Wednesday, December 03, 2008
In March of 2007, I travelled back to my old haunts in Chicago and picked up a few Christmas albums. Among these were two SEALED copies of Mae West's "Mae In December" reissue from 1980.
I sold one on eBay to a buyer from California and as I was preparing to sell the second copy, I discovered the buyer had listed his copy at double what he paid for it! I took a scan through his other albums for sale and noticed this album.
Through e-mails, we set up a trade - my second Mae West for this 10" LP by Phil Spitalny.
For those not in the know, Spitalny was the leader of an entire all-girl orchestra - only one of two during the heyday of the Big Band era. They played "jazzed" classics and light classical with equal aplomb, and had a roster of soloists that any orchestra envied.
One of the featured soloists was Evelyn Klein, the concertmaster of the orchestra. She soon received top billing as Evelyn and Her Magic Violin. Evelyn and Phil took a liking to each other and married in 1945.
Their big break came when they hosted their own radio program called "The Hour of Charm." - hence the name change. Spitalny and Co. were one of the first groups to popularize a Ukrainian carol with English lyrics in the early 1940s - any guesses?
This album was issued in 1951 (right after The Three Suns "Christmas Favorites" in the catalog) and contains three songs (side one) and three medleys (side two).
Phil Spitalny & The Hour Of Charm - Christmas Carols By
Four years later, Spitalny decided to retire, disbanded the Hour Of Charm, and took Evelyn (and her magic violin) to Miami for a well deserved retirement. He filled out his days as music critic for one of the Miami newspapers and died in 1982.
P.S. The answer to the song? The beginning of track six. Yes, way!