Charlie LaVere & His Chicago Loopers • His 25 Finest 1933-1951

Charlie LaVere & His Chicago Loopers • His 25 Finest 1933-1951Charles LaVere (1910-83) was a talented pianist, singer and songwriter who managed to stay busy through his entire career without ever becoming well-known. Born in Kansas, he studied music at the University of Oklahoma, became good friends with Jack and Charlie Teagarden, worked with Frank William’s Oklahomans, and freelanced on the East Coast. LaVere moved to Chicago in late 1932, made his recording debut with Jack Teagarden in 1933, led a couple of his own sessions in 1935, and then began working regularly on radio as a pianist, arranger and singer. A stint with Paul Whiteman led to a West Coast tour and LaVere settling in Los Angeles. He worked with Frank Trumbauer and Skinnay Ennis, and regularly on Bing Crosby’s radio show during 1939-47.

LaVere recorded many sessions as a sideman for the Decca label, mostly supporting other acts, and he often recorded easy-listening music with Gordon Jenkins. In 1944 he formed LaVere’s Chicago Loopers, a Dixieland group that had sessions during 1944-50 for the Jump label. LaVere, who composed “It’s All In Your Mind” and “Misery and the Blues,” was the lead singer on Gordon Jenkins’ “Maybe You’ll Be There” which sold over a million records. With Jenkins, LaVere had opportunities to record with Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. In later years he led a group that played regularly at Disneyland during 1955-59, worked in Las Vegas in the early 1960s including with Bobby Darrin and Bob Crosby, and had a variety of freelance jobs into the early 1970s.

Red Wood Coast

All of Charles LaVere’s most significant jazz recordings have been reissued on the single CD Charlie LaVere and the Chicago Loopers. He is heard on two of the numbers (“I’ve Got ‘It’” and “Plantation Moods”) from the early Teagarden date and five of the seven selections from his 1935 sessions which can be thought of as early big band swing.

The bulk of the CD is comprised of the master takes from LaVere’s four sessions for Jump. Those dates are full of gems with arranged ensembles alternating with jammed choruses and swinging solos from the likes of Billy May (who during 1944-45 was a hot trumpeter), Chuck Mackey or Rico Vallese on trumpet, Floyd O‘Brien or Joe Yukl on trombone, clarinetist Matty Matlock, violinist Joe Venuti (a major addition to one of the dates), bass saxophonist Joe Rushton, guitarist George Van Eps, and Jack Teagarden on the 1950 session who, in addition to his trombone playing (including a dazzling display on “Lover”), sings “It’s All In Your Mind” and “A Monday Date.” These performances, which include such numbers as “Sunday,” “Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home,” and “I’m Coming Virginia,” are a joy. It is a pity that the alternate takes (which were last released on the very elusive LP Jump 12-4) were not included.

Also on this album are Gordon Jenkins’ “Maybe You’ll Be There” which, placed between a pair of Jump sessions, is a jarring contrast, and Louis Armstrong’s “Indian Love Call”; the latter has the trumpeter trading off with LaVere’s piano.

Hot Jazz Jubile

This CD is the best possible way to discover the jazz talents of Charles LaVere.

Charlie LaVere & His Chicago Loopers
Retrospective RTR 4416

Scott Yanow

Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.

Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.

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