Image of Casa Loma sax section.

Casa Loma Orchestra

The Casa Loma Orchestra began as the Orange Blossoms in 1927 and this is how it all came about. In the late 1920s burgeoning Detroit suddenly needed more dance bands. To help satisfy this need Jean Goldkette, already a well-known band leader and local musician, and businessman Henry Horvath, contracted dance bands and sent them all over the eastern states as well as Detroit. One of these bands, the Orange Blossoms, was dispatched to play a six month season at the palatial Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto. The band was nominally led by one Henry Biagini and the saxophones were led by Glen Gray.

During the 1928 residency financial catastrophe hit the Hotel management and the band was stranded in Toronto. Glen Gray phoned the Goldkette office in the hope of getting some means of returning. Incredibly, disaster had also struck the Goldkette and Horvath empire at the same time and no funds were forthcoming. Somehow the Blossoms managed to struggle back to Detroit to find it had become an entertainment desert. Meanwhile Cork O'Keefe, a very shrewd judge of musical talent, emerged from the Goldkette/Horvath debris and had set up his own booking operation in New York just as the roaring twenties were about to end with the Wall Street Crash. Gray, acting as spokesman, appealed for O'Keefe's assistance in getting the band - now renamed as the Casa Loma Orchestra - some work. In 1930 the band moved to New York where it was incorporated with the bandsmen as shareholders and Gray and O'Keefe as President and Vice President respectively.

O'Keefe went to work and soon had the Orchestra playing all over with successful appearances at Atlantic City, New York's Roseland Ballroom, and most importantly secured a foot hold in the depression-proof society hotels and college dance circuit. They became a very disciplined group and mostly played in white tie and tails. There was a recording contract with Brunswick and soon the Casa Loma Orchestra became the hottest dance organisation in the country with radio broadcasts helping to spread the music. Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and prosperity now seemed a possibility.

Gene Gifford, banjoist/guitarist with the band since Toronto, created the music style and with strange staccato arrangements such as "Casa Loma Stomp", "Buji", "White Jazz", "Black Jazz", "Maniacs Ball", and "The Goblin Band", made it popular with both jazz fans and the dance set. The band boasted fine hot soloists in trombonist Pee Wee Hunt, clarinettist Clarence Hutchenrider, and tenor saxman Pat Davis. Gifford left in 1935 to be replaced by Larry Clinton who introduced a less frenetic but equally danceable music style which was entirely appropriate for the dawning of the Swing Era with his "Study In Brown", "Zig Zag", and "Shades of Hades".

By late 1936 the Casa Loma Orchestra was seriously challenged by Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey and as the decade ended was no longer regarded as the hottest band in the land. Nevertheless, with ballad singer Kenny Sargent, and soloists like trumpeter Sonny Dunham and multi-instrumentalist Murray McEachern, hits like "No Name Jive" enabled the Orchestra to retain a place in America's Hotels and Ballrooms until it disbanded in the late 1940s.

Glen Gray, who had remained the leader until the end, was recalled by Capitol records in the mid 1950s to again lead an all-star orchestra and recreate the Casa Loma hits and indeed those of the entire era. Gray died in 1963.

Image of Art Ralston, Jack Blanchette, Tony Briglia, Kenny Sargent, Stan Dennis and Howard Hall at the Colonnades Room, Essex House Hotel, New York City, 1934. < Top
Image of Hep CD1010 - Casa Loma Orchestra - Casa Loma Stomp

CD1010

CASA LOMA Orchestra

"Casa Loma Stomp"

Presenting the earliest recordings of the Casa Loma Orchestra 1929-1930 with 4 rare alternate performances.

Titles - Love is a Dreamer / Lucky Me, Loveable You / Happy Days Are Hear Again / Sweeping The Clouds Away / Anytimes's The Time To Fall In Love / China Girl / San Sue Strut / When The Little Red Roses (Get The Blues For You) / Thank Your Father / Exactly Like You / Dust / Leave It That Way / On The Sunny Side of The Street / Alexander's Ragtime Band / Casa Loma Stomp / Overnight / Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet / Little Did I Know / Royal Garden Blues.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99


Casa Loma Orchestra - "Casa Loma Stomp"

Image of Hep CD1051 - Casa Loma Orchestra - Maniac's Ball

CD1051

CASA LOMA Orchestra

"Maniac's Ball"

Classic performances by one of the most influential orchestras of the pre-Swing era recorded during 1932-36.

Titles - Alexander's Ragtime Band / Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet / I Wanna Be Around My Baby All The Time / I'm Crazy 'bout My Baby (And My Baby's Crazy 'bout Me) / White Jazz / Black Jazz / Maniac's Ball / Clarinet Marmalade / I Never Knew / Indiana / Blue Jazz / Thanksgivin' / The Lady From St. Paul / The Dance Of The Lame Duck / Rhythm Man / New Orleans / Wild Goose Chase / Moon Country / Millenberg Joys / Out Of Space / Copenhagen / Royal Garden Blues / Rose Of The Rio Grande / Jungle Jitters / Bugle Call Rag / A Study In Brown.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99


Casa Loma Orchestra - "Maniac's Ball"

Image of Hep CD1056 - Casa Loma Orchestra - Boneyard Shuffle

CD1056

CASA LOMA Orchestra

"Boneyard Shuffle"

Classic studio performances from 1935-41 featuring Louis Armstrong, Hoagy Carmichael, Sonny Dunham, Pee Wee Hunt, The Merry Macs and Murray McEachern.

Titles - Chant of the Jungle / Whoa Babe / The Goblin Band / Zig Zag / Swing Low, Sweet Chariot / Smoke Rings / Casa Loma Stomp / Song of India / Malady in F / Riverboat Shuffle / Boneyard Shuffle / Rockin' Chair / Lazy Bones / Washboard Blues / Little Old Lady /Lazy River / Moon Country plus six.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99


Casa Loma Orchestra - "The Goblin Band"

Image of Hep CD1062 - Casa Loma Orchestra - Stompin' Around.

CD1062

CASA LOMA Orchestra

"Stompin' Around"

Performances from 1932-39 featuring Gene Gifford compositions and arrangements.

Titles - ChinaTown, My Chinatown / In The Still of the Night / Smoke Rings / Blue prelude / Going, Going, Gone / Dardanella / Black Eyed Susan Brown / Casa Loma Stomp / Buji / Sophisticated Lady / That's How Rhythm was Born / Heat Wave / Not For All The Tea in China / I Got Rhythm / Ol' Man River / Limehouse Blues / Dallas Blues / Linger Awhile / Panama / Moonglow / Avalon / Corinne Corinna / Stompin'Around / Shadows / Come and Get it.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99


Casa Loma Orchestra - "Buji"

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