[Dixielandjazz] Lombardo - Redux

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 19 13:08:23 PDT 2005

"Louis¹ favourite music? Well he loved Guy Lombardo, because Guy Lombardo
got the record for drawing the largest crowd in the history of the Savoy
Ballroom in Harlem. There was something about Guy's music that especially
black people like, because he played the melody, and whatever he did, or
played, it was sincere. Every year, the president of General Electric would
hire Guy Lombardo and Louis Armstrong to put on a big convention.  And the
only thing he wanted was to hear Guy Lombardo's Band and Louis play, "When
the Saints Go Marching In". He would stay there up to then, and as soon as
we played "When the Saints Go Marching In" with both bands together, he'd
get up and split. Every year we did that.  Louis said he liked it. In fact,
Louis recorded with Guy Lombardo." END SNIP

The above is an interesting snip by Arvell Shaw, from an interview with Ken
Burns, about why Louis Armstrong and "black people" liked Lombardo's music.
Interesting that the "Canadians" set the record for attendance at the Savoy
Ballroom in Harlem.

And his invitation to Louis and Zutty to play with him in 1928? If you know
anything about American History, then you know that took cement balls way
back then. And you can bet the farm that Lombardo had em.

Maybe his music was not always Hip or Hep, but one thing for sure, it was
good music and Gaetano himself was always Hip or Hep and everything else in

His band was also the model for those of Meyer Davis, Lester Lanin, Howard
Lanin and others. These "Society" Bands played for some of the most lavish
parties around from the 1930s to about 1985 or so. They employed MANY an
OKOM jazzman because the society folks wanted to dance to Dixieland. Tempo
and beat were very important because all the guests knew how to dance the
"Foxtrot" at medium bounce, not just the simple, slow two step.

Precious little of that left now, but GL showed us, as well as Louis, how to
captivate an audience. Familiar tunes + melody + beat + tempo. It is still
as simple as that to get them up clapping and dancing.

Heck, I even hear some Lombardo in the arrangements of Billy May.

Steve Barbone

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