Fans of vintage jazz may want to pace another hallway rather than George Hall after reading descriptions of the bandleader, active from the '20s through early '40s with George Hall's Arcadians. His personality and appearance have been compared to that of a suit salesman -- and not the cute guy on television commercials whose reprise is "I guarantee it!" Flat personalities might make a vivid impression in jazz when coupled with supple instrumental chops, but in this capacity Hall also fell way short, if various analytical commentary can be trusted.
Hall's instrument was the violin, which compensates for its tidy size by being able to conjure up severe mayhem in the wrong hands. The latter limbs may have been at the heart of perceived miscalculations in Hall's violin concepts, but for whatever reason he tends to sound as if playing along with a group, but not the one on-stage with him. Still, the music business has never shut out this sort of bandleader, since lead singers can be brought in to create charisma while arrangers meanwhile figure out something brisk to do with the assembled musicians.
The group, named after a hotel ballroom where an extended stint was in progress, began recording in 1927. Initially, arrangement and singing talent assembled by Hall, while not incompetent by any means, waded in from a pool of overextended early studio workaholics who did not always consider that coming up with something original was part of the pay packet. By the early '30s there had been a switch in venues, from the Arcadia Ballroom to the Grill Room of the Hotel Taft. The group's advertising motto in this period was "Dance with Romance." A subsequent upgrade in quality involved a series of female vocalists utilizing alliterations for stage names. Loretta Lee joined the band at the start of the new hotel contract and also began showing up on a series of sides cut for RCA Bluebird.
In 1935 Hall replaced Lee with a 16-year-old singer from Newark: this is the gal who would call herself Dolly Dawn, create a huge public following with the help of massive radio exposure, and pull off the first real hit records for the band. The most popular recording from the Hall and Dawn combination was "You're a Sweetheart," released in 1938; the song itself dated back to the beginning of the decade and a musical movie starring Alice Faye. The song may have summed up Hall's feelings for his lead singer: at any rate, he turned the band over to her entirely in 1941 and dropped out of the music business. It dawned on her to rename the group Dolly Dawn & Her Dawn Patrol, but it was more like sunset in terms of gigs during the Second World War, once all her sidemen got drafted.