Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Battle, Two Bands, Four Brothers: The Way It Was, 30 July

Disregard, if you will, the sometimes lame banter between the three bandleaders at the outset. Cut right to the music from two of the more forward-looking yet still accessible surviving big bands. (Ordinarily, this is a regular broadcast by Barnet, the alto saxophonist whose idol was Duke Ellington.) The highlights include, especially, spirited takes on "Bop City," "Ill Wind," and "Bebop Spoken Here" from the Barnet aggregation, and the Herd's unique interpretation of Ellington's "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)."

Perhaps the real treat, as good and as vibrant as both ensembles are, is a brisk highlight of "Four Brothers," both the song and the Second Herd saxophone quartet who earned the nickname (and earned the Second Herd a secondary identification as the Four Brothers Band)---Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Serge Chaloff, all influenced by Lester Young, whose deceptively lyric tone upended the burly tone Coleman Hawkins had once made a requirement for aspiring tenor saxophonists.

However, it is also a revelatory treat to listen to Kenton---possibly the most experimental of the three bandleaders, but then on a hiatus while trying to determine his next musical move (he "referees" the "battle" between Barnet and Herman)---describe a brief retirement, freshly ended, that included a jaunt to Central and South America to soak up the continent's remarkable musics, a jaunt that informs, in due course, such Kenton exercises as Cuban Fire. Kenton also discusses the dichotomy he believes exists between "great jazz" and the ballroom's need; his belief that "great jazz" has its future in the concert hall and not the ballroom; and, whether young musicians of the day are missing certain fundamentals in preparing for their lives as the new jazzmen.

Announcer: Tom Reddy.


LUM & ABNER: A PLOT TO BUY THE JOT 'EM DOWN STORE (NBC BLUE, 1935)---Abner (Norris Goff, who also plays Dick Huddleston and Squire Skimp) remains torn by a wave of society behaviour enveloping Pine Ridge in general, and his wife and daughter in particular, both of whom he fears are pushing him to withdraw from the "disgrace" of co-owning the Jot 'Em Down Store. Lum: Chester Lauck. Announcer: Carlton Brickert. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

THE GOLDBERGS: ESTHER AND ALLYSON MEET (CBS, 1941)---Molly (Gertrude Berg) is anxious about the arrival of Esther Miller (Joan Vitez), a woman from the past of the deceptive Sylvia's (Zena Provendie) father---who's anything but anxious to see her again, and what a surprise, considering Molly's implication of how different would things have been if the elder Allyson had married her, instead. Jake: John R. Waters. Sammy: Alfred Ryder. Rosalie: Roslyn Siber. Announcer: Clayton (Bud) Collyer. Writer/director: Gertrude Berg. (Warning: Backskips in recording.)

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR: WORKMEN HAVE THE MUMPS (CBS, 1958)---Which is the last thing the Arbuckles (Peg Lynch, Alan Bunce) need, when daughter Betsy is fed up with all the attention lavished on her newly-arrived baby brother. Writer/director: Peg Lynch.

BOB & RAY PRESENT THE CBS RADIO NETWORK: SMELLY DAVE AT ALBANY (WE CAN'T IMAGINE, 1959)---The none-too-great whale is there to help WROW and, not coincidentally, its program director George Perkins and, of course, traveling reporter Arthur Shrank---who discover an unexpected problem as the presentation begins. Also: an episode of "Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate." Writers, actual or alleged: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


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