Hal Kemp

Hal Kemp, March 27, 1904 – Dec 21, 1940, was a jazz musician, clarinetist and bandleader. He also served as a composer and arranger. After an auto accident, he was born in Marion, Alabama, and died in Madera. Art Jarrett assumed the leadership of Kemp’s orchestra’s orchestra in 1941. His most notable recordings include “There’s a Small Hotel”, “This Year’s Kisses”, “Where or When”, and “When I’m With You”. He formed the Carolina Club Orchestra, a campus jazz band at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1924-5, the band recorded for English Columbia Records and Perfect/Pathe Records. Under the sponsorship of Paul Specht, the first group toured Europe during the summer 1924. Kemp, a fellow UNC student, put together a new Carolina Club Orchestra. It featured future stars John Scott Trotter and Saxie Dowell. Kemp became a professional in 1927 after he handed over the Carolina Club Orchestra’s leadership to Kay Kyser, a UNC student. The band was based out of New York City and featured Trotter, Dowell and Ennis. A few years later, trumpeters Bunny Berigan (and Jack Purvis) joined the group. It was 1920s college jazz. Kemp toured Europe again in the summer 1930. The band recorded for Melotone Records, English Duophone and Okeh. Kemp took the band on a new path in 1932 during the Depression. He used muted triple-tonguing trombones, clarinets that played low sustained notes in unison through large megaphones. This was an early version of the echo chamber effect. John Scott Trotter, the arranger, was a key reason for the band’s success. Skinnay Ennis, the singer, had trouble sustain his notes so Trotter suggested that he fill in the gaps with muted trumpets playing staccato threets. The band got a unique sound that Johnny Mercer joked about calling a “typewriter”. They were often praised by fellow musicians for their ability to play complex, difficult passages on the saxes. The band included Dowell, Bob Allen and Maxine Gray as vocalists. Kemp recorded during the 1930s for Vocalion, Brunswick and (RCA Victor) Victor records. Kay Kyser, Hal Kemp and Tal Henry often had a Carolinian reunion at New York. According to the Chapel Hill newspaper, Kay and Hal were both great musicians and they enjoyed getting together. His car was struck by another head while he was driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a booking. Kemp sustained a broken leg, multiple broken ribs and eventually a punctured lung. Two days later, he died from pneumonia after sustaining injuries to his leg and ribs in hospital. Kemp’s band promoted many popular songs such as “Got a Date with an Angel”,”Lamplight”,”Heart of Stone”,”Heart of Stone”,”Heart of Stone”,”There’s a Small Hotel”, and “Three Little Fishies”, which were written by Saxie Dowell, the band’s saxophonist. Hal Kemp was the number one hit for two weeks in 1936 with “There’s a Small Hotel” while “When I’m With You” was number two for two weeks. His number one hits in 1937 were “This Year’s Kisses”, number one for four weeks and “Where or When” number one for one. Hal Kemp composed “Blue Rhythm”, the “In Dutch With the Duchess”, the “Five Steps to Love”, the “Off the Beat” and the “Workout” songs. T.D., his brother, was also a composer. Kemp, Jr., and Marie Kemp-Dunaway, along with Whitey Kaufman, created “Hurry Back, Old Sweetheart of Mine”, an early Kemp recording. Contrary to popular belief Hal didn’t compose the theme song for “(How I’ll Miss You) When Summer is Gone”. Instead, he purchased the rights to it in 1937. There is no evidence to suggest that he wrote “The Same Time, Same Place”. In 1992, Hal Kemp was elected to the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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