Radio stars (Dec 1938)

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THE BANDWAGON All about popular orchestras —how Sammy Kaye "arrived" BY JERRY MASON SAMMY KAYE is undoubtedly the music trade's outstanding example of a guy who wanted to make money out of orchestra leading and found the best way to do it. It wasn't just a matter of dollars and cents with Sammy. He liked music better than any other profession he could think of—including civil engineering wherein he boasts a collegiate degree. Sammy's way to orchestral money is simple and almost obvious. He surveyed the band scene and, be- ing a bright lad, made two discoveries : (1) The surest way of all to orchestra success is through the build-up of radio and (2) The boys with sweet bands and a style make money longer and more often. Logically, he had to start with discovery number two. He did. He graduated from Ohio University in 1933. He led an orchestra all through college, but it was one of those student affairs that copied any big-time band it liked. Every other number sounded like somebody else until Sammy slipped out of his Cap and gown and went to work in earnest. His first step was to stop swinging. His second step was to develop a style. That second step was designed for radio, on which he had his eye. He decided to stereotype his band. Knowing the power of the airwaves, he wanted a band which a listener could identify after listening to it for thirty sec- onds—announcer or no announcer. After kicking around for a year or so and increasing the organization from the original five pieces to its final eleven-man group, Sammy opened at Cleveland's Cabin Club in the winter of 1935. He high-pressured the Cabin's owner into putting in a radio wire. It belonged to NBC and it was Sammy's first. So now he had both essentials and he began to perfect his style. Among other things he wanted a nice easy rhyme that people would remember and associate with the band. He and the boys first concocted 46 Music In the Romantic Way — Played By Sammy Kaye. That was pretty good—but not too hot. So they kept trying until they hit on Swing And Sway With Sammy Kaye. Everybody liked that one, so it stuck. Then the singing titles came in. You probably remember that idea as beginning with Gus Arnheim 'way back. Up until 1935, Sammy had had the whole band sing the title, but that got too complicated so he finally turned it over to the vocalist as a solo job. Sammy seems to have had a profound pity for the poor radio announcer—he wanted to reduce his work to a minimum. He also wanted to keep his band down to a minimum. The more men you have, the more expensive. That was simple arithmetic, so Kaye limited the organization to eleven men, including three vocalists, a-trio and a glee club. Sammy himself plays a clarinet—according to him, he's not very good so he only plays on special occasions. All in all, though, there is ;io waste motion in the Kaye crew. Every singer plays an instrument and some men double. When Sammy hired a man to play second trumpet,