Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Show Notes 2/27-3/1

Getting a lot done in a short time


Glenn Miller was around from the beginning, playing trombone and writing songs and arrangements for the top names in Jazz and Pop music for years before he ever tried starting his own Big Band. Look through the personnel of many of the landmark recordings of the early years of the Big Bands, and Glenn is there. He blew lots of trombone solos on lots of famous recordings, but you have to dig to find out it was him. Many early recordings of the Big Bands feature Glenn Miller arrangements, but again, his work went uncredited most of the time in those days, so you have to dig to find out just how vital Glenn's role was. But he was there, and he was working his butt off.

Glenn Miller had to try and try again to have a successful Big Band of his own; but when he hit, he hit big. And in just under five years, from 1939-1944, Glenn's band spanked the Hit Parade with 128 hit singles and made two successful Hollywood movies. It was almost as if he knew his time was short. He was barely 40 years old when his plane disappeared over the English Channel.

We will offer a nice selection of familiar Miller hits on this week's In the Mood, including A String of Pearls, Tuxedo Junction, and the seldom-heard 8-minute Movie version of Chattanooga Choo Choo from the film Sun Valley Serenade. But, awesome as it is, that's just the beginning of what's in store on this week's In the Mood.

We kick off Hour #2 with just over 20 minutes of bombastic beauty from Stan Kenton and his Orchestra. This was a band with a loud, forceful sound powered by (usually) four or even five trumpets, four trombones, and five or six saxophones. 

Stan was a talented and prolific arranger and pianist who personally wrote most of the band's arrangements with occasional contributions from band members. His band had a distinctly modern sound, opting for big, solid ensemble passages rather than a lot of back-and-forth riffing between the sections. 

We'll hear a couple of selections that feature vocals by Anita O'Day (the band's first vocalist), and a couple more with June Christy, who actually enjoyed greater chart success with Kenton than Anita had. And of course we will include some of the band's most famous instrumental pieces like Unison Riff and Early Autumn, a gorgeous piano solo by Stan from the late 1950s. 

Other highlights on this week's show include Flashes, a Bix Beiderbecke composition performed by Bunny Berigan and his Orchestra, right off the original 1938 Victor 78, some big chart hits from Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Shep Fields blowing through a straw, a little Billie Holiday, and even the amazing live version of Sing, Sing, Sing from the Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert. As I write this, I'm getting excited just thinking about hearing all of this wonderful stuff on the air this week!

Now look...if you enjoy In the Mood, don't keep it a secret! Tell your friends and family and invite them to listen. Especially if you know a young musician in one of our high school or college bands, let them know about In the Mood. They need to hear this music!

Thanks for reading this week's Show Blog! I hope you enjoy hearing this show as much as I enjoy putting it together. As always, you can comment here or on our Facebook page

And don't forget to Keep Swingin', my friends!      

     

  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Show Notes for 2/20-23

Re-evaluating Jazz



There are a lot of opinions out there of what Jazz is. Sure, I suppose you could define it in empirical terms, but then, that would spoil it somehow, wouldn't it? Because Jazz has no finite limitations, it can be just about anything the player, composer or listener wants it to be. 

When I tell people I do a Jazz show on the radio, their eyes generally roll up in their heads as they try to imagine themselves sitting through a torturous two hours of "that music." In fact, they are likely to be completely wrong about what the music sounds like. The very first Jazz records were made in 1917, just barely over 100 years ago. In that time, Jazz has grown and developed far beyond the wildest imaginings of its originators. It is more exciting, more confusing, more engaging, more daunting, looser and more disciplined than ever, and it's still changing with each new generation. 

The music we play on In the Mood concentrates on a particularly exciting period in Jazz history - the Big Band Era, which, for the purposes of this show, covers a period of 1925 to 1950 or so. This music is sophisticated, yet still elemental. It's easy to understand, both for musicians and fans alike. And yet, it beautifully demonstrates the principles of melody, harmony, rhythm and self-expression.

In the last 100 years, no one has done more to advance the range and appeal of Jazz than Duke Ellington. As a composer, he has led the way through the Twentieth Century and into the modern world. Hundreds of his original compositions remain Jazz standards today. As a pianist, his considerable talents (often overlooked) are well-documented in his thousands of recordings, providing inspiration and direction to the artists of today. And as a bandleader, he used his orchestra as his palette, writing to the strengths of his soloists, forever inventing new devices to help them showcase their talents. 

It is with great pleasure that we spend the first 20 minutes of Hour 1 of this week's In the Mood in a loving listen to some of Duke's creations that populated the Big Band Era. His trusty soloists Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Barney Bigard, Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Cootie Williams and Jimmy Hamilton are like quickly-recognized old friends dropping by.

We start Hour 2 with a celebration of Les Brown and his Band of Renown. We trace Les's solid musical education through the 1920s and early '30s, all the way through the hit years with Doris Day, and the multiple USO tours in the 1960s and '70s. I think we may even listen in on a Bob Hope monologue straight from DaNang.

Other highlights in this week's show include major hits from Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey and the Andrews Sisters. We'll hear Glen Gray's landmark Capitol recording of the No Name Jive, and the immortal Summit Ridge Drive from Artie Shaw and his Gramercy Five. 

What other delights await our faithful listeners this week? You'll just have to tune in and see. Visit our Facebook Page for the broadcast schedule, and feel free to comment either here or there. And don't forget to Keep Swinging!              

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Show Notes for 2/13-16/2020

From uptown to downtown,                                                In the Mood covers the spectrum


Swinging Jazz developed over a period from roughly 1920-1940. In that time, its character evolved from an unruly, rough-around-the-edges youth to that of a smoother, more sophisticated character, suitable for polite company and paying customers of a certain caliber. This week's In the Mood brings you both ends of the spectrum with Swingin' Spotlight features focused on the suave, mannerly music of Artie Shaw on the one hand, and on the other hand, the street-level appeal of Eddie Condon and his All-Stars.

We put the show on the rails with a 20-minute sampling of the best of Artie Shaw. Artie was a very intelligent, thoughtful man who knew what he wanted. And what he wanted was subject to change from time to time. Artie was known as a temperamental perfectionist, and sometimes the restrictions and sheer commercialism of the music business was simply too much for him to bear. More than once, he disbanded a successful outfit so he could take a few months off in Mexico.

But as an artist, Artie Shaw was one of the most highly accomplished virtuosi in the band business.  He'd enjoyed a very successful career as a New York studio musician, working record dates and radio shows. But he wanted something he could call his own, so he started a band and helped develop its sound. It took about three tries. Artie's third band, started in 1938, captured the attention of the dancers with its smoothly swinging fox trots and sophisticated, danceable treatments of dreamy ballads, all arranged to highlight Artie's exceptional clarinet technique, We'll hear some of our select favorites from 1938-1945 on this show.

The particular brand of music that came to be known as Chicago Style Jazz evolved in and around Chicago in the 1920s. It was a style heavily influenced by the musicians from New Orleans, like King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Noone and others who migrated up the river to Chicago. Condon and his boyhood pals from Austin High School, including "Wild" Bill Davison, Peanuts Hucko, Cutty Cutshall, Pee Wee Russell and Bud Freeman, would hang around outside the clubs, listening as their idols laid it down.

Eddie came to New York in 1928 and threw himself into the jazz scene. He played club dates, made connections, developed friendships, and worked to improve the lot of the working musician in New York. He became the point man for recording sessions, hiring and paying the band members who backed performers like Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Ruth Etting and Russ Columbo on records. He'd often assign himself to the guitar parts, earning money as a performer as well as a contractor.

For 22 years, Eddie Condon operated a very successful jazz club in New York, employing as many of his old chums as possible in the process. During this time, he was making records for the Commodore label, which was the creation of Condon's pal Milt Gabler of the Commodore Record Shop in the Village. This working relationship produced a major portion of Condon's recorded legacy. We will hear some of Eddie's Commodore, Decca, and Columbia recordings as we kick off Hour 2 of In the Mood  this week. It's a great demonstration of Chicago Style Jazz.

Other highlights on this week's show (for me) include Billie Holiday's 1940 All of Me, with a swinging combo full of stars backing her. We also hear from the Metronome All Stars of 1939, Ella Fitzgerald with one of her most famous scat vocals, and we will spin our pristine 1940 Columbia 78 of Duke Ellington's Mood Indigo with a vocal by Ivie Anderson.

OK, I think I've finally dropped enough big names to get you to tune in. Check our Facebook Page for the broadcast schedule. Feel free to comment either here or there. But do it with a SWING!                    

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

This week's In the Mood really swings!


Show Notes for 2/6-10


You can always count on In the Mood to bring out the Swing! This week's show has a lot to offer listeners and players alike...with special features on two of the most accomplished musicians of the Big Band Era, trumpet master Harry James and clarinet icon Benny Goodman.

We start Hour 1 with about 20 solid minutes of hits from the Harry James Orchestra. Harry's trumpet technique was legendary, and he showed great talent as a composer and arranger as well. We play a good mix of hard-driving swing numbers and beautiful ballads delivered as only Harry could. He had tremendous power and range, and could punch and rip on the hot numbers like no one else. And on the ballads, Harry could coat his horn with honey and play long, smooth, expressive lines with great feeling. We will hear him at his best at both ends of the spectrum on this week's show. 

Hour 2 begins with a loving listen to some favorite sides by the Benny Goodman Sextet. All these numbers should be familiar, leading off with Rose Room, one of the most-studied examples of improvisational jazz. Charlie Christian's electric guitar solo alone is worth the price of admission. We'll hear some amazing hot numbers that demand great dexterity and timing, as well as some softer tunes that let the guys stretch a little and express themselves. And Benny always populated the Sextet with players who were up to the task. Guaranteed to be a satisfying listen.

The balance of this week's show is a leisurely stroll through the World's Greatest Record Library with appearances by Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald, and a stunninly clean original OKeh 78 side from Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra. We'll hear from sax great Coleman Hawkins, Jimmy Dorsey, and even a Wayback Machine appearance from Rudy Vallee. 

We are locked and loaded for a great show this week! Hope you enjoy what you hear. As always, feel free to comment here or on our Facebook Page.    

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Show Notes for 1/23-26/2020

This Week's In the Mood is a Dancer's Delight


Listening to Big Band Swing is such pure pleasure that it's easy to overlook the fact that, in its day, it was essentially all Dance Music. Nearly every label of every record included some kind of indication of what type of dance went with the song. Usually, it was a Fox Trot (sometimes abbreviated F. T.) in 4/4 time, a Waltz in 3/4 time, a Two-Step or a One-Step in 2/4 time. Really hot numbers, or "killer dillers" as they were called, went well with the more athletic Jitterbug and Lindy Hop.
America in the 1930s, 40s and 50s was a dancing country. Dance halls dotted the map, and every town of every size had at least one or two. In the larger cities, they were often huge, sprawling, opulent palaces that could accommodate literally thousands of couples. And the Big Bands counted on the thriving dance culture as their lifeblood. Name bands of every size and type criss-crossed the country by bus and auto caravan, doing strings of one-nighters in town after town. It was a grueling existence for the players, who were often ill-fed, ill-slept, and ill-compensated. But, for those with a true heart for the music and the performing experience, it was a dram existence.
This week's In the Mood spotlights two of the great Dance Bands of the era. In Hour One, we profile Ralph Flanagan, whose latter-day band of 1949-1961 was created for the express purpose of sparking new interest in dance music at a time when the dance culture was beginning its steep decline. Ralph had established himself as a respected arranger in New York, and had developed a keen talent for imitating the styles of other well-known arrangers such as Billy May, Jerry Gray, Ray Conniff and Duke Ellington. Ralph and his manager, Herb Hendler, who was also one of RCA Victor's top A & R men, convinced the Victor brass to create a top-notch studio band under Ralph's name. Ralph would write the band's book in the style of Glenn Miller with a strict emphasis on dance tempos. The band was a huge success with the record-buying public, and Hendler soon found himself responding to the calls of booking agents for hotels, nightclubs and dance halls. We will spin some of our favorite sides by this outstanding band to kick off this week's show.

In Hour 2, we will spend our first 20 minutes or so enjoying the solidly swinging sounds of the Charlie Barnet band. Charlie was a trust-fund kid who led a band because it was his passion to make the music he loved. "Lord knows, I'm not in it for the money," he used to say. From the age of 17, he idolized and managed to hang around as many Big Band musicians as he could. His first appearance on records was playing the orchestra bells on Duke Ellington's famous 1930 recording of Ring Dem Bells. He learned how to work hard for the music, and how to party hard as well. He mastered the alto, then the tenor sax, and a little later, the soprano sax, all of which he played with a swinging, booting drive out in front of his band. 

Charlie's lifelong admiration for Duke Ellington was obvious in many of his arrangements and recordings of Ellington tunes. We will play some of those this week, plus some sides that demonstrate Charlie's reed mastery.

Other highlights this week include appearances by the Benny Goodman Sextet, and major hits by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Louis Jordan. We'll spin some original 1940s blues on 78 from Duke Ellington, and you won't want to miss the 2-sided 78 of St. James Infirmary by the Artie Shaw band of 1941. Lips Page takes the trumpet solo and the vocal.

As always, feel free to comment here on on our Facebook page.           

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Show Notes for 1/16-20

TD and The Count are swinging this weekend


Every week, In the Mood brings you the best of the Big Band Era. This week, two of the biggest names in Swing are featured: Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie. 

Tommy's trombone technique was legendary among musicians and fans alike. No one, it seemed, could play as high, sweet and smooth as the Sentimental Gentleman of Swing. In fact, when Tommy died in 1956, Warren Covington took over the band, partly because he was one of the only trombonists alive who could play Tommy's solos. You'll hear what I'm talking about on the show this week when we play such Dorsey classics as Once in a While, Who? and Chicago. Tommy's ability to play very high notes in a sweet, mellow tone, and very long phrases without taking a breath is still astounding. Frank Sinatra, who spent three years singing with the Dorsey band, credited Tommy as his main influence when it came to phrasing and breath control.

We spend the first 20 minutes of Hour 2 this week enjoying some of the best of the Count Basie repertoire. We'll stick with the Basie band of the late 1930s and early 40s, as recorded on Decca and Columbia. Along with the Count's crisp piano work, we enjoy solos by some of his most famous sidemen, including tenor saxists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison, and trombonist Dickie Wells. You'll especially enjoy the seldom-heard 1940 Columbia waxing of the band's theme, One O'Clock Jump.

Elsewhere in this week's show, I'll play one of my personal favorite 78 sides, the 1946 Capitol recording of Your Conscience Tells You So by Ella Mae Morse with pianist Freddie Slack. It's an infectious little tune, made even more delightful by Freddie's ability to invent a completely new fill phrase every time Ella Mae takes a breath.

I'm also pleased to present our shiny-new 78 copy of Alreet by the Gene Krupa Ork with a swell vocal by Anita O'Day.

Other highlights this week include Duke Ellington's 1938 Merry-Go-Round, Claude Thornhill's hypnotically serene Snowfall, and Jimmie Lunceford's sensational 1941 extended version of Blues in the Night with alto saxing and vocal by Willie Smith. 

All in all, this week should prove a superb mix of swinging sweetness, punctuated with pithy pronouncements from yours truly as needed. As always, please feel free to reach out with requests and comments on our Facebook page at facebook.com/inthemoodwithscottmichaels.   
    

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Introduction!

Welcome to the In the Mood Blog!

This is the official blog of the In the Mood with Scott Michaels radio program, heard on great radio stations in Alabama, across the USA, and around the world.  Here is a list of days and times you can hear the show on each station, along with LIVE LINKS to each station's Live Stream. All times are CST (GMT -6 hours).

Thursday:
10:00 am - 12:00 Noon: 920 WON The Apple in New York City  mixlr.com/920-won-the-apple/

Friday:8:00 - 10:00 pm: WSSE-DB in Clarksville, Tennessee wsseonline.com

Saturday:8:00 - 10:00 am: Jazz Hall Radio 91.1 FM in Birmingham jazzhall.com3:00 - 5:00 pm: WAAY/Massillon, OH waayradio.com10:00 pm - 12 midnight: WSSE-DB in Clarksville, Tennessee wsseonline.com

Sunday:3:00 - 5:00 pm: WVAS 90.7 FM in Montgomery wvasfm.org3:00 - 5:00 pm: WSMX-LP 98.3 FM in Clanton3:00 - 5:00 pm: WAAY/Massillon, OH WAAYRadio.com8:00 - 10:00 pm: Jazz Hall Radio 91.1 FM in Birmingham jazzhall.com

Monday:5:00 - 7:00 pm: WAAY/Massillon, OH WAAYRadio.com 

In addition to the above Live Broadcasts of the show, you can also hear recent shows ON DEMAND by going to mixcloud.com/920won.  
Scroll down through the list of shows till you get to In the Mood and hit the PLAY Button.