DOWN A RABBIT HOLE WITH LINDA KEENE

    Well, it’s the first week of June and I haven’t posted a new blahg in almost three months.  Scott Henderson still cool in 2020Where do I begin to explain?  Covid 19.  Those have to be bad words in any language right now and I’m also not a fan of “the new normal”.  I only just returned to work this week.  I’ve been off since mid-March.  I took a week of holidays the second week of March and was in Toronto to see a concert and saw my children and then when I got back the world went to hell in a hand basket or is it a hand bag or an apple cart.  It didn’t matter how we got here but I was off from work for a long time and had no excuse not to write a blahg except that I just couldn’t get motivated.  This is the blahg I had in mind the past couple of months and I hope you enjoy it.  Go to hell on your own Covid 19 and stop dragging us along with you! 

   In a previous blahg at the end of 2019 I mentioned that I took over posting “THIS DATE IN SINATRA HISTORY” for a Yahoo Group I belong to.  The previous moderator had disappeared mysteriously and there had been no new posts for almost six months.  He sent a cryptic email last fall with promises of an update on what had happened to him but then he went silent.  I decided last September to revive the daily posts because I didn’t want to see the Yahoo group die due to inactivity.  So, each day I dig through past posts and corrections to post things related to Frank Sinatra for a particular day.  As it relates to this blahg, here was a radio listing for the entry from April 17:

April 17, 1950 Strictly From Dixie
Henry Levine Orchestra
NBC Blue Network
WJZ
New York City
10:30 – 11:00 p.m.
Monday Evening
Henry Levine Orchestra & Soloists
Martha Lou Harp    blues singer
Guest  Singer: Frank Sinatra
Sinatra on Strictly From Dixie

The previous listing has been slightly incorrect and looked like this:
April 17, 1950 Henry Levine Orchestra
NBC Blue Network
WJZ
New York City
10:30 – 11:00 p.m.
Monday Evening
Henry Levine Orchestra & Soloists
Martha Lou Harp    blues singer
Guest  Singer: Frank Sinatra
I’m a stickler for accuracy and when I saw this listing I had to research it and that’s where I came up with the correct title of the show being “Strictly From Dixie” with Henry Levine and his Orchestra.  I wasn’t able to find a review or a listing for songs performed by Sinatra so if anyone has a copy of this show or a review or knows the songs performed, please let me know. 
   Well, that one listing is what sent me down the proverbial rabbit hole as referenced in the title of this blahg.  When researching Henry Levine and his Orchestra and “Strictly From Dixie” I came across a box set of 78 rpm records  under the title of “Strictly From Dixie”Strictly From Dixie - Henry Levine and his Orchestra with what is now considered and inappropriate cover.  The cover, to the left and which will show a larger version when clicked upon, listed Henry Levine and His Jazz Band and Linda Keene as Soloist.  I was not aware of the Band nor the soloist and unfortunately the album of 78rpm records has never been issued on CD or digital format.  I eventually found a download of the album having been digitized by a collector from the original 78rpm list.  The music was great and this “Linda Keene” soloist was a delight. 
   
I began to research more about Henry Levine and Linda Keene and discovered that both were part of “NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street”.  It was a weekly radio jam session of the 1940s, with two house bands backing guest soloists who were the leading exponents of jazz.   Henry Levine was a regular and some of those guest soloists included Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, and Linda Keene.  NBC's Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street LPWhen I came across the information about the “Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street”I realized that I had a vinyl LP by that title.  I had bought it some time ago at a local Church sale.  Funny the things you remember.  Well, I pulled out my LP and was saddened to find that my copy did not include any vocals by Linda Keene.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great album and the music by Sidney Bechet, Henry Levine, and Paul Laval is excellent as are the vocals by Dinah Shore and Lena Horne.  But where was Linda Keene? 
   
   I have since discovered that there was a CD issued ofLower Basin Street CD “NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street” on the ‘Harlequin’ label.  If you look at the image to the left you will see that Linda Keene is included on the CD and there’s even a picture on the bottom right of her.  Linda’s only two tracks on the CD are “Somebody Loves Me” and “Georgia On My Mind” with Henry Levine and his Dixieland Philharmonic.  The two tracks were recorded February 2 and February 4, 1942 respectively.  How do I know about those recording dates?  You’ll have to keep reading but first give a listen to those two tracks:
LINDA KEENE –SOMEBODY LOVES ME–
THE FALSE DUCKS BLAHG
LINDA KEENE –GEORGIA ON MY MIND–
THE FALSE DUCKS BLAHG
 
 There is much to be found on the Internet about Dinah Shore and Lena Horne but when it came to Linda Keene I had do a little digging.  I just kept coming across 78rpm listings or that one CD or occasional references to her appearances on “NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street”.  Eventually I found a reprint of an article from “Doctor Jazz Magazine” out of Holland.  I am not sure of the date of the magazine but here are scans of the article below.  Click on each to get a larger sized image.
Unlucky Woman - The Story Of Linda Keene Page 1
Unlucky Woman - The Story Of Linda Keene Page 2
Unlucky Woman - The Story Of Linda Keene Page 3

    Koodos if you read the whole article.  It’s a fine article and included some information about Linda Keene of which I was not aware.  At the end of this article, the following paragraph caught my eye: 

“There is only one Linda Keene CD collection available at this time. This is an unheralded collection of most of Keene’s recordings and soundies called ‘The Velvet Voice of the Forgotten Linda Keene’ produced by Prov. Eves I. Raja for Hunter Music in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

I was ecstatic about that paragraph and that this CD existed.  The only problem is I could find no reference for Prov. Eves I. Raja  or for Hunter Music in Hamilton, Ontario.  Also World Records, where you could obtain the CD, went out of business a few years ago.  I was lucky enough to find the CD artwork online for front and back covers: 

Linda Keene CD Front Cover

Linda Keene CD Back Cover
If you click on the images you get a larger image and you can make out all of the tracks and their recording dates.  That’s how I found out the recording dates for “Somebody Loves Me” and “Georgia On My Mind”.  On further research I discovered that almost all of the tracks on the CD had been issued only on 78rpm.  Some tracks showed up on compilation box sets of some of the bands but a few are impossible to hear unless you can find the original 78s or track down the elusive CD “The Velvet Voice Of The Forgotten Linda Keene”. 

   There’s also the words “Soundie” and “Soundies” that show up in the article above and listed on the back of the CD.  Here’s what I found out about “Soundies”: 

“Soundies are three-minute American musical films, produced between 1940 and 1947, each containing a song, dance, and/or band or orchestral number. Produced professionally on 35mm black-and-white film, like theatrical motion pictures, they were printed in the more portable and economical 16mm gauge.

The films were shown in a coin-operated “movie jukebox” called the Panoram, manufactured by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago. Each Panoram housed a 16mm RCA film projector, with eight Soundies films threaded in an endless-loop arrangement. A system of mirrors flashed the image from the lower half of the cabinet onto a front-facing screen in the top half. Each film cost 10 cents to play, and there was no choice of song; the patron saw whatever film was next in the queue. Panorams could be found in public amusement centers, nightclubs, taverns, restaurants, and factory lounges, and the films were changed weekly. The completed Soundies were generally made available within a few weeks of their filming, by the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America.”

So Linda Keene appeared in three of these early music video “soundies” and the audio tracks from each “soundie” is included on the Linda Keene CD.  Luckily someone posted a video of all three “soundies” on Youtube in one video:

   Gradually, I was able to find most of the audio tracks that were included on the Linda Keene CD as downloads or by ripping the audio from the individual “soundies” into individual audio tracks.  I even found a Linda Keene vocal not included on the CD, “Especially For You” recorded with the Jack Teagarden Orchestra on June 23, 1939, the same day she recorded “You’re The Moment In My Life”.  Give a listen to both of them: 

LINDA KEENE –ESPECIALLY FOR YOU–
THE FALSE DUCKS BLAHG
LINDA KEENE –YOU’RE THE MOMENT IN MY LIFE–
THE FALSE DUCKS BLAHG

   As I said, I was able to find almost all of the tracks from the Linda Keene CD.  Almost means that I couldn’t find them all.  In this case, the four missing tracks are the following: 

  1. At The Balalaika — Lennie Hayton Orchestra December 7, 1939

  2. The Starlight Hour — Lennie Hayton Orchestra December 7, 1939

  3. One Cigarette For Two — Lennie Hayton Orchestra February 20, 1943

  4. I Love You Too Much — Lennie Hayton Orchestra February 20, 1943

I’m not sure why the elusive ones are the four she did with Lennie Hayton but it might be because there hasn’t been a compiled Lennie Hayton box set.  I did find a website, http://www.angelfire.com/music5/tony2003/html/lennie_hayton.htm that suggested someone had compiled the complete commercial recordings of Lennie Hayton from 1937-1940 that included the Linda Keene vocals.  I believe it was only for private circulation because I have found no other reference to this collection.  Here’s the track listing that was posted:

Lennie Hayton & His Orchestra 1937-1940

Complete Commercial Recordings: Decca, Varsity & Vocalion

  1. Carelessly (Chas. & Nick Kenny ‑ Norman Ellis). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1248‑A (62144‑A). NY, 4/22/1937. E. Sid Stoneburn, clarinet solo. 3:10
  2. It Looks Like Rain In Cherry Blossom Lane (Edgar Leslie‑Joe Burke). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1248‑B (62145‑A). NY, 4/22/1937.  3:13
  3. The Lady Who Couldn’t Be Kissed (from the Warner Bros. production “The Singing Marine”) (Harry Warren‑Al Dubin). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1268‑B (62146‑A). NY, 4/22/1937.(Seems as if Hayton recorded practically the entire score of “The Singing Marine”, a musical that starred Kenny Baker. I’ve seen it on TCM). 3:05
  4. Night Over Shanghai (from the Warner Bros. production “The Singing Marine”) (Harry Warren‑Johnny Mercer). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1268‑A (62147‑A). NY, 4/22/1937.  3:19
  5. I Know Now (from the Warner Bros. production “The Singing Marine”) (Harry Warren‑Al Dubin). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1267‑A (62148‑A). NY, 4/22/1937.  3:12
  6. You Can’t Run Away From Love Tonight (from the Warner Bros. Production “The Singing Marine”) (Harry Warren‑Al Dubin). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1267‑B (62149‑A). NY, 4/22/1937.  3:03
  7. Gone With the Wind (Allie Wrubel‑Herb Magidson). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1341‑A (62320‑A). NY, 7/1/1937.  3:05
  8. What A Beautiful Beginning (from the 20th Century‑Fox production “Sing And Be Happy”) (Harry Akst‑Sidney Clare). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1341‑B (62321‑A). NY, 7/1/1937.  2:38
  9. Can I Forget You (from the Paramount picture “High, Wide And Handsome”) (Jerome Kern- Oscar Hammerstein II). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1348‑A (62324‑A). NY, 7/1/1937.  3:13
  10. The Folks Who Live On the Hill (from the Paramount picture “High, Wide And Handsome”) (Jerome Kern‑Oscar Hammerstein II). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1348‑B (62325‑B). NY, 7/1/1937.  3:05
  11. That Old Feeling (from the Walter Wanger production “Vogues of 1938”) (Lew Brown‑Sammy Fain). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1354‑A (62326‑A). NY, 7/1/1937. Superb side; solos from Sid Stoneburn‑clarinet, and either Ralph Muzzilo or Red Hymie‑trumpet. E to E+. 2:54
  12. Lovely One (from the Walter Wanger production “Vogues of 1938”) (Manning Sherwin‑Frank Loesser). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1354‑B (62327‑A). NY, 7/1/1937.  3:06
  13. Once In A While (Michael Edwards‑Bud Green). Vocal by Paul Barry. (American) Decca 1443‑A (62582‑A). NY, 9/8/1937.  3:00
  14. Once In A While (Edwards‑Green). Vocal by Paul Barry. (Canadian) Decca 1443‑A (62582‑B). NY, 9/8/1937.  3:02
  15. The Morning After (Dorsey‑Jaffe‑Boland). Vocal by Paul Barry. (American) Decca 1443‑B (62583‑B;). NY, 9/8/1937.  3:01
  16. So Many Memories (Harry Woods). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1437‑B (62584‑A). NY, 9/8/1937. . Sid Stoneburn‑clarinet; ? Ralph Muzzilo‑trumpet. 3:07
  17. Make A Wish (from the Principal Production “Make A Wish”) (Straus‑Alter‑Webster). Vocal by Paul Barry. Decca 1437‑A (62585‑A). NY, 9/8/1937.  2:45
  18. At the Balalaika (from “Balalaika”). Vocal by Linda Keene. Varsity 8125 (US‑1130‑1) NY, c. 12/7/1939.  3:15
  19. The Starlit Hour (Parish‑DeRose). Vocal by Linda Keene. Varsity 8125 (US‑1131‑1; as above). NY, c. 12/7/1939. 2:53
  20. Peg O’ My Heart (Bryan‑Fisher). Varsity 8134 (US‑1132‑2). NY, c. 12/7/1939. Slats Long ‑ clarinet. N-. 3:00
  21. As Long As I Live (Koehler‑Arlen). Varsity 8134 (US‑1133‑2). NY, c. 12/7/1939. N‑. 3:20
  22. AC‑DC Current (Christian‑Hampton‑Goodman). Vocalion 5471 (W‑26540‑A). NY, 2/20/1940. Magnificent side, probably Hayton’s best! Solos throughout. N-. 2:52
  23. I Love You Much Too Much (Olshey‑Raye‑Towber). Vocal by Linda Keene. Vocalion 5421 (W‑26541‑A). NY, 2/20/1940.  3:00
  24. Times Square Scuttle (Hayton). Vocalion 5471 (W‑26542‑A). NY, 2/20/1940. That trumpet sounds like Yank Lawson to me, but wasn’t he still with Crosby at this time??? or not??? N‑. 2:32
  25. One Cigarette For Two (Metzger‑Dougherty‑Ryan). Vocal by Linda Keene. Vocalion 5421 (W‑26543‑A). NY, 2/20/1940.  2:56

The other notes on the page mention Liner notes by John Leifert and all records and transfers by John Leifert.  I have found some online information about John Leifert but my attempts to contact him have failed.  If anyone has the four tracks by Linda Keene with Lennie Hayton or has a copy of this CD or a better way for me to contact John Leifert, please let me know.  As a side note, Lennie Hayton was married to Lena Horne from 1947 until his death in 1971.  That’s right, the same Lena Horne that appeared along with Dinah Shore and Linda Keene during the run of “NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street”.  Small world! 

   I was going to end my blahg about Linda Keene at this point but yesterday I found another undocumented Linda Keene vocal.  Linda Keene audition 78

This was a listing on Ebay of an “Audition 78” of Linda Keene singing “Muddy Waters”.  I don’t know anything more about this 78 nor the song “Muddy Waters”.  The price on the auction is $60 Canadian plus another $25 for shipping and import.  That’s a little steeper and a little deeper down the rabbit hole than I care to venture. If anyone has a copy of this 78 or a digital copy of the vocal then contact me and I will add it to the collection.

   Before I do end this blahg, I want to post a couple more tracks by Linda Keene.  The first is his her earliest track that I’ve found “Blue And Disillusioned” with the Bobby Hackett Band from November 4, 1938, followed by one of my favourites the upbeat and enchanting “Number Ten Lullaby Lane” with the Tony Pastor Orchestra from February 18, 1941.  The other vocals on “Number Ten Lullaby Lane” are John McAfee, Dorsey Anderson, and Tony Pastor: 

LINDA KEENE –BLUE AND DISILLUSIONED–
THE FALSE DUCKS BLAHG
LINDA KEENE –NUMBER TEN LULLABY LANE–
THE FALSE DUCKS BLAHG

   What a marvellous voice…a treat and a treasure.  Imagine, if I hadn’t started re-posting the Sinatra History then I’d never have gone down this rabbit hole and found Linda Keene!

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2 Responses to “DOWN A RABBIT HOLE WITH LINDA KEENE”

  1. […] I still have something else that is phenomenal with which to end this blahg.  In a previous blahg, DOWN A RABBIT HOLE WITH LINDA KEENE, I wrote about a listing on Ebay of an “Audition 78” of Linda Keene singing “Muddy […]

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