Storyville Records

Crosby, His Orchestra, Bob

George Robert "Bob" Crosby (August 23, 1913 – March 9, 1993) was an American Swing music singer and Dixieland bandleader and vocalist, best known for his group the Bob-Cats. The seven Crosby children are: elder boys, Larry (1895–1975), Everett (1896–1966), Ted (1900–1973), Harry, (1903–1977, popularly known as Bing Crosby), two girls, Catherine (1905–1988) and Mary Rose (1907–1990) and Bob. His parents were English-American bookkeeper Harry Lowe Crosby (1871–1950) and Irish-American Catherine Harrigan (1873–1964), (affectionately known as Kate), the daughter of a builder from County Mayo in Ireland. Bob Crosby began singing in the early 1930s with the Delta Rhythm Boys which included vocalist Ray Hendricks and guitarist Bill Pollard also with Anson Weeks (1931–34) and the Dorsey Brothers (1934–35). He led his first band in 1935, when the former members of Ben Pollack's band elected him as titular leader. He recorded with the Clark Randall Orchestra in 1935, led by Gil Rodin and featuring singer Frank Tennille, whose pseudonym was Clark Randall. Glenn Miller was a member of that orchestra which recorded the Glenn Miller novelty composition "When Icky Morgan Plays the Organ" in 1935.[1] Crosby's "band-within-the-band", the Bob-Cats, was an authentic New Orleans Dixieland style jazz octet featuring soloists drawn from the larger orchestra, many of whom were from New Orleans or were heavily influenced by the music of the Crescent City. In the mid-1930s, with the rise of "swing" music and the popularity of the swing bands ever increasing, the Crosby band managed to authentically combine the fundamental elements of the older jazz style with the then-rising-in-popularity swing style into a sound and big-band style all its own. The resulting music they produced as a big band was a sound and style which few other, if any, big-bands and bandleaders even attempted to emulate. By unapologetically ignoring most of the pop-tunes that were the de facto repertoire of most of the swing bands of the mid- to late- 1930's, and stubbornly sticking to playing many older jazz standards with zeal and in the spirit of their tradition, -all brilliantly translated into a big-band context- the band and especially the Bob-Cats presaged the traditional jazz revival of the 1940s. Most of the band's arrangements were written by bassist Bob Haggart and clarinetist/saxophonist Matty Matlock; other original material also primarily came from band members Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke, and Eddie Miller in addition to Matlock and Haggart. Crosby's singing voice was remarkably similar to that of his brother Bing, but without its range. In addition to the above mentioned band members, the Bob Crosby Orchestra and the Bob-Cats also included (at various times) Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Charlie Spivak, Muggsy Spanier, Irving Fazola, Nappy Lamare, Ward Silloway, Warren Smith, Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke, Jess Stacy, Bob Haggart, Walt Yoder, Jack Sperling, and Ray Bauduc and many others who came and went. A much-later press account from 1943 mentions a young trumpeter by the name of Gilbert Portmore who occasionally played with the band.The orchestra was one of the few bands of its time established as a co-operative corporation of its members, and was managed / presided over by saxophonist Gil Rodin. The band was initially formed out of the ruins of the Ben Pollack Orchestra whose members quit en masse, and needing a vocalist, Crosby was chosen simply for his personality, looks, and famous last name. He was made the front man of the band and his name became the band's public identity.For its theme song, the band chose George Gershwin's song "Summertime", and other hit records in addition to their theme included "South Rampart Street Parade" (its biggest hit), "March of the Bob Cats", "In a Little Gypsy Tea Room", "Whispers in The Dark", "Day In, Day Out", "Down Argentine Way", "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby", "Dolores" and "New San Antonio Rose" (last three with Bing Crosby). A novelty bass and drums duet between Haggart and Bauduc, "Big Noise from Winnetka," became a hit in 1938-39. The enduring popularity of the Bob Cats led by Bob Crosby, whose biography was written by British jazz historian John Chilton, was evident during the frequent reunions in the 1950s and 1960s. Bob Haggart and Yank Lawson organized a band that kept the spirit alive, combining Dixieland and swing with a roster of top soloists. From the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, the group was known as The World's Greatest Jazzband. Since neither leader was happy with that name, they eventually reverted to The Lawson Haggart Jazzband. The Lawson-Haggart group was consistent in keeping the Bob Crosby tradition alive. Three of his songs ("Way Back Home" (1949), "Happy Times" and "Dear Hearts and Gentle People") were featured in two hit video games, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, published by Bethesda Softworks. Most of the popularity of all of these songs were achieved by the use of them in the game trailers, in which they used his lighthearted music to contrast with the combat taking place in the video. Bob Crosby has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for Television and Recording.

Recordings

Bob Crosby, His Orchestra: Associated Transcriptions Vol 2

1937 would be the band’s breakthrough year with popular recordings in “Gin Mill Blues” and “South Rampart Street Parade” along with the first record date by Bob Crosby’s Bobcats. Most of the future Crosby stars were in place when the band made its first batch of radio transcriptions on Feb. 26 and Mar. 8, 1936 (released on Nostalgia Arts 3018 as Associated Transcriptions 1936, Vol. 1) including trumpeter Yank Lawson, clarinettist Matty Matlock, Eddie Miller on tenor and clarinet, guitarist Nappy Lamare, bassist Bob Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc. By Sept. 3 when the music on Vol. 2 was recorded, trombonist Warren Smith and pianist Bob Zurke made the group even stronger.“It’s The Gypsy In Me” has plenty of pep and spirit from the band. Crosby sings the silly lyrics of “Peter Piper” and there are moments for Lawson and Eddie Miller. Bob Zurke is heard briefly taking the lead on “Through The Courtesy Of Love” and he has a melodic chorus on “My Kingdom For A Kiss.” “When A Lady Meets A Gentleman Down South” is the first real jazz performance in this set, featuring a swinging band and a strong chorus from Zurke. “There Goes My Attraction” is also quite danceable and has a solid statement by Lawson. “Come Back, Sweet Papa,” which was recorded previously by the Crosby band on June 12, has an arrangement that quotes liberally from Louis Armstrong’s famous Hot Five recording of 1926 along with a spot for clarinettist Matty Matlock. Associated Transcriptions Vol. 2 allows Bob Crosby’s fans a rare opportunity to hear how his band sounded near the beginning.