Perfect 15754 – Gene’s Merrymakers/Hollywood Dance Orchestra – 1932/1930

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s. As pictured in Man’s Advancing Civilization, 1934.

On March 4, 1933, former Governor of New York Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated thirty-second President of the United States of America, having won the election of 1932 by a wide margin.  Following more than a decade of Republican control, Roosevelt ushered in an era of Liberal Democrat presidencies (most of them his own) that would last nearly twenty years.  His marked the last inauguration to be held on that date, as the twentieth amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified earlier in the year, moving the event to its current January 20th date.  Over the preceding winter, the Great Depression had driven the United States’ economy to its lowest depths, with unemployment rated peaking at almost twenty-five percent.  President Hoover, to his credit, was trying in his own way to stimulate recovery, but his efforts proved rather slow to work at best.  Roosevelt offered America a New Deal, and he delivered it.  Mere months after assuming office, Roosevelt got right on it, pushing passage of his first “alphabet soup” New Deal programs, including the TVA, the CCC, the PWA, and the NRA, soon to be followed by the WPA, the FSA, and others.  Granted, Roosevelt’s New Deal was far from a perfect be-all and end-all solution, some programs worked better than others, some were pretty poorly conceived, but they did provide a “Band-Aid” (to quote a former history professor of mine) to the economic ruin, and give thousands of men a job.—and ol’ FDR proved popular enough to be re-elected an unprecedented three times.

Perfect 15754 was recorded in New York on March 16, 1933 (less than two weeks after Roosevelt’s inauguration) and March 4, 1930 (exactly three years prior to the inauguration), respectively.  The personnel of the Gene’s Merrymakers side includes Bunny Berigan on trumpet, bandleader Gene Kardos on alto sax, and Sam Weiss on drums.  The Hollywood Dance Orchestra is a pseudonym for Adrian Schubert’s Salon Orchestra, which may include Bob Effros on trumpet, Miff Mole on trombone, Tony Parenti on clarinet and alto sax, and Charlie Magnante on accordion.  The identities of the remainders of both bands (pianos, basses, etc.) are unknown.

The 1929 song “Happy Days are Here Again”—originally featured in the 1930 M-G-M motion picture Chasing Rainbows—became associated with F.D.R. when his staff made the impromptu decision to play it at the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  After that, it became his official campaign song, and thereafter became indelibly associated with New Deal Democrats.  In apparent celebration of Roosevelt’s election, the American Record Corporation opted not to reissue Vincent Lopez’s January, 1930 recording of the song (a rather odd, highly syncopated rendition with a “Lopez speaking” introduction which would have sounded somewhat dated a whole three years later), but rather to record a very jubilant new version, albeit a stock arrangement, played by Gene Kardos’ excellent New York-based dance orchestra, with a vocal by studio guy Dick Robertson.

Happy Days are Here Again, recorded March 16, 1933 by Gene’s Merrymakers.

In keeping with the Rooseveltian theme, the reverse features “The Stein Song (University of Maine)”, no doubt celebrating Roosevelt’s promised repeal of the much reviled eighteenth amendment.  Irving Kaufman sings the vocals on this 1930 reissued side.

The Stein Song (University of Maine), recorded March 4, 1930 by Hollywood Dance Orchestra.

Banner 32551 – Gene’s Merrymakers – 1932

Born on this day 117 years ago was bandleader Gene Kardos, whose orchestra made quite a few decent selling records in the 1930s.

Eugene Kardos was born June 12, 1899 in New York City.  He formed a territory band in the early 1930s, and first recorded for Victor, with his earliest output appearing on their short-lived Timely Tunes label, a number of further issues were on Electradisk.  By 1932, he had moved to ARC, using a wide variety of pseudonyms, as well as his own name, and made a few records on the side for Crown under the name of his piano player, Joel Shaw.  Kardos’ band tended to play on the hot side, and was competent with popular songs as well as the occasional jazz piece, though they adopted a “sweeter” style later in the 1930s, as did many bands of their type.   In 1939, Kardos married and retired from music to pursue a career with the United States Post Office.  He died in 1980.

Banner 32551 was recorded August 25, 1932 and December 18, 1931, respectively.  Gene Kardos’ Orchestra assumes the name “Gene’s Merrymakers”, which they commonly used on their ARC releases.

On the first side, the Kardos band plays an excellent rendition of “High Society”.  Thanks to a tip from Mr. Paul Lindemeyer, the probable personnel for Kardos’ band on this side has been identified as Sam Caspin and Red Hymie (Rosenblum) on trumpets, Pete Salemi on trombone, Moe Cohen and Nat Brown on clarinet and alto sax, Gabe Gelinas on clarinet and tenor sax, Joel Shaw on piano, Sol Sussman on banjo, Max Goodman on tuba, and Smith Howard on drums, with an arrangement by Bernie Green.

High Society

High Society, recorded August 25, 1932 by Gene’s Merrymakers.

Strangely, though credited to Kardos, “Clarinet Marmalade” is actually played by the Casa Loma Orchestra.  I believe it was their only side issued on the ARC budget labels.  I defer to the expert below (): it’s one of at least three Casa Loma sides appearing on the ARC dimestore labels, plus a later reissue of their 1931 “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”.  Rust lists the personnel as Joe Hostetter, Grady Watts, and Bobby Jones on trumpets, Pee Wee Hunt and Billy Rauch on trombones, Clarence Hutchinrider on clarinet and alto sax, Kenny Sargent and Glen Gray on alto sax, Pat Davis on tenor sax, Mel Jenssen on violin, Joe Hall on piano, Gene Gifford on banjo and guitar, Stanley Dennis on bass, and Tony Briglia on drums.

Clarinet Marmalade

Clarinet Marmalade, recorded December 18, 1931 by Gene’s Merrymakers.

Updated on June 24 and September 24, 2016, and May 29, 2017.

Another Bluebird Dance Band Double Feature – B-5049 & B-5053 – 1933/1931

As I’m in the process of uploading this duo of early Bluebirds to my YouTube channel (which you should most definitely take a look at if you like this kind of music), it seems like a fine time to do another Bluebird Dance Band Double Feature.  Last time, I featured some of the sweet style of music that dominated pop music in the early 1930s, but this time I’ve got a couple of hotter bands for you, led by Paul Tremaine and Gene Kardos.

Bluebird B-5049 was recorded April 14, 1933 in New York City by Paul Tremaine and his Orchestra.  On the first side, they play sweeter on Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s “Stormy Weather”, which had recently been debuted in the Cotton Club Parade of 1933.  On the reverse, they play “Hand Me Down My Walkin’ Cane”, a remake of the rendition they had recorded for Columbia in February of 1930 (I’ll post the original sometime, too).

Bluebird B-5049, recorded April 14, 1933 by Paul Tremaine and his Orchestra.

Stormy Weather & Hand Me Down My Walkin’ Cane, recorded April 14, 1933 by Paul Tremaine and his Orchestra.

The two sides of Bluebird B-5053 were recorded on two different occasions.  The first side is another by Paul Tremaine, a wild “She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain”, recorded at the same April 14, 1933 session.  That one is also a (considerably more frenetic) redo of one of their 1930 Columbia recordings. Be sure to listen for the little bit of “hinkle dinkle rooty too” between two of the choruses.

On the flip-side, Gene Kardos and his Orchestra play a hot rendition of Carson Robison’s “Left My Gal in the Mountains”, recorded June 10, 1931 and originally issued on Victor’s short-lived Timely Tunes budget label.  This was Kardos’ first session.  The band consists of Sammy Castin and Willie Mayer on trumpets, Milt Shaw on trombone, Gene Kardos on alto sax, Joe Sagora on clarinet and alto sax, Morris Cohen or Nat Brown on clarinet, alto sax, and tenor sax, Joel Shaw on piano, Albert Julian on guitar, Danny Bono or Ben Goldberg on tuba, and Saul Howard on drums.  The vocalist is Albert Julian

Bluebird B-5053, recorded

She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain & Left My Gal in the Mountains, recorded April 14, 1933 and June 10, 1931 by Paul Tremaine and his Orchestra and Gene Kardos and his Orchestra.

Updated on June 24, 2016.

Spotlight: Chick Bullock

From early 1930s "Perfect" record sleeve. An illustration of the only known photograph of Bullock in his prime.

An illustration of Bullock in his prime, from 1930s “Perfect” record sleeve.

One of the most prolific male vocalists of the 1930s was Charles “Chick” Bullock. With his relaxed style and smooth tenor voice, Bullock recorded innumerable titles with groups ranging from sweet dance orchestras like Waring’s Pennsylvanians and Ed Kirkeby to hot jazz bands like Cab Calloway’s orchestra and the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, even Don Azpiazu’s Havana Casino Orchestra as “Chiquito Bullo”, as well as his own group, the Levee Loungers.  Over the course of his career, Bullock worked with many, if not most, top musicians of the 1930s, recording hundreds of sides.  In fact, if you pulled out any record from the ARC labels (Banner, Perfect, Romeo, et al), there’s a good chance you’ll see “vocal chorus by Chick Bullock”.

Charles Sibley Bullock was born September 16, 1898 in Butte, Montana to British parents William (b.1858) and Emily Bullock (née Sibley) (b.1872), an engineer and teacher, respectively, who met and married after emigrating to the States.  Though his family wanted him to pursue a career as a doctor, he was destined for a life in the show business.  His first job in the entertainment industry had him working as an illustrated song performer between acts on the vaudeville stage.  Later, he worked his way from venue to venue into motion pictures, scoring a few small parts in silent films, but soon found he preferred singing, and left Hollywood to pursue a career in music.  In Salt Lake City, Bullock met Mary Newton, whom he would marry soon after.

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