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.

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 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.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

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