b. 20 September 1905, London, England, d. 4 December 1988, London, England. Van Straten was one of three musician brothers (Alf on tenor saxophone, Joe on alto and Leon on violin). They played under Leon’s leadership, first recording as Van’s Ten on the Edison Bell Winner label in 1926. The personnel also included Max Goldberg (trumpet), Max Bacon (drums) and Jay Wilbur (piano). The band, now known simply as Van Straten And His Orchestra, opened at the Ambassador Club in London, recording on Duophone, then at the Riviera Club and the Green Park Hotel (1926-28) and at Claridge’s (1929-30), by which time they had returned to Edison Bell for three tracks. Leon gave up the leadership in 1931 to become an osteopath, handing the reins to Alf, who took the band into Quaglino’s Restaurant for a 10-year residency, and making one Parlophone record in 1939. A few years into the engagement Joe left to form his own outfit for the Carlton Hotel. During World War II, Alf Van Straten was musical director at the Embassy Club and the Piccadilly Hotel, also touring with his band. After the war, although only in his early forties, he decided to retire from active playing, and formed a cabaret and band agency which remained in operation until his death in 1988.
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