Basic Musical Library (AFRS)

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The AFRS Basic Musical Library (aka Basic Music Library) was a series of recordings of popular, jazz, and classical music that was distributed to every military radio station during World War II.  It became an audio/music library that allowed personnel at these military broadcast facilities to act as disc jockeys and to play the most popular songs and artists for their audiences - the American troops.

Swing City Radio plays MANY of the songs and artists that can be found in the "P" Series of this collection.  The "P" stands for popular.  Some of the many bands and singers represented in this fantastic collection include Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Harry James, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Louis Prima, and Peggy Lee to just name a handful.

The sources of these historic recordings mostly came from alternate takes of commercial recordings from the major record labels; radio broadcasts and remotes (often the dress rehearsals); concerts; and the AFRS’s own recording sessions. They were distributed to the broadcast facilities on 16-inch Transcription Discs.

Picture of 16 inch disc
Picture of "Basic Musical Library" - 16 inch Transcription Disc

Listen to Swing City Radio to hear some of these great recordings.  Enjoy! 

Soundie: It's Been a Long, Long Time

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Today's Soundie is yet another one from Stan Kenton. "It's Been A Long, Long Time" was released to Panorams in December of 1945 and just one of the eighteen Soundies Kenton and His Band filmed through the years.  It features the beautiful June Christy on vocals along with the postwar lineup of the Band.

This Soundie was filmed very well but the audio is a bit low.  It still manages to capture Stan Kenton being Stan Kenton.  Enjoy!

Watch: A Soundie by Stan Kenton - "It's Been a Long, Long Time" from 1945

Podcast: Show 124 - The Great Tobacco Wars

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - The Great Tobacco Wars - Show 124 - 

Features vintage music by Glenn Miller, The Boswell Sisters, Tony Pastor and Count Basie.  We also listen to old radio ads from the most popular cigarette companies of the 1940's.

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

Listen to: The Great Tobacco Wars (Show 124)
Podcast Episode

Listen to more episodes of The Big Band and Swing Podcast at:

Johnny Desmond

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Johnny Desmond was a talented vocalist that was popular during the 1940's and 50's.  He started off by forming his own singing group in 1939 called the Downbeats.  This vocal group quickly caught the attention of Bob Crosby and in 1940, Crosby hired them to work with his band.  Shortly after, the band changed their name to the Bob-O-Links.

In mid-1941, Desmond moved on to become the featured vocalist for Gene Krupa's band.  He ended up replacing Howard Dulaney and recorded over a dozen sides for Krupa.

In 1942, Desmond made a big life decision and enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He eventually became a member of Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band.  Desmond made many, many radio broadcasts being featured on lead vocals while with Miller.  He was discharged from the military in November of 1945, shortly after the end of World War II.

The name recognition he achieved while serving with Miller's band helped him solidify a successful solo career after the war.  He also starred in quite a few radio shows as well.

You can hear the music of Johnny Desmond right here on Swing City Radio.

Listen to: "Shoo-Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy" by Johnny Desmond from 1946

Watch: Air Mail Special

Picture of Count Basie

Today's Soundie features Count Basie and His Orchestra performing the Goodman classic "Air Mail Special".  This film was released in 1941 and Basie's version REALLY SWINGS.  Such a great performance for the camera.

Also featured in the film is a "last couple standing" dance battle.  Now call me cynical, but I have a strange feeling the winner was picked long before the dance started.  😀  Spoiler alert: Long time Basie vocalist, Jimmy Rushing paired up with Winnie Johnson, were crowned the winners.

A very fun Soundie with some GREAT music.  Enjoy!

Watch:  Count Basie perform "Air Mail Special".  1941 Soundie.

Picture of Jimmy Rushing

Podcast: Show 123 - Kool Smoke Dreams

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Kool Smoke Dreams - Show 123 - 

Features vintage recordings by Teddy Powell, Cootie Williams, The Mills Brothers and Les Elgart.  Ronnaldo also plays tracks from "Let's Go Clubbing" and the "Jack Pearl Show". 

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

Listen to: Kool Smoke Dreams (Show 123)
Podcast Episode

Listen to more episodes of The Big Band and Swing Podcast at:

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