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Alyn Shipton

[William]

(b London, May 6, 1899; d Wembley, March 25, 1969). English bandleader, drummer and entrepreneur. His father was a bandmaster and he was a chorister at St Margaret’s, Westminster, before joining the 2nd Battalion, City of London Regiment as a drummer boy. Cotton was later commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps. From 1922 he worked in dance bands in London and Brighton and co-led the San Prado Band at the 1924 Wembley British Empire Exhibition. He made his first broadcast the same year. He formed his own London Savannah band, playing first in Brighton and later in Southport (from 1925), and by acquiring music for US dances from liners docking in Liverpool, he helped introduce such music to Britain, including the Black Bottom. The band with which he played at the Astoria Hotel, London (1927), contained a nucleus of musicians (most notably the pianist Clem Bernard) who stayed with him for many of his subsequent performances, at Ciro’s club in London and Paris (...

Article

Raoul F. Camus

(b Naples, Italy, June 21, 1871; d New York, Aug 15, 1952). American conductor, impresario, and composer of Italian origin. He studied music at the conservatory in Naples, and by the age of 17 was conductor of the city’s municipal band. He left this position after eight years to play trombone in another band during its American tour. Encouraged by the wealth of performing opportunities in the USA, he recruited 40 musicians during a trip to Italy in 1902, and then traveled with them to New York, where the band’s opening concert was well received. In the next few years he toured the USA and Canada. He appeared on the Chautauqua circuit from 1910 to 1916. While pursuing his band activities, he organized an opera company in 1918 that continued for five years. The Depression brought about a decline in professional bands, and in 1936 he became conductor of the New York City Symphonic Orchestra, formed under the auspices of the WPA. A year later he became bandmaster of the New York State Symphonic Band, also a WPA group. In ...

Article

Lise Waxer

(b Santos Suarez, Havana, Oct 21, 1924; d Fort Lee, NJ, July 16, 2003). Cuban popular singer. She was a gifted child singer and, after winning a radio talent competition in 1947, enrolled in the Havana Conservatory. The first groups she performed with included Las Mulatas del Fuego and the Orchestra Gloria Matancera. In 1950 she joined the world-renowned Sonora Matancera, performing with them for nearly 15 years and establishing her international fame. She left Cuba after Castro rose to power in 1959, and settled in the USA, marrying the trumpet player Pedro Knight in 1962. Although she recorded with the percussionist Tito Puente between 1966 and 1972, Cruz settled into semi-retirement during the 1960s. Her career was revitalized in 1973 by her performance of ‘Gracia Divina’ in Larry Harlow’s salsa opera Hommy. She spent the next several years performing with Johnny Pacheco and other members of the Fania entourage, and remained active in the late 1990s....

Article

Lise Waxer

[Cugat Mingall de Brú y Denolfeo, Francisco de Asís Javier]

(b Gerona, Jan 1, 1900; d Barcelona, Oct 27, 1990). Spanish bandleader, violinist and arranger, active in America. Cugat’s family moved to Cuba when he was five. A child prodigy, he was playing the violin in Havana cafés by the age of seven or eight, and later studied formally in Berlin and peformed with the Berlin PO. He arrived in New York City in 1921 and formed a tango orchestra, and then moved to Hollywood, taking up a life-long hobby as caricaturist before returning to New York with a contract at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1930. Despite his European origins, Cugat became the most commercially famous name in Latin music during the 1930s and 40s, especially among non-Latino North Americans, and his Latin orchestra remained resident at the Waldorf Astoria through the next decade.

Cugat did not pretend to perform authentic Latin American music, yet his lush orchestral arrangements helped popularize Cuban and other Latin American sounds in mainstream North America, earning him the title of the ‘King of the Rhumba’. Among his most famous recordings are ...

Article

Philip L. Scowcroft

(b London, Sept 4, 1899; d Bournemouth, Dec 6, 1973). English composer, organist and conductor. He showed precocious ability on the violin, cello, piano and organ and as a conductor; by the age of 20 he had gained experience in London theatres and cinemas and later was the organist at the Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion. He became head of Boosey & Hawkes’s Light Music department. His compositions included ballad-type songs, piano miniatures, music for film and radio, and he occasionally wrote for the theatre.

He is best remembered, however, for his orchestral works. These have a characteristic sparkle, even whimsicality, displayed in titles like Dance of an Ostracised Imp, The Boulevardier and the overture Punchinello, all of which achieved great popularity. Apart from these single-movement works Curzon also contributed significantly to the repertory of the light concert suite: his Robin Hood Suite ends with a memorable march in the manner of Eric Coates. Much of his work displays Spanish or Hungarian colour, although he never visited either country, and several movements show a gift for period pastiche. His orchestration is imaginative: accordion and harp join with woodwind and strings in ...

Article

Alyn Shipton

[Joseph ]

(b Zeerust, South Africa, March 9, 1909; d Northwood, July 2, 1993). South African jazz drummer and bandleader, active in Britain. He arrived in England aged two, and began playing drums in public at 13. Three years later he played on numerous transatlantic crossings in ships’ bands for Cunard liners, before returning to London to play with the trumpeter Max Goldberg (1926). Daniels assumed leadership of that band, but Goldberg continued to play regularly for him (1926–7) and in Daniels’s later groups. Daniels played in bands led by Al Tabor (1927), Billy Mason (1929) and Harry Roy (1929–32, 1932–7). While in Roy’s band, Daniels formed a recording band, his Hotshots, in June 1935. He led this band full time from 1937, and became recognized as the leading drum virtuoso in British jazz, exemplified by recordings such as Crashing Through...

Article

Paul Webb

[Dones, Phyllis Haddie]

(b London, Aug 15, 1890; d Brighton, April 27, 1975). English soprano. After a precocious beginning as a schoolgirl in Bluebell in Fairyland at the Vaudeville Theatre (1901), she went on to make her name in The Belle of Mayfair at the same theatre (1906), replacing its original star, Edna May, who left abruptly after a dispute with the management. Dare subsequently also took over from Gertie Millar in The Quaker Girl, but her biggest success was in The Arcadians (1909), the most popular English musical of the pre-War era. In this she introduced the song ‘The Girl with a Brogue’, demonstrating that she could project her personality as well as do justice to the music. Although she sang in American musicals, most notably in Kern’s Music in the Air (1934), she was happiest in English shows, however Ruritanian the setting, and was brought back from retirement to play the king’s mistress in Ivor Novello’s ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Minsk, April 17, 1883; d London, June 2, 1947). British composer and bandleader. His father, Eduard Darewski, was a Polish singing professor. Herman Darewski was educated in London and studied music in Vienna (1897–1900). After his first successful songs he joined the publishers Francis, Day & Hunter (1906), for whom he wrote music hall, pantomime and musical comedy songs, including Sister Susie's sewing shirts for soldiers (1914). He composed a series of successful revues, his style concentrating on light, undemanding and rhythmically engaging songs. In 1919 he formed a publishing company, which was short-lived, and a successful band in the style of the American dance bands then in vogue. He became musical director at the resorts of Bridlington (1924–6, 1933–9) and Blackpool (1927–30) and at a London cinema (1930–32). His brother Max Darewski (1894–1929...

Article

Arnold Shaw

(b Cincinnati, April 3, 1924). American singer and actress. She sang with the Bob Crosby band and Fred Waring before her recordings with Les Brown’s Band of Renown, particularly Sentimental Journey (1944), brought her nationwide recognition. She made her first film, Romance on the High Seas, in which she introduced the song ‘It’s magic’ (1948), and won Academy awards for her performances of ‘Secret Love’ in Calamity Jane (1954) and ‘Que sera, sera’ in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1955). Her greatest success, however, was her role in Love Me or Leave Me (1955). She appeared in 39 films including, in the 1960s, a series of sex comedies, in which she portrayed a naive, virginal heroine with freckles and a shy smile. Her singing, based on the style of Ella Fitzgerald, was mellifluous, ingratiating and even intimate....

Article

Simon Collier

(b Buenos Aires, Dec 11, 1899; d Mar del Plata, Mar 11, 1980). Argentine tango violinist, bandleader and composer. The son of an Italian immigrant proprietor of a private conservatory in Buenos Aires, he served his apprenticeship in tango bands such as those of Eduardo Arolas (1918–19) and Osvaldo Fresedo (1919–20). In 1923 he formed his first sextet, which included his brothers Francisco (piano) and Emilio (second violin). The band remained a sextet until 1930, after which it enlarged to between 10 and 14 instrumentalists; and this remained its standard size until De Caro’s retirement (1954). One of the best-loved dance bands of the tango’s ‘Golden Age’ (1920–50), it made successful trips to Brazil (1927), Italy and France (1931) and Chile (1937). With its clarity, meticulous phrasing, careful instrumental balance and sophisticated arrangements, it pioneered the ‘evolutionist’ trend in tango music, contrasting with the ‘traditionalist’ tendency favoured by more conservative bandleaders. Like his brother Francisco, De Caro was an expert arranger and composer who made notable contributions to the tango repertory. His autobiography was published as ...