Sunday, February 3, 2013

Count Basie Orchestra at Disneyland - June 1984

When Basie died in April of 1984 the band continued under the leadership of Thad Jones. Here's an excerpt from the appearance at Disneyland in June of that year.

April in Paris

It would be wonderful if Disney released this entire series on DVD, but the odds of that happening are slim. I'm glad I recorded the shows on vhs when they originally aired.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Your Hit Parade - Complete NBC broadcast 1951

Here's a real nostalgia trip for anyone who had TV in the early 1950's. The Lucky Strike Hit Parade was a Saturday night ritual at our house. Quite a few kinescope recordings of this live TV show survive. This one from 1951 includes hit songs like "Shrimp Boats", "Tell Me Why", "Garden in the Rain" and the number one song of the week......sorry, you'll have to watch to find out. 

Dorothy Collins was a featured performer throughout most of the 9 year run of the show. This broadcast also feature Eileen Wilson. And who can forget Snooky Lanson? 

Many talented people worked behind the scenes to make this show a hit. Raymond Scott directed the orchestra. Norman Jewison was one of the directors. Bob Fosse was a featured dancer and did choreography. I believe it is him dancing to a Lucky Strike Extra - "Dinah" in this broadcast.

The cigarette commercials are intact on this broadcast. Settle back, relax, and enjoy this show. But, please don't light up a Lucky.

"So long for awhile, that's all the songs for awhile...."

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's time to get back to radio broadcasts again after a number of film posts.
Here's a complete Coca-Cola Spotlight Band broadcast from Saturday night February 28, 1942. Broadcast live from the legendary Paramount Theater. You'll hear Alvino receive a "silver platter" (not gold) for his record sales. Several of the songs are second rate but, in the case of "Cash for Your Trash" it's a relic of the war effort. Alvino also receives a tribute from the State of Texas and responds with "On the Alamo" followed by his hit record "Deep in the Heart of Texas."

When the Roses Bloom Again - The King Sisters
Cash for Your Trash - Bonnie King
Marine Tribute
The Marines Hymn
If I Could Only Play a Concertina - King Sisters
On The Alamo
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Closing Theme

Alvin McBurney, known to swing era fans as Alvino Rey, is often credited as the father of the pedal steel guitar. His first instrument was banjo and he performed on that instrument in the Phil Spittalney and Horace Heidt bands. It was with Heidt that he met the King Sisters and soon married Louise. The story goes that in 1938 the Heidt's band was hired at the Baltimore Hotel in NYC. Heidt was angry that the sponsor signed them up because they were impressed by Alyce King's vocals. He took the first opportunity to fire her - when she dropped her microphone and it hit an audience member. The other Sisters immediately resigned, followed by Alvino, and then saxophonist Frank DeVol.

Here's what Wikipedia says about what followed:

Rey formed his own group with the King Sisters (as lead singers) and Frank DeVol, heading for LA. The band was the Mutual Broadcasting network  houseband for three years, and through the band passed such musicians as Johnny Mandel, Skeets Herfurt, Neil Hefti, Dave Tough, Mel Lewis, Don Lamond, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims  and others. Arrangers for the band included Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Ray Conniff and Frank DeVol.

Soon afterward, they became one of the most popular acts in the country, while recording top ten hits and making appearances in Hollywood films. In 1942 Rey re-organized the orchestra, expanding the brass section. Although very popular, the AFM recording ban of 1943 put an end to their recordings.

In 1965, ABC aired a special featuring the King family, which grew into a series. Rey was musical director for the show, simultaneously producing a series of record albums featuring the cast of the program. He also continued performing well into his eighties, leading a band that played Disneyland each year from the theme park's opening in 1955.

I had the opportunity to provide the backup band for a performance by The King Cousins back in the early 70s. They were as beautiful and talented as their mothers were during the swing era.

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