07 Mar 2018 @ 11:26 PM 
 

Teach Me Tonight – The Four Freshmen With Stan Kenton And His Orchestra – Live At Butler University

 

The group was founded in 1948, and reached its peak popularity teach Me Tonight – The Four Freshmen With Stan Kenton And His Orchestra – Live At Butler University the mid-1950s. In early 1948, brothers Ross and Don Barbour, then at Butler University’s Arthur Jordan Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana, formed a barbershop quartet called Hal’s Harmonizers. On March 21, 1950, The Four Freshmen got a break when band leader Stan Kenton heard the quartet in Dayton, Ohio’s, Esquire Lounge.

Later in 1950, they released a single, “Mr. B’s Blues”, and appeared in their first and only film, Rich, Young and Pretty. The Freshmen released another single in 1951, ‘”Now You Know”, which was not a commercial success. Later in the year Capitol rejected their proposed next single, “It’s a Blue World”, and dropped them from the label.

In 1953, Hal Kratzsch, tired of touring, asked the group to replace him, and they selected Ken Errair. Their single to chart was “It Happened Once Before”, and the year ended with them winning the Down Beat poll as Best Jazz Vocal Group of 1953. Mood Indigo”, a single from this album, charted. Their album Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones “set the standard for modern jazz vocal groups” and reached number 6. After only a short time with the group, Ken Errair left the band to get married, and was replaced by Ken Albers. Around this time, the group also started playing at college auditoriums and pursuing a younger audience. In 1960, the Freshmen recorded “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring”, a song which, with different lyrics, later became The Beach Boys’ “A Young Man Is Gone” in 1963.

As with many of the bands of the big band era the group eventually lost their mainstream following with the advent of the rock bands of the 1960s, even as one of those bands, the Beach Boys, cited the Four Freshmen as one of their main influences. The next Freshmen to leave was Don Barbour, who left in 1960 and was replaced by Bill Comstock. In 1965 the group left Capitol, and began a number of brief stints at other labels. Over the course of the 70s and 80s, the group continued to evolve with changing members. The group did not disband even after the last original member, Bob Flanigan, retired in 1993.

After his retirement, Flanigan managed the group remaining actively involved behind the scenes to continue to drive the vocal harmonies. He died on May 15, 2011 at the age of 84 from congestive heart failure. Ross Barbour died on August 20, 2011 from cancer at the age of 82. With its long history, the vocal harmony legacy continues. The Four Freshmen continue with twenty-five distinct line-ups among twenty-six different members.

Bob Ferreira joined the legacy of The Four Freshmen in 1993 with Curtis Calderon becoming part in 2001. Stein Malvey’s contributions began in 2013. Tommy Boynton took over the lead voice in 2015 and the band welcomed Jon Gaines in 2016. Six hundred of the approximately 3,000 Society members attended in honor of The Four Freshmen’s 60th year of continual performance. It is known as the “Blue Moon” convention.

This convention honors 65 consecutive years of public performance by the Four Freshmen. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians says that, “The group represented a modernizing force in the sphere of close harmony quartets in American popular music, moving away from the barbershop style to introduce elements of jazz. In doing so, they influenced younger groups such as the Hi-Los and the Beach Boys. The Oxford Companion to Popular Music says “They sing with great variety, in quiet unison or full-throated harmony, using modern jazz harmonies and varied dynamics, a considerable advance on the typical close-harmony quartets that had preceded them.

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Last Edit: 07 Mar 2018 @ 11 26 PM

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