All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » The Four Freshmen

The Four Freshmen The Four Freshmen

The Four Freshmen were one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s, and formed the bridge between '40s ensembles like Mel-Tones and harmony-based rock & roll bands such as the Beach Boys as well as groups like Spanky & Our Gang and the Manhattan Transfer. The group's roots go back to the end of the 1940s and a barbershop quartet-influenced outfit called Hal's Harmonizers, organized at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Butler University in Indiana by two brothers, Ross and Don Barbour. Their repertoire centered on standards such as “Moonglow” and “The Christmas Song,” and they began to show an unusually free, improvisational approach to their harmony singing. A couple of membership changes brought Bob Flanigan, a cousin, into the fold alongside Hal Kratzsch, and suddenly the Four Freshmen were assembled in all but name, and that fell into place a little later.

The group struggled for a long time, living hand-to-mouth while building a repertoire and a sound — many people who've heard the group's records or are familiar with their sound are unaware that they were also completely self-contained instrumentally, each member playing more than one instrument and allowing the others to switch off to different roles. They came to attention of various jazz figures of the era, including Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, and Stan Kenton, and it was Kenton who took matters into his own hands, bringing the group to the attention of Capitol Records, where the bandleader had a longstanding relationship. Thus began a long and fruitful relationship with the label, initially under the guidance of arranger Pete Rugolo — gigs followed on The Steve Allen Show (then one of the top-rated entertainment showcases on television) and with Ray Anthony's band; they also managed to make an appearance in the MGM movie Rich, Young and Pretty.

Read more

Tags

Albums

 

Celebrating 50 Years

Hitchcock Media Records
2001

buy

Watch

Similar

Frank Sinatra Frank Sinatra
voice / vocals
Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald
voice / vocals
Bobby McFerrin Bobby McFerrin
voice / vocals
Tony Bennett Tony Bennett
voice / vocals
Dee Dee Bridgewater Dee Dee Bridgewater
voice / vocals
June Christy June Christy
voice / vocals
Karrin Allyson Karrin Allyson
voice / vocals
Johnny Hartman Johnny Hartman
voice / vocals
Annie Ross Annie Ross
voice / vocals
Chris Connor Chris Connor
voice / vocals
The Manhattan Transfer The Manhattan Transfer
voice / vocals
Jo Stafford Jo Stafford
voice / vocals
Sue Raney Sue Raney
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.