Radio stars (Oct 1938)

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A newsy stroll through the highways and byways of Ether SURPRISING was the news that Eddie Cantor was planning a vacation in Europe. Eddie, with that endless, nervous energy of his. actually going to loaf a summer away. For years, he has been spending his summer va- cations in a Hollywood studio making a picture. Explanation came after Cantor's arrival abroad. His vacation cruise was just one phase of his campaign to raise funds to bring Jewish refugee children from the Fascist countries where they faced growing up into a bleak life of persecution. Eddie worked like a Trojan all through his cruise on a variety of money-raising activities for the project he has undertaken—as he does everything—with fanatical zeal. THE coming ivinter season in popular music is not likely to produce any such surprising turn as the' past year did. The good, old songs never die out, of course, but the swing bands and sing- ers have performed the surprising feat of putting a set of old Scotch ballads, Loch Lomond, Annie Laurie and a few others, high up in the list of new popular hits. More sur- prising still, Connie Bosivell sang a swing version of an ark from the opera, Martha, and it caught public fancy so quickly that the melody went right into the repertoire of every sunng band in the business. _ No other arias have been tried. Perhaps more swinging of opera will give the coming season an eccentric twist of its own. With all due respect to Tin Pan Alley, these odd turns By ARTHUR MASON of musical fancy certainly raise the level of dance music. IF there were any doubts about the swing stature of Benny Goodman, they certainly were settled by his brief vacation from his band in July and August. This next sentence may bring a nice bouquet of Irish confetti from the Goodman jitterbug clubs—but with Goodman absent, the band slipped down, from its dominant position, to equality with any one of a dozen bands which just miss the very top brackets. Essential are the cavorting, lilting rhythms and melodic caprices of Benny's clarinet blowing, which give the band its real character. His absence is a reminder that Benny is a great artist, probably the greatest instrumentalist in popular music today. Unfortunately, his venture beyond this field this past summer was less successful. During the winter, he had a classical string quartet as guest stars on his program and played a Mozart clarinet quintet with them. It was an amusing stunt at the time. Also, it was the expression of an ambition understandable in a man possessed of Benny's superb musician- ship. His recording of an entire Mozart quintet with the Budapest strings was an artistic fail- ure, however. Gone was the frolicsome Good- man spirit that might have fitted perfectly into the joyous music of Mozart. Instead, Benny played the notes woodenly. Ap- parently feeling the letdown, the quartet did not reach its usual musical standard, either. Diminutive Judy Starr warbles for David Ross and Hal Kemp, both of whom seem to approve. APIO Orson Welles, boy wonder of the theatre, at work on his new CBS program, First Person Singular.