Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
#835 (3/28/15 - 4/10/15)


"Three O'Clock In The Morning"
by Floyd Ray And His Orchestra
Vocal Chorus by Ensemble
on Decca 2337 A
released in 1939

Above: Floyd Ray was a "swing-time" orchestra conductor based in the Los Angeles area. Floyd Ray's band achieved great notoriety in the 1930s and early 1940s. His career was temporarily halted when he was inducted into the Army in 1942. He reformed his orchestra in 1945 including some of the key musicians that had been with him earlier.



A sensational "swing-land find " marked Hollywood's second swing concert last Sunday at the Palomar when Floyd Ray and his exponents of syncopation and "swing" walked off with honors and stopped the show. Everybody was agog because no one knew more about Floyd Ray than that it was one of the bands to appear. Well, Floyd appeared and did he swing? Let the moguls of swing tell you.

David Brockman, ace director of the Mutual Broadcasting System's orchestra says "its the finest jazz aggregation in years"; Harvey Brooks supported him with "greatest entertaining band to ever appear on the coast"; and that's saying plenty. Al Jarvis, announcer for KMPC, chimed "I predict a great future for this band." And this lowly scribe dares to say that the great future is right at Ray's door. Gene Krupa, drummer in Benny Goodman's band, said it all in simple sincerity "These cats sure can swing."

Prior to his triumph last Sunday, Floyd appeared at the finest dance palaces in the East and made history for colored bands when he played in Oregon's famed triennial event with a cast of 2000 in "The Oregon Trail Pageant." His appearance was the first time in the history of the celebration that a sepia band participated.

Historically speaking, the Ray aggregation started at Bordentown as a school band with five pieces just five years ago. It now boasts twenty artists including three entertainers under the exclusive management of Regg D. Marshall.

(NOTE: Floyd Ray And His Orchestra were originally named The Harlem Dictators.)



Diminutive Floyd Ray, the amazing maestro, whose meteoric rise to the pinnacles of Swingdom has been hailed by veterancritics as a serious threat to pretenders to the coveted throne of the musical realm, tore into town Easter Monday nite like a terrific tornado and treated blase Pittsburghers to a swelegant fiesta garnished with sugar, spice and everything nice.

Ray outdid every colored orchestra that has been west of the Alleghenies in a decade. The band waxed sweet, the band waxed hot and the Savoy ballroom reverberated with the intonations of 18 artists under the direction of the Rajah of Rhythm. Featured with the Ray aggregation are three young women whose technique as soloists or as a group is not to be ignored. They are Ivy Ann Glasco, Von Floyd and Verne Whittaker....

The band is not a one-man affair and, if for no other reason, that should keep them in the forefront of the profession for a number of years. Individual performance is excellent but when that group gets to rocking and reeling with its own rhythm there's nobody in the place who can refrain from doing the very same thing. They seem to get a real kick out of producing good, swingy tunes.

Last but not least, Joe Alexander and Johnny Alston, featured male vocalists, are entertainers of the first order. It's not their fault that the combined artistry of the aggregation prevents them from getting salvos and accolades. Joe is the "voice of romance" while Johnny does some scat-singing with gestures that keeps the house in an uproar....



....It was a pair of broken legs that ended Floyd Ray's career as a dancer that started him off on the road that leads to success as a band leader. Born and reared in Parsons, Kansas, he attended school there and later went to Bordertown, N.J. All this time, he had one idea of a career—until he met with the accident that broke his legs. Then he turned to conducting.

The Floyd Ray aggregation is one of those things that didn't just happen, but is the result of a definite plan. Of course, it is quite the fashion for two fellows who thump out rhythm to meet two other fellows who are senders on the brasses, and for these four to form the nucleous of a new swing band, and for the music to be hot, swingy, or sweet.

But, with Floyd it was altogether different. He decided first of all that Jimmie Lunceford among the sepia aggregations and Fred Waring among the whites represented the cream of the crop. Then he set to work to make a study of the qualities possessed by these groups.

He decided that like Lunceford, his band would make it a point to be able to offer a variety program, including vocals by the band's singer, glee club numbers, and a girls' trio. He also decided that instead of concentrating on any one type of music, such as sweet, swing, or hot, he could play them all acceptably and vary the program at his discretion.

A girls' trio was formed, and using the first names of the members, it became known as Ivy, Von and Verne. One of the members of the trio later left to get married, and is now a happy housewife and the mother of a small chld. After much scouting about, Miss Ivy Ann Glascoe of Texas was chosen to take her place. The three are always dressed in modish evening gowns, usually satin, in a color to match or harmonize with the outfit worn by the band.

The group also carries with it a male singer, Joe Alexander, whose style is rhythm and sweet. He is a native of Baton Rouge, La. Another member of the group is Dudley Brooks, who is responsible for the arrangements. Reginald D. Marshall is the manager....

[Inset] B-U-L-L-E-T-I-N NEW YORK—Floyd Ray and his band were signed this week to make recordings for the Decca Company and it is believed that Decca plans to put the aggregation in the vacant spot caused by Count Basie's departure.


California Eagle August 29, 1937:
As Floyd Ray, Palmer Ballroom artist from Los Angeles, stormed Eastern, Midwestern and Southern spots, the stars above primed the band for the unrivaled acclaim it received. Left: John Alston, crooning vocalist. In the center is the Floyd Swing Ensemble—Ivy, Von and Vern. These girls are three of the reasons why the Ray outfit "packed them in" at some of the best spots in the East. Right: Floyd himself in a familiar pose. Inset left: Eddie Byrd, climbing rapidly to the top as drummer. Insert right: Ivy, Von and Vern "swinging on down" in the Tick Tock in New Orleans.

Pittsburgh Courier December 17, 1938:

(NOTE: The person shown at right is the same as that shown in the previous picture, who was identified as John Alston.)

California Eagle August 29, 1937:
IVY, VON AND VERN!—The names carry all the magic radiance of their winsome smiles and blend just as harmoniously as the three superb voices. Whether it be "Trees" or the latest song hit, this beautiful trio, which has been with Floyd Ray for a year, have what it takes to pack a house and come out on the long end of the plaudits as they did in the recent week's engagement at the Orpheum. Ray's is the first sepia band to play in the pit of a prominent theatre and boasts a glee club along with its trio that drew comments from all quarters. Critics referred this week to the aggregation's rendition of "Trees" as a "tremendous bit of artistry" and praised the beautiful appearance of the three ladies at left who are featured with the "new king of swing." Their full names are Jerry (Ivy) Harris, Von Floyd, and Vern Whittaker. Mr Horace Clark is financial backer of the band.

Afro-American September 30, 1944:
The Four V's, the Ivy, Verne and Von Quartette with Lady Will Carr at the piano, currently at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, created such an impression that their four-week contract was immediately extended indefinitely. The V's began five years ago as a vocal trio with Floyd Ray and his orchestra. They branched out on their own upon Ray's induction into the Army. After about a year as a trio, Lady Carr was added as pianist. Left to right are Ivy Ann Glasco, bass; Iverne Whittaker, drums; Willie Von Kelley, guitarist, and Lady Carr.

[The above photo provided by Philip Beauchamp.]
Above: The Four V's in a publicity still shot from the 1945 movie "I Love A Bandleader." Per Phil Beauchamp: (L-R) Willie Von Kelly, Vern Whittaker, Lady Carr, and Ivy Ann Glasco. They were also in the 1946 musical short "A Tale Of Two Cafes" and three Soundies from late 1944, "Big Fat Butterfly," "My My Ain't That Somethin'" and "Jukebox Boogie" (playing instruments, but no singing in this last one).

EXTRA AUDIO SELECTION (Windows Media Player):


Listen to "3 O'Clock In The Morning" by The Miltones, on Miltone 213, released in 1947.

The flip is "Commin On With The Blues" (which is the same song as the flip of this Record of the Week on Decca). It is by Floyd Ray and The Blenders orchestra with vocal by Jimmie Grissom And The Blenders. The label shows composer as "Wm. Alexander." The Decca label shows "Floyd Ray" as composer. The song was copyrighted by Leeds Music on 4/18/39 with words by Don Raye and melody by Floyd Ray. Don Raye is in the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. He wrote "Down The Road A Piece" and such Andrew Sisters' hits as "Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and others.

The Miltone label was co-owned by Roy Milton and existed from 1947 to 1949. It had started
life as the Roy Milton label in 1946 and changed its name to Miltone circa March 1947.

Above: Label image of Decca 2337 A recorded in New York City on February 21, 1939 and released in March 1939. The flip "Comin' On With The Blues" has vocal by Ivy Ann Glascoe. The Pittsburgh Courier (5/23/42) claimed "Comin' On With The Blues" was "one of the nation's biggest juke box sellers." Floyd Ray And His Orchestra had four releases on Decca, all in 1939, recorded in two sessions (2/21/39 and 4/13/39).

With Floyd Ray conducting, the personnel on "Three O'Clock In The Morning" are: Vocals - Dudley Brooks, Ann Glascoe (aka Ivy Jones), Willie Lee Floyd (aka Willie Von Floyd), Lavern Whittaker (aka Vern Whittaker), Joe Alexander; Trumpets - Joe Kelley, Granville Young, and Eddie Vanderveer; Trombones - Gilbert Kelley and Clayton Smith; Reeds - George Fauntleroy, Shirley Greene, Carroll Ridley, and Sol Moore; Piano - Ken Bryan; Guitar - Gene Brown; Bass - Benny Booker; and Drums - George Ward.

Listen to this week's selection by Floyd Ray And His Orchestra on Decca 2337 A from 1939:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

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Floyd Ray in the Army
(Pitt. Courier 5/23/42)

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