Gene Gifford

Harold Eugene Gifford (May 31, 1908 – November 12, 1970) was an American jazz banjoist, guitarist, and arranger.

Gifford was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and played banjo in high school. He played in territory bands, including Watson's Bell Hops and the bands of Bob Foster and Lloyd Williams. He formed his own group to tour Texas and then switched to guitar to play with Blue Steele and Henry Cato's Vanities Orchestra in 1928.

In 1929 he wrote arrangements for Jean Goldkette, and that same year he joined the Casa Loma Orchestra, where he became the group's chief arranger. He played guitar and banjo in the ensemble but quit in 1933 to concentrate on arrangements for the group. He remained with Casa Loma until 1939, when he was bought out of his contract due to alcohol-related infractions of the band's strict rules, but he returned to play with them in 1948-49. He worked as a freelance arranger in the 1940s and did much work arranging for radio. In the 1950s and 1960s he went into semiretirement from music, working in radio engineering. Gifford led only one session as a bandleader, which yielded four tunes for Victor Records in 1935.

[Gifford] approached his task as an "engineer" creating intricate staccato passages which hurtled along as if on well oiled rollers from which the soloists were suddenly launched. His originals were like demonic steam trains where every moving part flashed and meshed in impossible displays of kinetic energy.

Birth and Death Data: Born May 31st, 1908 (Americus), Died November 12th, 1970 (Memphis)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1927 - 1939

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, guitar, leader, arranger, songwriter, lyricist, banjo

Notes: Some Victor disc labels list his composition credits under name, "Eugene Gifford."

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-73774 10-in. 10/5/1932 Black jazz King Carter and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-75260 10-in. 2/17/1933 Casa Loma stomp Glen Gray Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor LBS-75261 10-in. (33-1/3 rpm) 2/17/1933 Dardanella Glen Gray Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-76381 10-in. 6/5/1933 The night we met Casa Loma Orchestra ; Glen Gray ; Kenny Sargent Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor BS-76622 10-in. 7/11/1933 Smoke rings Harold Arlen ; Leo Reisman Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BS-77236 10-in. 12/6/1933 In the valley of yesterday The Vagabonds Male vocal trio, with guitar composer  
Victor BS-78398 10-in. 11/8/1933 The moment I looked in your eyes Hotel Pierre Orchestra ; Henry King Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BVE-81009 10-in. 12/27/1933 In the valley of yesterday George Hall ; Hotel Taft Orchestra ; Barry Wells Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BS-83177 10-in. 7/16/1934 Out of space Isham Jones Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-83917 10-in. 8/10/1934 Casa Loma stomp Mack Rogers Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-89794 10-in. 5/13/1935 Nothin' but the blues Gene Gifford Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo arranger, leader, songwriter  
Victor BS-89795 10-in. 5/13/1935 New Orleans twist Gene Gifford Orchestra Jazz/dance band songwriter, leader, arranger  
Victor BS-89796 10-in. 5/13/1935 Squareface Gene Gifford Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with talk leader, composer  
Victor BS-89797 10-in. 5/13/1935 Dizzy glide Gene Gifford Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with vocal composer, leader  
Victor PBS-09815 10-in. 11/10/1937 Goblin band Ozzie Nelson Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-014113 10-in. 9/13/1937 Casa Loma stomp Vernon Geyer Electric organ solo composer  
Victor BS-042729 10-in. 9/25/1939 Out of space Ray Eberle ; Glenn Miller Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BS-042981 10-in. 10/18/1939 Out of space Hal Kemp Orchestra ; Nan Wynn Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo composer  
Columbia W145378 10-in. 12/14/1927 Everything is just the same Bob Miller Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Columbia W152427 10-in. 6/27/1933 Smoke rings Shim Shammers ; Dicky Wells Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Columbia W152443 10-in. 7/26/1933 Smoke rings Drake Hotel Orchestra ; Clyde McCoy Jazz/dance band composer  
OKeh W404569 10-in. 12/6/1930 Casa Loma stomp Casa Loma Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Decca DLA 835 10-in. 7/23/1937 Casa Loma stomp-1 Glen Gray Orchestra arranger  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gifford, Gene," accessed April 10, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110276.

Gifford, Gene. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 10, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110276.

"Gifford, Gene." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 10 April 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110276

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.