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Francis Bay Big Band

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Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Bandleader Francis Bay was born Frans Bayetz in Rijkevorsel, Belgium in 1914; according to the Space Age Pop Page (home.earthlink.net/~spaceagepop/index.htm), he began playing the clarinet at age seven, and within a few years was already gigging with local orchestras. After earning first prize honors in 1930 for clarinet performance at the Conservatoire of Malines, Bay added saxophone and trombone to his arsenal, and in the latter half of the decade played in swing bands behind leaders like Paul Godwin and Boyd Bachman; after World War II, he co-founded a popular big band dubbed the Skymasters, and also wrote and arranged scores for Dutch and German film productions. Bay did not step out in front of his own orchestra until the mid-1950s, and while performing at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair the group was discovered by executives from the small American jazz label Omega, which agreed to license a series of their note-perfect tribute albums like Salute to Tommy Dorsey, Salute to Glenn Miller and Salute to Duke Ellington. More impressive were Bay's Latin-flavored dates, among them Latin Heat and the Epic label release Francis Bay Swings the Cha Cha Cha Beat. Although his success abroad was limited, Bay remained a popular attraction in Europe, and he later served as musical director for Belgian National Radio and Television until the mid-1970s.