Ghost Bands Could Be Scary Good

Does anyone remember when some of the famous big bands would be taken over by a relatively unknown leader when the star retired or died? An example that comes to mind is when Glenn Miller was lost over the English Channel in 1944 and saxophonist/vocalist Tex Beneke took over. It was billed as Tex Beneke … Continue reading Ghost Bands Could Be Scary Good

The Tale Of Two Cyrils

I used to work with a guy named Cyril. I didn't realize that at first because he was introduced to me by his nickname, Cy, which I heard as Si, the common shortening of Simon. And even though Cyril is pretty ordinary in the UK, that's not the case in the US. I think he's … Continue reading The Tale Of Two Cyrils

Four Freshmen Are Here To Stay

There have been a staggering number of close harmony singing groups formed through the years, but a few of them have some distinctive differences. One of those is the Four Freshmen, a combo that has been around for well over a half-century, during which more than two dozen members have come and gone. Even more … Continue reading Four Freshmen Are Here To Stay

Jimmie Lunceford Was The Real Thing

Early jazz era bandleader Jimmie Lunceford was mentioned in an earlier piece about the Cotton Club but I thought we should dig a little deeper into his story. After all, he was one of the best, even if his star has dimmed a little in the many years since his heyday. Born on a Mississippi … Continue reading Jimmie Lunceford Was The Real Thing

Jukeboxes I Have Known

(Note: this is the last post I had ready to go before my hospital adventure. From now on I'll have to come up with some new ones, so wish me luck! BG) A good friend of mine, who has been gone for many years now, had a working vintage jukebox in his living room. But … Continue reading Jukeboxes I Have Known

The Two Eras Of Enoch Light

I can remember hearing music by Enoch Light's orchestra many times through the years, but I now realize that I always had a few misconceptions about him. By the time I started noticing him in the 1950s and 1960s he was known as someone who specialized in cutting-edge music, and as a pioneer in producing … Continue reading The Two Eras Of Enoch Light

What If Saxophones Had Never Been Invented?

I've mentioned a few times before that I played the clarinet as a kid (and compared myself to Benny Goodman) but I've also always had a fondness for the sound of a saxophone. I've never played one -- it was all I could do to manage the clarinet -- but I had a couple of … Continue reading What If Saxophones Had Never Been Invented?

From Russia With Love. . .Songs

I always thought there were some similarities between "April In Paris" and "Autumn In New York" but I didn't realize until recently that both romantic ballads were written by the same guy, and his story is a good one. Born in Russia as Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dukelsky, a name that he continued using off and on … Continue reading From Russia With Love. . .Songs

Anatomy Of A Song – Consuelito’s Mexican Classic

The story of today's Anatomy Of A Song starts with its composer, Mexican legend Consuelo Velázquez (Torres), who was often called Consuelito. She was 88 when she died in 2005, and had spun out a long and successful career as a pianist, singer, and composer. Many of the songs she wrote are still loved and … Continue reading Anatomy Of A Song – Consuelito’s Mexican Classic

Buddy Greco’s Benny Goodman Moment

How talented would a 16-year-old musician in the early 1940's have had to be to grab the attention of Benny Goodman? And not only that, but to then have the King of Swing offer him a job as pianist, singer, and arranger with the biggest of the big bands? That teenager was Buddy Greco, and … Continue reading Buddy Greco’s Benny Goodman Moment