Two By Richard Maltby And His Orchestra – with The Honey Dreamers – SESAC Transcription service – 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Two numbers by American band leader Richard Maltby and his orchestra, recorded for SESAC and released as part of their radio station music disc series in 1956. The opening number features the Honey Dreamers on vocals.
1956 was still very much a transition period as far as Youth market and the slow emergence of Rock n’ Roll to a mass audience was concerned.
Slow dancing, suits, tuxedos and evening gowns were still the primary elements for dating most Saturday nights. Rock n’ Roll was somewhere in the distance, but gaining quickly. It was the music that didn’t require much close contact in order to get a point across But it was something that held appeal for a younger crowd – 14, 15 and 16 were the ages where the most voracious appetite for Rock n’ Roll was making its presence known.
And even though the Big Band era had been gone for a while, some artists and ensembles prevailed, no matter how much against the prevailing trend they bucked.
Richard Maltby Sr. most notable for his 1956 recording “(Themes from) The Man with the Golden Arm”. He was also the father of the Broadway lyricist and director Richard Maltby Jr.
After studying briefly at Northwestern University’s music school, he left college to become a full-time musician. He played trumpet with several big bands, including those of Jack Little, Roger Pryor, Bob Strong and Henry Busse, as well as also doing some arranging. In 1940, he took a job as an arranger for the orchestra of the Chicago-based radio station, WBBM, before moving to New York City in 1945 to become an arranger-conductor on network radio, where he worked with Paul Whiteman. In 1942, Benny Goodman recorded his composition “Six Flats Unfurnished.”
During the post-war years, he made several recordings for subsidiary labels of RCA Victor, and in 1954, finally scored a Top 40 hit with “St. Louis Blues Mambo”. In 1955, he began leading his own dance band, with which he had his Top 20 hit, “(Themes From) The Man With the Golden Arm”, in the spring of the following year. He left RCA for Columbia Records in 1959, then moved to Roulette Records a year later. He stopped recording on his own during the mid-1960s.
He was also the musical director of SESAC Jazz Classics between 1950 and 1965, and recorded several transcriptions for radio. As a conductor, he worked with singers such as Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Johnnie Ray, Vic Damone and Ethel Merman, and after he stopped recording on his own, he served as an arranger and conductor for Lawrence Welk on records and television.
So to get an idea of what your life was like before Rock n’ Roll pounded down your door, here’s an example of what the post-17 year old crowd was listening to, circa 1956.
You couldn’t really consider Maltby’s music Jazz, by any stretch. It’s light, listenable and non-threatening. Perhaps music to harken back to an earlier, simpler time.
For the next six or so minutes, pretend you’re somewhere in 1956. Rock n’ Roll isn’t part of your vocabulary yet, but it’s trying.