As I have mentioned in the past, I like to fill requests whenever possible. A while ago one of our group members asked for some Soundies that featured compositions by Raymond Scott. Here we have the second of four, or five if I can find one elusive print. Today’s offering is Scott’s 1939 composition “In an Eighteenth-Century Drawing Room.”
Dave Schooler’s all-woman orchestra appears in eight Soundies, a sign of popularity since this would not have been an inexpensive series to produce. Having said that, tt is surprising that we know so little about Schooler or this particular band.
Schooler performed as a youngster and was a working professional by the late 1920s, occasionally billed as “The Boy Paderewski.” By 1929 he had relocated to and was performing in New York City. Variety introduced Schooler’s all-woman Swinghearts as a “new act” in December 1938, noting that in spite the band’s name, “their music is far from swing, indulging primarily in sweet and semi-classical music.” The band was booked frequently on the theater stage during this period, mostly along the East Coast. The orchestra toured regularly, and band member Jeanne Phillips (Jean Soroka) noted, “That’s all it [the band] did, is travel. In buses you slept sitting up. That’s the way it was in Dave Schooler’s band. From city to city. You got very little sleep.” As late as 1949 Dave Schooler was leading an orchestra, and on one gig it was featured at the Strand Theater in New York City backing a stage presentation that included the Ravens and Dinah Washington.
The eight Soundies by Schooler and the Twenty-One Swinghearts are all quite static and “samey” in nature. The music is sweet and sedate, although the musicianship is highly professional. While the Swinghearts was often booked for the novelty aspect of a large all-woman orchestra on stage, it must be remembered that theater jobs would have required the band to play the music backing all of the other acts. Again, these are fine instrumentalists, even if their music was less than thrilling.
“In an Eighteenth-Century Drawing Room” is one of Raymond Scott’s compositions where the song title fits the music perfectly. This is the only film eight Soundies where Schooler is featured at the piano, a role that he fills well.