Category: Swingscapes

“The Christmas Song” and Nat “King” Cole

The story: Try to rewind your mind to the summer of 1945, in the San Fernando Valley district of Los Angeles, California. I quote singer Mel Torme’ to fill in the rest of the details: “One excessively hot afternoon, I drove out to Bob Wells’s house in Toluca Lake for a work session. The San Fernando […]

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“Tuxedo Junction” Erskine Hawkins (1939) and Glenn Miller (1940)

“Tuxedo Junction” Composed by Erskine Hawkins, William Johnson and Julian Dash; head arrangement organized by William Johnson. Recorded by Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra for RCA-Bluebird on July 18, 1939 in New York. Erskine Hawkins, trumpet, directing: Sammy Lowe, first trumpet; Marcellus Green, Wilbur “Dud” Bascomb, trumpets; Bob Range and Edward Sims, trombones; William Johnson, […]

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In Finegan’s Wake: a Salute to Master Arranger Bill Finegan – Part 1.

The story: This post is not about James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Rather, it is a look back at the musical heritage that master swing era (and later) arranger Bill Finegan has left us. William James Finegan (1917-2008), lived a long and musically productive life.Indeed, he was writing music professionally for over seventy years. Aficionados of his […]

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The “Birth” of the Swing Era–Part 1-“I Got Rhythm” (1935) Benny Goodman

“I Got Rhythm” Composed by George Gershwin; arranged by Fletcher Henderson. Recorded by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra live from the NBC “Let’s Dance” radio show of May 4, 1935. Benny Goodman, clarinet, directing: George “Pee Wee” Erwin, Ralph Muzzillo, Jerry Neary, trumpets; Jack Lacey and Sterling “Red” Ballard, trombones; Nuncio “Toots” Mondello, Hymie Shertzer, […]

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Buddy Rich at 100: “Moten Swing” (1938) Bunny Berigan

“Moten Swing” Composed by Bennie and Buster Moten; arranged by Ray Conniff. Recorded by Bunny Berigan and His Orchestra live from a broadcast over WABC-New York from Roseland Ballroom in New York City in October of 1938. Bunny Berigan, first trumpet, directing: Johnny Napton and Irving Goodman, trumpets; Ray Conniff and Andy Russo, trombones; Milton […]

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“With a Little Help from My Friends” (1969) Count Basie

“With a Little Help From My Friends” Composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; arranged by Bob Florence. Recorded by Count Basie and His Orchestra on December 15, 1969 for Happy Tiger Records in New York. William J. “Count” Basie, piano, directing: Eugene Coe, George “Sonny” Cohn, Luis Gasca, Waymon Reed, trumpets; Grover Mitchell, Melvin […]

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