Have you ever heard the name Gene Gifford before? If not then there is nothing to feel bad about it.
Harold Eugene “Gene” Gifford (May 31, 1908 – November 12, 1970) was a white American banjo player, guitarist and arranger and was nearly unknown during the swing era.
Gifford grew up in Memphis Tennessee where he played banjo in high school. He performed with territory bands before he toured Texas with his own band. Then, he worked with the band “Blue Steele”, where he switched to guitar, and others.
In 1929, he arranged for Jean Goldkette and gained some attention. In the same year, Gifford became a member of the Orange Blossoms, evolving shortly after in the Casa Loma Orchestra.
At the beginning, he was the chief arranger, played guitar and banjo in the band. In 1933, he gave up actively playing and focused on composing and arranging. His compositions and arrangements gave the Casa Loma Orchestra its own personality: “Smokey Rings”, “Casa Loma Stomp” and many others are the titles of memorable tunes by him.
Gene Gifford just led one recording session of his own, resulting in four sides in 1935 for Victor.
In 1939, he left the band and started to arrange for top bands and for radio. During 1948-1949, he returned to the Casa Loma Orchestra, now known as Glen Gray’s Orchestra.
On a part-time basis he was still writing and teaching music, but most of the time in the following two decades, he was working as a radio engineer.
New Orleans Twist is one of the four songs, he recorded under his own name. A vivid tune for Balboa and Lindy Hop dancers.
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