Vernon Andrade

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Although largely forgotten, Vernon Andrade was a highly influential bandleader of the '20s and '30s whose groups pretty much ruled New York City's Renaissance Casino. Andrade may not have had an extensive…
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Although largely forgotten, Vernon Andrade was a highly influential bandleader of the '20s and '30s whose groups pretty much ruled New York City's Renaissance Casino. Andrade may not have had an extensive recording career, but his sound and style seeped into the arrangements of better-known peers such as Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb. His influences were not limited to music alone, either. Legendary dancer Frankie Manning, one of the spry folks who developed the Lindy Hop, began dancing while in his early teens to the music of Andrade. The bandleader used to hold forth at Sunday matinees held in Harlem's Alhambra Ballroom, events cherished as much for the gymnastics of the dancers as the sounds of the band.

Andrade was a teenager himself when he first became involved in music, starting with the violin. In the early '20s he headed for New York City where he became violinist in Deacon Johnson's Orchestra. By 1923 he had switched down to the big upright bass and was leading his own group at the aforementioned casino. Andrade's tenure there lasted 15 years, with many great jazz musicians coming in and out of the band. The list includes the fine swing drummer Zutty Singleton as well as sultry vocalist Helen Humes, who joined the Andrade band following her first series of recording sessions with the OKeh label.