Music Composed and Arranged by Larry Wagner
Performed by Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra
The Casa Loma Orchestra was a corporate band. Apparently, some bands in the Big Band era decided to establish themselves as a formal corporation for one reason or another. The Casa Loma Orchestra incorporated in April, 1930. According to Leo Walker's "The Big Band Almanac:"
In 1937 [Glen] Gray became the leader by popular vote of the corporate members of the orchestra, and there were some stories which indicated he did so reluctantly. Nontheles he was a capable front man and one whose handsome appearance did much to enhance the bank's musical efforts. He continued to play saxophone when the arrangement dictated, augmenting the regular sax section.The band was one of the most popular bands in the pre-World War II period. It was also one of the smoothest and most talented. Swingmusic.net describes the Casa Loma Orchestra as follows:
In the early 1930s, the Casa Loma Orchestra was one of the bands that helped pave the way for the rise in popularity of big band swing, gaining recognition especially with the college age crowd, and wowing audiences at Yale, Dartmouth and other Ivy League schools. It is said to have been the first white big band with a deliberate Jazz policy. Although they played in a rather stiff and precise style, The Casa Loma Orchestra helped spread the concept of big band jazz to a generation of young white kids who were, at that time, still largely unaware of the great black jazz orchestras.
But before we listen to "No Name Jive," let's listen to the band's theme song, Smoke Rings. The first YouTube poster comments: "This tune, the radio theme song for the Casa Loma Orchestra, is one of the smoothest and most beautiful ballads recorded during the Big Band era." So true! Smoke Rings was written in 1932: Music by H. Eugene Gifford; Lyrics by Ned Washington. I don't have any additional information, except what the YouTube posters provide. Here's a version circa 1937.
Here's another version by the Casa Loma Orchestra, circa 1932 with wonderful video footage of the film Alice In Wonderland starring Charlotte Henry, filmed in 1933.
Last, but by no means least, is a full version (which incorporates Parts 1 and 2) of my favorite Glen Gray tune of all time: "No Name Jive." Anyone who loves jazz, the big band sound, great writing, great arranging and expert instrumentation has to love this version.