Everett Hoagland

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Everett Hoagland was a West Coast big band leader who was active in the '20s and '30s with several different big bands, drawing from an enormous Hollywood talent pool that included such diverse figures…
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Everett Hoagland was a West Coast big band leader who was active in the '20s and '30s with several different big bands, drawing from an enormous Hollywood talent pool that included such diverse figures as Stan Kenton, Spike Jones, Gil Evans, and even bassist Lumpy Brannon, who eventually became famous, or perhaps infamous, playing the part of Mr. Greenjeans on Captain Kangaroo. The first Hoagland band played in a heavily swinging style and featured arrangements done by several young men who would turn into major jazz composers and arrangers. One was Gil Evans, who would eventually find great fame collaborating with Miles Davis, and another was Kenton, who took over the piano chair in Hoagland's band in 1933. At that time, the band had a regular stint at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa Beach. Like many a jazz big band leader faced with progressive memberships, Hoagland chickened out. He realized audiences would toss more coins at a straight society band sound than the progressive direction Evans and Kenton were heading in. So Hoagland swapped for a new compass and went out on the road with the former concept. It was the end to a band playing material that some listeners praise highly indeed. There are Kenton fans who insist he never did anything as good when he went on his own. The progressive players were disappointed, but many of them went on to join Kenton's band. Those who stayed with Hoagland were all sent scattering to the unemployment lines when the leader took a job as chief musical arranger for RKO studios.

With backing from MCA, he formed his second orchestra in the '30s. His main collaborator on this project was George Mayes, who had previously worked in the big band of Orville Knapp. The latter band was another popular West Coast outfit whose innovative leader was not only named after Orville Wright, but died flying his own airplane. Characters such as Knapp, Hoagland, Ray Robbins, and Leighton Noble are all names that come up again and again in the stories of the Los Angeles big band scene. The history of these bands and their players intertwine as if the personnel were all loading in from the same ramp. When vocalist Noble joined up with Hoagland, the singer was on leave from yet another Los Angeles big band led by George Hamilton, father of the actor of the same name. Noble was still trying to recover from a case of strep throat when he made the switch, perhaps suggesting something of a lower standard than Hamilton's band. This idea would be hard to reconcile with the quality of the players in Hoagland's ensemble, including not only Kenton but Spike Jones on drums as well. The late Knapp, on the other hand, was famous for having turned down both Kenton and Jones when they came to audition, the worst mistake he ever made short of taking up flying as a hobby. Noble stayed on as the vocalist with Hoagland for about nine months, a pretty typical length of time for a vocalist to vibrate his vocal chords with such an outfit. When he moved on to the Russ Plumber Orchestra, he eventually shared the stage with some of the same people again, including Kenton and Jones, as well as tenor saxophonist Vido Musso and bassist Lumpy Brannon. Then Plumber stepped down and the band was taken over by Hoagland. Apparently keeping track of these players, or even figuring out who the bandleader was was sometimes more complicated than any of the arrangements. In the case of Hoagland, these include titles such as "I'm Too Romantic," "The Moon and the Willow Tree," and "Drifting Down the River of Dreams," all of which were recorded by the band for the Decca label. In 1930, he recorded for Columbia with Everett Hoagland's Troubadours, cutting three songs including the optimistic "Blue Days Are Over Now." In 1932, Hoagland's band appeared in the film Okay, America!" The bandleader is no relation to Everett Hoagland, an Afro-American poet and professor of literature.