Glen Gray played saxophone in a group that
performed at the Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto in 1928. The group was incorporated
as a co-op in NYC in 1929 as The Casa Loma Orchestra and began recording for
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
The Casa Loma Orchestra began to be billed
under leader Glen Grayís name in 1935, recording for Decca until 1942, and later
for Mercury until 1946. While the early swing of Glen Grayís Casa Lomansí may
sound outdated today, the bandís late 1930s and early 1940s recordings like
Come And Get It,
Malady In F,
and No Name Jive
are still great listens today. Two of the bands biggest records were ballads;
as sung by Kenny Sargent and the group's theme
In 1940 Glen Gray was one of the winners, as a bandleader, in Down Beat's All
American Musicians Poll.
After he stopped touring, around 1950, Gray
began a series of recordings for
mainly recreating hits of the big band era. Although the albums were
commercially successful at the time, they left little room for improvisation,
and held few surprises.