Mitchell Ayres Orchestra
From the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated October 23, 1937:
Mitchell Ayres’ Orchestra Next for Century Room
By Charles Cullum - Mitchell Ayres and his orchestra will open at the Century Room next Saturday night, Oct. 30. The Adolphus has a way of surprising us. Ayres is a name new to these pastures. So was Glenn Miller. And a champion Mr. Miller turned out to be.
From the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated November 26, 1937:
Success of Ayres Concert Merits Repeater Sunday
The Mitchell Ayres dance orchestra added a refreshingly unusual and altogether ingratiating note to the night club season at the Century Room Thanksgiving evening when it became, for the nonce, a concert orchestra, and presented a dinner program devoted to the finer things in music. This, the most astonishing jazz organization we have come across in a long while, was in this instance more astonishing than ever.
Digging from their library a group of the better known classics the gentlemen gave a splendid hour to the masters. When the hour was done those often indifferent halls were ringing with applause. Both the size and the enthusiasm of the Thursday evening gathering at the Adolphus were eye openers to those skeptics who have been doubting the advisability of turning the Messrs. Liszt, Dvorak and Wagner loose in a night club. So entirely successful was the occasion that a second concert of the same lofty ilk will be unfurled by the Ayres lads on Sunday evening.
Proving conclusively that the classics can be interpreted without serious injury in dance tempo, the concert suggested to American dance bands the sort of thing that tomorrow well may be demanding. It further suggested to those same dance bands that they had best be watching out for Mr. Ayres. He is in high gear.
With such compositions as Wagner’s “Ode to the Eastern Star,” Massenet’s “Elegie” and Kreisler’s “Caprice Viennois” constituting the program, the evening gave the boys a quite strenuous workout. They came through beautifully, put their classics away and returned to “Bugle Call Rag” without a miss. Highlights of the concert were the startlingly brilliant fiddling of one Aaron Goldmark, the stirring crescendos of one of the best sax teams we have heard, the singing of Maryann Mercer and the polished ensemble work of the entire group.
Would it be audacious to request of our night clubs more, much more, of the world’s real music delivered this, in concert style? That, of course, will entail more orchestras of this versatility. As a matter of fact music is a good thing. We are for it.
From the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated November 28, 1937:
Mitchell Ayres and orchestra will offer a second dinner concert devoted to the classics at the Century Room Sunday evening. The first, held on Thanksgiving Evening, was rousingly successful. It isn’t unlikely that concerts of this nature will in time become a matter of course in local night clubs. And why not?
From the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated August 20, 1939:
Ayres on Bandwagon
Mitchell Ayres – who might have been a star in major league baseball if he hadn’t been so fond of music – and his orchestra will be perched atop the Bandwagon for the broadcast at 5:30 p.m. over WFAA-WBAP.
Ayres was graduated from Columbia University after a brilliant athletic career and turned down offers of several major league scouts because he wanted to join Jimmy Carr’s orchestra as a violinist. He later played with Little Jack Little’s band. His talents as band leader came to the fore when he batoned Abe Lyman’s aggregation for a time before striking out with his own orchestra.
Excerpt from the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated November 21, 1943:
Jiving Trio, Ayres Band Coming Up
. . . On the same bill and sharing honors with the Sisters A will be Mitchell Ayres and his band, though we understand the leader has rationed his first name and is now billed as Mitch. Ayres is the Brooklyn boy, who after he graduated from Columbia, took his first musical job as violinist in the Roxy Theater orchestra, then doubled back into the field of serious music with the St. Louis Symphony under Erno Rapee’s baton. From there he went to the dance band field, first with Jimmy Carr then with Little Jack Little. When he formed his own band, he and the boys made it a cooperative affair, with Mitch as leader and president, and it’s worked very nicely, thank you.
From the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated November 26, 1943:
Hot Licks by Andrews Trio, Ayres Band Pack Majestic
By Fairfax Nisbet – The Majestic is currently giving the Andrews Sisters’ large following something to be thankful for by presenting the boogie-woogie balladeers in person, along with the solid rhythms of Mitchell Ayres and his band, plus a goodly quota of added attractions.
. . . The Ayres band, which is both solid and smooth, is far more than mere background for the rest of the show. The genial maestro and his boys in addition to hitting those notes high, low and handsome, have a number of novelties and some clever featured entertainers. The current baritone boom brings forth Dick Dyer, a blond Sinatra with those crooning tones, and girl vocalist is Ruth McCullough, who gives a slick interpretation to “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old.” The band’s Trumpet-Ayres and Glee Club have a couple of nice stints and a roly-poly trumpet player does all right on the horn and adds a bit of comedy on his own.
From the Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), dated September 7, 1969:
Ayres Dies In Nevada Accident
Las Vegas, Nev. (AP) – Bandleader-composer Mitchell Ayres was killed a female violinist injured when they were struck by a car while walking across the street in the plush gambling district.
Police said Ayres, 59, of Encino, Calif., was dead on arrival at Sunrise Hospital about midnight Friday. Betty Phillips, 37, of Oakland, Calif., who played in his band, was in poor condition at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital.
Ayres, a nationally known bandleader in the 1940s was musical director for singer Connie Stevens, who started an engagement Friday at the Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas.
From the San Diego Union (San Diego, California), dated September 7, 1969:
Mitchell Ayres, Composer, Killed
Las Vegas (AP) - Mitchell Ayres, bandleader and composer, was killed Friday night and a woman companion was seriously injured when they were struck by a car while crossing a street, police said yesterday.
Ayres, 59, of Encino, Calif., was dead on arrival at 11:23 p.m. Sunrise Hospital. His companion, Betty Phillips, 37, was in serious condition with chest injuries at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital.
Police said the couple was struck by an auto driven by Tim E. Heaton, 22, Alhambra, Calif., as they crossed a street near the Riviera Hotel. No charges were filed against Heaton.
Ayres, a nationally known bandleader in the 1940s, has been a musical director for television shows and nightclub singers in recent years.
He worked for the Perry Como Show, and at the time of his death was musical director for singer Connie Stevens, now appearing at the Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas.
Ayres wrote several songs, including “I’m A Slave To You,” “He’s a Wolf,” “Scratchin’ the Surface,” and “Medeira.”
Funeral services were pending.
From the Morning Star (Rockford, Illinois), dated September 10, 1969:
Funeral services were held Tuesday in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Calif., for Mitchell Ayres, one of the top musical directors and conductors in show business. Ayres, 59, was fatally injured Friday when he was struck by a car while crossing a street in Las Vegas.
From the Greensboro Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), dated October 3, 1969:
Ayres Children Seek $500,000
Los Angeles (AP) – Two children of bandleader Mitchell Ayres are asking $500,000 in damages from the driver of a car which struck and killed the musician in Las Vegas, Nev., Sept. 5.
Named as defendant in the action filed Wednesday in Superior Court was Tim E. Heaton, 22, of Alhambra, Calif.
The suit was brought by Judith E. Heys, 26, of San Francisco, and Lawrence E. Ayres, 19, of Encino, Calif.
Georgianna Ayres, the bandleader’s widow, died of a heart attack a few days after her husband was killed.