[78-L] why Savoy Havana Band?

John Wright vintage at jabw.demon.co.uk.invalid
Wed Nov 29 13:31:29 PST 2017

David, there was a good reason for 'Havana Band', the first leader Bert
Ralton and some of the musicians had just left  a residence in Havana, Cuba.
His band at the Savoy was originally named his New York Havana Band in 1921
(he had been in NYC too) then by 1922, it was known by its more familiar
name, the Savoy
Havana Band.

It's all explained in a back issue of VJM, I think from 2014 article by Jack
Mitchell and Nick Dellow.

"In 1919, Ralton travelled to New York with Hickman's
Orchestra to record for Columbia and also appear with the band
in the 14th Ziegfeld Follies at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
When the band returned to California in 1920, Ralton stayed
on in New York with Hickman's banjoist Victor King (real name
Victor Mesplou) to play in a trio at the Vernon Club, the third
member being a young George Gershwin. Ralton and King then
went to Havana in Cuba as members of Max Dolin's .......

"The arrival in England in July 1921 of Bert Ralton provided de
Mornys with the opportunity he was seeking. Ralton had with
him a letter of introduction from the American arm of the
Columbia recording company, as well as contacts with American
musicians he had recently worked with in Havana and New
York. De Mornys immediately recognised the potential that
Ralton and his band could provide in reviving the fortunes of
the Savoy Hotel's ballroom. An important factor was Ralton
himself, for as well as being an outstanding musician he also
understood the value of showmanship, and de Mornys knew
how to promote this to Fleet Street. Indeed, de Mornys was
something of a one man publicity machine, adept at feeding a
press that was hungry for any details about this new
phenomenon called "jazz" that was sweeping across the dance
halls, hotels and restaurants of London and beyond. Between
them, Ralton and de Mornys would prove to be a winning
combination of personality and publicity.

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:19:42 -0500
From: David Lennick <dlennick at sympatico.ca.invalid>
Subject: Re: [78-L] What is a Savannah Band?

And what did Havana have to do with the Savoy Havana Band?



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