AUTHOR'S NOTE: My uncle, Hawley Ades, died March 26, 2008, at the age of 99, three months shy of his 100th birthday. He was one of the principal arrangers for Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians from 1937 until his retirement in 1975, but pre-Waring he worked as a freelance musician gigging around New York in the late `20s and early 1930s. Last month, the RAG published some of Hawley's stories, and below are a few more of Hawley's stories from those years. I'm pleased to share them with you.
Helmy Kresa was Irving Berlin's music secretary and principal arranger in Berlin's music publishing company, located at 1607 Broadway. Kresa had often brought arrangements down to the Bigelow band at Yoeng's to hear how they sounded before publication, and Hawley had met Kresa in that context. This contact led to Hawley joining the Berlin company in 1932 as a staff arranger to replace the departing Paul Weirick. Hawley was more than pleased to land this job, paying $75 a week at the depth of the Depression, especially since he had just lost $500 when his bank failed. With his new-found financial security, Hawley was able to marry his sweetheart from Albany, Olga Beauman, in 1933. Hawley and Olga had two daughters, Audrey and Barbara. Their progeny, by 2008, had yielded Hawley seven grandsons and 15 great-grandchildren.
The Irving Berlin Company published not only Berlin's songs but those of many other composers. Hawley made hundreds of stock arrangements for dance bands during the four years he worked for Berlin. Frequently the arrangements would be given a pre-publication tryout at the Taft Hotel with the George Hall band, which Hawley sometimes rehearsed, or at Will Oakland's Terrace (51st and Broadway). Many of Hawley's arrangements survive today in various archives and libraries. Bandleader Vince Giordano has 32 of them in his library, and I have found over 100 more in such far-flung repositories as the University of North Texas, San Jose State University, Williams College (Paul Whiteman Collection), Indiana State University (Kirk Collection), and Jim Jones' YesterTunes.com (Charles Anderson Chart Collection).
Another of Hawley's main jobs with Berlin was to make "give-away" arrangements in the style of a particular orchestra with whom the Berlin office hoped to place a song. Thus, Hawley made arrangements in the style of George Olsen, Ozzie Nelson, Phil Spitalny, Vincent Lopez, Paul Whiteman and others. Kresa actively encouraged Hawley's more original arranging efforts as well. Berlin published a portfolio of six of his jazz-oriented arrangements under the billing of "Hawley Ades, New Genius Hot Arranger." This marketing effort was not so hot, and the portfolio is still missing in action.
Several of Hawley's give-away arrangements were done for Paul Whiteman. Whiteman liked them and commissioned Hawley to do a number of special arrangements strictly for his orchestra. Hawley did about eight, one of which was recorded with a vocal by Irene Taylor, "Willow Weep For Me" (1932). Hawley remembered attending the rehearsal of "Willow Weep For Me." As assistant conductor, Matty Malneck took the band through the arrangement, Whiteman turned to Hawley and said: "Nice arrangement, kid, but isn't $75 a little high? I only have to pay Fud Livingston $50!" Fud Livingston, a well-known reedman, indeed made numerous arrangements for Whiteman from 1930 through 1933.
Hawley sat in for a set with Whiteman's band at one rehearsal and had a vivid memory of the "sense of absolute rhythmic security" -- "mechanical perfection" -- projected by the rhythm section of Mike Pingitore on banjo and a drummer and bass player whose names Hawley did not recall (possibly Herb Quigley and Art Miller). "They needed a piano player like a hole in the head. I never experienced anything like it before it or since."
The Berlin job came to an end in 1936, as Berlin's marketing moved away from using give-away arrangements. Hawley found himself at loose ends for a period. He made some arrangements for Famous Music Corporation, the Paramount Picture subsidiary headed by George Terry, his good friend who had been the guitarist in the Don Bigelow band. One day Hawley got a call out of the blue from Raymond Scott. He did not know Scott though he had done some work for Scott's brother, Mark Warnow, music director for the CBS radio network. That call led to Hawley doing orchestrations of Scott's famous numbers "The Toy Trumpet" and "Powerhouse." The sheet music for the "Powerhouse" arrangement, an extremely fast and intricate piece, helpfully counsels the need for "a careful rehearsal" before public performance.