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Clouds of Joy


The first "Big Broadcast" after a fundraiser is usually calm and music-driven. That can be predicted safely for tonight, since it was recorded on Tuesday. It will include "thank you" mentions that couldn't be managed last week (oh, for just a few dozen more!), some quality requests, and five solid birthdays. May is an amazing month: Bing, Kate Smith, Lorenz Hart, Irving Berlin, King Oliver, Fats Waller, Al Jolson, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw! Tonight Fred Astaire, Billy Cotton, Alice Faye, Red Nichols and Mary Lou Williams will be saluted.

Mary Lou Williams was a gifted pianist, composer and arranger who spent around a dozen years in a fine band out of Kansas City: Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy. Billy Cotton led a popular orchestra in England, and had a long career in broadcasting when the band days had passed. Red Nichols was one of the most in-demand brassmen of the 1920s, but remembered today, if at all, by Danny Kaye's portrayal in "Five Pennies." Alice Faye was a big musical star with not many records to show for it. And Fred Astaire was Fred Astaire.