Remembering the Greats Bands- personal stories

Note: I'm posting this on behalf of Grandfather - DanceMentor.

I've dance to some of the great ones when they were live on the bandstand. The ones I remember are the great trumpet players, Charlie Spivak and Harry James. Spivak was the greatest of the two in my opinion. Harry James played the muted trumpet, but Spivak pure trumpet. In my senior years in highschool I took a date with some others to hear and dance to Harry James at a night club in Cincinnati. During an intermission, my girl friend ask me to get Harry James autograph. I walked up to him with a pen and paper and asked for his autograph. He scowled at me and said, "Go away from me boy, you bother me!" I've never liked him since. I also saw Ted Weems, who had a great band, when Perry Como was his soloist, just starting out in his late teens. This was at the Schubert Theatre in Cincinnati sometime in the thirties. There were a few others that I've danced to at live performances: Jan Garber (soft and sweet, like Guy Lombardo), Charlie Spivak and Benny Goodman.

The big dances of my day were jitterbug, which I never mastered, and the Big Apple. That's about all I can think of right now. Reading the booklet for "String of Pearls" should give you a better feel for that fun era. Other great bands of that day were:Horace Heidt, Tommy Dorsey and his bother Jimmy Dorsey who had his own band and, lest I forget, Red Nichols and His Five Pennies, a small Combo that could really jazz it up. I danced to them on The Island Queen, an Ohio River steam boat with five decks, the middle deck being almost entirely a dance floor with band stand and many refreshment stands. That was the way we traveled to Coney Island in Cincy, but they also had what was called moonlight cruises with many good bands from time to time.

That's about all I can think of right now. Maybe more later as things come to mind. Have fun.

Jim DuVal
"Moonlight Serenade" by Glenn Miller is also one of my all time favorites. The last time I saw Glenn Miller was just before WW II when he played in Hershey Pennsylvania. The ballroom was built on the very edge of a tributary of the Susquehanna river. It was a memorable night for several reasons. I drove down from Brooklyn, N. Y. with a few of my childhood pals who all were good Lindy Hop dancers. At the time I was the typical wallflower, which left me by my lonesome for most of the night, which in a way turned out OK because I got the chance to soak up the ambiance of the evening. The Ballroom as I recall, was an enormous dome that opened up on a railed platform overlooking the placid river sparkling with diamonds, rubies and sapphires reflecting the colored rotating lights from the interior of the Ballroom. I could see Glenn Miller fronting his band at the far end of the domed ballroom with all the eloquently dressed dancers flooding the floor before him. It was a clear moonlit night and when the Glenn Miller Band played, "Moonlight Serenade", I was standing on that platform with my back to the jeweled river viewing the panoramic fantasy of hundreds of dancers swaying gently to the rhythm and falling in love. And for that memory, I have to be thankful for being the only wallflower who stood alone on that platform and was able to mentally imprint the musical photo that enriched my memories till this day.

Dance Ads