Vic Berton

Vic Berton was a pioneering percussionist in the early days jazz. He is believed to have been seven years old when he played in a pit orchestra. Berton’s father was a violinist and the bowed instrument was just one of the many musical instruments that he began to bumble with when he was only five years old. He also tried drums and piano, mastering them to the point where he was hired by the Alhambra Theatre’s pit orchestra in Milwaukee in 1903. When most children his age were learning tiddlywinks, he studied tympani. He performed at 16 with the Milwaukee and Chicago symphony orchestras, as well as the navy band of John Philip Sousa during the First World War. Berton was a Chicago musician in the early 1920s who played with artists such as Art Kahn and Paul Beise. Berton led his own band at Merry Gardens Club, which was upbeat. Berton assumed management of the Wolverines in 1924. The group was associated with the tragic trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. However, Berton only occasionally played in the group. He worked with Roger Wolfe Kahn and Don Vorhees from the middle of the decade. He also kept a busy schedule as an studio session man. Before he made the vamoose to California, he spent a brief time with Paul Whiteman, a bandleader. He met Abe Lyman in Los Angeles and, like many other players, looked to the film studios for regular doolah. Berton was hired by Paramount and he served as the studio’s music director for one period. Berton was also a top percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Berton was a studio musician at 20th Century Fox in the 1940s. Any striking percussive effects, or any banging on any part of a film’s soundtrack from that time period, could be Berton’s work. There isn’t much to be unhappy about, compared to other artists of his time, the sheer amount of documentation that he has been credited with. It is possible to hear the fruits of many a day of work by this packer of drum cases in reissues of classic jazz material, with increasingly better audio quality. Berton was also a prolific composer. He co-wrote a number of jazz themes and arrangements along with other associates. The tear-jerking “Sobbin’ Blues” is a well-known New Orleans jazz tune. Inspired to write about jazz, Brother Ralph Berton became a drummer for the band. Allmusic

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