The predecessor to The Hollywood Empire was called Tom Breneman’s
Thomas Breneman Smith (June 18, 1902 – April 28, 1948) was a popular 1940s American radio personality known to his listeners as Tom Breneman. For most of his career, he was based in Southern California, in Los Angeles and Hollywood. His radio program was such a success that he established Tom Breneman’s Restaurant in Hollywood, which attracted many actors, musicians and others. In 1948 it was renamed The Hollywood Empire with Gene Norman as one of the partners. For the opening in December 1948, Woody Herman’s 2nd Herd was hired and before Duke Ellington and his orchestra appeared in Februari 1949, both Louis Armstrong and Billy Eckstine appeared there. Our third programme from The Empire is also from Februari 1949, according to New Desor, the session number is DE4906 which would indicate that the recording date is after February 10. Below you can listen to one of Kay Davis’ better performances from the period, He Makes Me Believe.
Kay Davis sings
The complete broadcast, originally issued as AFRS Jubilee J-349 can be found in the Goodies Room.The show starts with H’ya Sue, with solos by Tyree Glenn and Jimmy Hamilton, the latter on tenor sax is given plenty of solo space, which could be regarded as remarkable, since Ben Webster is also in the band. On He Makes Me Believe, (by Ellington and John LaTouche) which is next, Lawerence Brown and Kay Davis are the solists. Billy Strayhorn’s Brown Betty is given superior treatment by Johnny Hodges for whom this tune was originally written. After Hodges left the band in early 1951, Nelson ”Cadillac” Williams on trumpet was succesfully featured as trumpet soloist on this tune. St Louis Blues is played next with Ray Nance on vocal, but also solos by Jimmy Hamilton and Ben Webster. The last number played by Duke and his orchestra is Dvorak’s Humoresque, which prominently features Ray Nance’s violin, and also Harold Baker’s trumpet, and where also Harry Carney and Jimmy Hamilton are heard in solos towards the end.
The broadcast ends with the programme’s theme song, One O’Clock Jump played by Count Basie’s Orchestra.