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  Cocoanut Grove Ambassadors, Volume 2 - 10 hours [Download] #RA575



 
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The Cocoanut Grove Ambassadors
Volume 2



Behind these ornate and gilded doors was one of the most glamorous and star-studded nightclubs ever to grace Los Angeles: the Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador.When those who celebrate the Golden Age of Hollywood reflect back on the halcyon days of the early 1930s, one particular nightspot comes immediately to mind: the Cocoanut Grove at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel. This lavishly appointed club - part of the massive 23-acre Ambassador resort, which also included four restaurants, a bowling alley, a billiard room, a shopping plaza, and even a movie theater - was decorated in Moroccan style and featured full-sized palm trees reportedly salvaged from Rudolph Valentino's film "The Sheik." In addition to the decor, which also offered a night sky filled with stars (thanks to about 1000 small light bulbs), an elevated stage, and both dining and dancing room for several hundred patrons, customers came for the smooth musical entertainment provided by a series of dance orchestras and popular vocalists - many of whom would later go on to star careers in radio, recordings, and the film industry.

The massive 23-acre Ambassador Hotel Resort offered its guests a complete line-up of entertainment, including a shopping concourse, a huge swimming pool, a ballroom, a movie theater, tennis courts, and of course the "World Famous Cocoanut Grove".Thanks to the foresight of Abe Frank, the manager of both the hotel and the Grove, in the mid-1920s the Ambassador had been equipped with a small radio studio, allowing the music of the various orchestras to be broadcast and enjoyed well outside the confines of the nightclub. From the late 1920s well into the 1960s, live "remote" programs broadcast from the Cocoanut Grove were a popular feat
ure of nighttime radio, allowing millions of people to enjoy the music they would otherwise be unable to afford to hear in person. These broadcasts, aired live nightly for two full hours, only increased the reputation of the Grove as "the place to be" when it came to top notch West Coast entertainment.

From the beginning, the Cocoanut Grove's glamorous atmosphere attracted the top names in Hollywood for dining, dancing, and mingling. This celebrity connection was always well-publicized by the Ambassador and for a very good reason, too: tourists coming to Los Angeles for a vacation wanted to see the stars and there was no place where the stars came out quite so regularly as the Ambassador Hotel. On an average evening, it was common to see such well-known celebrities as Joan Crawford, Jack Oakie, or Jean Harlow coming to see Bing Crosby or Russ Columbo sing with Gus Arnheim's Orchestra or dance to Jimmie Grier's band as they accompanied Loyce Whiteman, The Three Ambassadors (Martin Sperzel, Jack Smith, and Al Teeter), or popular tenor Donald Novis. Even though there was a nationwide depression, Hollywood stars and executives still needed to be entertained -- and the Cocoanut Grove was often their first choice.

Thanks to Transco, the Transcription Company of America, we can still enjoy many of the melodies once heard in this legendary night spot.In this second collection, Radio Archives once again offers you the rare chance to hear what an evening at the Cocoanut Grove was like from 1932 thru 1934, complete with many of the musical talents that so frequently filled the floor with dancers. Thanks to Transco (The Transcription Company of America), which chose to pre-record and syndicate one hundred or so quarter-hour shows in the style of the live remote broadcasts of the time, we can here experience three of the Grove's top orchestra leaders of the early 1930s: Jimmie Grier, Phil Harris, and Ted Fio Rito (appearing here under the pseudonym of Vincent Valsanti). Their smooth and melodic performances, epitomizing the "West Coast Style" that would soon become prevalent in popular recordings and motion pictures, is matched by vocal performances by Donald Novis, Leah Ray, Dick Webster, Kenny Allen, Lee Norton, and many others.

An impressive feature of this collection, particularly for those who associate the 1930s with scratchy old 78 RPM recordings, is the amazing audio quality of these restored syndicated broadcasts. Working with a series of 16" shellac Transco originals, these full and rich electrical recordings have been digitally restored to make them sound as if they were recorded just yesterday, rather than over seventy five years ago.

Aside from the obvious rarity of these now impossible-to-find recordings, another benefit is the extended length accorded to most of the musical selections they contain. Where most commercially released 78s of the period ran just a little under three minutes per ten-inch side, requiring the musicians to edit their arrangements to fit, a great many of these programs offer numbers running four full minutes or more - just as they would have sounded if you had been lucky enough to dance to them at the Cocoanut Grove.

So, put on your tuxedo or evening gown, roll back the rugs, and spend a few hours dancing to the infectious rhythms of the Cocoanut Grove Ambassadors. It's a trip through time that we know you'll want to take again and again.


Jimmie Grier and his Greater All-Star Cocoanut Grove Orchestra
Theme: Music in the Moonlight

Jimmie Grier and his Orchestra at the Biltmore Bowl, 1932. Jimmie GrierHailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bandleader Jimmie Grier grew up in California and first worked at the Cocoanut Grove in association with Abe Lyman's orchestra. Musically gifted, Grier played alto and tenor sax, clarinet, bassoon, and a bit of violin and guitar as well -- but it was as an arranger that he made his mark on popular music. His inventive and exhilarating charts for the Gus Arnheim orchestra were one of the primary keys to that group's success - but, throughout their relationship, Grier and Arnheim seldom saw eye to eye on what was reasonable compensation for Grier's work.

In early 1932, when Arnheim decided to take advantage of the publicity he'd received from his two-year stint at the Grove and make some money on the road, Jimmie Grier proceeded to form his own band with the intention of taking over for his former boss. An excellent musician, as well as a friendly and gregarious fellow, Grier fronted a colorful and extremely musical band that reflected his relaxed and outgoing personality. Like Arnheim, Grier's orchestra featured outstanding vocalists - including Dick Webster, Larry Cotton, and a musical trio known as The Three Cheers - as well as Grove holdovers Donald Novis, Loyce Whiteman, and former Rhythm Boy Harry Barris.

Following his time at the Grove, Jimmie Grier became one of the busiest bandleaders in the Los Angeles area, playing six nights a week at the Biltmore Bowl, writing and arranging for motion pictures, recording not only under his own name but also leading the orchestras accompanying Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, and the Boswell Sisters, and even scoring two weekly radio shows at the same time.


Series C, Program 11A
We Met Love (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
When the Rest of the Crowd Goes Home (Vocal by Donald Novis)
Sittin' in the Movies (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series C, Program 11B
You're My Everything (Vocal by Donald Novis and Loyce Whiteman)
Goodnight Moon (Vocal by Dick Webster)
Oooh, Ahhh (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series C, Program 12A
Starlight (Vocal by Donald Novis)
When Yuba Plays the Rhumba Down in Cuba (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
You Knew You'd Hurt Somebody, Why Did It Have to Be Me? (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series C, Program 12B
I Loves Ya (Vocal by Loyce Whiteman)
Snuggled on Your Shoulder (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
That's What I Like About You (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series C, Program 13A
Just Friends (Vocal by Dick Webster)
Save the Last Dance for Me (Vocal by Donald Novis)
The More You Hurt Me, The More You Make Me Care (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication


Series C, Program 13B
I Found You (Vocal by Donald Novis)
The Soldier on the Shelf (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
Was That the Human Thing to Do? (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication


Series D, Program 2A
Tired (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
Time Alone Will Tell (Vocal by Donald Novis)
What Did You Do With It? (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)

1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication


Series D, Program 2B
That's Why I'm Jealous of You (Vocal by Margaret Lawrence)
The Peanut Vendor (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
My Moonlight Rosary (Vocal by Donald Novis)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series D, Program 6A
By the Fireside (Vocal by Donald Novis)
Auf Weidersehn (Vocal by Kenny Allen)
I Know You're Lying, But I Love It (Vocal by Goga D'Aliese and The Three Cheers)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series D, Program 8A
Tired (Vocal by Dick Webster)
Kiss Me Goodnight (Vocal by Donald Novis)
Downhearted (Vocal by The Three Cheers)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series D, Program 8B
Too Many Tears (Vocal by Goga D'Aliese)
Close Your Eyes (Vocal by Kenny Allen)
The Wooden Soldier and the China Doll (Instrumental)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series D, Program 9A
Used to Be You (Vocal by Kenny Allen)
I Still Bring Roses to You (Vocal by Donald Novis)
Goopy Gear (Instrumental)
1932 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication


* * *
Phil Harris and his Orchestra
Theme: Rose Room

Phil Harris and his Orchestra pose on the front lawn of the Hotel Ambassador, circa 1932 Phil HarrisAfter so many years, it's hard to think of Phil Harris outside of his long-time association with Jack Benny's radio program or starring with his wife Alice Faye on their own popular comedy series. But though he will probably be best remembered as a vocalist and all-round personality, in his earlier years, he was a very successful and popular bandleader.

Born in Linton, Indiana, Phil Harris came from a musical family - including a father who played piano for the Ringling Brothers Circus. As a teenager, he and four other high school classmates formed a jazz band called The Dixieland Syncopators; with Harris on drums, the group was soon touring with singer Ruth Stone and even made it as far as a successful theater engagement in Honolulu before returning home. Harris' strong outgoing personality destined him for some form of show business and by 1928 he had teamed up with Carol Lofner to form an orchestra. Under their co-leadership, and with Harris' increasingly popular vocals, the Harris/Lofner Orchestra spent three happy years at San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel before Harris left to go south in 1931.

Harris formed his own orchestra specifically for a Cocoanut Grove engagement in 1932, bringing with him some of the Harris/Lofner arrangements and hiring vocalist Jimmy Newell and a seventeen-year-old beauty from Norfolk, Virginia named Leah Ray. (In a nod to her heritage, Harris frequently referred to Ray as "the dimples from Dixie.") At the Grove, The Three Ambassadors remained the house vocal trio, but Harris also introduced The Three Rhythm Kings as an additional feature.

By 1934, Harris was firmly established as a top name and went on an extended tour of the East Coast, returning in 1936 for repeated engagements at the Los Angeles Palomar Ballroom. Out of this later engagement came an invitation to become the house bandleader for comedian Jack Benny's weekly NBC radio program for Jello...and, for radio fans at least, the rest is history.


Series G, Program 1A
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (Vocal by Phil Harris)
Second-Hand Heart (Vocal by Leah Ray)
Twelfth Street Rag (Instrumental)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 1B
Baby (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
Ah, But I've Learned (Vocal by Leah Ray)
Pink Elephants (Vocal by Phil Harris)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 5A
Playing With Fire (Vocal by Lee Norton)
All My Love and Kisses (Vocal by Leah Ray)
Under My Umbrella (Vocal by Leah Ray, Phil Harris, and The Three Ambassadors)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 5B
Honey, What a Pleasure Meeting Up With You (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
Love is a Dream (Vocal by Lee Norton)
Wait 'Til I Get You in My Dreams (Vocal by Jack Smith)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 6A
Look Who's Here (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
Here You Come With Love (Vocal by Phil Harris)
You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me (Vocal by Leah Ray)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G , Program 6B
Hat's Off, Here Comes a Lady (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
Linger a Little Longer in the Twilight (Vocal by Lee Norton)
The Vamp (Instrumental)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication


Series G, Program 7A
Black-Eyed Susan Brown (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
Darkness on the Delta (Vocal by Phil Harris)
Won't You Stay to Tea? (Vocal by Jack Smith)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 7B
Take Me In Your Arms (Vocal by Lee Norton)
Caroline (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
How's About It? (Vocal by Phil Harris and Leah Ray)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 8A
The Moon Song (Vocal by Lee Norton)
Try a Little Tenderness (Vocal by Jack Smith)
Is That Religion? (Vocal by Phil Harris)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 9A
Young and Healthy (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
The Girl in the Little Green Hat (Vocal by Lee Norton)
Come On, Get Up (Vocal by Leah Ray and Phil Harris)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 13A
The Cop on the Corner (Vocal by Leah Ray)
Underneath the Harlem Moon (Vocal by Phil Harris)
Love, Nuts, and Noodles (Vocal by Jack Smith)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series G, Program 13B
Here It Is Monday, and I've Still Got a Dollar (Vocal by Jack Smith)
River Home (Vocal by Leah Ray)
When the Morning Rolls Around (Vocal by The Three Ambassadors)
1932/33- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

* * *
Ted Fio Rito and his Orchestra
Theme: Serenade of Love

With its leader at the piano and The Debutants (AKA The Three Blue Keys) at the microphone, the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra poses on the stage at the Cocoanut Grove. Ted Fio RitoIf Ted Fio Rito hadn't decided to become a bandleader, he could easily have made a comfortable living as a songwriter; among the titles to his credit are tunes like "I Never Knew," "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye," "Laugh, Clown, Laugh," "Roll Along, Prairie Moon" and "Alone at a Table for Two." Born in Newark, New Jersey, he began his career as a pianist with a series of bands led by Harry Yerkes, then moved to Chicago in 1921 to join Dan Russo's band. The following year, he joined with Russo to become the co-leader the Oriole Terrace Orchestra, which he eventually took over when Russo departed in 1928.

Before coming to the Cocoanut Grove in mid-1933, Fio Rito had spent a number of years touring the East Coast and Midwest, including many engagements in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Cincinnati. An early radio enthusiast, Fio Rito's band was frequently heard on the air from various nightspots - preparing him well for the regular broadcasts scheduled to emanate from the Grove during his stay.

Musically, the orchestra that Fio Rito brought to the Grove was sweet, smooth and clever, playing highly danceable music accented with temple blocks, rapid triplets, and even an occasional solo on the Hammond organ by its talented leader. Due to an existing recording contract, Transco was not allowed to use Fio Rito's name in association with their pre-recorded "Cocoanut Grove Ambassadors" radio series, so he and some of his featured vocalists were given pseudonyms. Thus, on the shows presented here, Fio Rito (born Theodore Salvatore Fiorito) is referred to as Vincent Valsanti, Muzzy Marcellino (Fio Rito’s guitarist and primary vocalist) sings as Jack Howard, Howard Phillips sings under the name of Bill Thomas, and Fio Rito’s vocal trio The Debutants appear as The Three Keys. It's also interesting to hear future society bandleader and pianist Leighton Noble as a vocalist with the band, as well as Jimmy Durante's future comic foil Candy Candido in what is thought to be his earliest recorded performances.


Series K, Program 1A
You've Got Everything (Vocal by Rusty Bennett and The Three Blue Keys)
Song of Love (Instrumental)
The Day You Came Along (Vocal by Jack Howard)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series K, Program 1B
Kahlua Lullaby (Instrumental)
Waltz Medley: Sympathy & The Naughty Waltz (Instrumental)
Weep No More, My Baby (Vocal by Rusty Bennett)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series K, Program 8B
A Shelter From a Shower (Vocal by Larry Stanley)
Lonely Lane (Instrumental)
Coffee in the Morning (Vocal by Joy Carroll)
There Goes My Heart (Instrumental)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series L, Program 8A
Tell Me I'm Wrong (Vocal by Naomi Warner)
Medley: I'll Never Forget, Bye Bye Pretty Baby, & What Am I Supposed To Do? (Instrumental)
The Very Thought of You (Vocal by Leighton Noble)
Steak and Potatoes (Vocal by Lee Norton)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series L, Program 8B
For All We Know (Vocal by Sally Coy)
Medley: The Merry Widow, Sympathy, & My Hero (Instrumental)
Junk Man (Vocal by Naomi Warner)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series L, Program 11A
Love at Last (Vocal by Leighton Noble)
Medley: On the Alamo & Rose of the Rio Grande (Instrumental)
Moonglow (Vocal by The Rhythm Benders)
They Didn't Believe Me (Vocal by Lee Norton)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication


Series M, Program 2A
Serenade for a Wealthy Widow (Instrumental)
Liebestraum (Instrumental)
There is a Tavern in the Town (Vocal by The Three Blue Keys, Don Juan, Two, and Three, and Candy Candido)
I've Got an Invitation to a Dance (Vocal by Jack Howard and The Three Blue Keys)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 2B
Have a Little Dream on Me (Vocal by Jack Howard)
Sweet Lorraine (Instrumental)
Love is Just Around the Corner (Vocal by Jack Howard and his Sisters Mae and Dee)
You're a Builder-Upper (Vocal by Don Juan, Two, and Three)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 5A
The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Instrumental)
The Blue Danube Waltz (Instrumental)
Your Head on My Shoulder (Vocal by Jack Howard)
The Carioca (Vocal by Jack Howard)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 5B
Say It (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
The Moon Was Yellow (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
The Continental (Instrumental)
Baby, Won't You Please Come Home? (Vocal by Don Juan, Two, and Three and Candy Candido)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 6A
Here Is My Heart (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
Pardon My Southern Accent (Vocal by Don Juan, Two, and Three)
Humming, Singing, Whistling (Instrumental)
Sweetie Pie (Vocal by Don Juan, Two, and Three)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 6B
Medley: Dames, I Only Have Eyes for You, & Try to See It My Way, Baby (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
Someday I'll Find You (Instrumental)
Stars Fell on Alabama (Vocal by Don Juan, Two, and Three)
Parade of the Hot Chocolate Soldiers (Vocal by Jack Howard and The Three Blue Keys)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 9A
Medley: You're Blasé & Sophisticated Lady (Instrumental)
Waltz Medley: Dreaming & Was it a Dream? (Instrumental)
June in January (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
Okay Toots (Vocal by Don Juan, Two, and Three)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 9B
Too Beautiful for Words (Vocal by Jack Howard)
The Object of My Affection (Vocal by Jack Howard and Candy Candido)
Dancing in the Dark (Instrumental)
Water Under the Bridge (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 10A
Stay as Sweet as You Are (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
Two Hearts in Three-Quarter Time (Instrumental)
Miss Otis Regrets She's Unable to Lunch Today (Vocal by Spooky Dickinson)
What a Difference a Day Makes (Instrumental)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Series M, Program 10B
Flirtation Walk (Vocal by Jack Howard)
When You're in Love (Instrumental)
Two Cigarettes in the Dark (Vocal by Phil Thomas)
Were You Foolin'? (Vocal by Jack Howard and The Three Blue Keys)
1933/34- 15:00 - Transco Syndication

Radio Archives would like to express its appreciation to Jim Bedoian for allowing us access to the original recordings featured in this collection.


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