Tuesday, December 13, 2011


In the early 1900's the most important source of new songs were vaudeville and music halls.. Soon vaudeville was replaced by live musical stage shows. By the mid 1930's orchestra dance bands dominated the best sellers list.

In Syracuse, in the 20's Eddie Williamson launched a musical career that would span over 50 years. Eddie and his band "The Parisians" traveled to Europe in a contest sponsored by Atwater Kent Radio Corp. They returned to Europe many times trhereafter as the house band of the Cunard Ship Lines. Eddie's eleven piece orchestra featuring Judge Orman Gale on trombone, traveled to Russia, France (Paris), Norway and South America and ended up in the Hollywood Hills

By the early 30's a young high school student began singing steadily with the Williamson Orchestra. He name Gordon McCrea and he became a national singing and motion picture star. The band enjoyed playing overflow crowds every Saturday evening at Drumblins Country Club. Following his opening number of Stardust, many prominent musicians played with the Williamson Orchestra including Lou DeSantis, Richard Gale, Will Alger ( later with the Salt City Six), Ray Owens (Jimmy Dorsey Band) and Jack Kreisher. Eddie Williamson continued his music into the 70's, he was a true innovator in the Syracuse Big Band Sound.

Another noted band of the 1930-40's was Johnny Kamels Caravan, with members all capable of making it into the big time, and eventually most of them did. Lou Mucci joined Paul Whiteman & Glen Miller's Orchestra and Gino "Guy" Bono played with Ted Floribo. But leader Johnny Kamels stayed around town, choosing to forgo the bus tours and countless nights on the road to stay in Syracuse and jam local clubs to their rafters.

Towards the end of the 1930's another name reached national recognition. Michael Andrew "Peanuts" Hucko. Hucko for most of his professional music life, became a man of quite special distinction. racking up credits in an astonishing variety of settings.

Born in Syracuse April 7, 1918, he first rose to national attention with the Will Bradley Orchestra in the fall of 1939. Peanuts was in and out of a few other big bands before entering World War II where he was a member of Glen Miller's Air Force Orchestra. Discharged in 1945, he worked briefly with Benny Goodman and Ray McKinley and then moved into jazz more seriously. Next radio shows with Jack Teagarden and three years at Eddie Condon's.

During the early 1950's, "Peanuts" spent most of his time doing staff work at either CBS or ABC in New York City. He was been a featured soloist virtually throughout his career. He has sat in may saxophone sections, but almost always doubled on clarinet. Hucko rejoined Teagarden again touring Europe in 1957 just before earning his most prestigious association as a member of Louis Armstrong's All-Star. It was his years with "Satch" that he began to establish himself as a star of world dimensions. A recording he made in Tokyo (1960), with Shoji Suzuki's Rhythm Aces became one of Japan's All-Time best selling jazz albums.

"Peanuts" Hucko later recorded with the Roman New Orleans Rhythm Kings as well as making other over sea's trips, several returns to Condon's, appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival, visits to Dick Gibson's jazz parties in Colorado, and membership in what eventually became know as the World's Greatest Jazzland.

The 1970's began with two years as a featured soloist on Lawrence Welk weekly television show. Peanuts in 1974, fronted the Glen Miller band for eight frantic months. At that time he hired Syracuse vocalist Dan Elliott (Monterays) and toured Japan and thought out Canada. "Peanuts" was also seen playing Syracuse's  Dinkler Motel in the early 1980's.'

No comments:

Post a Comment