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Philip Spitalny: Someone Is Losin’ Susan

April 21, 2010

Philip Spitalny and His Orchestra
Someone Is Losin’ Susan

Recorded in 1926

Phil Spitalny is best remembered for his Hour of Charm Orchestra, an all-girl band featuring Evelyn and her Magic Violin. (Phil ended up marrying Evelyn, and the Magic Violin passed the rest of its days in boozy depression before finally succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver.)

But this was before that, when he had a hot band that could compete with the best dance orchestras of the middle 1920s. This was that short but miraculous time when every popular band was actually trying to play good jazz, and many of them were succeeding. Listen to the last chorus and ask yourself whether popular dance music ever got any better.

Phil Spitalny was born in Ukraine, which was disguised as Russia back then, but he grew up in Cleveland. His brother Maurice was well known to a generation of Pittsburghers as leader of house bands on several radio stations, and later on television, but perhaps most visibly as the director of the pit band at the Stanley Theater downtown. His fans remember how the band used to strike up the newsreel theme, then sink out of sight (the whole orchestra pit was on an elevator) and fade away as the projectionist turned up the sound on the film, so that it was impossible to tell when the band stopped and the soundtrack began. They don’t teach that skill at the conservatories.

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From → Hot Dance

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