ED. NOTE: Two of the responses to our theme song musical quiz posed by Edward Cecchini were completely accurate, but Jon-Erik's wins by a nose in terms of timing. We're including the letter from our second-place winner, too, because the memories shared are so interesting.
My answers to the theme song quiz are below:
1. "Young Man with a Horn" -- Ray Anthony
2. "One O'Clock Jump" -- yup, Basie
3. "Minnie, the Moocher" -- yup, Cab
4. "Summertime" -- Bob Crosby Big Band
5. "Contrasts" -- Jimmy Dorsey
6. "Rippling Rhythm" -- Shep Fields
7. "Smoke Rings" -- Glen Gray Orch
8. "California, Here I Come" -- Abe Lyman
9. "Sugar Blues" -- Clyde McCoy
10. "Star Dreams" -- Charlie Spivak
New York, N.Y.
I enjoy your musical quizzes, as when I think about the answers, they bring back musical memories. Starting to name Big Band theme songs, of course the answer to "Young Man with a Horn" is Ray Anthony. The last time I saw that band they were playing the lounge show at the Sahara in Las Vegas. I met Buck Clayton, when he was playing a Gibson Colorado Jazz Party in Vail, 1967. Buck told me that when the Basie band was signing off one night at the Reno Club in Kansas City, the remote announcer asked Bill (this was before Basie was Count) the name of their theme. Not able to use the R-rated title the band had been using, Basie glanced at the clock above the bandstand and came up with "One O'clock Jump." In 1936, when I heard Cab Calloway's band at the Paramount Theater in Kansas City, it was a thrill to hear the strains of "Minnie the Moocher" as the curtain came down -- with Cozy Cole playing drums.
"Summertime" was the theme of Bob Crosby. I remember this well, as it was my Topeka High School girlfriend's favorite song. As an autograph collector in high school, I saw Jimmy Dorsey enter a barbershop in Topeka and sit down for a haircut. I waited patiently until the barber had finished and then asked for his autograph. Jimmy signed his name with "Sorry to keep you waiting, but you know how barbers are." That night at the dance, the Dorsey band opened with its theme, "Contrasts."
When he was a soda jerk, Shep Fields recalled the sound made by customers blowing bubbles into a soda through a straw. The rippling sound became his trademark and theme that opened each of his shows, "Rippling Rhythm." I wrote to The Rag some time ago about my meeting Glen Gray, when the Casa Loma band played Topeka's Old Mill Ballroom, also 1936. And we met again, at the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis, when the band was in town playing the Indiana Roof Ballroom. Casa Lomans Pee Wee Hunt ("12th Street Rag") and Kenny Sargent ("For Your") were in the hotel room with Glen. The band's theme, "Smoke Rings," is one of my all-time favorite band theme songs, featuring the great clarinet solo by Clarence Hutchenrider. Glen told me that after leaving the Camel Caravan radio show, he couldn't get another sponsor because whenever listeners heard their theme "Smoke Rings," they would think of Camel cigarettes rather than Chesterfields or Old Golds.
I moved to Palm Springs in 1991, but I must admit that I never heard Abe Lyman's band, playing their theme "California. Here I Come." But when I was a student at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, a college band featured the Bennett Sisters. Later, one of the sisters, Maxine, married Clyde McCoy -- the trumpeter who made "Sugar Blues" famous. Although it was not a quiz question, I once met Henry Busse, who played his horn a la McCoy, with the band's theme, "Hot Lips."
Charlie Spivak's good friend, Glenn Miller picked "Moonlight Serenade" for his theme. Coincidentally, Spivak, playing his trumpet with the sweet sound, picked "Star Dreams."
As an aside, when in Topeka High School, a friend and I would listen to the big bands that came on the air with their theme songs around 11:30 p.m. every night. We had a contest to see who could name the band first. It was a snap, e.g., when Benny Goodman came on from the Blue Room of the Hotel Lincoln with "Let's Dance," or Glenn Miller, from Hotel Pennsylvania with "Moonlight Serenade." It would be more difficult, for instance, if the band was say Fletcher Henderson, opening from the Savoy with "Mr. Christopher Columbus," or Richard Himber -- from Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook with "It Isn't Fair."
I warned you that your quizzes always bring back memories!
Highlands Ranch, Colo.