Charlie Barnet – Leader of “The Blackest White Band of Them All”

Saxophonist and bandleader Charlie Barnet was born into a wealthy family. His grandfather was Charles Frederick Daly, a vice-president for the New York Central Railroad, banker, and businessman. His father, a successful lawyer, wanted young Charlie to follow him into the family business. But Charlie had other plans. As a boy, Barnet attended exclusive boarding … Continue reading Charlie Barnet – Leader of “The Blackest White Band of Them All”

Jack Kapp – The Man with the Musical ‘Midas Touch’

He could not read or compose music, nor carry a tune. But for all of his personal ‘musical short comings’, he had an uncanny ability to discover musical talent in others. Born in Chicago, Illinois to a Jewish family of Russian immigrants, Jack Kapp (born Jacob Kaplitzky) was a record company executive with Brunswick Records … Continue reading Jack Kapp – The Man with the Musical ‘Midas Touch’

The Casa Loma – High on a Hill and High in Popularity

High on a hill in Toronto, Canada, sits ‘Casa Loma Castle’. Replete with gables, turrets and arches, the medieval castle boasts more than 100 rooms, 60 bathrooms, 5000 electrical lights, and the largest wine cellar in North America. It cost Canadian industrial magnate Sir Henry Pellatt more than $5 million dollars to construct between 1911 … Continue reading The Casa Loma – High on a Hill and High in Popularity

Kirby: One Fine Vacuum Cleaner Or One Fine Swing Musician?

He led one of the most influential small-groups of the swing era and played with such notable bands as Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson and Benny Goodman. He also scored several hit standards including “Loch Lomond” and “Undecided”. And yet in spite of his innovation and talent, more people are inclined to associate the name “Kirby” … Continue reading Kirby: One Fine Vacuum Cleaner Or One Fine Swing Musician?

The Pint-sized Songstress of Pittsburgh – Maxine Sullivan

At 4 foot 11 inches tall and weighing a mere 82 pounds, her diminutive size could hardly be considered imposing. But the moment she began to sing, she brought everything to a standstill- and became the biggest talent in the room. Performing before a crowd of over 20,000 people at a memorial concert for the … Continue reading The Pint-sized Songstress of Pittsburgh – Maxine Sullivan

Artie Shaw: The Temperamental Grumpyman of Swing

If bandleader Tommy Dorsey was known as “The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”, then fellow bandleader Artie Shaw well could have deserved the moniker “The “Temperamental Grumpyman of Swing”. Widely regarded as one of jazz’s finest clarinetists alongside performers like Benny Goodman, Shaw led one of the most popular big bands of the late ‘30s and … Continue reading Artie Shaw: The Temperamental Grumpyman of Swing

“Mrs. Swing” Rocks the House – The Story of Mildred Bailey

It was a typical New York evening… that January of 1944. The Metropolitan Opera House at 1411 Broadway in Manhattan had played host to many talented artists and vocalists. Enrico Caruso, Lawrence Tibbett and Conductor Arturo Toscanini had all graced its stage. But on that cold 18th of January in 1944, the Metropolitan Opera House … Continue reading “Mrs. Swing” Rocks the House – The Story of Mildred Bailey

Swingin’ High – The Bibulous Bunny Berigan

He was a musical child prodigy admired by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Harry James. His talent on the trumpet helped propel bandleaders like Benny Goodman to fame. But his love of liquor ultimately paved the way to a tragic ending for this electrifying musician of the 1930’s. Bunny Berigan was a handsome musician … Continue reading Swingin’ High – The Bibulous Bunny Berigan