Pete Fountain, clarinetist 1930 - 2016

Pete Fountain, New Orleans jazz clarinetist who appeared on “The Lawrence Welk Show” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” has died. He was 86. Fountain died of heart failure on Saturday, 8 August 2016, in New Orleans, his son-in-law and manager Benny Harrell confirmed to the AP. 

Pierre Dewey LaFontaine, Jr. (July 3, 1930 – August 6, 2016), known professionally as Pete Fountain, was an American clarinetist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He played easy listening, jazz, Dixieland, pop jazz, honky-tonk jazz, pop, and Creole music. WIKIPEDIA

VIDEO: Pete Fountain - Crazy

Mike Pedicin (October 24, 1917 – June 26, 2016) was an American jazz bandleader.

In the 1950s and 1960s, during the summer, Mike's band played at various night spots in Somers Point, NJ. Tony Marts & Bay Shores, the two most popular spots. His best-known record was "Shake a Hand" (Cameo Records, 1958), originally recorded by Faye Adams. Pedicin died 26 June 2016 at the age of 98.


Kitty Kallen, Big Band Singer...Dies at 94

 Kitty Kallen, her voice sweet and clear, welcomed the troops home from World War II, singing: “Kiss me once, then kiss me twice, then kiss me once again. It’s been a long, long time.” She turned out hits like “Bésame Mucho,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “In the Chapel in the Moonlight” and “Little Things Mean a Lot” — many reaching the Top 10. And after singing with many of her era’s top bandleaders — Artie Shaw, Harry James, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden — she outlasted their era. Her last hit, “My Coloring Book,” was in 1962. Ms. Kallen died on Thursday, 7 January 2016, at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She was 94. Her son, Jonathan Granoff, who confirmed her death, said she had been living year-round in Mexico, where she had long had a vacation home while spending most of her adult life in Englewood, N.J. more NYTimes OBIT

 Kitty Kallen (born Katherine Kalinsky; May 25, 1921 – January 7, 2016) was an American popular singer whose career spanned from the 1930s to the 1960s—to include the Swing era of the Big Band years, the post-WWII pop scene and the early years of rock 'n roll. She is best known for her 1954 solo recording '"Little Things Mean a Lot" — a song that stayed at the U.S. number one spot for nine consecutive weeks, charted in the U.S. for almost seven months. WIKIPEDIA

 VIDEO: Martin, Lewis & Kitty Kallen - 3 Blind Mice

Lois Best Herman, 98, was 'Original Champagne Lady' for Lawrence Welk's orchestra

Lois Herman, of Mendota Heights, Welk’s “Original Champagne Lady” and later the featured singer in a 35-year run at the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul, died Oct. 28 of heart failure. She was 98. Her cheery voice and engaging stage presence turned heads and launched a 60-year musical career that included once playing the organ for President Ronald Reagan. She was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, as was her late husband, Jules, whom she met when he played trumpet in Welk’s band. NYTimes Obit
 VIDEO: Here’s a 1939 film clip that shows Lois Best Herman singing and smiling next to a very young Lawrence Welk as his orchestra plays on. 

Band leader, composer Van Alexander dies 100 years old

Van Alexander (born Alexander Van Vliet Feldman, May 2, 1915 – July 19, 2015) was an American bandleader, arranger and composer. Alexander led bands and arranged from high school, and studied composition in college. He landed a job selling arrangements to Chick Webb in the middle of the 1930s. One of these, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", became a hit for Webb and Ella Fitzgerald, and subsequently became one of her signature tunes. Alexander later arranged other nursery rhymes for jazz performance, such as "Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" and "Got a Pebble in My Shoe" The composer and arranger, whose adaptation of a nursery rhyme became Ella Fitzgerald’s breakout hit, also wrote for movies and television. He arranged and conducted for variety shows starring Mickey Rooney, Gordon MacRae, Dean Martin and James Stewart. Additionally, he was involved in recording sessions with Kay Starr, Dakota Staton, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Dinah Shore, Doris Day and Peggy Lee. Alexander won several Emmy Awards for his television scores, and was presented with the Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime achievement from ASCAP.

WIKIPEDIA...|...NYTimes Obit

VIDEO: Here are a few excerpts from a two hour in-depth interview with the distinguished film & television composer and arranger: Van Alexander for the Film Music Foundation. Here he discusses working with Chick Webb, Ella Fitzgerald & Dean Martin.

Buddy De Franco, big band clarinetist and band leader has died

Boniface Ferdinand Leonard "Buddy" DeFranco (February 17, 1923 – December 24, 2014) was an American jazz clarinet player. DeFranco began his professional career just as swing music and big bands — many of which were led by clarinetists like Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman — were in decline. While most jazz clarinet players did not adapt to this change, DeFranco successfully continued to play clarinet exclusively, and was one of the few bebop clarinetists. In 1950, DeFranco spent a year with Count Basie's Septet. He led small combo in the early 1950s which included pianist Sonny Clark and guitarist Tal Farlow. In this period, DeFranco recorded for MGM Records, Norgran and Verve, the latter two labels were owned by Norman Granz. He was bandleader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1966 to 1974, under the name, "The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, Directed By Buddy DeFranco". He also performed with Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and many others, and released dozens of albums as a leader. WIKIPEDIA BIO

Glenn Miller Related Big Band Acronyms

GMA = Glenn Miller Archives at The University of Colorado, Boulder... Direct Link
ABSIE = American Broadcasting Station in Europe... Direct Link
OWI = American Office of War Information...  Direct Link
AFRS = American (or Armed) Forces Radio Service... Various Links

Major Glenn Miller, Army Air Force Band...
AAF Band
Major Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band on FACEBOOK
AAF Training Command

Simon Hugh "Si" Zentner (June 13, 1917 in New York City – January 31, 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada) was an American trombonist and jazz big-band leader.

Zentner played violin from age four and picked up trombone a few years later. As a teenager, he was awarded the Guggenheim Foundation Philharmonic Scholarship. He attended college for music and had intended to pursue a career in classical music, but became more interested in pop music after recording with Andre Kostelanetz. Zentner played in the bands of Les Brown, Harry James, and Jimmy Dorsey in the 1940s, then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a studio musician. He also landed a job with MGM from 1949 to the mid-50s, and was involved in the music for films such as Singin' in the Rain and A Star Is Born.

Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903 – May 17, 1992) was an American musician, accordionist, bandleader


During the 1930s, Welk led a traveling big band that specialized in dance tunes and "sweet" music (during this period, bands which played light, melodic music were referred to as "sweet bands" to distinguish them from the heavy, loud, rhythmic swing bands of artists like Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington). Initially, the band traveled around the country by car. They were too poor to rent rooms, so they usually slept and changed clothes in their cars. The term "Champagne Music" was derived from an engagement at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, when a dancer referred to his band's sound as "light and bubbly as champagne." The hotel also lays claim to the original "bubble machine," a prop left over from a 1920s movie premiere. Welk described his band's sound, saying "We still play music with the champagne style, which means light and rhythmic. We place the stress on melody; the chords are played pretty much the way the composer wrote them. We play with a steady beat so that dancers can follow it

The Lawrence Welk Show from 1951 to 1982. His style came to be known to his large number of radio, television, and live-performance fans (and critics) as "champagne music". In 1996, Welk was ranked #43 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.