Chapter 2 AN: Getting back to the bands, I would go up and play these shows at sight, which was great for me. I decided to try and go on the road. So one of the bands that came by was the Bob Chester and I asked for an audition which they were nice enough to grant me. And I did okay and I joined the band in Philadelphia, at the (Earl) Theatre. They had very good musicians in the band: John LaPorta, who ended up as a professor here at Berklee; we had Bill Harris, tremendous trombonist, outstanding; Irv Kluger on drums. That was a whole new element for me. A beautiful experience. You can't buy that. Well, anyway I joined the Bob Chester Band in Philadelphia at the Earl Theatre, we were there for two weeks and from there we were booked to play the Atlantic Steel Pier in Atlantic City -- The Steel Pier, which was a huge ballroom up in the harbour. So they always had two orchestras. We go there, much to my delight and surprise, the orchestra we were to relieve was the Harry James Orchestra. FB: Whoa! Ziggy Elman? AN: No, Ziggy was with Benny Goodman, then he got his own thing going on. But Harry James, that's when he was really popular, when he did “You Made Me Love You” FB: He was married to Betty Grable. FB: At that time he was keeping company with her. So it was really top moves all the time. The porters would come by hoping to see if maybe Betty Grable had come by. So it was very active, we were there for three weeks. And for me it was the best three weeks of my life, to watch Harry James six nights a week, that's a lesson in itself. FB: You guys are trading sets. AN: That's right. They played an hour and then we'd go on for an hour. They kept continuous music. FB: Meanwhile, the place is packed with dancers. AN: Oh, absolutely. The place was a huge ballroom with about seven or eight hundred people. FB: You'd do what, three one-hour sets in a night? AN: Just about, yeah. Similar to that, yes. And we did that six nights a week. And that was an outstanding experience for me. Well, I stayed with Bob Chester for a while and then I decided to make a change and I joined the Jerry Wald Orchestra. And that was another great experience because we'd start playing some, most of the theatres and, to me, the big thrill at that time was to play the Paramount Theatre in New York City because it was such a background for what Sinatra got his big opening there with Benny Goodman, and to be a part of a place where history of music was being created, you know? So that was another (mark) for me which I enjoyed. FB: Where were the charts coming from? Who was doing them? Were there stock arrangements? Did you have your own arrangers? AN: That's a very good point you bring up, back in the big band era, you could actually identify each individual orchestra. FB: Like the colours, the timbres? AN: Absolutely, the sound. To give you a perfect example, how could you miss Glenn Miller? How could you miss Benny Goodman? Then Artie Shaw? They both play clarinet, but there was quite a difference between them. FB: Tremendous. AN: And so on and so forth. But each orchestra had really their own sound depending on the arranger. You take Jimmy Lunceford, Sy Oliver did most of his arrangements. The thing that impressed me a lot with Jimmy Lunceford's Orchestra was that 2, 4 beat that they got going like [mimics a drum groove] and rhythm. It was terrific, very exciting. Jimmy Crawford was the drummer at the time and he outstanding trumpet players. God, you listen to the high register that they had. It was wonderful - which was the big frustration with a lot of trumpet players back then. But today it seems a lot of trumpet players have the technique of playing up in the so-called stratosphere. FB: So even, Bob Chester or Jerry Wald would have their resident scribe who'd be doing the charts? AN: Yeah, who ever the arranger they would hire would write so many arrangements in a week, that's how they built their library. Chester's band was a little bit like the Glenn Miller Band with the lead clarinet but not too much of that, but a taste of that. They all had their own little thing. FB: And they were catering to dancers? AN: Absolutely, dance music -- that was it. FB: Did they both have ‘chick’ singers? AN: Yes, absolutely. Every orchestra had a female and a male singer, boy and girl. And as Glenn Miller became more popular and doing very well financially he had (Lamar Nanson) with him, group of singers who travelled with the band it was like (prasmy) the size of a symphony after a while. FB: Did they indeed pad them out with strings on occasion? AN: That came later, yes. That came later in the few years down the road. They all did that. Tommy Dorsey had a section of string players and so did Artie Shaw. They kept developing new sounds all the time. FB: Raking over the pop tunes that they could jazz up, swing up and get their own... AN: ... their own interpretation and that's how they had a hit. Like Jimmy Dorsey's “Green Eyes” with, what's her name? FB: Helen Merrill? AN: No, Helen Merrill is one of my favorite singers. Connie O'Connell, she did “Green Eyes”. FB: Helen O'Connell. AN: Helen O'Connell, thank you. It was an arrangement where she and the singer, Bob Eberle, would make a romantic thing out of it. So little things like that kept the industry alive. That's what happened in that era. Which was an excellent era. It kept a lot of musicians working. FB: Sure did, yeah. So after your stint with Bob Chester and Jerry Wald, did you come back to Boston? AN: Yes, I did….