MORE TRIBUTE TO SAVANNAH CHURCHILL... PART EIGHT!
Above Left: Closeup of the Savannah Churchill photo, which was provided by Paul Ressler.
Above Right: Label image of the reissue of "Foolishly Yours"/"I Want To Be Loved" on Arco 1253 released in 1950. Manor had changed its name to Arco in 1949. Note that the label now shows the group as The Four Tunes.
Above: An important force as a bandleader in Los Angeles, Les Hite (who never became famous beyond musician circles) led a series of significant (if sparsely documented) orchestras in the 1930's and 40's.
After studying at the University of Illinois and playing saxophone in a family band, Hite worked with Detroit Shannon and toured with the Helen Dewey Show. When the revue fell apart unexpectedly in Los Angeles, Hite settled in the city. He worked for the Spikes Brothers' Orchestra, Mutt Carey, Curtis Mosby and Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders among others. In 1930 he took over Paul Howard's band and it became Sebastian's Cotton Club Orchestra, soon becoming a fixture at L.A.'s Cotton Club for years.
Hite's big band accompanied Louis Armstrong during the trumpeter's stay in Los Angeles and later on backed Fats Waller. Hite's Orchestra also appeared on the soundtracks of many films and made a few rare visual appearances in the movies. Although his big band occasionally toured (even appearing in New York in 1937), it remained based in Los Angeles.
After 1945, Hite gradually dropped out of the music business although in his last five years he managed a booking agency. In addition to Armstrong and Waller, among the musicians who worked with Hite were Lionel Hampton, Marshall Royal, Lawrence Brown, Britt Woodman, Joe Wilder and (for a brief period in 1942) Dizzy Gillespie.
Unfortunately, other than its dates backing Louis Armstrong, the Les Hite Orchestra only recorded 14 selections, all during 1940-42; T-Bone Walker guested on "T-Bone Blues" while Dizzy Gillespie took an early bop solo on "Jersey Bounce."
~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide (Ref: http://www.allmusic.com)
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