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29 November 2022

(Until 29 November)

Freddy Martin Singing Saxophone-Phantom Dancer 29 Nov 2022

Greg Poppleton's Phantom Dancer swing jazz radio show

Freddy Martin was a U.S band leader and tenor saxophonist. His singing saxophone and his orchestra became one of the most popular and musical sweet bands. He made his first recording in 1930 and was leading bands until 1983. He is this week’s Phantom Dancer feature artist.

The Phantom Dancer is your weekly non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV every week.

LISTEN to this week’s Phantom Dancer mix (online after 2pm AEST, Tuesday 29 November) and two years of Phantom Dancer mixes online at, at https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

ORPHAN

Freddy Martin was raised largely in an orphanage and by various relatives. His first learned drums, then changed to C melody saxophone and ultimately tenor saxophone.

He had intended to be a journalist and hoped he would earn enough money from his musical work to enter Ohio State University. Instead, he became a professional musician.

Martin led his own band while he was in high school, then played in various local bands. He spent his spare time selling musical instruments.

After working on a ship’s band, Martin joined the Mason-Dixon band, then joined Arnold Johnson and Jack Albin. It was with Albin’s “Hotel Pennsylvania Music” that he made his first recordings, for Columbia’s Harmony, Velvet Tone, and Clarion 50-cent labels in 1930.

After a couple of years, his skill began attracting other musicians. One was Guy Lombardo, who remained friends with Martin throughout his life and gets a mention in the 1950s Freddy Martin broadcast in this week’s Phantom Dancer.

LOMBARDO

One night, when Lombardo could not do a certain date, he suggested that Martin’s band could fill in for him. The band did very well and Martin’s career got started. But, the band broke up and he did not form a permanent band until 1931, at the Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn.

At the Bossert Marine Roof, a nautical-themed restaurant positioned on the roof of the hotel, Martin pioneered the “Tenor Band” style that swept the sweet-music industry.

With his own tenor sax as melodic lead, Martin fronted an all-tenor sax section with just two brasses and a violin trio plus rhythm. The rich, lilting style quickly spawned imitators in hotels and ballrooms nationwide. “Tenor bands”, usually with just the three tenors and one trumpet, could occasionally be found playing for older dancers well into the 1980s.

The Martin band recorded first for Columbia Records in 1932. As the company was broke and signing no new contracts, the band switched to Brunswick Records after one session and remained with that label till 1938. During his tenure at Brunswick/ARC, half of his recordings were issued on ARC’s stable of budget priced labels (Banner, Conqueror, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, Romeo, and Vocalion) as well as scores of non-vocal takes issued on ARC’s special theater use label, sold only to movie theaters as background music.

SUCCESS

In 1938, he signed with RCA Victor and was assigned to Bluebird. The band also recorded pseudonymously in the early 1930s, backing singers such as Will Osborne. From 1932 to 1938, the band’s primary vocalists were saxophonist Elmer Feldkamp and pianist Terry Shand. The former primarily sang romantic ballads, while the latter was used mostly for ‘hot’ dance tunes.

Martin took his band into many prestigious hotels, including the Roosevelt Grill in New York City, and the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. A fixture on radio, his sponsored shows included NBC’s Maybelline Penthouse Serenade of 1937.

For Martin, real success came in 1941 with an arrangement from the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B minor. Martin recorded the piece instrumentally, but soon lyrics were added by Ray Austin, and it was re-cut as “Tonight We Love” with Clyde Rogers’ vocal – becoming his biggest hit. It sold over one million copies by 1946, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.

The success of “Tonight We Love” prompted Martin to adopt several other classical themes (of Rachmaninoff, Grieg, and others), which featured the band’s pianists Jack Fina, Murray Arnold, and Barclay Allen.

In 1946, he recorded “Dingbat the Singing Cat” adapted from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, and later recorded “A Lover’s Concerto”, adapted from baroque composer Christian Petzold’s “Minuet in G major”, two decades before pop group The Toys released it. At this time, Martin enlarged the orchestra to a strength of six violins, four brasses, and a like number of saxes.

STYLE

Martin was nicknamed “Mr. Silvertone” by saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Chu Berry named Martin his favorite saxophonist. He has also been idolized by many other saxophonists, including Eddie Miller. Although his playing has been admired by so many jazz musicians, Martin never tried to be a jazz musician.

Martin always led a sweet styled band. Unlike most sweet bands that just played dull music, Martin’s band turned out to be one of the most musical and most melodic of all the typical hotel-room sweet bands. According to George T. Simon, Martin’s band was “one of the most pleasant, most relaxed dance bands that ever flowed across the band scene.”

He used the banner “Music in the Martin Manner.” Russ Morgan used a similar banner when he finally landed a radio series with his own band in 1936. (Morgan’s title was “Music in the Morgan Manner”.) Morgan had been playing in Martin’s band and the two were good friends for years. Morgan used some of Martin’s arrangements when he started his band.

LATER

Martin had a good ear for singers. He employed Merv Griffin, Buddy Clark, Gene Merlino, pianists Sid Appleman and Terry Shand, saxophonist Elmer Feldkamp, Stuart Wade, violinist Eddie Stone, and many others. Helen Ward was also a singer for Martin, just before she joined Benny Goodman’s new band.

Martin’s popularity as a bandleader led him to Hollywood in the 1940s where he and his band appeared in a handful of films, including Seven Days’ Leave (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), and Melody Time (1948), among others.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Martin continued to perform on the radio and also appeared on TV. Untroubled by changing musical tastes, he continued to work at major venues and was musical director for Elvis Presley’s first appearance in Las Vegas.

Still in demand for hotel work, Martin entered the 1970s with an engagement at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. In the early 1970s, he was part of two tours of one-nighters that were known as ‘The Big Band Cavalcade’. Among the other performers on the show were Margaret Whiting, Bob Crosby, Frankie Carle, Buddy Morrow, Art Mooney, and George Shearing. When the tours ended, Martin returned to the West Coast. In 1977, Martin was asked to lead Guy Lombardo’s band when Lombardo was hospitalized with a heart condition.

Martin continued leading his band until the early 1980s, although by then, he was semi-retired. 

His 1947 song “Pico and Sepulveda” was recorded by Martin under the alias of “Felix Figueroa and his Orchestra” featured in the 1980 surrealist film Forbidden Zone.

29 NOVEMBER PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney
LISTEN ONLINE

Community Radio Network Show CRN #554

107.3 2SER Tuesday 29 November 2022
12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT) and Saturdays 5 – 5:55pm
National Program
5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am
4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am
2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4am
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4am
2BRW Braidwood Monday 3 – 4am
2YYY Young Monday 3 – 4am
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Monday 6 -7pm
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Tuesday 12am – 1am
2SEA Eden Tuesday 6 – 7pm
2MCE Bathurst Wednesday 9 – 10am
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm
Denmark FM (West Australia) Saturdays 10 – 11am
Repeat: Wednesdays 10 – 11pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm

Set 1
Selling Bonds
Moonlight Serenade (theme) + Uncle Remus
Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Ginny O’Connor + Tex Beneke and The Mellowlarks
‘March of Dimes’
Radio Transcription
1 Dec 1946
Falling Leaves
Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra
‘March of Dimes’
Radio Transcription
1 Dec 1946
Somewhere in the Night
Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Gary Stevens
‘March of Dimes’
Radio Transcription
1 Dec 1946
Give Me Five Minutes More + Moonlight Serenade (theme)Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Tex Beneke
‘March of Dimes’
Radio Transcription
1 Dec 1946
Set 2
Chamber Music
My Mother was a Lady + She May Have Seen Better Days
Tonsorial Twitterbugs
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NYC
14 Jul 1941
I Dreamt I Dwelled in Harlem
Paul Lavalle
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NYC
14 Jul 1941
The Booglie-Wooglie Piggy
Diane Courtney
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NYC
14 Jul 1941
Beyond the Moon + Bugle Woogie + Close
Toots Mondello + Henry Levine
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
WJZ NBC Blue NYC
14 Jul 1941
Set 3
Count Basie Rock
One O’Clock Jump (theme) + You For Me
Count Basie Orchestra
‘Rock’n’Roll Dance Party’
WCBS CBS NYC
7 Apr 1956
Play It Fair
Count Basie Orchestra (voc) LaVern Baker
‘Rock’n’Roll Dance Party’
WCBS CBS NYC
7 Apr 1956
Ev’ry Day
Count Basie Orchestra (voc) Joe Williams
‘Rock’n’Roll Dance Party’
WCBS CBS NYC
7 Apr 1956
Cherry Point + One O’Clock Jump (theme)
Count Basie Orchestra
‘Rock’n’Roll Dance Party’
WCBS CBS NYC
7 Apr 1956
Set 4
Freddy Martin
You’re Beautiful Tonight (theme) + The More the Merrier
Freddy Martin Orchestra
‘Edens Shampoo College Sorority Dance’
Radio Transcription
New York City
1933
The Sweetheart of Sigma Phi
Freddy Martin Orchestra
‘Edens Shampoo College Sorority Dance’
Radio Transcription
New York City
1933
The Piano Portrait
Freddy Martin Orchestra (piano) Jack Fina
‘One Night Stand’
Cocoanut Grove
Ambassador Hotel
Los Angeles
AFRS Re-broadcast
12 Aug 1944
Just Close Your Eyes + Early in the Morning + Tchaikovsky Piano Concert #1 (theme)
Freddy Martin Orchestra (voc) Artie Wayne, The Martin Man
‘One Night Stand’
Cocoanut Grove
Ambassador Hotel
Los Angeles
AFRS Re-broadcast
12 Aug 1944
Set 5
Uptempo 1940s Orchestra
Theme + Loose Wig
Lionel Hampton Orchestra
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
16 Oct 1944
Melancholy Lullaby (theme) + Old Man River
Benny Carter Orchestra
Trianon Ballroom
Southgate Ca
KECA ABC LA
1944
Wham!
Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
1945
For Dancers Only
Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
1945
Set 6
1930s English Dance Bands
Five Fifteen
Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchesta (voc) Band
Comm Rec
London
24 Jul 1933
Love is the Sweetest Thing
Ambrose and his  Orchestra (voc) Sam Brown
Comm Rec
London
28 Oct 1932
I Cover the Waterfront
Ambrose and his  Orchestra (voc) Les Allen
Comm Rec
London
Jul 1933
Let’s Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep
Ambrose and his  Orchestra (voc) Sam Brown and Elsie Carlisle
Comm Rec
London
26 Oct 1932
Set 7
Duke Ellington Extended Works
Minnehaha (from ‘The Beautiful Indians’)
Duke Ellington Orchestra (voc) Kay Davis
Ciro’s Hollywood
KNX CBS LA
25 Jul 1947
Hiawatha (from ‘The Beautiful Indians’)
Duke Ellington OrchestraCiro’s Hollywood
KNX CBS LA
25 Jul 1947
New World a’Comin’
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘Date With the Duke’
ABC
Evansville IN.
16 Jun 1964
Set 8
Ellington 64
Afro Bossa
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Steel Pier
Atlantic City NJ
AFRTS Re-broadcast
Jul 1964
Call Me IrresponsibleDuke Ellington Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Steel Pier
Atlantic City NJ
AFRTS Re-broadcast
Jul 1964
Hello Dolly
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Steel Pier
Atlantic City NJ
AFRTS Re-broadcast
Jul 1964
All Gigs
12:04 pm - 2:00 pm
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