jabw_vintage report No. 7

Let me tell you about......

Jack Hylton, 1892- 1965 , British dance band leader 1920 - 1940

this page first published by John Wright, 2 March 1998
last update 19th April 2012vintage@r2ok.co.uk

Jack Hylton was born in Great Lever, near Bolton, Lancashire, on July 2nd 1892. As a child Jack had some keyboard tuition and appeared on stage many times. After serving in WW1 Jack joined the Queen's Dance Orchestra, which played at The Queen's in Langham Place, London, as second pianist.

By 1920 Jack was leading the dance band and in 1921 began making records with HMV, issued as "Queen's" Dance Orchestra. The band also made recordings for HMV's cheaper label, Zonophone, under the name Jack Hylton's Jazz Band. Some of these recordings were also released on the Ariel label. Most of the songs on both labels were fox-trots some with a Dixieland flavour and style like the Paul Whiteman records being issued in Britain.

Look out for:
HMV B1237Idol Of Mine
The Wind In The Trees
HMV B1387Limehouse Blues
Zono 2167Billy
Wang Wang Blues
Zono 2272Limehouse Blues
Winter Rose
Zonophone label

a young Jack Hylton
The later Queen's records credited Jack as director, then at the end of 1922 the HMV's began to be issued as Jack Hylton and his Orchestra, and most of the Zonophones were issued as the Grosvenor Dance Orchestra. Early in 1924 the saxophone player Noel 'Chappie' D'Amato began to sing on some of the records and soon Jack himself took some of the vocals.

Look out for:
Zono 2384That Red Head Gal
When You And I Were Dancing
HMV B1809Wembling At Wembley - v CD'A
Do Shrimps Make Good Mothers? - v CD'A
HMV B1925Sahara - v JH
I Wonder What's Become Of Sally - v JH
HMV B1969Red Hot Mamma
Kongo Kate - v JH

Jack Hylton's orchestra remained popular during the 1920's. They first broadcast with the BBC in 1926 and visited Europe several times. Hundreds of records were issued. Members of the band at that time included Jack Raine (t), Lew Davis (tb), Poggy Pogson (reeds), Chappie D'Amato (sax, g, and vocals), Hugo Rignold (vn).

Look out for:
HMV B2163Paddlin' Madelin Home - v JH
When The Bloom Is On The Heather - v JH
HMV B5170Mamma's Goin Young, Papa's Goin Old
Alabama Stomp
HMV B5217Do The Black Bottom With Me
At The Beach At Waika Kiki Blues

A Hylton-sponsored band appeared at the new Kit-Cat club, directed by the American Al Starita. This band made many fine records, often issued as by Jack Hylton's Kit-Cat Band or Hylton's Hyltonians, then as the Kit-Cat Band. As well as Al Starita on sax and vocals, the Kit-Cat Band featured Ted Heath (tb), Tom Smith (t), Billy Ternent (asax), Eric Siday (vn), Len Fillis (g). The band switched to the Columbia label in May 1927.

Look out for:
HMV B2101Milenburg Joys
My Sugar
HMV B5020Piccadilly Strut
Don't Wake Me Up Let Me Dream
Col 4447Red Lips, Kiss My Blues Away

Al Starita's band and other Hylton bands led by the two other Starita brothers, Ray and Rudy, made some of the finest British dance records of the late 1920's.
Jack Hylton's own band benefited from the arrival of Jack Jackson (t) in 1927 and vocalist Sam Browne joined in 1928. I have written separate features about Jack Jackson and Sam Browne.

Other records to look out for:
HMV B5379Buffalo Rhythm
I'm Seeking A Ladybird
HMV B5647Doin' The New Low Down - v JJ,JH,SB
Baby - v JH,SB
HMV B5650You're The Cream In My Coffee - v SB
To Know You Is To Love You - v SB
HMV B5786Speaking Of Kentucky Days - v SB
Punch And Judy Show
HMV label

It has been estimated that over three million Jack Hylton records were sold in 1929 alone. By then many singers had been featured on Jack Hylton records including Leslie Sarony, Tommy Handley, Peter Dawson, Ennis Parkes (Mrs Jack Hylton), and in 1930 both Pat O'Malley and Jack Plant first recorded with the Hylton band. Phillippe Brun (t) replaced Jackson. European and British tours continued, records were made with Maurice Chevalier and Paul Robeson, and many 'concert arrangement' recordings were issued in America.

Look out for:
HMV C1727
Bitter Sweet-selection
HMV C1855
Body And Soul
With A Song In My Heart
HMV C1970
Handsome Gigolo (Just A Gigolo*)
Thine Is My Whole Heart**
**later known as 'You Are My Heart's Delight'

1931 saw the Hylton band switch over to the Decca record label. He continued to record popular songs and medleys (e.g. Favourite Dance Hits, Old-Time Favourites), then in 1933 influences from some American visitors were revealed in two excellent recordings:
Decca F.3764
including Black And Tan Fantasy,
It Don't Mean A Thing,
Moon Indigo,
Bugle Call Rag
impressions of Guy Lombardo,
Arden and Ohman, Tommy Dorsey,
Louis Armstrong, Jack Smith,
Bing Crosby, Joe Venuti

Jack Hylton on a cigarette card

In 1935 the Hylton band was back on the HMV label (BD-series) and they made their first film 'She Shall Have Music'. Meanwhile Jack's wife led a band for a while and made over 40 recordings on the Crown label. During winter'35 - summer'36 Jack was in USA and during that time he formed a band in Chicago which recorded one session. Sonny Farrar directed the British band during this time. Jack returned home with more American influences in the form of a singing group, The Swingtette. During the next two years this group sang on many Hylton recordings.

Look for the Swingtette on:
HMV BD5119Does Your Heart Beat For me?
HMV BD5127You Turned The Tables On Me
HMV BD5144Mendel's Son's Swing Song
HMV BD5166One, Two, Button Your Shoe

After another US visit Jack Hylton succeeded in obtaining the services of arranger Fletcher Henderson and tenor sax player Coleman Hawkins for a British session on May 26, 1939.

Look out for:
HMV BD5550Darktown Strutters' Ball
My Melancholy Baby

With the outbreak of WW2 Jack Hylton operated two bands, one directed by Billy Ternent did regular broadcasts while another led by Freddy Bretherton toured the nation. Recordings continued, probably involving personnel from both bands. Hylton appeared in his second film 'Bandwaggon'. Then in 1940 Jack Hylton disbanded, but continued in the entertainment business producing shows.

You can join the very active discussion group and talk about Jack Hylton and other dance bands and jazz bands of the 1920s-1950s:

The Facebook group: Golden Age of British Dance Bands

E-mail me if you want to know more about Jack Hylton or another British artiste or band

Visit Pete Faint's website devoted to Jack Hylton's life and work.

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