Bob Crosby was elected bandleader and frontman for an incredible talented collective of musicians, many of whom came from Ben Pollack's band. Crosby did not play any instruments himself, but he occasionally sang with the band.
In 1939 he took over Benny Goodman's spot in the Tuesday night NBC broadcast, "The Camel Caravan". The first four shows were preserved on records and have been reissued on two Giants of Jazz LPs, the first of which is featured here.
The premiere show is hosted by songwriter Johnny Mercer, who composed Get on Board and Ride the Caravan especially for this occasion. The song presents by name several of the most important musicians of the band, including Irving Fazola, Nappy Lamare, Joe Sullivan, Bob Haggard, Eddie Miller, and Ray Bauduc. (These musicians also constituted the core of the "band within the band" known as the Bob Cats.) Big Noise from Winnetka was a novelty hit and showcase for Haggard and Bauduc – here the song is augmented a big band introduction for the first time. From the second show we hear the band playing Joe Sullivan's own composition Little Rock Getaway. The song had previously been recorded by the band with Bob Zurke (himself heavily influenced by Sullivan) on piano.
Discographical data from The Jazz Discography by Tom Lord:
Bob Crosby and His Orchestra: Billy Butterfield, Zeke Zarchy, Shorty Sherock (tp) Warren Smith, Ray Conniff (tb) Irving Fazola (cl) Joe Kearns, Bill Stegmeyer (as) Gil Rodin (ts) Eddie Miller (ts,cl,vcl) Joe Sullivan (p) Nappy Lamare (g,vcl) Bob Haggart (b) Ray Bauduc (d) Johnny Mercer (vcl) Bob Crosby (vcl,ldr)
Broadcast "Camel Caravan", New York, June 27, 1939
Get on Board and Ride the Caravan (jm,bc,nl,em vcl)
Big Noise from Winnetka (bc vcl)
Broadcast "Camel Caravan", New York, July 4, 1939
Little Rock Getaway
LP Source: Suddenly It's 1939 – Bob Crosby's Camel Caravan (Giants of Jazz 1032)