In Old Time Blues’s continuing appreciation of both territory jazz bands and artists and musicians from Texas, we now turn our attention to one of the most successful dance orchestras from the state of Texas: that of Herman Waldman.
Bandleader Herman Waldman was born in New York City on January 26, 1902 (by his own account, though some sources suggest a date of two days later), the son of Austro-Hungarian immigrants Morris and Anna (née Sororowitz) Waldman. The family had taken up residence in Dallas, Texas, before Herman was twenty. As a youth, he worked as a clerk in a railroad office. A violinist, Waldman had formed his orchestra by the latter years of the 1920s. They were said to have had engagements at Dallas’s Adolphus and Baker Hotels, which also hosted the talents of Alphonso Trent and Jack Gardner at different times. The band was playing hot when they recorded for the first time as part of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company’s field trip to Dallas in October of 1929. That session produced only one record: the hot jazz “Marbles” and “Waiting”. When Brunswick ventured to San Antonio two years later, Waldman’s orchestra recorded once again, again producing only one record. In addition to their sparse recordings, the Waldman band toured around the southern and southwestern states, reportedly appearing at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City. In between their recording sessions, a young trumpeter named Harry James joined Waldman’s band, before moving on to the nationally successful Ben Pollack’s orchestra. In the midst of the Great Depression, the group made their final recordings, this time for Bluebird, at the Texas Hotel in San Antonio, on April 3, 1934, this time making two records. By that time, scarcely any trace of the hot band that produced “Marbles” back in ’29 was audible; instead, they played popular tunes in the fashion of the sweet dance bands prevalent in the day, though they did so with the proficiency of any of the big New York orchestras. Though they never recorded again, Waldman and his orchestra were still going at least as late as 1941. Herman Waldman died in Dallas on March 7, 1991.
Brunswick 6181 was recorded on the afternoon of August 31, 1931, in San Antonio, Texas. Waldman’s band is made up of Rex Preis and Ken Switzer on trumpets, Bill Clemens on trombone, Bob “Baldy” Harris and Jimmy Segers (or “Segars”) on clarinet and alto sax, Arno “Tink” Navratil on clarinet and tenor sax, Herman Waldman on violin, Tom Blake on piano, Vernon Mills on banjo, Barney Dodd on tuba, and Reggie Kaughlin on drums.
On the first side, Waldman’s orchestra plays “Got No Honey”, a composition by band members Arno “Tink” Navratil and Jimmy Segers, and seemingly the only recording of this song. Trumpet man Ken Switzer takes the vocal.
On the flip-side, they play a competent rendition of the Hoagy Carmichael standard “Lazy River”. Banjoist Vernon Mills sings the lyric, joined by a trio consisting of Switzer and two others.