Gene Gifford

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Decades: 2000s
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Harold Eugene Gifford, 31 May 1908, Americus, Georgia, USA, d. 12 November 1970, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Gifford began arranging music while still in high school and in the mid- to late 20s played banjo and guitar with several territory bands. In 1929, he was with Jean Goldkette’s Orange Blossoms band which metamorphosed into the Casa Loma Orchestra. It was here that Gifford’s arranging talent proved to be invaluable; indeed, it might well be cited as the principal reason for the band’s great success. His arranging style for the band appears to owe something to that of John Nesbitt (Gunther Schuller offers compelling musical evidence to this effect in his book, The Swing Era); however, there is no doubt that Gifford set a pattern for numerous swing era arrangers who followed him.

During the early 30s the Casa Loma band set standards by which hot dance bands were measured and laid the foundation for the coming era’s...

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