Les Elgart

Picture of Les Elgart

Les Elgart, along with his younger brother Larry, are most remembered for their famous "Elgart Sound" which arose from the ashes of the Big Band Era in the mid-1950's. The style incorporated a unique blend of brass and reeds and it's popularity led to a string of best selling albums for the Elgart Brothers.  During that time, they also released the now instantly recognized "Bandstand Boogie", which was used by Dick Clark as the theme song for the ABC dance show "American Bandstand".

Les Elgart, himself, got his start playing trumpet in the bands of Raymond Scott, Charlie Spivak, and Harry James, occasionally finding himself alongside his brother Larry.  Les formed his own orchestra in 1945 and hired Nelson Riddle and Ralph Flanagan to write arrangements. The band enjoyed a little bit of success but failed to sustain any real popularity so Les disbanded the orchestra in 1949.
  
Les would end up freelancing in pick-up bands and doing contract work for the next few years. Finally, in 1953, after forming a second band, the "Elgart Sound", which had a familiar Glenn Miller touch to its style, caught on with the public.  In 1957, Les changed the name of his band to "Les and Larry Elgart and Their Orchestra".  The brothers eventually parted ways by the end of the decade and reunited again in the early 1960's. 

Listen to: "Bandstand Boogie" by Les Elgart from 1954

You can hear the music of Les Elgart right here on Swing City Radio.

Watch: "Jersey Bounce"

Picture of Benny Goodman

Today's film clip comes from the 1944 movie "Sweet and Low-Down."  It features Benny Goodman and His Orchestra performing the classic track "Jersey Bounce". The movie stars Linda Darnell, Jack Oakie and Lynn Bari.

"Sweet and Low-Down" was a fictionalized version of life with Benny Goodman and his band while entertaining at military camps and bases during World War II.

Enjoy!

Watch: "Jersey Bounce" performed by Benny Goodman.

Podcast: Show 130 - Listening to Music and Sharing Meat

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Listening to Music and Sharing Meat - Show 130 - 

Features vintage music by Sam Donahue, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton and others.  Ronnaldo also plays another Soundie and a couple of Red Nichols tracks from 1930.

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

Listen to: Listening to Music and Sharing Meat (Show 130)
Podcast Episode

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

Mal Hallett


Violinist, Mal Hallett, trained and educated at the Boston Conservatory of Music.  During World War I, Mal joined Al Moore's band and spent time in France entertaining the troops.

In the 1930's, Hallett would go on to lead his own band.  His orchestra spent most of its time in the New England area but enjoyed a very nice level of success for a regional band.

When the Swing Era hit, Hallett was a bit older than most of the other swing leaders, and it's said that he sometimes had trouble connecting with the younger fans.  It's also important to add that Hallett battled alcoholism throughout his career and even suffered an injury that prevented him from continuing to play the violin.

Hallett passed away in 1952, but he managed to leave behind a very strong catalog of Big Band music.  His band will also be remembered for the amount of sidemen and vocalists that would go on to make an impact on the era including:  Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, Frankie Carle, Jack Jenney, Toots Mondello, Irene Daye and many others.  Let's just say that band was quite stacked with talent.

Listen to: "Life Of The Party" by Mal Hallett from 1937

You can hear the music of Mal Hallett right here on Swing City Radio.

Watch Duke Take the 'A' Train

Picture of Duke Ellington

Today's clip is from a 1943 musical called "Reveille with Beverly" released by Columbia Pictures.  It features Duke Ellington and His Orchestra performing "Take the 'A' Train".  

This same film also featured appearances by some other huge names from the era including: Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, The Mills Brothers, Bob Crosby, Freddie Slack, and Ella Mae Morse.

A very fun performance and a great version of the song.  Enjoy!

Watch: Duke Ellington perform "Take the 'A' Train" in the 1943 film "Reveille with Beverly".

Podcast: Show 129 - Some Big Names

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Some Big Names - Show 129 - 

Features vintage Big Band recordings by Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Jordan and Harry James.  Ronnaldo also plays music performances by Stan Kenton and Sammy Kaye.

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

Listen to: Some Big Names (Show 129)
Podcast Episode

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

Gail Reese

Picture of Gail Reese

Timing is sometimes more important than talent.  Gail Reese was the featured female vocalist for three of the big-name bands from the Swing Era but her name is often forgotten.

After getting her start in Dick Messner's band in 1936, she soon found herself in the band of Charlie Barnet.  Barnet's band was still trying to find itself in the mid 30's and her time with them didn't last long.

In 1937, Gail joined Bunny Berigan's Orchestra.  As a member of Bunny's band, Reese would go on to make her most memorable recordings and was the featured vocalist on the tracks "I Dance Alone", "Let 'Er Go" and a great version of "Sophisticated Swing", just to name a few.

In 1938, Reese joined Glenn Miller's new band.  She was a part of some of Miller's first radio broadcasts from the Paradise Restaurant in New York City.  She was soon replaced by Marion Hutton and sadly for Reese, she was not a part of the meteoric rise that Miller and his band experienced months later.  As I said before, timing is sometimes more important than talent.

By 1939, Reese had retired from the music business, got married and focused on raising a family.


Listen to: "Why'd Ya Make Me Fall In Love" by Glenn Miller featuring the vocals of Gail Reese.

You can hear the vocals of Gail Reese right here on Swing City Radio.


Watch: "Skyliner" by Charlie Barnet

Picture of Charlie Barnet

Today's video clip is "Skyliner" by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra.  This Snader's Telescription was originally recorded in the early 1950's and Charlie delivers a fantastic version of one of his classics.

"Skyliner" is just one of the many Snader's Telescriptions Barnet took part in.  Others include: "Cherokee", "Andy's Boogie", "My Old Flame" and "Caravan". 

Take note of the production quality of this clip.  The majority of Soundies were usually done on a small budget and rushed.  Snader's Telecriptions were usually more thought out and the camera work was much better.  That being said, and as good as this clip is, I still prefer Soundies over Snaders for some reason.

Enjoy!

Watch: "Skyliner" by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra

Podcast: Show 128 - Birdseed and Dog Food

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Birdseed and Dog Food - Show 128 - 

Features vintage music by Raymond Scott, Will Bradley, Ralph Flanagan and Cootie Williams.  Ronnaldo thanks some new supporters and also plays a Soundie.

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

Listen to: Birdseed and Dog Food (Show 128)
Podcast Episode

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

Jo Stafford

Picture of Jo Stafford

Jo Stafford began her career in the late 1930's and by 1955, she had achieved more worldwide record sales than any other female artist.  Ironically, Jo had originally underwent classical training to become an opera singer before following a career in popular music.

While still in high school, Jo joined up with her two older sisters to form a vocal trio called the Stafford Sisters.  The trio enjoyed some moderate success in radio and film.  In 1938, Jo left her sisters to become the lead singer of the vocal group, The Pied Pipers.  By 1939, bandleader Tommy Dorsey had hired The Pied Pipers to perform back-up vocals for his orchestra.

In the early 1940's, The Pied Pipers experienced a lot of success and exposure performing Dorsey.  Stafford was also used as a featured vocalist for Dorsey as well. 

The mid-forties saw Stafford move on from Dorsey and The Pied Pipers to embark on a solo career. (Note: Stafford would continue to make appearances from time to time with The Pied Pipers throughout the 40's.)  She also performed in MANY U.S.O. concerts for the soldiers during World War II and earned the nickname "G.I. Jo".

Starting in 1945, Stafford became a regular host of NBC's "The Chesterfield Supper Club".  From that point forward, Stafford was all over the radio and later, would have her own TV Show.  Her career would go on to span five decades.

Watch: "It Started All Over Again" by Jo Stafford and The Pied Pipers

You can hear the amazing voice of Jo Stafford right here on Swing City Radio.

Soundie: The Mel-Tones

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Today's Soundie is "Back Home In Indiana" by The Mel-Tones.  Unfortunately, it should be billed as "The Mel-Tones minus Mel" since Mel Tormé doesn't appear in this Soundie. An actor name Bernie Parke fills in and lip syncs Tormé's parts.

In researching this Soundie I have found two possible reasons for Tormé's absence.  Some say he was in the military at the time of filming, while others claim it was a contract restriction that kept him off camera.  Either way - he's not shown.

Take note of the quintet that are providing the music to this 1945 Soundie.  It looks like it contains Dave Barbour, Buddy Cole and Nick Fatool.

By the way, I'm sure you've noticed the image is in reverse.  This is a Soundie from an original reel and were produced this way to be shown on a Panoram.  I've covered this before in previous posts.  

Enjoy! 

Watch: "Back Home In Indiana" by The Mel-Tones

Podcast: Show 127 - The Feeling Is Mutual

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The Big Band and Swing Podcast - The Feeling Is Mutual - Show 127 - 

Features vintage recordings by Les Brown, Tommy Dorsey and Ozzie Nelson.  Ronnaldo also plays music performances from an old radio show called The Feeling Is Mutual. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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

Listen to: The Feeling Is Mutual (Show 127)
Podcast Episode

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

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