Shep Fields in 1957
|Born||September 12, 1910|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||February 23, 1981 (aged 70)|
Los Angeles, California
|Genres||Jazz, big band|
|You may hear the Shep Fields Orchestra performing "Don't Blame Me" by Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh and "Rippling Rhythm" by Sol Gice in 1948 Here|
Shep Fields (born Saul Feldman, September 12, 1910 - February 23, 1981) was an American bandleader who led the "Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm" orchestra during the Big Band era of the 1930s. He was the originator of the unique jazz band sound known as "Rippling Rhythm". During the course of a musical career which spanned over three decades he recorded over three hundred records and remained popular with audiences from the 1930s into the 1950s.
Shep Fields was born Saul Feldman in Brooklyn, New York, on September 12, 1910, and his mother's maiden name was Sowalski. His brother, Edward Fields was a carpet manufacturer and his younger brother Freddie Fields was a respected theatrical agent and film producer who helped to establish Creative Management Associates in 1960.. Their father died at the young age of 39.
Fields began his musical career by playing clarinet and tenor saxophone in bands during college. His "Shep Fields Jazz Orchestra" made frequent appearances at his father's resort hotel the "Queen Mountain House" in the Catskill mountains which featured such noted singers as Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor. Following the death of his father, Fields was forced to become his family's principal provider. Consequently, he abandoned his studies at law school and reformed his orchestra. Appearances on cruise ships and resort hotels soon followed.
In 1931, Fields received his first big break when his orchestra was booked at the famed Roseland Ballroom in New York City. By 1933 he also led a band that played at Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel. In 1934 he replaced the Jack Denny Orchestra at the landmark Hotel Pierre in New York City. He soon left the Hotel Pierre to join a roadshow with the dancers Veloz and Yolanda. In 1936 he was booked at Chicago's Palmer House hotel, and the concert was broadcast live on the radio. His highly successful "Rippling Rhythm" society dance band was subsequently featured regularly on the hotel's big band remote concerts which were transmitted over the radio to audiences throughout the country.
Fields was eager to perfect a unique orchestral sound in order to distinguish his ensemble from other "sweet jazz bands" of his era. With this in mind, he collaborated with his arrangers Sal Gioa and Lou Halmy in order to analyze the performances of his peers. After admiring the glissandos featured by the trombone in Wayne King's orchestra, Fields adapted them to his viola section. The embellishments for the right hand which were popularized by Eddy Duchin on the piano, became the source of inspiration for the elegant passages which Fields assigned to his accordionist. Fields was also impressed by Hal Kemp's use of triplets on the trumpet and Ted Fio Rito's distinctive use of temple blocks. With this in mind, he incorporated the use of triplets by the clarinets, flutes and temple blocks in his orchestra. After taking note of Ferde Grofe's innovative use of both the trombone and temple blocks in his Grand Canyon Suite, he adopted a similar stylistic device for muted trumpets. The resulting sound impressed radio listeners on the Mutual Radio Network. A contest was soon held in Chicago for fans to suggest a new name for the Fields band, in keeping with the new sound. The word "rippling" was suggested in more than one entry, and Fields came up with "Rippling Rhythm."
Shep Fields soon attracted national attention, and he was subsequently invited to entertain audiences with Veloz and Yolanda at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Confident in his success, Fields withdrew from his association with Veloz, Yolanda and MCA Inc. He decided instead, to return east to his former position at the Hotel Pierre in New York City. It was during this return trip to New York that Fields stumbled upon the distinctive sound effect which would serve as the introduction to his "Rippling Rhythm" sound for years to come.
While relaxing between shows during a performance in Rockford, Illinois Fields was seated at a soda fountain when his wife Evelyn. His attempts to develop a studio sound effect to introduce his music in Los Angeles had not been entirely successful. Struggling to find a solution for her husband, Evy began blowing bubbles into her soda through a straw. Bowing to his wife's inspiration, Fields immediately seized upon the idea and that sound became the trademark which opened each of his shows.
Fields' light and elegant musical style remained popular among audiences throughout the 1930s and into the 1950s. Based upon his widespread popularity, Fields received a contract with Bluebird Records in 1936. His hits included "Cathedral in the Pines", "Did I Remember?", and "Thanks for the Memory". His performances at Broadway's Paramount Theater consistently broke attendance records.  While appearing at the posh "Star-light Roof" atop the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1937, Fields replaced Paul Whiteman with his own radio show The Rippling Rhythm Revue which featured a young actor named Bob Hope as the announcer on the NBC network. In 1938, Fields' Rippling Rhythm Orchestra and Hope were featured in his first feature-length motion picture, The Big Broadcast of 1938. A series of live remote broadcasts of the orchestra were also transmitted at this time from the landmark Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel featuring the accordionist John Serry Sr.
By 1941 Fields revamped the band into an all-reeds group, with no brass section, known as Shep Fields and His New Music, featuring vocalist Ken Curtis. The orchestra's size was increased dramatically in order to embellish the results which Paul Whiteman had recorded. Fields now presented an orchestra which blended over thirty five instruments including: one bass saxophone, one baritone saxophone, six tenor saxophones, four alto saxophones, three bass clarinets, ten standard clarinets and nine flutes including an alto flute and a piccolo. Noted singers such as Ralph Young were also engaged. The resulting band produced a rich ensemble sound under the guidance of such arrangers as Glenn Osser, Lew Harris and Freddy Noble; who also served as the band's musical director. The critic Leonard Feather applauded the new band's beautiful sound, and Shep embarked upon a series of USO tours to entertain the troops during World War II.  From February, 1943 to August, 1944, guitarist Joe Negri also worked with the band.
After World War II ended, Fields reverted to his ever popular "Rippling Rhythm" style in 1947 and continued to perform in hotels long after other bands of his era had disappeared. The group disbanded in 1963, and Fields moved to Houston, Texas where he worked as a disc jockey. He later worked at Creative Management Associates with his brother Freddie Fields in Los Angeles.
During the course of an artistic career which extended from 1931 through 1963, Shep Fields compiled an extensive musical legacy which has been preserved on such record labels as: Bluebird Records, Mercury Records, MGM and RCA Victor. His discography includes over three hundred arrangements of popular songs from this era and includes such hits as: It's De-Lovely (1937), I've Got You Under My Skin, The Jersey Bounce (1942), Moonlight and Shadows (Bluebird 6803), That Old Feeling (Bluebird 7066) and Thanks for the Memory (Bluebird 7318, 1938). The noted musical arranger and editor Joseph Schillinger observed that over the course of his career Shep Fields had assembled "one of the most colorful bands" of his time.
|You may hear the Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm Orchestra performing the fox trot "In the Merry Month of May" with the accordionist John Serry Sr. in 1938 Here|
Gene Merlino, vocals 1928
|You may hear the Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm Orchestra performing "September in the Rain"with the vocalist Bobby Goday in 1937 Here|
Bandleader Shep Fields, 70, who rose to fame in the big-band era with an orchestra that opened its performances with a sound called Rippling Rhythm, died Monday of a heart attack.
Bandleader Shep Fields who recorded "The Jersey Bounce" ...
Shep Fields admits that his wife, Evelyn, was responsible for the bubbling water through a straw sound that has identified his music for a score of years.
To justify the movie's title -- and the inclusion in the cast of such diverse talents as Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm, ...
Dedicator was Bandleader Shep Fields, who lately gave up his trade-mark "Rippling Rhythm," threw out his brass, concentrated on nine saxophones.
Shep Fields, the band leader who made his fame and fortune in the 1930s and 40s with a unique sound he called Rippling Rhythm, died of a heart attack yesterday in Los Angeles. He was 70 years old. Mr. Fields developed the Rippling Rhythm sound in 1936 when he ...
Bandleader Shep Fields, who rose to fame in the big band era with an orchestra that opened its performances with a sound called Rippling Rhythm, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 70.
Shep Fields, 70, bandleader who was known during the 1930s and '40s for his Rippling Rhythm, a bubbly blend of light, catchy orchestrations and the sound made by blowing through a straw into a bowl of water near the microphone; of a heart attack; in Los Angeles.
Halmy was born in Budapest, Hungary, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 2. He made his mark as a trumpet player with East Coast outfits including Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra, a society band that played on The Woodbury Hour With Bob Hope and in The Big Broadcast of 1938, a film starring Hope, W.C. Fields and Dorothy Lamour.
When trumpet star and jazz arranger Lou Halmy looks back on the Great Depression of the 1930s, it doesn't seem depressing at all. 'I was lucky,' the 91-year-old Eugene musician says. 'I was playing with a band and working all the time. We had a steady job, which was the rarest thing in music.' While many people were standing in bread lines and living in shanty camps, Halmy was inside New York's posh Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, cheering people up by playing his horn in one of the most popular dance bands of the era: Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm ...
He studied saxophone at Juilliard, and later played with nationally famous bands (Charlie Spivak, Claude Thornhill, Shep Fields, Art Mooney).
Sid Caesar ... He went on to play in a series of big bands, including those of Claude Thornhill, Charlie Spivak, Shep Fields, Art Mooney and Benny Goodman. ...