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Thursday, December 30, 2010

As requested (and delayed by those darn holidays) a Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orch. list ....

Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra

The Casa Loma Orchestra was a popular American dance band active from 1927 to 1963. From 1929 until the rapid multiplication in the number of swing bands from 1935 on, the Casa Loma Orchestra was one of the top North American dance bands. It did not tour after 1950 but continued to record as a studio group.
The future members of the band first came together in 1927 as the Orange Blossoms, one of several Detroit-area groups that came out of the Jean Goldkette office. The band had adopted the Casa Loma name by the time of its first recordings in 1929, shortly after it played an eight-month engagement at Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto. The band never actually played the Casa Loma under that name, still appearing as the Orange Blossoms at that time.

In 1930, the Casa Loma Orchestra was officially incorporated in New York as a corporation with the members all stockholders and board members. The band members were hired on the grounds of "musical and congenial" competence and followed strict conduct and financial rules. Members who broke the rules could be summoned before the "board", have their contract bought out and be ejected from the band.

The band was fronted for the first few years by violinist Hank Biagini, although the eventual leader, saxophonist Glen Gray (1900-1963) was from the very beginning "first among equals." The complex arrangements called for talented musicians such as trombonist Pee Wee Hunt, trumpeter Frank L. Ryerson, trumpeter Sonny Dunham, clarinetist Clarence Hutchenrider, drummer Tony Briglia and singer Kenny Sargent. Arrangements were by Gene Gifford, who also composed much of the band's book, Spud Murphy, Larry Wagner, Salvador "Tutti" Camarata and Horace Henderson. Gifford's arrangements were credited in large part to giving the band its sound, but even he fell victim to the band's strict rules, being bought out in 1935 due to alcohol-related infractions.

Manager Cork O'Keefe was made a Vice President in the corporation and arranged bookings in venues such as Glen Island Casino, which they helped popularize, and the Essex House Hotel, that lead to their radio appearances.  

Their mid-1930s appearances on the long-run radio comedy-variety program, the Camel Caravan (introduced with their theme, "Smoke Rings") increased their popularity. Interestingly enough, Gray chose not to conduct the band in the early years, playing in the saxophone section while violinist Mel Jenssen acted as conductor. In 1937, the band overwhelmingly voted in favor of Glen leading the orchestra, and Gray finally accepted the job.

Hits included "Casa Loma Stomp," "No Name Jive" and "Maniac's Ball". Part of the reason for the band's decline is that other big bands included in their books hard-swinging numbers emulating the hot Casa Loma style. In the late 1930s Gray took top billing, and by the mid-1940s (as the other original players left) Gray would come to own the band and the Casa Loma name. For a time, during this period, the band featured guitarist Herb Ellis, trumpeter Bobby Hackett, pianist Nick Denucci and cornetist Red Nichols. By 1950, the Casa Loma band had ceased touring, Gray retired to Massachusetts, and the later recordings on Capitol (beginning with Casa Loma in Hi-Fi in 1956 and continuing through the Sounds of the Great Bands series) were done by studio musicians in Hollywood (with several of Gray's "alumni" occasionally featured). Jazz historian George A. Borgman wrote a book about Glen Gray and the orchestra.

In October 1929, the band debuted on Okeh Records. The following year, they signed with Brunswick where they recorded until 1934. They briefly recorded for Victor in 1933 as "Glen Gray and his Orchestra", the Casa Loma name being under contract to Brunswick. In late 1934, they followed Jack Kapp to the newly formed Decca Records and stayed there well into the LP era when they signed with Capitol. Most of the Okeh's and many of the Brunswick's were out-and-out jazz (albeit very rehearsed) and remain highly collectible.

Maybe not my most researched list........I may have to return with more recording date details, but since this a request that I've ignored for awhile, due to the 'Tis!!

Black jazz 1931
Linger awhile
Can't we be friends
For you
Casa Loma stomp
I got rhythm
Limehouse blues
It's the talk of the town 1933 v=Kenny Sargent
Champagne waltz 1934
Dixie Lee 1934
Infatuation 1934 v=Kenny Sargent
This house is haunted (by the echo of your last goodbye) 1934
Fare Thee well Annabelle 1935 v=Pee Wee Hunt
Got my heart set on you 1937 v=Kenny Sargent
If I had my way 1939 v=Kenny Sargent
Don't do it darling 1942
Don't get around much anymore 1942
Don't take your love from me 1944
China girl
Dardanella/Black eyed Susan Brown/Casa Loma Stomp 1933
By the river Saint Marie (from b'cast)
C Sharp minor (live Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
Git away day (live Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
Indian summer v=Kenny Sargent (live Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
Honeysuckle Rose v=Steve Young (live Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
Drifting apart 1937
Love is a dreamer 1929
A friend of yours v=Glen Gray 1945
Girl of my dreams v=Kenny Sargent
Blue moon 1935
Breeze (blow my baby back to me)
Carry me back to the lone prairie
Casa Loma stomp 1930
Chinatown my Chinatown
Desert skies
Goodnight angel
I cried for you
Little old lady
Heat wave 1933 v=Mildred Bailey
After you've gone (trumpet=Buddy Hackett)
Heaven can wait 1939 v=Clyde Burke
Alexander's ragtime band 1930 v=Pee Wee Hunt
Little man on the hammer 1943 v=Pee Wee Hunt (04/17/1943 Command Performance) Pretty sure that's Dinah Shore introducing the band
Dust 1930 (From MGM's "Children of pleasure")

Smoke rings 1937
The man I love (04/17/1943 Command Performance b'cast v=Eugenie Baird) Pretty sure it's Dinah Shore introducing the band
I'm Tired of it all
Maniac's ball 1927
White star stomp
Loveless love
Stompin' around
Under a blanket of blue
Sunny disposish
New Orleans
Wolverine blues
My man
Ol' man river
Shadows of love
Should I
Walkin' the dog
Trouble in paradise 1933 v=Kenny Sargent
You have taken my heart 1933 v=Kenny Sargent
Object of my affection 1934 v=Pee Wee Hunt
Pardon my southern accent 1934
Two cigarettes in the dark 1934 v=Kenny Sargent
Never in a million years 1937
My Bonnie lies over the ocean 1938
Sunrise serenade 1939
One dozen roses 1942
Suddenly it's spring 1944 v=Eugenie Baird
Shades of hades 1936
San Sue strut (As The OK Rhythm Kings)
The Isle of May v=Kenny Sargent (live at The Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
Save your sorrow v=Pee Wee Hunt (live at The Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
You're a lucky guy v=Steve Young (live at The Meadowbrook Ballroom NJ 1940)
Rose of the Rio Grande 1936
Meet me tonight in dreamland
Smoke rings 2
Sophisticated lady
Take the A train
Was I to blame (theme song)
Well git it
White jazz 1933
Zig zag 1939 (from b'cast)
Why can't this life go one forever v=Kenny Sargent
Sugar blues w/ Jonah Jones
Love is the thing v=Kenny Sargent
A hundred years from today 1034 v=Lee Wiley
Put on your old grey bonnet 1930 v=Pee Wee Hunt
No name jive 1943 (from b'cast)
My shining hour
Tears from my inkwell 1939
This night will be my souvenir 1939

Blue jazz 1932
I never had a chance 1934 v=Kenny Sargent
Learning 1934 v=Kenny Sargent
Casa Loma Stomp 1937 w/ Gene Gifford
Clarinet marmalade
Here come the British 1934
My heart tells me
Spellbound 1934 v=Kenny Sargent
The goblin band
The man I love 1943 v=Eugenie Baird
Tumbling tumbleweeds 1939

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