoram next to a 15oz coffee mug.  I've also included a picture of a normal sized Panoram.  They are usually the size of a standard refrigerator.  It's truly the little things in life that makes one happy. 😀

Picture of Panoram and Mug

Picture of Normal Sized Panoram

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Glenn Miller: Interesting Liner Notes

Picture of Glenn Miller Live!

I love having my record collection on something that can fit in the palm of my hand.  But there is one thing I truly miss, LINER NOTES.  I really enjoy reading through those album notes on the backs and inner sleeves of those old, dusty records.  There are so many tidbits that can be found that never made it to the Web or into any books.

Here are just a few song notes I grabbed from some Glenn Miller albums that I thought were interesting.  Enjoy!

Moonlight Serenade:
Composed by Glenn originally as an assignment for the famous music theorist and tutor Joseph Schillinger, with whom Miller studied, the melody was first titled "Now I lay Me Down to Weep."  Later, Glenn named his great song "Gone with the Dawn", but in 1938, when he adopted it as his signature, he changed it to the well known title: "Moonlight Serenade". 
- Glenn Miller On The Air, Volume 3


Mutiny in the Nursery:
Tin Pan Alley had been making hay with such children's rhymes as "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" and "Three Little Fishies".  Johnny Mercer, quite possibly with tongue in cheek, produced this answer song involving Marion Hutton, Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle and the Band in the vocal.
- Glenn Miller On The Air, Volume 1


Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree:
Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else But Me) was a big hit in 1942 for The Andrews Sisters, who performed it on screen in a wartime musical called "Private Buckaroo".  Their version was outsold, however, by Glenn Miller's studio recording, which reached Number 1 in July of that year ... Notice how carefully every word is enunciated.  As Beneke once pointed out, Miller was quite strict about not slurring the lyrics.  "Don't sing, 'Don-si-tunder the yapple tree'" Miller would warn.  "Sing, 'Don't sit under the apple tree.'"
- Glenn Miller Live!, Reader's Digest Collection


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Ernst Van t'Hoff

Picture of Ernst Van t'Hoff

Ernst Van t'Hoff was a Dutch trumpeter and pianist that led a fantastic Dance band in the late 1930's and 1940's. Van t'Hoff was born in Zandvoort, Holland, in 1908.  There seems to be some multiple ways to spell his last name.  His name has appeared on recording credits and in print as: Van t'Hoff, Van 't Hoff and Van't Hoff.  I'm going with Ernst Van t'Hoff.

He played professionally in the Netherlands and Belgium from the late 1920's through the 1930's.  He spent much of that time as a sideman but by the mid 1930's he was laying down the foundations of his own band.

By the time the World War II broke out, Van t'Hoff was leading his own band full time. Holland was occupied by Nazi forces. Ernst Van t'Hoff soon found himself in a bit of trouble.  Even though the Nazis often used Swing and Jazz music for propaganda purposes, it was banned in all Nazi-occupied territories.  They considered Swing and Jazz as "unerwünschte musik" (undesirable music). Let's just say they were not fans of Van t'Hoff and the music he was playing.


Listen to: "Tanz im Carlton" performed by Ernst van t`Hoff

If you listen to Van t'Hoff's sound, it was strongly influenced by jazz and swing.  He was becoming known for his versions of American tunes, his Glenn Miller covers are great.  In fact, many of Van t'Hoff's original compositions had a Miller-like sound to them.  Eventually, his musical style and performances attracted "too much" attention, and more importantly, the attention of the Gestapo.  It's rumored that Ernst Van t'Hoff was banned from Berlin and his movements restricted to the Netherlands in 1943.

After World War II, Van t'Hoff led some orchestras, but pretty much stayed in Belgium and Holland.  In 1955, Ernst Van t'Hoff died of a heart attack.  He was only 46 years old.

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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 Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

Happy Birthday: Glenn Miller

Picture of Glenn Miller

Happy Birthday to big band icon Glenn Miller.  Glenn was born on March 1, 1904 in Clarinda, Iowa.  Happy Birthday Glenn!

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

Big Band Birthdays - March 1: Glenn Miller


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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 Streaming Online from King of Prussia, PA. Commercial Free!

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