The Circle Quintet Revisited

The Circle Quintet Revisited

Sven Bjerstedt
Sven Bjerstedt

July 12th, 2007, 11:47 pm #1

A couple of weeks ago, Linda Fitak posted the query, "Who were the Original Circle Quintet?"
http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... le+Quintet-

The thread on the Circle Quintet petered out rather quickly, not necessarily due to lack of interest; but I guess nobody really ever had heard about the band. It probably never recorded.

This "syncopating organization" probably played opposite the ODJB at the Balconades Ballroom in New York. The band's pianist was Ray Bloch. In his website, Bloch's nephew, pianist/conductor Philip Morehead writes about his uncle's impressive career as a composer, arranger, pianist, conductor, and orchestra leader, working among others with Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason:
http://www.patphil.com/bloch1.html

There are a few lines of particular interest: "During these formative days in the early 1920s he also played with an orchestral quintet which was billed opposite the famed original Dixieland Jazz Band, a fact which gave him the greatest emotional boost of his young professional life."

I wrote to Philip Morehead, asking whether he would care to add any comments or further information to this forum discussion. I received his kind reply today. Unfortunately, he seems to have no specific further information on the Circle Quintet. I would like to forward his kind reply anyhow.

"Very interesting clipping! I'm afraid you all seem to know more about my uncle than I do... I liked him very much, a very charming and gentle man. As a kid I lived near the (now) Ed Sullivan theater and use to go to the rehearsals for the Sullivan show (then shown live). I hadn't seen the site on him on German Wikipedia... count on the Germans to get to it before we do! Do you know who wrote the entry? [...]
The Wikipedia site doesn't mention his substantial amount of work for Jackie Gleason.
Phil"

The German Wikipedia article on Ray Bloch is indeed quite informative: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Bloch
It touches upon Bloch's early work as a dance band pianist but doesn't mention the name of the band(s): "In den 1920ern hatte er erste Jobs als Pianist in New Yorker Tanzkapellen." The contributors to this article call themselves 'ElLo57, Harro von Wuff, and UliR, respectively. It was published in October, 2006 and, after a few minor alterations, seems to have been left unchanged.

-Sven Bjerstedt

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Linda
Linda

July 13th, 2007, 1:05 am #2

Thanks for the information about Ray Bloch.It is interesting to find out he started out as a pianist in a long forgotten early jazz group.They are forgotten probably due to the band not recording.Very few have escaped the obscurity of having no recordings.
It seems a musician has to achieve legend status like Bolden and Emmett Hardy, Chris Kelly, Buddy Petit, to be be remembered if they made no recordings.
Fortunately i had that old Balconades News from the early 1920's that had a picture of the Circle Quintet and mentioned something about the band.
Nice to learn Ray Bloch was one who eventually reached the top of his profession working for Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason.
It is great to find out about one of these obscure forgotten bands from the 1920's and learn one of the band's members later reached the top of entertainment.
The 1920's jazz groups must have been the starting place for many musicians who later became top composers and arrangers.
I read in Bix Man and Legend on page 257 about Spud Murphy playing in Ross Gorman's band in the late 1920's.I know Murphy was later revered as one of the top arrangers of the swing era.There is a local band here in LA called Mora's Modern Rhythmists.Dean Mora, the leader, knew Spud Murphy and has his band play a lot of Murphy's original arrangements from the 1930's.His band also has made some cd's and i have the 1st one they made playing 1920's jazz.The band mainly plays 1930's swing now.
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Chris Merlino
Chris Merlino

September 27th, 2012, 5:13 pm #3

A couple of weeks ago, Linda Fitak posted the query, "Who were the Original Circle Quintet?"
http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... le+Quintet-

The thread on the Circle Quintet petered out rather quickly, not necessarily due to lack of interest; but I guess nobody really ever had heard about the band. It probably never recorded.

This "syncopating organization" probably played opposite the ODJB at the Balconades Ballroom in New York. The band's pianist was Ray Bloch. In his website, Bloch's nephew, pianist/conductor Philip Morehead writes about his uncle's impressive career as a composer, arranger, pianist, conductor, and orchestra leader, working among others with Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason:
http://www.patphil.com/bloch1.html

There are a few lines of particular interest: "During these formative days in the early 1920s he also played with an orchestral quintet which was billed opposite the famed original Dixieland Jazz Band, a fact which gave him the greatest emotional boost of his young professional life."

I wrote to Philip Morehead, asking whether he would care to add any comments or further information to this forum discussion. I received his kind reply today. Unfortunately, he seems to have no specific further information on the Circle Quintet. I would like to forward his kind reply anyhow.

"Very interesting clipping! I'm afraid you all seem to know more about my uncle than I do... I liked him very much, a very charming and gentle man. As a kid I lived near the (now) Ed Sullivan theater and use to go to the rehearsals for the Sullivan show (then shown live). I hadn't seen the site on him on German Wikipedia... count on the Germans to get to it before we do! Do you know who wrote the entry? [...]
The Wikipedia site doesn't mention his substantial amount of work for Jackie Gleason.
Phil"

The German Wikipedia article on Ray Bloch is indeed quite informative: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Bloch
It touches upon Bloch's early work as a dance band pianist but doesn't mention the name of the band(s): "In den 1920ern hatte er erste Jobs als Pianist in New Yorker Tanzkapellen." The contributors to this article call themselves 'ElLo57, Harro von Wuff, and UliR, respectively. It was published in October, 2006 and, after a few minor alterations, seems to have been left unchanged.

-Sven Bjerstedt
The internet is a wonderful thing...
My grandfather was the drummer for the Circle Quintet. His name was Harry Reuter, although he was professionally known as Harry King. I know that Jerry Antonacci and Ray Bloch were both in the band, don't know any other names.
My mother used to tell stories of sitting on Ray Bloch's lap while they rehearsed.
I do have (need to find it) a copy of the same photo from the article. Also, an article on Harry King from some NY musicians paper (need to find this too) on a style of drumming he called "hot beats".
Supposedly there are (were) a few recordings, and maybe they appeared in the background of a movie at the time, but I can't confirm any of these stories.
I'd love to find out more - if anyone knows anything...
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Joined: March 29th, 2018, 12:06 pm

April 2nd, 2018, 7:56 pm #4

Chris Merlino wrote:
A couple of weeks ago, Linda Fitak posted the query, "Who were the Original Circle Quintet?"
http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... le+Quintet-

The thread on the Circle Quintet petered out rather quickly, not necessarily due to lack of interest; but I guess nobody really ever had heard about the band. It probably never recorded.

This "syncopating organization" probably played opposite the ODJB at the Balconades Ballroom in New York. The band's pianist was Ray Bloch. In his website, Bloch's nephew, pianist/conductor Philip Morehead writes about his uncle's impressive career as a composer, arranger, pianist, conductor, and orchestra leader, working among others with Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason:
http://www.patphil.com/bloch1.html

There are a few lines of particular interest: "During these formative days in the early 1920s he also played with an orchestral quintet which was billed opposite the famed original Dixieland Jazz Band, a fact which gave him the greatest emotional boost of his young professional life."

I wrote to Philip Morehead, asking whether he would care to add any comments or further information to this forum discussion. I received his kind reply today. Unfortunately, he seems to have no specific further information on the Circle Quintet. I would like to forward his kind reply anyhow.

"Very interesting clipping! I'm afraid you all seem to know more about my uncle than I do... I liked him very much, a very charming and gentle man. As a kid I lived near the (now) Ed Sullivan theater and use to go to the rehearsals for the Sullivan show (then shown live). I hadn't seen the site on him on German Wikipedia... count on the Germans to get to it before we do! Do you know who wrote the entry? [...]
 The Wikipedia site doesn't mention his substantial amount of work for Jackie Gleason.
 Phil"

The German Wikipedia article on Ray Bloch is indeed quite informative: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Bloch
It touches upon Bloch's early work as a dance band pianist but doesn't mention the name of the band(s): "In den 1920ern hatte er erste Jobs als Pianist in New Yorker Tanzkapellen." The contributors to this article call themselves 'ElLo57, Harro von Wuff, and UliR, respectively. It was published in October, 2006 and, after a few minor alterations, seems to have been left unchanged.

-Sven Bjerstedt
The internet is a wonderful thing...
My grandfather was the drummer for the Circle Quintet.  His name was Harry Reuter, although he was professionally known as Harry King.  I know that Jerry Antonacci and Ray Bloch were both in the band, don't know any other names.
My mother used to tell stories of sitting on Ray Bloch's lap while they rehearsed.
I do have (need to find it) a copy of the same photo from the article.  Also, an article on Harry King from some NY musicians paper (need to find this too) on a style of drumming he called "hot beats".
Supposedly there are (were) a few recordings, and maybe they appeared in the background of a movie at the time, but I can't confirm any of these stories.
I'd love to find out more - if anyone knows anything...
Hi Chris,

more information about the Circle Quintet will appear in my soon-to-be-published (June 2018) Part 3 of my piece on the Original Memphis Five, in Vintage Jazz Mart  ( www.vjm.biz )

Ralph
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