Sunday, August 5, 2007

Record of the Week: Harry James & Frank Sinatra

Again, a tip of the hat to Richard Havers, whose 'Record of the Week' idea I am shamelessly stealing.

This week's record features the collected works of Harry James and Frank Sinatra. James was probably the greatest big band trumpet player and his band really swung in the thirties and forties. His music is energetic and exciting. For a time, the young Frank Sinatra was Harry's vocalist. Harry continued to perform with his band for forty years until shortly before his death in Las Vegas in 1983.

Harry Haag James was born in 1916 in Albany, Georgia, in the United States. He learned the trumpet from his father, a circus bandleader. James decided to pursue a professional career in music after winning a state high-school trumpet competition.

Harry began to perform with several dance bands, including that of Ben Pollack's popular group. The flawless, technically outstanding trumpeter played for several years with the Benny Goodman Band before forming his own band in 1939 with a gifted but little known vocalist, Frank Sinatra.

During the golden era of the big bands, Harry recorded a number of hits, including "I've Heard That Song Before," from the motion picture Youth on Parade (1942), "You Made Me Love You" (1941), the number-one instrumental hit "Sleepy Lagoon" (1942), "I Had the Craziest Dream" (1943), "You'll Never Know" and his theme song, "Ciribiribin." His band helped launch the careers of many pop music stars of the World War II era, including Frank Sinatra and Helen Forrest.

Some also know Harry as the husband of American film star Betty Grable. Already a celebrity, James' marriage to Grable in 1943 cemented his status as one of the most famous American personalities of his generation.

Thanks for the music and the memories, Harry!

Buy a biography of Harry James here:

Buy the FIVE-STAR-rated album of the week from here:


Richard Havers said...

On July 19 1939 the Harry James band broadcast on BBC radio. Reporter Mike Butcher tuned in not expecting much as he had been unimpressed with Harry’s records featuring Bernice Byers.

“You’ll understand how pleasantly surprised I was when between a real killer-diller workout on ‘Beer Barrel Polka’ and some similarly depressing manifestations of the swing era’s worst aspects a male singer announced as Frank Sinatra came on with the sentimentally affecting ‘From the Bottom of My Heart ‘ and ‘To You’.”

This was the first time Frank was heard in Britain.

r morris said...

Thanks for the slice of history, Richard.
I wish I could have seen these guys in concert.