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Benson Orchestra of Chicago: Down in Maryland

April 6, 2010

The Benson Orchestra of Chicago, from

The Benson Orchestra of Chicago
Down in Maryland

Recorded in 1923

The Benson Orchestra of Chicago was one of the better bands in Chicago in the early 1920s. “Benson” was Edgar A. Benson, who was a businessman with a small empire of dance bands; this was his flagship band, led by pianist Don Bestor, who would later have a pretty good society band of his own (we’ll be hearing from that band soon).

To do business in Chicago, you have to have high standards, and this is a band whose records I always snatch up eagerly when I see them. It employed some good jazz musicians: although we don’t hear a solo from him here, Frankie Trumbauer is in the reed section, which gets quite a workout in the third chorus.

Musical quotations were all the rage in the early 1920s. This Kalmar and Ruby song simply cries out for a few bars from “Maryland, My Maryland” (Maryland’s state song, which non-Marylanders probably know better as the Christmas carol “O Tannenbaum”), and the arranger gives us more than our money’s worth.


From → Hot Dance

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