The Rhythmic Eight - It Looks Like Love (1931)

Published on Aug 4, 2013

Bert Firman used the name "The Rhythmic Eight" for his small group recording sessions between the years of 1927 and 1932. These sessions featured both American and British musicians. The group under the direction of first Bert Firman and then his brother John.

Bert Firman (Feb.3,1906 - April 9,1999) was born as Herbert Feuerman in London. He wanted to become a doctor but was expected to study music because everyone in his family, as well as cousins and uncles, were musicians. After training on violin, he was granted a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music. At the age of 13 he played in a quintet providing incidental music at the Playhouse Theatre, and at 14 was a member of the orchestra at the Victoria Hotel.

A couple of years leter Bert hired in as violinist with the Midnight Follies Orchestra at the Metropole Hotel. After the leader of this ensemble, an American saxophonist, tumbled off the stage one night while drunk, 16 year old Bert was given the job of directing the band.

Between 1924 -28, he was musical director for Zonophone records, a division of the His Master's Voice. He recorded over 750 sides for this label, using some 21 names for his ensembles: in addition to Bert Firman's Dance Orchestra, the list included the Arcadians Dance Orchestra, the Cabaret Novelty Orchestra, the Carlton Hotel Dance Orchestra, the Devonshire Restaurant Dance Band, the London Orchestra, the Orpheus Dance Band, the Ariel Dance Orchestra and Eugene Brockman's Dance Orchestra. Firman also cut an enormous number of relatively jazzy sides from November 1927 through September 1932 with a smaller group known as the Rhythmic Eight. Firman regularly tapped into authentic jazz material, recording "Sugar Foot Stomp" and "Milenberg Joys" in May of 1927. In 1928 he made what is believed to have been the first English recording of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue".

The Firman ensembles featured quite a number of excellent players, including Ted Heath, Sylvester Ahola, Chelsea Quealey, Danny Polo, Freddy Gardner, George Melachrino and for a little while in 1925 an American saxophonist by the name of Rudy Vallee. In 1929 Firman relocated himself to New York City as a conductor for NBC broadcasts, then to Hollywood as arranger and conductor providing music for motion pictures. From there he moved back to London, assembled a band and descended upon Paris, where he settled into a steady pattern of performances at Les Ambassadeurs, with engagements in Monte Carlo every summer. By 1937 he was back in London, broadcasting for BBC.

During WWII, Firman enlisted in the Staffordshire Regiment, then toured Persia, Syria, Egypt and Palestine, entertaining the troops as a member of "Stars In Battledress".

After the war, Firman continued to make music in Paris. His very last gig as a leader was at the Bagatelle Club with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the band. After this Firman withdrew entirely from the music business, working on the London Metal Exchange until he retired in 1976.