“Looking Back: Goodbye Benny, et al” by Arnie Koch

When the Benny Goodman Orchestra appeared at the Metropolitan Theater in Boston in May 1937, the Boston Morning Globe reported: “The Metropolitan Theater yesterday appeared to hold every boy and girl in Greater Boston who could beg a school ‘absent’ excuse from a tolerant parent. Benny Goodman, King of Swing, is in town, which means that the youngsters of the city are in their seventh heaven of rapture. What shrieks of joy as he played ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ in his own swingy rhythms! What yells and whistles and stampings followed Gene Krupa’s drumming exhibitions!” Read more at the Melrose Free Press:

Here’s to The Vocalists! by Arnie Koch

Seldom acknowledged is how many big bands provided the “launching pads” for their vocalists who went on to fame and. sometimes, fortunes. Many became as important and familiar to the public as their former employers,  .As the big band era began to fade,  their  careers  blossomed.  It is an impressive list: Continue reading

Charlie’s Angel by Arnie Koch

Dick Ruedebusch from Milwaukee was a powerhouse on the trumpet, similar to Al Hirt. In 1965, Dick was playing with the Salt City Six in the Lounge at the Cape Colony Inn in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, led by Sam Donahue with featured vocalist, Frank Sinatra, Jr. was playing in the main ball room.

The band also featured lead trumpet player, Charlie Shavers. Shavers had first joined Tommy Dorsey in1945 to play the jazz chair and sometime lead trumpet. It was the first time an African-American had become a regular member of the band. Peggy Schwartz, a member of Dorsey’s Sentimentalists, recalled that, despite his importance to the band, “Charlie had to go through the backdoor of hotels on the road. He could never eat with the rest of the band. We had to bring him whatever he wanted from the restaurant or diner.” Continue reading