Duane Keilstrup Broadcast Archives
July 2018

Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 7-1-18

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 304


The first Chamber Music show showcases Benny Carter, the “Ambassador of Swing,” playing “Stardust” on his trumpet, as well as some top notch jazz tunes by Henry Levine and Paul LaValle, including “When My Sugar Walks Down the Street,” “Down Home Rag,” “My Gal Sal,” “The Sheik of Araby,” “Aunt Hager’s Children’s Blues,” and “Farewell Blues.” Benny adds a “curtain call” with “Honey Suckle Rose” on his alto sax.

Guest commentator Charles Edward Smith, surprisingly with tongue out-of-cheek, discusses some of the pioneers and styles in the development of jazz, but Gino Hamilton provides ample amusing tongue-in- cheek comments throughout the program.

The second Chamber Music show highlights guests Dinah “Diva” Shore and Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton. Dinah does “Rockin’ Chair,” and Jelly Roll performs two of his compositions, including “King Porter Stomp.’ Laval and Levine contribute “”Wang Wang Blues,” “Blue and Brokenhearted,” “Blue Room,” and “Eccentric.” Of special interest is LaValle’s rendition of “Stardust,” giving us the opportunity to compare his version with Benny Carter’s in the previous broadcast on this Episode.

Pianist Alex Templeton, "mails in" his guest appearance with an amusing poem, “two beats to the mile.” And, finally, Levine performs “Basin Street” in its entirety, thus answering a request by a listener who points out that the program never has enough time to play its theme “in toto.”

I would suggest exploring Pat Hawes’ Liner Notes to “The Compositions of Jelly Roll Morton 1923-1941,” readily accessible at redhotjazz.com. Hawes discuses Jelly Roll’s recordings and his composition principles and points out that he was the first truly significant jazz composer. Jelly Roll incorporates elements of blues, ragtime, vaudeville, and “hokum” in his unique style. He insisted that to be a good jazz pianist “you have to give an imitation of a band.” That implies creating riffs, breaks, key changes, and correct tempo choices for every tune with no speeding up. Dynamics are important to Jelly Roll, noting “sweet, soft, but plenty rhythm; don’t beat people’s eardrums down; you got to go down to come up,” like filling a glass of water. Jelly Roll even complained that his works had sometimes been “loused up” when his musical principles were not strictly followed.

Again, for anyone new to the CMSLBS, for orientation, please see my previous Episodes featuring this group, such as number 303.


Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 7-8-18

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 305


Here are 2 more Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street programs. The first is from February 2, 1941 and continues the funny bone tickling tongue-in-cheek dignified approach and super jazz music throughout. Featured are Henry Levine with “Frankie & Johnnie” and “Ida,” along with Paul LaValle doing”Ten Little Indians” and “Soft Winds.” Dolores O’Neill sings “Lazy River,” and Dr. W.S. Scott lectures on “Vegetables and Music.” The Swing Low Down Quartet is the highlight with the “blues bash” “Low Register.”

Following this early example of the CMSLBS show you’ll hear a sample from later in the series, dated January 1, 1944. Milton Cross and jazz critic Leonard Feather have been added, but Henry Levine has been dropped. Lavalle’ s Woodwinds Orchestra performs in the show’s proud musical tradition with ”Get Happy,” “Honey Suckle Rose,” and “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” and vocalist Dick Todd contributes a fine version of “My Silent Love.” Special guest band is the Esquire All-American Jazz Band, with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Jack Teagarden, and Coleman Hawkins playing a great “Basin Street” version and a top notch rendition of “Esquire Blues.”

So far so good in this later version of the Chamber program, but all the remaining features can be passed over and probably should be. I try to make it a practice to avoid commenting negatively and instead dwell on positive aspects. This show must unfortunately be an exception to that practice.

First of all, Feather is a total waste. Normally ultra dignified Milton Cross, a fountain of information concerning classical music, becomes a virtual vaudevillian straight man to a new and not easily forgettable character named Tchaikowsky Johnson who sounds somewhat like a cross between Jack Benny’s Rochester and Amos’ & Andy’s Kingfish without any gentle ethnic “class.” Johnson adds nothing to the intended amusement. Even worse, a female character with a piercing voice in the upper register and somewhere in the “C” major range of irritation brings nothing resembling humor as well. Actually welcome are the newly added, calming commercials from Woodbury soap. So as you listen, perhaps you may find it rewarding to skip forward to the excellent musical portions which make this Chamber show well worth the extra effort.

Although I have not had the opportunity to hear other 1944 shows, if they resemble this program there is little doubt that it was mainly the music that kept the program on the air until October 8, 1944. The show reappeared in the 1950's, and we will hear a sample of that in a later Episode.


Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 7-15-18

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 306


This CLASSICS & CURIOS Episode features a double billing of Amos & Andy, first on Command Performance of June 2, 1942 and then on their own show of May 25, 1945, where Andy dons a sailor suit to board the USS Williamsport. On Command Performance Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, aka Amos & Andy, perform on the air for the boys overseas, probably including the men on the USS Williamsport, and illustrate their amazing voices of the characters on their show. Then you’ll hear an Amos & Andy Show on which they actually play the characters, with Andy getting into comedic complications impersonating a sailor in efforts to further his opportunities with the ladies.

Among other highlights of this Command Performance Show are Betty Hutton singing “Murder She Says,” Betty Jane Rhodes singing “”Skylark,” Bob Burns and the Mad Russian doing comedy routines, and Harry James and his orchestra performing their 1942 hit “Sleepy Lagoon.” Of course, enthusiastic host Mickey Rooney, multiple award winner and “most popular actor” of 1942, performs as well. The announcer is Paul Douglas who, of course, will star in several movies later in his career.,

Although plagued with personal problems, Mickey Rooney was “one of the most enduring performers in show business history … He was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era, having one of the longest careers in movie history. From child star to character actor, from movie shorts to television specials, and from films to Broadway.” (Jeanine Bassinger in “International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers …” 1997) “Rooney ultimately did prove he could do it all, do it well, and keep on doing it. His is a unique career, both for its versatility and its longevity. (The Boston Globe, 2014)

Near the end of his life he toured on stage with his last wife Jan Chamberlin in “Let’s Put On a Show.” Even as he entered his 90’s he was full of energy and displayed his amazing musical and acting talents. It was my privilege to meet him after one of these performances and found him to be kind and accommodating, and he graciously said, “God bless you!”


Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 7-22-18

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 307


First up, on the Armed Forces Radio Services, from January 10, 1946, here’s the classic Abbott & Costello baseball routine on Command Performance, along with Johnny Mercer, the Pied Pipers, the Andrews sisters, Jo Stafford, the Celsa Vega Boys, and pianist Carmen Cavallaro. Songs include “Begin the Beguine,” “Falling in Love with Love,” “That’s for Me,” “You Got Me Where You Want Me,” and “Conversation While Dancing.” Announcer Ken Carpenter keeps things rolling along “like a song.”

Next comes a Command Performance show from July 7, 1942, with armed forces favorite Bob Hope, who does a monologue poking fun at his pal Bing Crosby. Lena Horne sings “Just One of Those Things,” and Ginny Simms performs “Until I Live Again,” both accompanied by the Victor Young orchestra. Then Les Brown and his orchestra bring the 1941 hit “The Anvil Chorus.” Finally, actress Rosalind Russell drops by to join Bob in a fun skit based on the 1935 academy award winning movie “It Happened One Night” starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

In the 1944 song “Conversation While Dancing” Jo Stafford sings to Johnny Mercer that he is a “solid sender,” and we can truly say the same for the great Command Performance programs sent by the AFRS between 1942 and 1949, 415 shows in all.

These shows are available for purchase in Jerry Haendiges Productions’ vast Collection of OTR programs..


Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 7-29-18

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 308


Here’s what The Lucky Strike Hour was like in its infancy, before the show’s modern top ten survey of songs theme. This was one of the many musical variety shows that were broadcast in the early 1930’s. In 1932 Baron Muenchausen, aka Jack Pearl, and his amusing Germanic tinged linguistic antics came to be a highlight for The Lucky Strike Hour which featured bands such as the George Olsen orchestra and George’s vocalist wife Ethyl Shutta, along with other vocalists performing songs of the day and of yesterday.

Among my favorites on this “Lucky Strike Hour” are the Olsen orchestra’s performances of “Bugle Call Rag,” a portion of “The Merry Widow Waltz,” “Darkness on the Delta” and “Won’t You Stay to Tea,” the last two with Shutta on vocal.

Other highlights include curio pieces, such as Hotcha Gardner’s “How Can I Heidi Hi When I Feel So Low, Low, Low?” and Rob Wright’s German tune, “Was Willst Du Haben?”

With other songs, including “Shine on Your Shoes,” the theme song “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and “Say, Young Lady.” with innovative scat singing by Hotcha Gardner, the hour does pass by pretty rapidly even with two rather lengthy routines by the Baron.

The LSH was truly one of the best hour long shows of the 1930’s. It raised the quality of early radio broadcasts and indeed brought “Happy Days” to early radio audiences