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OLD TIME RADIO - 1 mp3 CD - 32 Shows - Total Playtime: 15:23:26

The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street was a musical variety radio program which began on the Blue Network in 1940. The magazine Radio Life described it as "one of radio's strangest offsprings... a wacky, strictly hep tongue-in-cheek burlesque of opera and symphony."

It was a weekly half-hour of jazz, played by leading practitioners of the day. The format was a dry satire of the stuffy symphonic and operatic broadcasts announced by the dignified Milton Cross. The Basin Street opening, intoned by announcer Jack McCarthy, usually went along these lines:

Greetings, music lovers, and that includes you too, Toots. Once again you are tuned in on a concert by the no doubt world-renowned Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, whose members have consecrated their lives to the preservation of the music of the Three Bs: Barrelhouse, Boogie-Woogie, and the Blues. Present with us on this solemn occasion: Mademoiselle Dinah (Diva) Shore, who starts fires by rubbing two notes together; Maestro Paul Laval and his ten termite-proof woodwinds; Dr. Gino Hamilton, as our chairman and intermission commentator; and Dr. Henry Levine, with his Dixieland Little Symphony of eight men and no!

The society's low-key chairman, the witty Gene Hamilton (always introduced as "Dr. Gino Hamilton"), would then call the meeting to order, peppering his formal speech with slang: "There are those critics of the saxophone who say it is merely an unfortunate cross between a lovesick oboe and a slap-happy clarinet. To those critics we must say, 'Kindly step outside with us a moment' and 'Is there a doctor in the house?'" These off-center comments were actually scripted by Welbourn Kelley, but Hamilton's deadpan deliveries often made the musicians laugh out loud.

The program then delivered 30 minutes of blues and hot jazz, with Dr. Gino stepping in between numbers to deliver such comments as, "A Bostonian looks like he's smelling something. A New Yorker looks like he's found it."

Two resident bands provided the music. Henry Levine and His Dixieland Octet offered traditional "readings" of jazz standards such as "Farewell Blues," "St. Louis Blues," and "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street." Trumpeter Levine (born Harry Lewis in London, England in 1907), a former member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, was quite familiar with these arrangements. Paul Laval and His Woodwindy Ten (which included some of Levine's personnel) played the same type of music on more symphonic instruments, demonstrating that such instruments as oboe, bassoon, and celeste were equally capable of producing hot jazz. In 1943 maestro Laval (born Joseph Usifer in Beacon, New York in 1908) changed his surname to "Lavalle" to avoid association with then-notorious war criminal Pierre Laval.

Each week "Dr. Gino" Hamilton would feature a notable guest from the jazz world, either a musicologist or a performer. Such celebrated soloists as Sidney Bechet, Bobby Hackett, Jelly Roll Morton, and Benny Carter sat in with Levine's band. On one occasion Hamilton introduced a W. C. Handy tune, adding that if Mr. Handy was listening from his home in New York, it was hoped he would approve. Handy was indeed listening, and the delighted Hamilton invited him to appear on the following week's broadcast. On another occasion, probably at the urging of Hackett, comedian Jackie Gleason showed up with a monologue about jazz musicians. Gleason was paid $350 for this appearance, which was so well received by listeners that he was invited back to the program.

Each show featured a "girl singer." Dinah Shore and then Lena Horne received national exposure from their Lower Basin Street appearances. Linda Keene replaced Horne in 1941. The job was taken in turn by Dixie Mason, Dodie O'Neill, and Kay Lorraine.

Each broadcast ended with the ritual of Levine's band playing "Basin Street Blues" in "the 'Farewell Symphony' arrangement" -- gradually, each musician would bow out of the song, until finally bassist Harry Patent was playing solo, "dolefully drubbing on his dog house."

The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street made its debut on February 11, 1940. During its first months on NBC it was a sustaining feature (meaning unsponsored) in a late-Sunday-afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET) time slot. It soon developed a loyal following, and on September 16, 1940 NBC began airing the show in prime time, on Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET.

Hamilton left the series in 1943 and was replaced by the man the scripts were burlesquing: Milton Cross. The final broadcast was aired on October 8, 1944.


Chamber Music Society 40 05 05 Guest Benny Carter
Chamber Music Society 40 06 13 Bobby Hackett
Chamber Music Society 40 06 16 First Song The Twelfth Street Rag
Chamber Music Society 40 06 23 First Song Twelth Street Rag
Chamber Music Society 40 07 14 Jelly Roll Morton
Chamber Music Society 40 08 04 First Song Might Like The Blues
Chamber Music Society 40 08 19 First Song My Gal Sal
Chamber Music Society 40 10 21 First Song Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
Chamber Music Society 41 01 06 First Song Swinging At the Savot
Chamber Music Society 41 02 17 Joe Marsala Quartet
Chamber Music Society 41 05 26 First Song In the Hall of the Mountain King
Chamber Music Society 41 06 16 First Song Beale Street Blues
Chamber Music Society 41 06 23 First Song Black Eyes
Chamber Music Society 41 06 30 First Song Ida
Chamber Music Society 41 07 07 First Song Flying Home
Chamber Music Society 41 07 14 First Song March of the Goons
Chamber Music Society 41 07 21 First Song Carry Me Back To Old Virginny
Chamber Music Society 41 07 28 First Song Kerry Dance
Chamber Music Society 41 08 04 First Song Spanish Dance
Chamber Music Society 41 08 11 First Song Amapola
Chamber Music Society 41 09 01 First Song Dixieland One Step
Chamber Music Society 41 09 08 First Song Overture from Marriage of Figaro
Chamber Music Society 41 10 22 First Song Ida
Chamber Music Society 41 10 29 First Song Dixieland One Step
Chamber Music Society 41 12 17 First Song Everybody Step
Chamber Music Society 44 09 24 Milton Cross, Johnny Johnson, Mullins Sisters
Chamber Music Society 50 03 13 Audition
Chamber Music Society 52 04 12 First Song The Dixieland One Step
Chamber Music Society 52 04 19 First Song That's A'Plenty
Chamber Music Society 52 05 03 First Song Sweet Georgia Brown
Chamber Music Society 52 05 10 First Song Jazz Me Blues
Chamber Music Society 52 07 19 First Song Riverboat Shuffle
Chamber Music Society xx xx xx (21) First Song Black Bottom (AFRS)
Chamber Music Society xx xx xx (23) First Song Keep Smiling (AFRS)





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  • Model: OTR-1CD-ChamberMusicSociety
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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 14 February, 2014.

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