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Glenn Miller Tribute - December 15 1969
Interviews with big band historian George Simon, Glenn Miller saxophonist Stanley Aronson and bandleader Tex Beneke chronicle Glenn Miller’s career 25 years after his death. (No number assigned to this show, since it predated the regular series.)
1. Harry James - November 1, 1970
The Music Maker shares his recollections of the big band era, from the 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert with Benny Goodman to his own countless successes in the 1940s and beyond.
2. Ray Coniff - February 9, 1971
Ray recalls his early days in Boston playing trombone with the Society Bands, including Dan Murphy’s Musical Skippers, performing in New York with Bunny Berrigan, Artie Shaw, and Bob Crosby and his eventual glory years at Columbia records.
3. Artie Shaw - Part One - April 1971
When most youngsters are playing basketball in the backyard Artie Shaw was already playing saxophone with Johnny Cavallero and his orchestra in his home town of New Haven. There he met Charlie Spivak, Tony Pastor and Rudy Vallee before taking up the clarinet and heading for Florida at the age of 16. The program follows his career through the formation of his first band in the mid-1930’s.
4. Artie Shaw - Part Two - May 1971
Artie continues the story, starting with his Brunswick recordings, and then, after quitting the label, finding the sound he was looking for and signing with Bluebird for the series of hits that would make the band famous. He recalls hiring Billie Holliday, the importance of radio remotes, and finally his great Navy band with Claude Thornhill, Sam Donahue and Conrad Gozzo.
5. Duke Ellington - June 3, 1971
Duke reminisces about his attempts to emulate Fletcher Henderson and Leroy Smith at the start of his career, and shares his emotions regarding the death of Johnny Hodges a year earlier. He recalls the various names he used to record under for different labels, including the “Harlem Hot Chocolates” for “Hit of the Week”. Finally, he discusses his band of today (1971).
6. Bob Eberly - July 5, 1971
Frank Sinatra called Bob Eberly “the greatest big band singer of them all.” Bob recalls winning a Fred Allen Amateur contest which led to his joining the Dorsey Brothers band as featured vocalist in 1935. He speaks with great warmth of Jimmy Dorsey and recalls when Helen O’Connell joined the band and the hits that followed.
7. Stan Kenton - August 197110. Benny Goodman - Featuring the famous Carnegie Hall Concert - November 1, 1971
In this interview, recorded in Peabody, Massachusetts, Stan recalls his roots in the Gus Arnheim orchestra, his own first band in 1941, and the beginnings of his progressive jazz sound shaped by Shelley Manne, Kai Winding and Vido Musso, among others.
8. George Shearing - September, 1971.
This brilliant pianist speaks candidly and openly about the prejudice he experienced toward his blindness as a young musician. He recalls joining Claude Bampton and his all blind orchestra in the late 1930s, and arriving in the U.S. in 1946 with $2,000 in his pocket and no prospects for a job. He credits Lionel Hampton pianist Milt Buckner with inventing the locked hand style that would become George’s trademark. Finally, he discusses his new record label, Sheba, and his plans for it.
The actual air show has been lost but we are fortunate to have the original, unedited interview which captures George Shearing’s personality so well.
9. Helen O'Connell - October 1971
Jimmy Dorsey discovered Helen O’Connell when she was appearing with Larry Funk’s band at the Village Barn. Soon she was teamed with Bob Eberly for a series of memorable duets created by arranger Tootie Camarata. Her payment for “Green Eyes”, “Amapola” and “Tangerine”, among others was the modest sum of $25.00 each – no royalties, no residuals – that was it.
Noted music critic Irving Kolodin, drummer Gene Krupa, and trumpeter Harry James join Benny Goodman to share their personal recollections of the concert that Goodman initially described as a high powered publicity stunt but which became one of the greatest events in the history of jazz.
11. 30 Years After Pearl Harbor (Artie Shaw, Woody Herman) - December, 1971
Arnold Dean offers a retrospective of the year 1941, from fashions (remember the zoot suit?) and books (Keys of the Kingdom, Berlin Diary) to the movies we watched (Citizen Kane, Blossoms in the Dust, Sergeant York). Bandleaders Artie Shaw and Woody Herman describe where they were when they first heard the news of Pearl Harbor.
12. Charlie Barnet - January 1972
Charlie recalls his days with the Casa Loma orchestra, directed by Hank Biagini, his own band, begun in 1933, and the tragic Palomar Ballroom fire of 1939 when the band lost all of its instruments and arrangements, forcing the members to play from memory until new arrangements could be written.
14. Sammy Kaye - March 1972
13. Conrad Gozzo - February, 1972
The fabulous career of New Britain-born lead trumpeter Conrad Gozzo is recalled by Assistant Supervisor of Music at WTIC, Bob King, music producer Hermie Dressel, band leader Woody Herman, and the talented musician’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Gozzo.
Augmented by early discs from the extensive WTIC record library this salute to Sammy Kaye traces his mid-west roots, beginning with “Sammy Kaye’s Hot Peppers” featuring Sammy on banjo! It was while playing at Bill Green’s Casino in Ohio that Sammy made an arrangement with Mutual to provide the network with music day or night at a moment’s notice, a move that made the band. Sammy also reminisces about playing at Hartford’s State Theater and Lake Compounce in Bristol, as well as the many NBC network radio broadcasts that he and the band originated from the studios of WTIC.
15. George T. Simon - May 1972
From the comfort of his Stamford, Connecticut living room George shares personal memories of many big band stars, including Glenn Miller, Harry James and Hal McIntyre, and offers his critical evaluations of others, including Billy Holliday, Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, Guy Lombardo and Tommy Dorsey.
16. Bobby Hackett - June 1972
In addition to sketching the beginnings of his own career, Bobby relates stories of his days with Glenn Miller, with whom he had a great relationship, both professionally and personally. He also shares his theories of how music relates to language and reveals touching and humorous stories about his fellow musicians.
17. Gene Krupa - Part One - July, 1972
Gene takes us back to 1927 for his first recording session with McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans. He shares his recollections of the Benny Goodman band, which was at first received coolly by audiences in the east, but embraced enthusiastically by west coast fans who had heard their radio broadcasts. Finally, he recalls the legendary Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert of 1938.
(Part Two of the Gene Krupa program has not been found. However, much of what was contained in Part Two can be heard in program 30 “A Gene Krupa Memorial – Nov. 1973”).
18. Ray McKinley - September 1972
Ray recalls his days with Smith Ballew and the orchestra, his teaming with Will Bradley in the late ‘30’s to create some of the all-time classic big band boogie hits of the era, and then his own band, short-lived as it was because of World War Two. He remembers being selected to head up a new Glenn Miller orchestra in 1956 under the aegis of the Miller Estate, following Tex Beneke’s departure, a position that would last for the next ten years until those grueling one night stands became more than he wished to handle.
19. Andy Kirk - November 1972
Swingin’ Kansas City is the focus of this interview as Andy Kirk recalls his many years there as a musician. He also recounts his years with George Morrison’s Orchestra, featuring vocalist Hattie McDaniel, the evolution of his own band, known as the Clouds of Joy, and the “accidental” acquisition of pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams.
20. Sy Oliver Part One - December, 1972
Inspired by his father, who in the early 1900s demonstrated the saxophone for Conn instruments, Sy learned to play trumpet on a new instrument from Sears Roebuck that his father purchased for $9.75. He joined Zack White’s Chocolate Beau Brummels following high school and in 1933 was invited by Jimmie Lunceford to come to New York.
21. Sy Oliver Part Two - January 1973
Sy fondly recalls Jimmie Lunceford, whose band had its origins at Fisk University. He recalls those grueling one night stand schedules and discusses the careers of various members of the Lunceford orchestra. He also takes issue with many of the young jazz critics of the 1930’s whose personal tastes, he says, biased their critiques.
22. Cab Calloway - February 1973
Cab recalls joining the Alabamians in Chicago in 1929 and moving to the Savoy in New York where they were summarily fired. He remembers replacing Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club which is where he created his “Hi De Ho” trademark. Cab discusses some of the great musicians in his band, including Chu Berry, Illinois Jacquette, Jonah Jones and Dizzy Gillespie. He relates the story of his first Hollywood movie with Al Jolson and the countless radio remotes that made his band famous. He concludes by saying “This is the finest interview I’ve ever had.”
23. Larry Elgart - March 1973
Born in New London, Connecticut, Larry heard his first band remotes via a crystal set which inspired him to take up the clarinet. Larry recalls working for Jerry Wald, Bobby Byrne and especially Jack Jenney. The first Elgart band was formed in 1947 and recorded several forgettable titles including “I Lost my Heart in Hartford.” Larry also describes his split with brother Les as a difference in musical philosophy.
24. Gene Goldkette Orch. - April 1973
Trombonist Spiegel Wilcox, arranger Bill Chalice and jazz violinist Joe Venuti recall Jean Goldkette and his Victor recording orchestra, one of the hottest bands of the 1920’s that featured the talents of Eddie Lang, the Dorsey brothers and the legendary Bix Beiderbecke, among others.
25. The New York Jazz Museum - May 1973
With Executive Director Howard Fischer and Managing Director Jack Bradley as his guides, Arnold Dean tours the recently opened New York Jazz Museum, currently featuring a new Billie Holliday exhibit. Swing and bop trumpeter Clark Terry shares his thoughts about the museum’s role in preserving jazz history.
26. Charlie Ventura - June 1973
After hearing a late night band remote featuring Chu Berry Charlie remembers buying his first saxophone. He shares the concerns he had about leaving a secure job to join Gene Krupa in 1942, and recalls his brief stint with Teddy Powell’s band in 1943 before reuniting with Krupa a year later. Charlie reveals that Gene gave him the financial backing in 1946 to form his own band which featured Neal Hefti, Dave Tufts, and Chubby Jackson and for a brief time a young vocalist named Eddie Fisher.
27. Johnny Desmond and the Glenn Miller AAF Band - August 1973
Johnny recalls singing at the age of 11 on Uncle Nick’s radio show on WXYZ, Detroit, where he was billed as the Italian John McCormack. He remembers joining the Jewell Players and playing juvenile roles on The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. He talks of his days with Bob Crosby and Gene Krupa, then enlisting in the army and joining Glenn Miller. He offers a vivid description of Glenn’s ill-fated flight across the English Channel and the reaction of the band when they realized he was missing.
28. Sy Oliver Part Three - September 6, 1973
In 1939 Sy recalls leaving the Lunceford band to join Tommy Dorsey as an arranger. He realized that the Dorsey orchestra had a Dixieland sound that compromised his arrangements. After Sy threatened to quit, Tommy replaced all but two members of the band to achieve the sound he wanted. Sy recalls arranging his own tune “Yes Indeed” for Bing Crosby and Connie Boswell with less than satisfactory results and then giving it to Tommy who turned it into a major hit. He shares similar stories about “Sunny Side of the Street” and “Opus One”.
29. Buddy DeFranco - October, 1973
Buddy, who played with Tommy Dorsey, recalls him as a tough taskmaster, who was also one of the most generous men he has ever known. Buddy remembers his first solo on Opus One, recorded in 1944, and discusses fellow band members, including Charlie Shavers, and Buddy Rich. DeFranco, now leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, also shares details of the grueling schedule he and the band must endure.
30. A Gene Krupa Memorial - November 1973
This program, discovered and restored in 2006, consists of material taken from “Gene Krupa Part Two”, which aired in 1972, and which has since been lost. Gene recalls the Gene Krupa Trio, many of his hit records, including “Lover”, “Drummin’ Man” and “Drum Boogie”. He also reflects on his arrest in 1944 for using marijuana and how it changed his life.
31. Casa Loma Orchestra (Clarinetist Clarence Hutchenreider) December 1973
Clarence left Austin Wiley’s band in 1931 to join the Casa Loma orchestra. The band was actually a corporation with Glen Gray as President, Pee Wee Hunt as Vice President and Kenny Sargent as Treasurer, according to Clarence. He is recognized as the “Jazz Voice” that gave the band so many of its big hits. This is Part One of a two part salute to the Casa Loma orchestra. Unfortunately, Part Two has not been found.
32. George T. Simon and the Big Band Vocalists - February 1974
You’ve heard of big band vocalists Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell, Dick Haymes and Helen Forrest but what about Kitty Lane, Red McKenzie, Dolores O’Neill and Ivie Anderson? These are some of the great band singers George Simon spotlights as he shares his impressions and recollections of the people who added the words to the music.
33. Ernie Wilkins - April 1974
This free-wheeling interview beautifully captures the warm, engaging personality of Ernie Wilkins. In addition to recalling his career as a musician Ernie discusses in detail his technique of arranging for bands like those of Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie and Ted Heath. He also shares his impressions of Johnny Hodges, Chu Berry, Lawrence Brown, Jack Teagarden and others.
34. Buddy Morrow - June 1974
New Haven’s Moe Zudekoff who changed his name to Buddy Morrow recalls his early career with Eddy Duchin, traveling from city to city on the band’s personal Pullman car. He shares memories of his days with Artie Shaw, Vincent Lopez, Richard Himber, Tommy Dorsey, Paul Whiteman and Bob Crosby. He discusses his first band after the war, which was less than successful, and finally the hit record that sealed his contract with RCA Victor.
35. George T. Simon - Glenn Miller Part One - July 1974
George traces Glenn’s early years leading up to his association with Ben Pollack. He recalls Glenn’s role in forming the Dorsey Brothers band and later joining Ray Noble’s orchestra as player and arranger. It was here, according to George, that Glenn created his unique blending of reeds and brass. Noble, however, didn’t like the effect so he shelved the idea. It was not until Glenn’s second band was formed that he reformulated his creation as the famous Glenn Miller “sound.”
36. George T. Simon - Glenn Miller Part Two - August 1974
George profiles Glenn’s complex personality. He discusses the Glenn Miller vocalists, including Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle, and Marion Hutton. He then describes the AAF band with its incredible list of talented musicians. He speaks warmly of Helen Miller, Glenn’s wife, and describes how his relationship with Glenn enriched his life.
Part One of the actual Teddy Wilson air show has been lost but we are fortunate to have found the original interview track for the program sans music and commercials. This jazz legend reveals his interest in classical piano, having studied under Leonard Bernstein and Nadia Reisenberg. Teddy shares recollections and impressions of many of the talented musicians with whom he performed, including vocalists Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey and Ella Fitzgerald.
38. Teddy Wilson Part Two - October 1974
This program, of course, incorporates the second portion of the Teddy Wilson interview (above). However, it is augmented by rare recordings of his music, taken from the extensive files of the WTIC record library.
39. Connecticut Big Band and Jazz Clubs - November, 1974
Guests George Malcolm-Smith, a former WTIC jazz show host, popular Hartford band leader Al Gentile, Bob Harrington of the Bristol Press, and music enthusiasts Howard Holcomb and Pete Campbell discuss the interests and goals of their favorite jazz and big band organizations.
40. Charles McPherson - May, 1975
Charles reflects the sounds of the ‘70s in this musical departure from the program’s regular format. The alto sax player talks about his appreciation for classical music as well as his musical influences, including Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Parker.
41. Billy Butterfield - June 1975
This legendary trumpet player traces his career through some of his greatest records, including “What’s New” with Bob Crosby, “Stardust” with Artie Shaw and “Moonlight in Vermont” with his own band, featuring Margaret Whiting. Billy recalls the difficulties he had starting up that band in 1946. Even with some great arrangements by Bill Stegmeyer he couldn’t come up with a distinctive sound, which ultimately led to the band’s demise. Billy reminisces about his days as a solo recording artist with Ray Conniff and recalls his years with The World’s Greatest Jazz Band.
42. Ray Beller - August 1975
Ray McKinley once said he never heard a better lead saxophone player than Ray Beller. Ray headed for New York after studying music at Indiana University and joined the Bob Astor orchestra. Later he teamed up with Will Bradley and then Jerry Wald. A week after his discharge from the navy Ray found himself on the stage of the Paramount theater in New York playing with Benny Goodman’s orchestra. From there he joined Glen Gray and finally Ray McKinley where he was featured on the innovative arrangements of Eddie Sauter.
(List revised 9/23/07)