Glen Gray

Swing Tonic: 1939-1946

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Between October 1929 and February 1946 there existed in North America a swing band known as the Casa Loma Orchestra. Beginning in 1935 it operated under the nominal leadership of saxophonist Glen Gray, a distinguished if somewhat enigmatic character with whom it has been lumped ever since. In 2007, the U.K.'s Jasmine label released Swing Tonic: 1939-1946, a 47-track anthology of selected recordings made between 1939 and 1946 by Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, with vocals by Eugenie Baird, Skip Nelson, and trombonist Pee Wee Hunt. The Casa Loma's arrangers included Bill Challis (forever associated with Paul Whiteman and Bix Beiderbecke) and Ray Conniff (destined for a lucrative career in the easy listening market). Its ranks included trumpeters Red Nichols and Bobby Hackett and guitarist Herb Ellis. The band could swing like crazy. Proof of this exists in lively performances like "No Name Jive," "In the Mood," "Tuxedo Junction," "High Society," and a gutsy take on Sergei Rachmaninov's Prelude in C Sharp Minor.

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