Ormond Downes was one of two drummers that worked with Spike Jones and the City Slickers in the mid-'40s. The other was Gilbert Royce, or Giggie Royce, who seems to have so few other musical credits that one wonders how he managed to acquire the word "gig" as part of his nickname. Downes was the drummer on the phenomenal Jones dissection of the "Nutcracker Suite," which proves he knew how to read an arrangement. He was indeed a versatile and in demand player, recording cowboy music with Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers, classy swing with Judy Garland and big band jazz with Kay Kyser in that bandleader's so-called "middle period" (i.e. when he was hiring and firing players as if they were parking lot attendants). He was active on the Chicago jazz scene in the '50s after ditching the Slickers, part of a crowd of happy jammers that also included the great songwriter Johnny Mercer, George Barnes, Floyd Bean, Boyce Brown, Bobby Hackett, Rosy McMargue, Jimmy McPartland, and Joe Rushton. He also worked in the band of Red Ingles, one of his former boss Spike Jones' most talented ex-sidemen. Ingles formed one of several Slicker splinter bands, taking advantage of record labels eagerly looking for something that could be connected commercially to Jones' popularity.
Share this page