Friday, September 26, 2008

Sammy Kaye's "Sunday Serenade"

Sammy Kaye's "Sunday Serenade" started out in January of 1944 and lasted through is on nationally on the NBC Blue network. ABC picked it up in 1944 and carried it until 1948. I really cant' stand Key's music. It's to the far pop side of big band and really without any redeeming value. I refuse to call it a swing band. They did not sing. It was more like light pop. That said, he was very popular. Both Perry Como and Nat King Cole covered his songs.

The program was a mix of idle chatter, live music and strangely, poetry. On his Sunday Serenade radio program, Kaye read poetry sent in to his show by his listeners, often over the music. Eventually this spawned a series of self-released books collecting poetry from the program. His book company was "Serenade Publishing." The 30 minute program was very light and is often described as "relaxing." Kaye plugged the books on the show and that worked well enough they're easy to find today.

It was actually one of the earliest programs ever to feature poetry readings. The right to read poetry over the radio actually had to go to court. In 1934 Jimmy Durante spontaneously broke out into verse on an NBC program. It's author Alfred Kreymborg sued Durante and NBC. the court ruled in favor of the schnozzola. Poetry had a little miniature boom in broadcasting.

So as the story goes, Kaye was on his tour bus near Cincinnati he's listening to a rendition of "Moon river" a late-night program at WLW-AM. Over the gentle little tune somebody read some poetry. Kaye loved it and retooled his program. They broadcast live from a small theater in the New York Barbizon Hotel. AFRN carried the program around the world. The Barbizon was an odd hotel. In the 1920s it was a refuge for single women. Men were not allowed above the lobby. More here.

Sammy recorded for Vocalion, RCA Victor, and Columbia in his career. He began as a saxophonist in college, playing in dance bands. He formed a ball room big band and played in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland before relocating to New York. In radio he appeared on the Old Gold Cigarettes program, The Chesterfield Supper Club, Sammy Kayes Cameo Room, So You want to Lead a band and Sammy Kaye's Chrysler Showroom.