Duane Keilstrup Broadcast Archives
February, 2015

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This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 155


Time for some joyful jazz from Downbeat shows on the Armed Forces Radio Service. Jack Teagarden kicks off this set with "If I Could Be With You," featuring Bobby Hackett on trumpet. A highlight is Benny Goodman's "Farewell Blues" from 1935, and Frances Wayne performs "Lover Man," perhaps in anticipation of her future marriage to Neal Hefti while both were with Woody Herman's band.

Woody Herman follows with another "easy breezy" Downbeat show featuring "Perdido," Neal Hefti's "Apple Honey," "Noah," "Half Past Jumpin' Time," " Golden Wedding," and " Four or Five Times." Frances Wayne sings the "oldie" "Always" and "Two Again."

Finally, and my personal favorite this time around, is a Downbeat show with the great Red Nichols. Red delivers "Pennies from Heaven," "Love Me or Leave Me," "Blue Jay," "Naughty Waltz," "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," and "Camptown Races." Red honors some past Nichols' side men such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Arthur Schutt, Will Bradley, and Miff Mole from bands known by such titles as Miff Mole and His Little Molers, The Six Hottentots, Red Nichols' Stompers, and The Charleston Chasers.

Red was influenced by Bix Beiderbecke and played generally in Bix's style, but Red was thought to be more talented. And Red's cornet style was more relaxed and less aggressive than, say, Harry James or Bunny Berigan, and his band was a mixture of the bands of Bob Crosby and Will Bradley. His theme was "Wailing to the Four Winds."

The Downbeat show featured contemporary American jazz and, of course, derived its name from the venerable jazz magazine of the same name. Here's an interesting clip from downbeat.com about the era when jazz was losing popularity:

"In the late '40s, jazz seemed to be losing its cohesion. As the big band era ebbed and swing stars were dismissed as "has-beens," tradition and modernism fought for the privilege of defining jazz. Even the word "jazz" seemed curiously passé to some. So in July 1949 DownBeat took it upon itself to announce a contest for the best word to replace "jazz." The magazine offered to pay $1,000 in cash to the person "who coins a new word to describe the music from dixieland through bop," the headline said. Second and third prizes included the services of Charlie Barnet's orchestra and the Nat Cole Trio for one night in one's home … In November came the word that the panel of judges deemed preferable to jazz: crewcut. Other alternatives included jarb, freestyle, mesmerrhythm, bix-e-bop, blip, schmoosic, and other equally contrived specimens."

So enjoy some fine American mesmerrhythm" or, my favorite, "schmoosic." .

Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 2-8-15
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This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 156


The Downbeat show features contemporary American jazz (or "schmoosic"), and we continue this week with more as "Mr. Swing" Red Norvo and his band start off this set with a super "Flyin' Home." Then from the "BeBop School of Jazz," Charlie "Yardbird" Parker and Thelonious Monk perform "Ornithology," followed by Stuffy Smith and "Humoresque." The first set finishes with a rousing version of Fats Wallers' "Honeysuckle Rose" with Erskine Hawkins and Benny Carter. (no date available)

Connee Boswell then takes the bandstand with Paul Whiteman and some fine guests, such as boogie woogie artist Harry Gibson, "The Hipster," who nearly stops the show with "Big Foot Pete'' on the upright piano. Connee sings "Besame Mucho," "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night," and her "Forever and Ever" song" is "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby." Paul's orchestra performs a nice "Three Blind Mice;" Jack Pepper does a brief turn on "Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey;" and while there is some brief comedy on the show, Connee is by far the main attraction on this AFRS rebroadcast. Connee's closing song is "Goodnight, Sweetheart," and "Lover" plays to fadeout. (April 12, 1944)

"An outstanding singer with enormous but often uncredited influence, Boswell claimed to have been inspired by singers as diverse as Bessie Smith and Enrico Caruso… A skilled musician, adept on saxophone, trombone, cello and piano, she worked extensively in radio, television and films. Essentially a two-beat singer, with a calculatedly casual sound, she considerably affected the manner in which later singers approached their work. Although few acknowledge their debt to Connee Boswell, the fact that one who did was Ella Fitzgerald suggests that her influence is widespread throughout popular music, even if her emulators do not always realize the original source of their inspiration." (online at odies.com)

"Music ... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you." -- Anti-Nazi German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer .

Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 2-15-15
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This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 157


Still in the mood for more Valentine's Day romance? Well, this week's "Tonight on Broadway" show might serve as a belated musical Valentine's card, as Connee Boswell stars, along with singer Bobby Doyle, accompanied by Ray Bloch and his orchestra. Romance is the theme with songs like "I'd Be Lost Without You," "The Old Lamplighter," "The September Song," "Love Doesn't Grow on Trees," "Without You," and "The Whole World Is Singing My Song." The orchestra entertains wonderfully with great renditions of "Rhythm in Swing" and "Espan Harlem."

Connee Boswell is widely considered one of the greatest jazz female vocalists. She once said, "I'll be singing the way I always have. It's natural for me to belt out songs as they come to my mind, and I never sing a song the same way twice."

She was a major influence on Ella Fitzgerald who said, "My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her."

News of Connee's passing in 1976 brought accolades from the world of entertainment. Bing Crosby called her "a great lady with boundless courage and divine talent." Patty Andrews added: "If it weren't for the Boswell Sisters, there would never have been the Andrews Sisters." Frank Sinatra called her "the most widely imitated singer of all time."

During the peak years of Connee Boswell's career, she hired (then) unknown musicians such as Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Jimmy Dorsey to provide instrumentation for her recordings. During one session, all three added a clarinet background. Connie also gave Glenn Miller his first opportunity to arrange.

During World War II, she tried to get involved with the USO tours but was not given permission to travel overseas. The Army brass thought it might not be a morale-booster to have a singer who used a wheelchair [and did so during her whole career] to perform for the troops. Our soldiers truly lost as a result of that well-intended "lower 'intelligence' echelon" decision.

Troops and listeners all over the world are winners now though as Connee takes the spotlight! She's our jazz and romance singing morale- booster this week with a super show coming to us from October 28, 1946. .

Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 2-22-15
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This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 158


One of my favorite Philco Radio Hall of Fame shows plays this week. This show features Dick Powell and Ginny Simms with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra. Dick sings "Evalina" from the film "Bloomer Girl," and Ginny sings "Cuddle Up a Little Closer," and "In the Still of the Night." The orchestra performs a medley of "My Wonderful One," "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," "Three o' Clock in the Morning," "Rhapsody in Blue," "Valencia," and "When Day Is Done," vocalized beautifully by Sergeant Ginny.

Dick sings the patriotic "Shipmates Forever" in a tribute to the Navy, and Paul honors Major Meredith Wilson for his service with the AFRS with Meredith's own compositions of "Yankee Doodle Girl," "Iowa," (with Ginny) and "Hit the Leather and Ride."

There are some comedy bits along the way, of course, and Jimmy Wallington does his usual expert announcing duties on this show from January 28, 1945, on NBC's Blue Network.

Dick Powell revealed remarkable talents early on and even formed his own band by the age of 17. He learned to play several instruments, but his singing caught the attention of Hollywood producers, and later he hit it big in movies like "42nd Street" and "Footlight Parade" in 1933. In the 1940's he began playing tough hero type characters like Philip Marlow in "Murder, My Sweet." Then in the 1950's he concentrated on directing in films and producing on TV. As much as I enjoyed and appreciated his acting, I for one can only imagine how so many additional songs through the years could have been enhanced by Dick's delightful singing voice. .