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Si Zentner
Trombonist and leader of a post Big Band Era Big band, Si Zentner
Si Zentner
Zentner big band of the 1950s and 1960s wins thirteen straight Down Beat polls
Bandleader gives up lucrative career as studio musician to form a big band in the 1950s and refuses to downsize despite financial burden
Si Zentner
Zentner, Simon H.
trombone, bandleader
Born; New York City, NY 6-13-1917
Died; Las Vegas, Nevada 1-31-2000
JAZZ RADIO / JAZZ HISTORY
Jazz Radio Audio
Streaming live online Tuesdays from 4-6 PM Pacific it's the live feed of our weekly jazz radio show. Due to bandwidth limitations potato salad no longer included with transmission.

Our Jazz Radio Show Info Page
The sordid history of our weekly big band music radio show, live since 1985. Proves that FCC radio deregulation survival may be linked to narcissistically twisted disorders.

Pre Swing Era Jazz History
Early hot jazz bands, the hotel dance bands and early jazz history leading up to the Big Band era.

Pre Swing Era World Report
The role of economics, early recording technology, and radio relative to the conception of the Big Band era.

The Recording Ban Of 1942
Scans of a 1942 Down Beat magazine article detailing one of the most devastating events of the Big Band era; the James Petrillo / AFM recording ban.

Webb Cuts Basie At The Savoy
Another of the many historic jazz magazine articles from Down Beat here on the site. This piece details the Count Basie vs. Chick Webb big band music Battle Of Swing held at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom in January of 1938.

Trombonist Si Zentner was born just a little bit late. He is best remembered for leading a quality big band, beginning in the late 1950s long after the big band era had ended, when many of the nation's ballrooms were closing down.

Zentner began on violin at age 4 and later switched to trombone. In the early part of his professional career he worked with Les Brown from 1940-’42, Harry James in ’43, and Jimmy Dorsey in ’44, most notably. Zentner then free-lanced in LA until 1949 when he joined the staff of MGM studios where he remained until 1957. Zentner was very successful as a studio musician and did quite well for himself financially. However his dream was to lead his own big band. Bucking the odds and with a lot of determination, he proceeded to do just that.

From 1957 to 1959 the Zentner studio big band recorded for the Bel Canto label. Many of the Bel Canto outings are now available on CD from Fresh Sound in Spain. Although the band's output was generally geared toward a dance crowd (his recordings rarely ran longer than three minutes)  Zentner employed many fine Jazz soloists during this period. Among them, Bob Enevoldson, Frankie Capp, Jackie Mills, and Don Fagerquist. On his first release Zentner used the arranging skills of Billy May.

However it was the second and third releases for Zentner that held more for jazz fans. A December of 1958 session with many of the aforementioned musicians produced the swinging Hollwood Freeway. A January of 1959 session held swinging treatments of Jolly Roger and Walkin' Home.

Si began recording for Liberty in 1959, and after assembling a large touring swing outfit, toured steadily. A great PR man and promoter, Zentner's bands won an amazing 13 straight Down Beat polls for “Best Big Band.” Perhaps the most important among the regular members of the bands Zentner formed was pianist Bob Florence, whose 1961 arrangement of a ”twist” version of Hoagy Carmichael's "Up a Lazy River," crossed over into the top 50 pop charts, winning a Grammy for Best Instrumental, and gave Zentner his biggest hit.

In 1965 Zentner moved to Las Vegas and opened the Tropicana Hotel's lounge called the Blue Room, accompanying Mel Tormé. Three years later, he was named musical director for one of Las Vegas' longest-running floorshows, “Les Folies Bergere.”

Bookings came less frequently in his later years because Zentner refused to perform with less than a 15-piece band or downscale his arrangements.

Si Zentner died in Las Vegas from leukemia at 82 in 2000.

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