Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra: Nineteen “I’m” songs, recorded 1928-1940

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Nineteen Ambrose and his Orchestra “I’m” song recordings, 1928-1940 (n = no audio available here):

  • 1928 — I’m More Than Satisfied (n)
  • I’m Riding To Glory
  • 1929 — I’m Bringing a Red, Red Rose (n)
  • 1930 — I’m On a Diet of Love
  • I’m Following You (n)
  • I’m In The Market For You
  • I’m Telling the World About You (n)
  • 1931 — I’m Doing That Thing (n)
  • I’m Just Wearing Out My Heart for You
  • I’m Gonna Get You (n)
  • I’m Thru’ With Love
  • I’m An Unemployed Sweetheart
  • 1934 — I’m Gonna Wash My Hands of You
  • I’m On a See-Saw
  • I’m All In
  • 1936 — I’m in a Dancing Mood
  • 1940 — I’m In Love For the Last Time
  • I’m Stepping Out With a Memory Tonight
  • unknown — I’m Sending You the Siegfried Line (To Hang Your Washing On)

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Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra

From 1927 to 1940, bands led by Ambrose were variously referred to, and credited on record labels as

  • Ambrose and his Mayfair Orchestra
  • Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel
  • Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London
  • Ambrose and his Orchestra

The name of the hotel is the May Fair. It resides within a London district known as Mayfair. These two spellings are frequently confused in internet references to Ambrose bands, Ambrose recordings, and the hotel. The designation “at the May Fair Hotel” found on record labels locates the band’s residence or origin. It does not indicate the place at which the recordings were made.

Selected Ambrose biographies:

Excerpts from the Ambrose biography at Wikipedia:

  • [After leaving the Embassy Club and accepting an offer at the May Fair in 1927,] Ambrose stayed at the Mayfair [sic] for six years, during which time the band made recordings for Brunswick Records, HMV and Decca RecordsThis period also saw the musical development of the band, partly as a result of Ambrose’s hiring of first-class musicians, including Sylvester Ahola, Ted Heath, Joe Crossman, Joe Jeannette, Bert Read, Joe Brannelly, Dick Escott and trumpeter Max Goldberg.
  • In 1933, Ambrose was asked to accept a cut in pay at the Mayfair; refusing, he went back to the Embassy Club, and after three years there (and a national tour), he rejected American offers and returned to the Mayfair Hotel in 1936.
  • He then went into partnership with Jack Harris (an American bandleader), and in 1937 they bought a club together (Ciro’s Club) [but the partnership ruptured before long].
  • Ambrose then worked at the Café de Paris until the outbreak of World War II, when he again went on tour.
  • After a short period back at the Mayfair Hotel, he retired from performing in 1940 (though he and his orchestra continued to make records for Decca until 1947).

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I’m More Than Satisfied 

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal: Les Reis — recorded in Hayes, Middlesex, 14 June 1928;  issued as  HMV B–5498, c/w Chirp-Chirp

Session personnel:

Bert Ambrose: leader
Leslie Berkin, Dennis Ratcliffe: trumpet
Sam Acres: tuba
Perley Breed: clarinet, alto sax, bariton sax
Jack Miranda: clarinet, alto sax
Joe Crossman: clarinet, tenor sax
Leo Kahn: piano
Joe Brannelly: banjo, guitar
Dick Escott: double bass
Max Bacon: drums
Lew Stone: arranger

Recording presently unavailable

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Ambrose and his Orchestra, 1928

I’m Riding To Glory (m. Harry M. Woods, w. Mort Dixon)

Among the earliest recordings of the song are found variants of the title, including I’m Riding To Glory (with a Glorious Girl) and (according to redhotjazz.com and numerous other sites) in the version by Leroy Smith & His Orchestra, “with a Glorious Blues.” The Smith recording is an instrumental, possibly recorded before lyrics were added.

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London, 23 October 1928

Session personnel — adapted from the Toast of New York Ambrose (1927-1932) discography:

Bert Ambrose: leader
Sylvester Ahola, Dennis Ratcliffe: trumpet
Ted Heath: tuba
Arthur Lally, Joe Crossman: clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone sax
Joe Jeannette*: clarinet, tenor sax, flute
Eric Siday, Reg Pursglove, Ernie Lewis: violin, when used
Bert Read: piano, arranger
Joe Brannelly: banjo, guitar
Dick Escott: double bass
Max Bacon: drums

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I’m Bringing A Red, Red Rose (m. Walter Donaldson, w. Gus Kahn) — from the 1928 Broadway musical Whoopee!

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal Lou Abelardo — recorded at Liverpool and Victoria Hall, London, 17 September 1929– Session personnel as above

Recording presently unavailable

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I’m On a Diet of Love (m. Abel Baer, w. L. Wolfe Gilbert) from the film Happy Days (1929)

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal by Sam Browne — recorded in Chelsea, London, on 18 February 1930 – Session personnel as above

.

I’m Following You (m. Dave Dreyer, w. Ballard MacDonald) — from the 1929 MGM feature film It’s a Great Life, in which it was introduced by Vivian Duncan and Rosetta Duncan

The Duncan Sisters — 1930

.

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal by Sam Browne — recorded in Chelsea, London, on 18 February 1930 – Session personnel as above

Recording presently unavailable

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I’m In the Market for You (m. James F. Hanley, w. Joseph McCarthy) was featured in the film High Society Blues (1930) where it was sung by Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell.

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal by Sam Browne — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London on 24 April 1930 – Session personnel as above

.

I’m Telling The World About You 

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London — recorded at Chelsea, London, 22 May 1930 – issued as the B-side of  ‘Leven Thirty Saturday Night, HMV B5847 — Session personnel as above

Recording presently unavailable

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I’m Doing That Thing (m. Jimmy McHugh, w. Dorothy Fields) — Original title: I’m Doing That Thing (Falling in Love); from the 1930 MGM feature film Love In the Rough

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocals: Sam Browne, The Three Ginx — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London, 16 December 1930 – Session personnel as above

Recording presently unavailable

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I’m Just Wearing Out My Heart for You (Clay Keyes, Turner Layton)

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal: Sam Browne — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London, 21 February 1931 – Session personnel as above

.

I’m Gonna Get You (w.m. Gus Arnheim, Harry Tobias & Jules Lemare)

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London, 26 May 1931; vocal: Sam Browne – Session personnel as above

 recording presently unavailable

Jij wordt wel anders — Dutch version of I’m Gonna Get You

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I’m Thru’ With Love (w.m. Matty Malneck, Gus Kahn, Fud Livingston) published 1931

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocals: Sam Browne and Ella Logan — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London, 19 June 1931

Session personnel:

Bert Ambrose: leader
Sylvester Ahola, Dennis Ratcliffe: trumpet
Ted Heath: tuba
Joe Crossman:  clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone sax
Jack Shields: clarinet, alto sax
Joe Jeannette: clarinet, tenor sax, flute
Johnny Walker: baritone sax
Ernie Lewis, Teddy Sinclair, Peter Rush: violin
Bert Read: piano, arranger
Joe Brannelly: banjo, guitar
Dick Escott: double bass
Max Bacon: drums, vibraphone

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.

I’m An Unemployed Sweetheart (m. James V. Monaco, w. Ned Washington, Edgar Leslie)

Ambrose and his Orchestra at the May Fair Hotel, London; vocal: Ella Logan — recorded at Small Queen’s Hall, London, 19 June 1931 – Session personnel as above

.

ambrose-orch-feb-1933-e1-d20sh5

I’m Gonna Wash My Hands of You (m. Franz Vienna, w. Eddie Pola)

Ambrose and his Orchestra, vocals: Sam Browne and Elsie Carlisle, 1934. The lyric includes such heartwarming and timeless endearments as the spoken lines

Me, a double-crosser?
What about that blonde of yours?
Fanny something or other…that’s her name.
I always see you with your Fanny…don’t I?

.

The Radio Three – This close harmony vocal group recorded a British Pathé short, issue date: 18 April 1935. I’m presently unable to get the British Pathé player to function on this site. You may watch the video, here:

The lyrics, different than those in the Ambrose recording, include the lovely couplet

I’m gonna cross you off my list
I’d like to give your neck a twist

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I’m On a See-Saw (m. Vivian Ellis, w. Desmond Carter) from the 1934 West End musical Jill Darling!

Ambrose and his Orchestra, vocal by Carter Ellis — recorded in 1934 and released as the B-side of Decca 467 “You and the Night and the Music” (m. Arthur Schwartz, w. Howard Dietz) which debuted in the 1934 Broadway musical comedy Revenge with Music

There are conspicuous similarities in the melody to that of the 1930 song “(Up On Top of a Rainbow) Sweepin’ the Clouds Away,”a Maurice Chevalier theme song.

Audio file from Archive.org:


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1934 If Love Make You Give Up Steak and Potatoes-1

(above, left) Al Hirschfield caricatures of some of the stars of Casino Varieties, a vaudeville-like variety show which opened on Broadway in 1934 at the Casino Theatre. Included in the illustration are the Ritz Brothers, emcee Georgie Jessel, and Gertrude Niesen. Among other songs in the show was (above, right) If Love Makes You Give Up Steak and Potatoes, Then I Don’t Want Love** (w.m. Louis Alter and Lew Brown).

I’m All In (m. Louis Alter, w. Arthur Swanstrom) was introduced in the 1934 Broadway show Casino Varieties.

Ambrose and his Orchestra performed I’m All In in the 1936 film Soft Lights and Sweet Music, with vocal by Evelyn Dall. It’s not clear whether this is from the film soundtrack or a separate recording.

.

1936 I'm In A Dancing Mood-Ambrose, Decca 971

I’m in a Dancing Mood (m. Al Hoffman, w. Maurice Sigler, Al Goodhart) — from the 1936 British musical comedy film This’ll Make You Whistle

Ambrose and his Orchestra, vocal by Jack Cooper — recorded on 12 August 1936; issued as Decca 971A, b/w “Crazy With Love” (Hoffman, Sigler, Goodhart)

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I’m In Love for the Last Time (Hughie Charles, Ross Parker)

Ambrose and his Orchestra, vocal: Vera Lynn – recorded on 6 February 1940

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I’m Stepping Out With a Memory Tonight (m. Allie Wrubel, w. Herb Magidson)

vocal: Anne Shelton, 1940

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1939 I'm Sending You the Siegfried Line

I’m Sending You the Siegfried Line (To Hang Your Washing On) (Ross Parker, Hughie Charles, St. John Cooper)

Ambrose and his May Fair Hotel Orchestra (?) — date unknown (1939?)


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* Joe Jeannette (sometimes spelled “Joe Jeanette”):  M.G. Thomas’ Dance Band Encyclopaedia indicates that Jeannette “was with Ambrose from 1928 until he finally disbanded in the late 1940s.”
.

** “If Love Makes You Give Up Steak and Potatoes, Then I Don’t Want Love”Decades later, Dan Hicks used this title in the lyric of a song he wrote and recorded for the 2000 album Beatin’ the Heat, titled I Don’t Want Love. He performed the song in an episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, airing 28 November 2000.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike Ivers
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 18:33:44

    I was introduced to Ambrose and many other English dance bands by my long and wonderful friendship with noted British muscologist and historian Barry McCanna. Through his guidance I came to listen and appreciate the differences between American bands and the the famous dance bands of the U.K.

    The English dance bands played extensive engagements in London’s sophisticated caberets and famous hotel venues. Guided by Mr. McCanna, I learned a great deal of this musical sub-culture and the individual personalities and style of both bandleaders and their vocalists.

    The nearest thing in America would have been the society bands like Lester Lanin and Meyer Davis. Neither could approach the arrangements and musicianship of those great English dance bands. Its a delightful subject that deserves more consideration by American dance band collectors.

    Reply

    • doc
      Feb 11, 2013 @ 19:56:55

      Mike,
      Would you like to contribute a guest article on British dance bands?

      This particular page uses an irreverent premise, but no disrespect was intended and I trust that enthusiasts of the sub-culture you mention will not be offended.

      I knew nothing about British bands of the 1930s when I began to construct the site three years ago. Gradually, I’ve learned a bit about them. The site has accumulated a number of recordings by several bands associated with the British dance band scene of the 30s and beyond. Some of the bands and bandleaders represented in various feature pages of Songbook include the following:

      Ray Noble and his Orchestra
      Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Orpheans
      Roy Fox and His Band
      Freddy Martin and his Orchestra
      Lew Stone and his Band
      Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra
      Joe Loss and his Orchestra
      Henry Hall & his Gleneagles Hotel Band

      There are probably more recordings on the site featuring vocals by Al Bowlly than by any other British singer. He appears to have been prolific in his output. When I begin a search for recordings of a 1930s hit or standard, among ballads I should specify, I expect to find a recording by Al Bowlly.

      Reply

    • doc
      Feb 15, 2013 @ 01:23:42

      Would you believe I’ve gathered seven eight more “I’m” songs recorded by Bert Ambrose and his Mayfair Orchestra? I might add these to this piece, and change the title to “Sixteen Seventeen “I’m” Songs…”. Only a couple of recordings found so far though.

      Reply

      • doc
        Nov 19, 2013 @ 03:20:29

        Would you believe I’ve gathered eight more…? I might add these to this piece, and change the title to “Seventeen “I’m” Songs…”.

        Done.

      • doc
        Jan 22, 2014 @ 08:37:23

        Eight titles added on 19 November, and 2 additional titles included later in 2013, bring the present total to 19.

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