Jimmy Joy and His Orchestra

Picture of Jimmy Joy

The Jimmy Joy Orchestra will never rank amongst the top bands of the Swing Era, but for a regional band, they did manage to attract a pretty good following.  The orchestra itself was started in the mid-1920's on the campus of the University of Texas.  They got their name from their leader’s association with Joyland Park in Galveston, TX, where many of their early concerts took place.

The bandleader's name was Monte Maloney.  In 1929, Maloney changed his name to Jimmy Joy.  Joy was quite the showman.  He was well known for his ability to play two clarinets at the same time.  Even though the band never broke through to the national level, Jimmy Joy was so popular in Texas that he was made an honorary Texas Ranger in the 1930's.  Joy was also made an honorary Kentucky Colonel after his orchestra played three seasons at the track as the Official Kentucky Derby Orchestra.

The majority of the orchestra's bookings and gigs were in the Midwest and Southern parts of the United States.  Jimmy Joy and His Orchestra, to their credit, remained active until the 1950's.  A pretty good run for a regional band.


Listen to: "Last Night's Gardenias" by Jimmy Joy and His Orchestra.

You can hear Jimmy Joy and His Orchestra right here on Swing City Radio.

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Watch: War Dance For Wooden Indians

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Today's video features The Raymond Scott Quintette performing the song "War Dance For Wooden Indians."  This originally appeared in the 1938 Hollywood film: "Happy Landing".  The clip really captures Raymond and the boys at their musical best and even includes some tap dancing Native Americans to round out the entertainment.

The film itself starred Sonja Henie, Ethel Merman, Don Ameche and Cesar Romero.  After reading the plot, I can't say I have much inspiration to watch the full film, but this Raymond Scott clip is fantastic.

Enjoy!


Watch: "War Dance For Wooden Indians" by The Raymond Scott Quintette from 1938.

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Podcast: Show 85 - Chicks, Chucks and a Consumer Pledge

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Chicks, Chucks and a Consumer Pledge - Show 85 - 

This episode includes some vintage recordings by Duke Ellington, The Modernaires, Ella Fitzgerald and Ernst Van t'Hoff.  We also listen to an old Camel Cigarettes testimonial.

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

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Jimmie Lunceford

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Jimmie Lunceford was born in Mississippi but spent the majority of his childhood in Denver, Colorado.  He grew up learning how to play a variety of instruments, but the alto saxophone became Lunceford's instrument of choice.

He led a popular and influential band from 1929 until his untimely death in 1947.  Lunceford's Orchestra made their first recordings in 1930 and toured throughout the early part of the decade.  In 1934, the band accepted a booking at the Harlem nightclub "The Cotton Club."  This is where Lunceford's reputation began to take-off.  The band's tight musicianship and the often outrageous humor in their music and lyrics, Lunceford's orchestra made an ideal band for the club. Lunceford's stage shows often included costumes, skits, and obvious jabs at mainstream white bands.

Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra were responsible for many hits in the mid to late 30's including the songs:  "Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam)", "Lunceford Special", "For Dancers Only", "Uptown Blues" and "Stratosphere" to name just a handful. 

Even though Lunceford released some very good music in the 1940's, his band was in decline because he was constantly losing talented sidemen to better paying bands.  Lunceford sadly passed away in July of 1947 at the age of 45.  There has since been many rumors and allegations that Lunceford had been poisoned.

Listen to: ‘Tain’t What You Do by Jimmie Lunceford

You can hear the music of Jimmie Lunceford right here on Swing City Radio. 

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Watch: "People Like You and Me"

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Today's video features Glenn Miller and His Orchestra performing "People Like You and Me" along with the Modernaires.  This clip is from the 1942 film "Orchestra Wives" which was also the second, and last, movie to feature Glenn Miller.

Orchestra Wives was released at the height of the "Miller Craze" and included the classics: "(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo", "At Last", "Serenade in Blue", as well as the song featured today, "People Like You and Me".

This movie finished up production just months before Miller announced he would be joining the Armed Forces.  Also, if you look hard enough, you'll notice a young Jackie Gleason portraying the band's bass player in this clip.

Enjoy!

Watch: "People Like You and Me" by Glenn Miller


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Podcast: Show 84 - Soundies and Atomic Alerts

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Soundies and Atomic Alerts - Show 84 - 

This episode features some vintage music by Cab Calloway, Bobby Sherwood and Ray Noble.  Ronnaldo plays selected clips from an old educational film called "Atomic Alert" and we also listen to a boatload of Soundies.

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

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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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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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Podcast: Show 83 - Victory Gardens and Cabbage Patches

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Victory Gardens and Cabbage Patches - Show 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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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

Picture of Martha Tilton

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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