OK, everyone. Get on your dancing shoes. It’s October 1946, and we are off to Manhattan’s Hotel New Yorker to dine, then dance to Les Elgart and his Orchestra.
The Elgart band had been together for a while by this time, but for some reason it hasn’t clicked with the public. (The Elgart fame and fortune would come a decade later.) Still, the orchestra has gotten some nice gigs in New York City, and the current booking at the Hotel New Yorker was a choice one, indeed. The 1946 band focused on music for dancing, and did the job well. Still, it had some fine jazz musicians within its ranks, include Nick Travis, trumpet; my friend Ben Long on trombone; and an underrated tenor sax, Ernie Perry, who had listened carefully to Lester Young. Also contributing to the band’s dance sets was a vocal quartet, the Tune Tellers. I have tried hard to identify the members of the group, but their names remain lost.
The song, “I May be Wrong (But, I Think You’re Wonderful)” is a familiar standard, one that was used as the theme song at the Apollo Theater for many years. I fine the vocal arrangement and blend of the Tune Tellers to be especially engaging; the instrumental arranger is uncertain but could be by Nelson Riddle or Bill Finegan. The arrangement leaves space for a full chorus by tenor sax Ernie Perry. It is very unusual for a Soundie to give so much solo space to one musician, and even less so to feature him on screen. But Elgart brought the arrangement with him to the session, there were (thankfully) no dancers involved with the series, so we basically see and hear what dancers at the Hotel New Yorker would have experienced in person.