Connie Haines with The Page Cavanaugh Trio – Session for The Standard Radio Transcription Service – circa 1947 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
A big gear switch for a Sunday night. Digging up an example of a singing style long gone from the scene, but one which was the lynchpin for the Big Band era and later to the small combo and which worked its way into the mainstream well into the era of Rock, serving as something of competition between a younger generation and an older one immersed in a sweet and non-threatening popular music that went on until the 1960s.
Connie Haines had a catalogue of some 200 recordings during her career. Early-on, during the big band era, her singing style consisted primarily of up-tempo big band songs with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey orchestras, and Frank Sinatra.
After a number of regional successes and winning the Major Bowes contest, she was hired by Harry James, who asked her to change her name. In 1981, she recalled: “He said you don’t look like Yvonne Marie Antonette Jasme. And there would be no room on the marquee for me. You look like a Connie to me.” She became the lead singer on The Abbott and Costello Show from 1942 to 1946. She later joined Tommy Dorsey, and Haines credited Dorsey with developing her style further. Haines performed in a number of films, including Duchess of Idaho.
In the early 1950s, Haines had a program, Connie Haines Entertains, on the short-lived Progressive Broadcasting System.
She later did a television show with Frankie Laine. Beginning June 18, 1961, Haines had her own TV program, the Connie Haines Show, which also featured Ziggie Elman, Frankie Carle and the Steiner Brothers.
As part of Motown Records diverse signing of new and established artists, in 1965 Haines was one of the first white singers to record for Motown recording 14 songs written by Smokey Robinson, including her 1965 release “What’s Easy For Two Is Hard For One” previously recorded by Mary Wells. In 1965 she recorded the first version of “For Once in My Life”, which was later a hit for Stevie Wonder, but her version was not released until 2015.
Walter Page Cavanaugh was an American jazz and pop pianist, vocalist, and arranger. He began on piano at age nine and played with Ernie Williamson’s band in 1938–39 before moving to Los Angeles and joining the Bobby Sherwood band at age 20.
While serving in the military during World War II, he met guitarist Al Viola and bassist Lloyd Pratt, with whom he formed a trio. After the war’s end they performed together in the style of the Nat King Cole Trio, scoring a number of hits in the late 1940s, including “The Three Bears”, “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home”, and “All of Me”. The trio appeared in the films A Song Is Born, Big City, Lullaby of Broadway (with Doris Day) and Romance on the High Seas (Doris Day’s first film, in 1948).He recorded dozens of tracks with Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, June Christy, Mel Torme and other legendary singers.
In the early 1950s, Cavanaugh had a program, Page Pages You, on the short-lived Progressive Broadcasting System., Additionally, the trio played on Frank Sinatra’s radio program, Songs by Sinatra, and on The Jack Paar Show.
Cavanaugh played in Los Angeles nightclubs through the 1990s, both in a trio setting (with Viola for many years) and as a septet, the Page 7. He recorded with Bobby Woods & Les Deux Love Orchestra. He recorded for MGM, Capitol, RCA, Star Line, Tiara, and Dobre Records over the course of his career, releasing his final trio album, Return to Elegance, in 2006.
Cavanaugh died on December 19, 2008, of kidney failure.
So now you know – all that’s left for you to do is hit the Play button and be curious. This was Pop Music of the 1940s and it survived for a very long time.
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