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.

Okeh 41403 – Casa Loma Orchestra – 1930

Before the swing era commenced, you could get an earful of the burgeoning genre from a number of bands.  One was Fletcher Henderson’s band, one of the earliest to start swinging music.  Another one was the Casa Loma Orchestra, who played swing outright as early as 1930.  Today, on the 110th 116th birthday of leader Glen Gray, we’ll hear from them.

The Casa Loma Orchestra got its start in 1927 in Detroit as the Orange Blossoms, managed by Jean Goldkette.  After an eight month gig at the Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto, they became known as the Casa Loma Orchestra, though they were not actually a house band at the hotel.  They first began recording in 1929 for Okeh, with ultra-modern arrangements by band member Gene Gifford.  The band incorporated in 1930, with all members as part-owners, and they ran a tight ship.  In the early years, they were fronted by Henry Biagini, but Glen Gray assumed the spot later on.  Switching to Brunswick, then to Decca, they became one of the leading bands in the United States by the start of swing era, and held that position into the 1940s.  After the close of the swing era, the Casa Loma Orchestra continued to play into the early 1960s, mostly remaking swing hits in hi-fi on Capitol Records.

Okeh 41403 was recorded February 11, 1930 in New York City.  The Casa Loma Orchestra consists of Hank Biagini directing Joe Hostetter, Fred Martinez, and Bobby Jones on trumpet, Pee Wee Hunt and Billy Rauch on trombone, Glen Gray and Ray Eberle 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 string bass, and Tony Briglia on drums.  Both sides were arranged by Gene Gifford.

First up, they play it hot on on “China Girl”.

China Girl

China Girl, recorded February 11, 1930 by the Casa Loma Orchestra.

Next up is an even hotter rendition of Wingy Manone’s “San Sue Strut”.

San Sue Strut

San Sue Strut, recorded February 11, 1930 by the Casa Loma Orchestra.