Jack Gilbert's Narrative
The Barbary Coast Orchestra, 1932 - 1934

(This narrative was obtained by cornetist Gid Loring of Manchester, MA late in 2003, after playing several gigs with Jack Gilbert, Dartmouth '34, still playing piano at the age of 91. At Gid's urging, Jack wrote the following notes on the Barbary Coast of his days, and loaned Gid some photos, which he scanned, and which are at the end of the notes by Jack. Thank you, Gid and thank you, Jack for sharing this important history with us!)

Jack Gilbert wrote:

In early spring of 1932, just before I joined the Band, the Coast had played on a National Radio hookup, a battle of music with the Gus Arnheim band (well-known big band at the time).

Then, the summer of 1932, we played at a prominent hotel in the Catskills, NY. The band was led by Gene Hammett (tenor sax), who, after his graduation, formed his own band in Boston.

During the spring vacation each year, we played on cruises to the West Indies, the Bahamas, etc.

In the summer of 1933 -- from July through Labor Day -- we played on a Holland-American Cruise ship, the Volendam, visiting 13 different countries, 27 cities, from the Mediterranean to the North Cape. As we arrived at each different country we had to play the National Anthem of that country. Quite a challenge!

During the 1930s a 9-piece band was considered rather a standard unit for college groups (3 brass, 3 reeds, 3 rhythm). Our sax players all doubled nicely on clarinet. We tried to emulate the Bob Crosby sound -- very challenging.

After Gene Hammett graduated in 1933, Henry (Hank) Rigby became leader (trumpet) -- because of his legal and leadership abilities. Gigs were arranged for nearly a dozen colleges in the East (mostly proms).

Our 3rd sax man was Frank Wetstein (Weston), brother of Paul Weston, before Paul changed his name and was an arranger with Tommy Dorsey. I was invited by them to dinner (Boston, where they were playing).

Lowell Haas, tenor sax, led the Coast in 1935. They made a record for Decca which was successful. Lowey is father of Fred Haas (well known in N.H., teaches music at Dartmouth & plays with Paul Broadnax). I've been told that father & son have played together when they can and have been big hits. (Lowey lives in Washington, DC.)

Although our days in college were during the great depression, the enthusiasm and musical accomplishments were none-the-less enjoyed.

P.S. I believe that Frank Weston and I are the only survivors of the 1934 "Coast" group. (Correction: I believe and hope Lowey Haas is still alive.)

(Personal history: I sat in with the Casa Loma band twice, also T. Dorsey -- was asked to join Gene Hammett's band.)

Sincerely,
Jack Gilbert
358 Summer Avenue
Reading, Massachusetts 01867


Left to right, in back: Hank Rigby, Mac Rowell, Hunt Sutherland, Jack Gilbert, Bob Ford
Front: Stan Abercrombie, Lowey Haas, Frank Weston, Bill Gay

Note: All of these photos may have been taken on a cruise to Havana, because Jack says the next two are "Cuba Outside Havana."

The snaps of the young females were taken in 1932 a few miles outside of Havana, Cuba. We were told that they were all in one family (?) - they were our first intro to Latin music -- surprise, and they were great!

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