Jump Easy : Page Cavanaugh©2004JCMarion


Page Cavanaugh was born in January of 1922 in Cherokee, Kansas. By the time he was ten years old he had become interested in the piano and by his teenage years was an accomplished player on the keyboards. His first steady work was in the territory band, the Ernie Williamson Orchestra, in the late nineteen thirties . During the Second World War stationed in Sacramento, California, , Cavanaugh was the replacement pianist for an Army trio called The Three Sergeants, and in that group made the acquaintance of Al Viola and Lloyd Pratt who would form a musical partnership after their military service was over. By the mid forties, now based in Los Angeles, the small unit called The Page Cavanaugh Trio began to get club work in the Southern California area. They patterned their musical style after the King Cole Trio and developed a unique vocal sound which consisted of soft voiced unison singing. Soon they were garnering great reviews and spreading popularity. They began recording for small West Coast labels and soon found a few musical spots in motion pictures.

The first recordings by the three man unit were for the ARA label. These include "Air Mail Special" / "Saipan" on # 151, and "Fish And Chips" and "After You've Gone" on #160. Following were sides recorded for the Encore label - "Crazy Rhythm" / "Too Soon" on # 504, "Don't Blame Me" / "When The Gooses Come Back To Massachusetts" on # 506, and "Jump Easy" / "You Go To My Head" on # 516. Mastertone Records followed with "Autumn In New York" and the first recording of "The Three Bears" on # 7519, and a remake of "Saipan" and "Vine Street Hayride" on # 7523. Chicago based independent Signature Records was the next source featuring "Body And Soul" and "Blue Moon" on # 15190, and "I'll Remember April" and "The Man I Love" on # 15195. After these independent records the Page Cavanaugh Trio hit the big time with a recording contract with RCA Victor records. It was with this major label that the trio had their greatest success on record.

"All Of Me" and a remake of "The Three Bears" was released on RCA # 2085. "Bears" was a good seller for the group and gave them name recognition especially on the West Coast. Johnny Desmond sang with the trio on "I'll Close My Eyes" and "Guilty" on #2109, and Jane Harvey did the vocal honors on "Foggy River" and "My Number One Dream Came True" on # 2149. "Heartbreakin" and "Walking My Baby Back Home" followed on # 2246, as did "Love's Got Me In A Lazy Mood" on # 2331. In addition to the recordings, they had an admirer of their work in Frank Sinatra. They did a number of appearances on the radio show "Songs By Sinatra" on the CBS radio network during late 1946 and early 1947. They even backed up Sinatra on "That's How Much I Love You" and "I Got A gal I Love" on Columbia # 37231. In addition the trio was a featured act on the Jack Paar Show for NBC radio in 1947. It was also at this time that the Page Cavanaugh Trio backed another top vocalist, Mel Torme. They recorded a number of songs for MacGregor Transcriptions with Torme which later showed up on CDs for Glendale. Some of these collaborations were released for the Musicraft Records label in the late forties. They included "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" / "Three Little Words" on Musicraft # 528, "Love Is A Funny Thing" / "I'll Always Be In Love With You" on # 529, "The Day You Came Along" on # 530, and the 15000 series for Musicraft - "And Mimi" on # 15114, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" on # 15116, and "Magic Town" / "The Best Things In Life Are Free" on # 12118.

In the late 1940s the trio also found themselves doing work in motion pictures. First was "Record Party" a Name Band Musical short, then in 1948 came "Big City" and "A Song Is Born" with Page doing a dramatic turn, and then "Jingle Jangle Jingle" and most importantly, "Romance On The High Seas" which starred Doris Day in her first leading role. Besides the many club dates in Los Angeles and vicinity, the trio headed East for a big appearance at the Strand Theater in New York with Sarah Vaughn. They recorded "Anything For You" and "Ok'l Baby Dok'l" # 2646, "Daisies Don't Tell" and "We're From Afar" for RCA on # 2910, "I Would Do Anything For You" and "I Want A Little Girl" on # 3027, "No Moon At All" and "You Say The Nicest Things" on # 3345, and "Bianca" and "Always True To You In My Fashion" on # 3407. The Page Cavanaugh Trio appeared on the radio program Guest Star in March of 1948. The trio then recorded for Capitol Records with "Daddy-O" and "That's The Way He Does It" featuring the vocals of Lillian Lane. Also in 1948 Frank Sinatra called and the trio accompanied the singer on a tour of the East Coast.

During the following year guitarist Al Viola quit the trio to further his musical knowledge in theory and composition, and classical guitar. He also became part of the sometimes lucrative world of studio musician in the Hollywood area. With Viola's departure the trio changed their lineup adding drums to the sound replacing the guitar.  By the summer of 1950 the Page Cavanaugh Trio was actually a quartet with the addition of Robert Morgan on guitar joining Charles Parnell on bass, and Alvin Stoller (who would later become a part of the orchestra of Billy May)  on drums. In August of 1950 they recorded two sides for the Discovery label which was an offshoot of New Jersey based Savoy Records. "Don't Go Away Mad" and "Except For Loving You" on # 527, followed by "Of All Things" and "This Time The Dream's On Me" on # 528. "Lullaby Of Broadway" in 1951 featuring Doris Day provided the trio with another motion picture appearance. In the early 1950s the Page Cavanaugh Trio established themselves as a top nightclub draw in places like Ciro's and The Trocadero in Hollywood. The trio got together in the recording studio once again with Frank Sinatra resulting in "I'm Glad There Is You" and "You Can Take My Word For It Baby" on Columbia # 40229 released in late 1952. In the early fifties the trio recorded some early LP albums. Some of these were "The Page Cavanaugh Trio" for Vaya, another with the same title for label X, and "Page cavanaugh" for Tops. Also in 1952 the trio filmed another Name Band Musical short featuring the band of Billy May.

In 1957 Page Cavanaugh provided music and voice over in a Walt Disney animated short called "The Truth About Mother Goose". The following year came "Frankenstein's Daughter" which was just what you would think it was. Cavanaugh and his trio appeared in the film, and he also received composer credits for some of the music on this forgettable film. And during the late 50s - early 60s, the LPs continued. "Page Cavanaugh Plays For The Cocktail Hour" on Tops, "Softly" on Time, and "Three Of A Kind" (also featuring Art Van Damme and Les Paul) on Design. "Impact At Basin Street East" a live LP for RCA was released on # 2810. Now Page began to expand his small combo for a time in the 1960s. As a sextet, his group recorded the LP "Fats Sent Me" for Capitol on # 879. A longer experiment led him to add one more to form a septet called The Page 7. They recorded an LP called "An Explosion In Pop Music" for RCA Victor ( # 2734). Cavanaugh opened his own night club in 1962 and for a time his trio and small groups used it as home base.

From time to time Al Viola would rejoin Cavanaugh for a short reunion with the trio. Viola had done much work with Sinatra - the Capitol LPs "Only The Lonely", "Point Of No Return" and "The Swinging Session", all subsequent Reprise albums, and with Bill Miller, musical arranger for Sinatra's live performances. He also did work for motion pictures especially known for the mandolin in "The Godfather". Meanwhile Page Cavanaugh played on. The Page 7 septet appeared on the television program "The Lively Ones" with Nellie Lutcher in 1963. "Something's Happening At Page Cavanaugh's" was an LP recorded for Reprise Records. By the late 60s he was back to the trio in many club appearances and continued for many years. At the end of the century Cavanaugh had been a performer for six decades and still the music flowed. The trio with long time bass player Phil Mallory and drummer Dave Tull still plays in night spots such as The Bicycle Shop in Santa Monica, Spazio in Sherman Oaks, Chaya Brasserie, and the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach. Since before the forties Page Cavanaugh has played his style of swinging jazz influenced tunes and sentimental ballads and has delighted generations of fans.

Available CDs throughout the years featuring the music of the Page Cavanaugh Trio and other groups will add to the musical legacy of this giant of American music. "The Digital Page 1" and "2" are two halves of a live concert from the early eighties. "The Digital Page 3 - The Phoenix Tapes" is a 1969 live performance in that Arizona city. All three CDs are from 1998 on Star Line. "Plays For The Cocktail Hour" is the Tops LP digitally remastered in 1998 on Simitar. "Spotlight On Page Cavanaugh" on Tiara, "Swinging Down The Road From Paris To Rome" on Pitol, "Crazy Rhythm" a live CD from 1995 on Cabaret are others. An interesting CD is "The Uncollected Doris Day with the Page Cavanaugh Trio" from 1995 on Hindsight, and Soundies Inc. has a CD of transcriptions for Standard made by Doris with the trio in 1952. "Great Songs Of The Swing Era" with Mike McCaffrey is also available on a 1999 CD by SGA. What a career, and what a great musician. Enough said.

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