Welcome to the 2023 series of the music column where I am joined as always by Jazz singer and composer William Price King. We hope you will join us every Tuesday for some of the chart hits of the big band era from the 1930s through to the 1950s.
Some of the earlier videos are not of the best quality however where possible we have sourced remastered copies to share with you. Considering some are almost 100 years old, it is remarkable that they exist at all. A testament to the love of the music of that era. Along with our selections each week we will also be showcasing one of the dance crazes from the 1920s onwards and as with the music videos some are not of the highest quality and in some cases I have substituted more modern versions.
Here is my next selection from the Big Band chart in the 1940s from Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton “Flying Home” (1940)
“Flying Home” was written by Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton with lyrics by Sid Robin. It was developed while Hampton was in the Benny Goodman band. A gig in 1939 required the band to fly from L.A. to Atlantic City, the first time Hampton had flown. He began whistling a tune while waiting for the plane to taxi. Goodman asked him what it was, to which he replied “I don’t know, we can call it ‘Flying Home,’ I guess.”
Hampton later confessed that he was humming the tune as a way to keep his mind off of the impending flight. It was first recorded by the Benny Goodman Sextet in 1939, featuring solos by Hampton and Charlie Christian. The tune charted twice, in two different versions by the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. The first version, which rose to #25 in 1940, featured Ziggy Elman on trumpet. The second and most renowned version, with Dexter Gordon on tenor sax, featured an outstanding saxophone solo by Illinois Jacquet and charted in 1942, rising to #23. Michael Zirpolo
Here is my next selection from the 1940s from Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller “Pennsylvania 6-5000” (1940)
“Pennsylvania 6-5000” (also written “Pennsylvania Six-Five Thousand”) is a 1940 swing jazz and pop standard with music by Jerry Gray and lyrics by Carl Sigman. It was recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra as a Bluebird 78 rpm single.
Many big band names played in Hotel Pennsylvania’s Cafe Rouge in New York City, including the Glenn Miller Orchestra.The hotel’s telephone number, Pennsylvania 6-5000, inspired the Glenn Miller 1940 Top 5 Billboard hit of the same name, which had a 12-week chart run. The instrumental was recorded on April 28, 1940 in New York. The 78 single was released in June, 1940 as RCA Victor Bluebird 78 B-10754-A backed with “Rug Cutter’s Swing”. The song was also an advertisement for attendance at the band’s live performances, as a call could be put through to Hotel Pennsylvania’s venue the Cafe Rouge for a reservation. Classic Mood Experience
Other sources: Wikipedia – And: Jazz Standards
The conga line is a novelty line dance that was derived from the Cuban carnival dance of the same name and became popular in the US in the 1930s and 1950s. The dancers form a long, processing line, which would usually turn into a circle. It has three shuffle steps on the beat, followed by a kick that is slightly ahead of the fourth beat. The conga, a term sometimes mistakenly believed to be derived from the African region of Congo, is both a lyrical and danceable genre, rooted in the music of carnival troupes or comparsas
The conga dance was believed to have been brought over from Africa by enslaved people in the West Indies, and became a popular street dance in Cuba. The style was appropriated by politicians during the early years of republic in an attempt to appeal to the masses before election. During the Machado dictatorship in Cuba, Havana citizens were forbidden to dance the conga, because rival groups would work themselves to high excitement and explode into street fighting. When Fulgencio “El Checho” Batista became president in the 1940s, he permitted people to dance congas during elections, but a police permit was required.
Your Hosts for The Big Band Era
William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.
His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.
While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.
Blog– IMPROVISATION – William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – Facebook – William Price King – Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson
Sally Cronin is an author, blogger and broadcaster who enjoyed four years as part of the team on Onda Cero International’s English speaking morning show in Marbella and then for two years as a presenter on Expressfm the local radio station in Portsmouth. She co-presented two ‘Drive Time’ shows a week with Adrian Knight, hosted the live Thursday Afternoon Show and The Sunday Morning Show guests including musicians and authors. Following this she became Station Director for a local internet television station for two years, producing and presenting the daily news segment, outside broadcasts and co-presenting the Adrian and Sally chat show live on Friday evenings.
She and her husband David have now returned to Ireland where they live on the Wexford Coast where she blogs and continues to write books.
Books :Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – blog: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin
Thanks for tuning in and as always we love to hear from you.. thanks William and Sally.