Bands Were Big!
I have enjoyed the music from the “Big Band” era for many years.
The “Big Band” era and the musical sound called “swing” began in the late 1930s. There were hundreds of popular big bands during that period in the 30s and 40s, and your parents and grandparents may have danced to some of them.
Some of the most popular bands included Ray Anthony and his orchestra, Louis Armstrong’s orchestra, Louie’s wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong and her orchestra, the bands of Charlie Barnett, Count Basie, Tex Beneke, Bunny Berrigan and Les Brown.
Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats and the Dorsey Brothers, Jimmy and Tommy and their orchestras, Ray Eberle’s band, the Roy Elbridge, Duke Ellington and the Les and Larry Elgart orchestras were also active.
Also included were Ziggy Elman, Maynard Ferguson, Ella Fitzgerald’s orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, the Benny Goodman and Jackie Gleason bands (yes, that Jackie Gleason), Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson and Woody Herman.
Ina Rae Hutton was the leader of an “all-girl orchestra” and dancers and listeners were enjoying the bands led by Harry James, Louis Jordan, Sammy Kaye, Hal Kemp, Stan Kenton, Andy Kirk, Kay Kyser and drummer Gene Krupa.
Also on the road were Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, Jimmy Lunceford, Wingy Manone, Billy May, Glenn Miller and Ozzie Nelson (Ricky’s father), as well as the Tony Pastor, Don Redman and Luis Russell orchestras.
Artie Shaw and his Big Band, singer Maxine Sullivan and her all-stars, the Jack Teagarden orchestra, as well as his other smaller groups, were traveling from city to city as were Tommy Tucker, Fats Waller, Chick Webb, Teddy Wilson, Paul Whiteman and Sy Zentner with their bands.
Whew, and that’s only part of the 30s and 40s big band lineup. During World War II, the Big Bands boosted morale throughout the world.
The Kay Kyser Big Band was one of the Big Band era’s most successful groups. The band had 11 number one records, 35 top 10 hits, a top-rated radio show for 11 years, starred in seven feature films, and outdrew the Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman orchestras.
Ish Kabibble was one of the band’s feature characters, created by Merwyn Bogue, who played cornet in the Kyser band.
The name came from Bogue’s comedy version of an old Yiddish song, “Isch Ga Bibble.” Loosely translated it means “I Should Worry?” which he performed with the Kyser orchestra.
The public and the band started calling him “Ish” and the name stuck.
Michael (Mike) Douglas (not the actor who is Kirk’s son), a name you might recognize – Mike was the lead voice on many Kyser hits (Ol’ Buttermilk Sky, “The Old Lamplighter”). He was best known to American television viewers as a singing variety/talk show host.
“All or Nothing at All”
One of the world’s most popular singers emerged during the 30s after singing “All or Nothing at All” on a Major Bowes amateur radio broadcast, fronting a quartet known as “the Hoboken Four.”
Frank Sinatra (“Ol’ Blue Eyes”, “The Voice”, “Chairman of the Board”, “Swoonatra” and “Sultan of Swoon”) sang during the Big Band era with the bands of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey.
He went solo at the Paramount Theater in New York in 1942. His first of hundreds of record hits was “All or Nothing at All.”
Sinatra was indeed “Chairman of the Board” of the company he founded, Reprise Records, in 1960. Along with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, Sinatra was a member of “The Rat Pack.”
One of our favorite Saturday morning activities is to visit the Regional Market. Admittedly, the market isn’t as exciting this time of year as it is in mid-summer through late fall when it is busting out with the fresh home-grown produce of those seasons.
But even on a Saturday in late March there are treasures to be found.
My wife was happy with the sack of yellow potatoes, which she says are hard to find in supermarkets – and make the most delicious mashed potatoes and French fries.
My market tastes are more likely to lean away from carrying a 10-pound sack of potatoes around to standing in line for free samples of everything from chocolate chip cookies to pretzels covered with “maple-flavored crème” to hunks of bread dipped in “politely spicy” hot tomato sauce.
(Question: “How much spice makes something to be impolite?”)
Also free for the taking and perfect as part of my late Saturday morning breakfast were hunks of cheese and sausages and hands full of tasty crackers slathered with all kinds of dips and spreads.
I think the top attention-grabber of the day on our recent visit to the market might have been a bright green “Spinachburger.”
The market seems to be a popular social hub on Saturday visits. Recently, we have met up with friends from Syracuse, from Fulton as well as from our own neighborhood.
There is a lot of everything at the Regional Market. Sometimes the only thing that you might have some difficulty finding is a good parking spot.
. . . Roy Hodge