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.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

From M-J to V-J: The Way It Was, 15 August

Imagine what it must be, to be in Gene Krupa's position on V-J Day. (You will hear a brief excerpt from a news report covering V-J Day celebrations in England prior to the broadcast, by the way.)

Two years earlier---having figured out that there didn't need to be a drum solo on every other selection in his band book and tightened his first post-Benny Goodman big band (several members of which had gravitated to the new Krupa outfit, by the way, including saxophone reliable Vido Musso and arranger Fletcher Henderson) into a seamless if not exactly forward-looking organisation---Krupa had been arrested on a trumped-up marijuana-based charge and looked like a badly ruined man.

He pleaded guilty (on his attorney's advice) to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, serving ninety days in jail, but was convicted on a followup federal charge of using a minor to transport marijuana, a conviction thrown out when the minor in question, Krupa's thought-to-be-teenaged drum tech John Pateakos, admitted in 1944 (to a grand jury probing charges that Krupa's legal team had paid him off to keep him out of sight) that he'd never brought Krupa any such thing and was coached heavily by federal narcotics agents.

The case forced the likeable Krupa to break up his band (he'd formed it after leaving Goodman acrimoniously in 1938, not long after the Goodman band's seminal Carnegie Hall concert) and spend his entire life's savings, such as they were; the entire business sank him into a soul-deep depression and a fear that his music career (he would reveal later that jail officials allowed him to continue studying music while he was incarcerated) was over.

But Benny Goodman, with whom he'd reconciled not long after forming his first band in 1938, invited Krupa back to the bandstand and, while the two men may never again have worked together regularly, it helped Krupa out of his depression and sent him toward forming his second big band and a major comeback. It is this band---highlighted by vocal star (and fellow Goodman alumnus) Anita O'Day, tenor saxophonist Charlie Ventura, and passable but forgettable vocalist Buddy Stewart---Krupa leads to Times Square for this hotel appearance and this broadcast.

The selections: O'Day's sultry reading of "I'd Do It All Over Again," Ventura's Coleman Hawkins-influenced but very bebop reading of "These Foolish Things" (Krupa is one of the big band leaders who appreciates the new style and finds ways of integrating it into his own unit without compromising its core); Stewart's vocal on "I'm Gonna Love That Gal"; and, a rather exuberant re-arrangement---don't think you'll miss Krupa's infamous heavy-footed bass pedaling, which never really leaves his style even if he's adapted a little bop to his polyrhythms---of a Goodman perennial, "Stompin' at the Savoy" . . . with a brief but no less characteristic drum solo.

Announcer: Bob Martin.


LUM & ABNER: INSPECTING THE NEW ROLLING GROCERY STORE (NBC BLUE, 1935)---The boys (Chester Lauck, who also plays Grandpappy; Norris Goff, who also plays Dick) get the good news: their new mobile grocery is finished and ready for their inspection, but the Weehunts who have converted Abner's old car to the new store duck out for dinner before the boys arrive, worrying and annoying Abner. Announcer: Carlton Brickert. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.

THE GOLDBERGS: LEAH'S STROKE (CBS, 1941)---Molly's (Gertrude Berg) success in bringing Allyson and Esther (Joan Vitez) together has a good side (the couple are about to be married) and a bad side---the bad side being other daughter, Leah, who wasn't crazy about her father's marriage to begin with . . . and who's suffered a stroke Molly can't bring herself to reveal until after the wedding, while jilted Sylvia (Zena Provendie) presses Sammy (Alfred Ryder) for answers about her sister. Jake: John R. Waters. Rosalie: Roslyn Siber. Sylvia: Zena Provendie. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Clayton (Bud) Collyer. Writer/director: Gertrude Berg.


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