Tenor sax man Charlie Barnet knew what he wanted from a very early age. In fact, he was playing professionally by the age of 16. Then at 18 he went to New York to talk the CBS Artist Bureau into booking him as an orchestra leader. We hear some of this determined teenager’s orchestras from 1930s-40s airchecks on this week’s Phantom Dancer.
The Phantom Dancer is produced and presented every Tuesday by authentic 1920s-30s-style singer and actor, Greg Poppleton .
It’s your non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV. On air since 1985!
The Phantom Dancer is recorded live-to-air at 107.3 2SER Sydney, Tuesdays 12:04 – 2pm. It’s re-broadcast on 22 radio stations of the Community Radio Network and online.
Online, this week’s Phantom Dancer will be available for your listening pleasure after the 2SER broadcast, Tuesday 8 May. Go to 2ser.com to listen.
You’ll also find plenty of past Phantom Dancers to enjoy online, too.
THIS WEEK’S PHANTOM DANCER MIX
– includes two Australian dance bands – Jim Davidson and his New Palais Royal Orchestra and Frank Coughlan’s Trocadero Orchestra .There are also sets by Lee Konitz in 1954 from WHDH Boston, live jazz from 1962 radio on WNEW NY and WBBM Chicago, a set of trad from WMGM New York’s 1950-51 ‘Doctor Jazz’ series (after being asked for a version of Doctor Jazz during last week’s show) and, of course, the Charle Barnet set. See the full play list below.
Born Charles Daly Barnet, Charlie Barnet was a U.S orchestra leader, sax player and composer. Important to his overall ‘fun’ band leading attitude was that he was a person of means. He was heir to his grandfather’s fortune, the New York Central Railway vice-president and banker, Charles Frederick Daly. His family wanted him to be a lawyer. He chose music.
Barnet had worked for one of the many franchise bands of the Jean Goldkette Orchestra, on of the most famous U.S bands of the late 1920s by the age of 16. He then left for New York to play tenor sax in Frank Winegar’s Pennsylvania Boys before trying his luck as an extra in Hollywood films.
Late in 1932 at the age of 18 he returned to New York City and talked a contact at the CBS artist’s bureau to book him as an orchestra leader.
His 1930s orchestras were numerous and short-lived. But they were also musically interesting as you can hear in the 1934 recording below, ‘Infatuation’, which is your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week.
Barnet got his first recording contract in 1933 during an engagement at New York’s Park Central Hotel.
He was always into ‘hot music’ and he was an early adapter of Swing.
RAN OUT OF TOWN
While playing swing at New Orlean’s Roosevelt Hotel in 1935, he earned the ire of conservative governor Huey Long who hated the new sound. Long set up a sting, luring the band to a brothel then having it raided so the band could be ‘run out of town’.
Barnet got a number of his now unemployed band members into Joe Haymes Orchestra (soon to be taken over by Tommy Dorsey) and then headed off for a jaunt in Havana escorting a well off, older woman.
His 1936 orchestra included the new vocal harmony quartet, ‘The Modernaires’ though that band soon shut up shop, too. ‘The Modernaires’ were later and famously associated with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. At this time, Charlie Barnet was one of the first to integrate his band.
He was a big fan of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He championed Duke Ellington tunes in his orchestra and Ellington recorded Barnet’s ‘In A Mizz’.
GO TO BLAZES
When Charlie Barnet lost all his band charts in the 1938 Los Angeles Palomar Ballroom fire, Count Basie lent him charts.
His 1939 band was catapaulted into the big time with the release of his recording of the Ray Noble song (from his Indian Suite), Cherokee.
He had a second big hit on 1944 with ‘Skyliner’. ‘Skyliner’ was used as the theme music for the late 1940s US Armed Forces Network program ‘Midnight In Munich’ broadcast from AFN Munich.
Other major recordings include ‘Scotch and Soda’, ‘In a Mizz’, ‘The Right Idea’, ‘The Wrong Idea’ and Southland Shuffle’.
Barnet switched from Swing to Bop in 1947. Barnet’s swing band included such names as Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Billy May, Neal Hefti, Lena Horne, Barney Kessel, Dodo Marmorosa and Oscar Pettiford.
His later bands had Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen and Clark Terry.
He ‘retired’ in 1949, claiming to have lost interest in music, though he continued to lead an orchestra and was broadcast on radio into the 1960s.
Charlie Barnet was married 11 times. His last marriage lasted 33 years.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
As your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week, an early Charlie Barney record from his short-lived 1934 band, the weird ‘Infatuation’
8 MAY PLAY LIST