Also on Swing Music Net
•  1956 Fender Stratocaster
•  Bogen DB 130 Pre-amp
•  George Gott Tube EQ
•  SAE Record De-clicker
•  RCA 74 Jr Velocity Mic
•  Scott 299A Tube Pre-amp

  • Advertisers

Cornet player for Ben Bernie or Ben Blue

Find specific jazz recording dates, labels, release dates or personnel

Cornet player for Ben Bernie or Ben Blue

Postby mardi » Sun August 23 2009 08:57 PM

My father played cornet (NOT trumpet he insisted) for either Ben Bernie or Ben Blue in the New York/New Jersey area. I know it was a "BB" name. I used to have a picture of the band, about 10-12 members, each sitting behind a stand with the "BB" on it. I don't know what happened to it and I kick myself for losing it. My father's name was William G (Bill) Turner. He was with the band, I think, in the 30's, possibly into the very early 40's. Does anyone know of a way to trace the band members by year? Is there some type of museum/library in the New York area? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun August 23 2009 05:15 PM

Re: Cornet player for Ben Bernie or Ben Blue

Postby jazzjester » Wed August 26 2009 01:40 PM

Hey there Mardi,

The best I can do is research a variety of discographies for recorded output of bandleaders and cross-reference personnel in so doing.

The Lord Jazz Discography did not bring William G, or (Bill) Turner up.

I blew the dust off of several in print discographies and reference books to further research your query.

Ben Bernie And His Roosevelt Hotel Orchestra shows recorded jazz output mainly in the 1920s, specifically from 1923 to one date in 1931. His was a popular dance or society orchestra and Bernie’s signature was his use of the word “yow-sa” often used three times in a row leading in to, or coming out of, the song being performed by his band. He was immensely popular through the new medium of radio.

None of the various print jazz discographies including the following; Jazz Records 1897 - 1942, Brian Rust; The Swing Discography 1920 - 1985 Swing / Dance Bands & Combos, W. Bruyninckx; or The New Hot Discography, Charles Delaunay list any recordings after 1931 for Bernie. This is where discography and personnel researching gets tough since the discographies I am aware of mainly focus on Hot Jazz, Jazz or Swing. It seems likely that indeed there would have been recordings done by Bernie after 1931 that may not fall into the "jazz" category especially given the leader’s popularity. What is known (The Big Bands, George T. Simon) is that in the late 1930s Bernie revamped his band to a more modern sound, which featured some great solos by his new discovery Lou McGarity. (McGarity had a long association with Benny Goodman in the 1940s). Ben Bernie continued to lead a band until his untimely death of a fatal illness in 1943 at age 52 following a successful engagement on the West Coast, (The Big Band Almanac, Leo Walker) although George T Simon notes that Bernie had settled on the West Coast and actually died in his Beverly Hills home.

The difficulty in obtaining personnel listings on all recordings by dance bands is off the charts. Many were regarded as Hotel Bands or Society Bands and still others as Territory Bands or even as Mickey Mouse bands. In most circles Bernie would not fall into the latter two categories given his national popularity, success and distinction as a veteran once the Big Band era came into being in 1935.

Is it possible the BB you saw in the picture might stand for another band?

The Bill Barry Orchestra was actually a six-piece group with the leader playing piano and singing. He cut just 6 records for the Bluebird label in March of 1935. The personnel on these records, aside from the leader, is unknown although he did employ 1 trumpet for this session. There is no mention of this group anywhere I looked.

"Blue" Barron was out of Cleveland but his longest engagement ever was at The Edison Hotel in New York City.

According to the aforementioned Big Band Almanac "Blue" Barron's record affiliations included Bluebird and MGM but none of the discographies show these records due to their nature and categorization by jazz discographers as commercial, "pop" or society records. George T. Simon in his book The Big Bands provides further reading on the subject of this band and insight into the more commercial side of band leading during the era in his chapter The Mickey-Mouse Bands on pg. 491

One, Billy Bishop was another Society band-leader.

Bishop was originally from Canada and was heard on radio often there. He later went to England where he recorded and was again heard on radio. In 1940 he organized a new band in California but a short time later established headquarters in Chicago becoming a favorite in the Midwest at places like the Trianon ballroom, the Blackhawk restaurant and Roosevelt Hotels (New Orleans). He remained active in the Midwest until 1953 when he gave up band leading and became a stockbroker.

Bert Block led a better than average commercial type band with the initials BB. His was a local band in New York popular in the mid 30’s. Tommy Dorsey at one time raided this band for singer Jack Leonard, trumpeter Joe Bauer and a young arranger named Axel Stordhal who soon contributed immensely to the mass appeal of Dorsey and latter Frank Sinatra as a solo recording artist during the Columbia years. I could find no discography info on this outfit.

Thanks for posting this question. It is interesting to be reminded through the research involved just haw many bands there were in and around the Midwest in the 1930s and 1940s... and just with the initials BB at that.

Jeff P
Site Admin
Posts: 358
Joined: Thu July 24 2003 02:53 PM

Re: Cornet player for Ben Bernie or Ben Blue

Postby mardi » Wed August 26 2009 06:57 PM

Jeff -

Wow, you sure did a lot of research! Thanks for your efforts. Unfortunately none of the pictures were the one I remembered. And I have to admit I do not ever remember my father talking about making recordings with the band. One of the benefits, however, of having a musical parent is that I ended up with an eclectic taste in music ranging from celtic to dixieland to native american to classical to country to you name it.

You're probably right in that whatever band he played for it was a local New York band. Do you know of any libraries/societies/museums/etc in the New York area that are devoted to this era of music?

Thanks again.

Posts: 2
Joined: Sun August 23 2009 05:15 PM

Return to Discography And Personnel Info

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest