I Dream of Her and Avalon: 1930s Sweet Jazz, Race, and Nostalgia at the Casino Ballroom

in Lonesome Roads and Streets of Dreams

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780226044941
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226044965 | DOI:
I Dream of Her and Avalon: 1930s Sweet Jazz, Race, and Nostalgia at the Casino Ballroom

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This chapter introduces white bandleader Jan Garber, and also investigates several versions of “Avalon.” The story of Santa Catalina's Casino Ballroom offered novel perspectives on how popular music presented American experiences of place. The sweet “Avalon” of Jan Garber's band illustrated musical relationships and values that were well mixed to the ideology of island's promoters. The Santa Catalina Island Company adopted it as an unofficial anthem for the island. Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra, the Casa Loma Orchestra, and Jan Garber and His Orchestra produced the three commercially recorded versions of “Avalon.” Garber's “Avalon” was an excellent match to the ideology of the real Avalon. Considered together, the Lunceford and Casa Loma bands developed a musical “Avalon” that is far more open to other voices. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, “Avalon” was an easily accessible and widely understood sign for a complex of nostalgic emotions: yearning, loss, and memory.

Keywords: Jan Garber; Santa Catalina; Casino Ballroom; Avalon; Jimmie Lunceford; Casa Loma Orchestra; yearning; loss; memory

Chapter.  15492 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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