The Last of Rich Conaty’s Big Broadcasts

The Big Broadcast Volume 12For 42 years Rich Conaty, who passed away near the end of 2016, delighted in playing rare recordings from the 1920s and ‘30s on his radio show, The Big Broadcast. In addition to his expertise, his enthusiasm won over a countless number of listeners. On an annual basis during the past dozen years, he also compiled a CD of gems for the Rivermont label that was released in his The Big Broadcast series.

Conaty had planned Volume 12 before his passing seemed to put an end to the series. Fortunately Rivermont and many of his colleagues and friends pitched in to supply the recordings and write the typically extensive liner notes, including the Syncopated Times’ own Andy Senior who wrote about Jimmy Joy’s “I Got Worry.”

Hot Jazz Jubile

As was the practice in this series, The Big Broadcast Vol. 12 has 25 recordings (from 1923-36) programmed in chronological order plus a previously unissued closing broadcast performance which in this case is George Olsen’s band in 1932 performing “You’re Telling Me.” Overall, the music includes jazz and pop singers, hot jazz combos, big bands, some sweet music, rarities, and a few slightly more common but underrated performances.

Featured are Anna Chandler (for an excellent version of “My Sweetie Went Away”), Cliff Edwards (one of the first recordings of “Lady Be Good”), the forgotten but rewarding Mike Markel Orchestra, Lee Morse, Willard Robison (in two different settings), Hal Kemp (when he had a jazz band in 1928), Duke Yellman, Jimmy Joy, Frank Sylvano, the Ipana Troubadours, Bob Haring, Harry Roy, Manolo Castro’s Havana Yacht Club Orchestra, The Blue Jays, Paul Whiteman (“Tango Americano” from 1931), the Casa Loma Orchestra, Claude Hopkins, Ramona, Billy Cotton, Perry Bechtel, Francis Maddux’s Play Boys, Joe Sanders, Roy Fox, Gene Austin (a 1936 version of “I Cried For You”), and the George Olsen broadcast.

It is doubtful that even the most devoted record collector has more than a handful of these performances, and they certainly would not have owned the informative and colorful liner notes included in the 40-page booklet. Although it is sad that this very valuable series has come to its conclusion, it is great that Rich Conaty’s friends were able to put out Vol. 12. He would have loved this set.

The Big Broadcast, Vol. 12 (Rivermont BSW-1167, 26 selections, TT = 79:44)

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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