Leo (F.) Reisman (October 11, 1897 – December 18, 1961) was an American violinist and bandleader in the 1920s and 1930s. Born and reared in Boston, he was of Jewish ancestry; from German immigrants who immigrated to the United States in the 19th century. Reisman studied violin as a young man, and formed his own band in 1919. He became famous for having over 80 hits on the popular charts during his career. Jerome Kern called Reisman's orchestra "The String Quartet of Dance Bands".
Mr. Reisman's first recording was on a 10-inch 78 rpm record for Columbia Records, recorded on January 10, 1921 – the two titles being "Love Bird", with a catalog issue of Columbia A-3366, mx.79634 and the other title being "Bright Eyes", with a catalog issue of Columbia A-3366, mx.79635.
Reisman recorded for Columbia exclusively from July 1923 through March 11, 1929, when he signed with Victor and stayed until October 1933. He then signed with Brunswick and stayed until 1937 when he re-signed with Victor. During his 1929-1933 Victor period, Reisman recorded many lesser-known period Broadway songs, some of which were recorded by no other band. Due to his popularity, he was always one of the prominent bands during his time at Columbia, Victor and Brunswick, and he recorded prolifically.
Reisman also had the habit of featuring composers and Broadway performers as band vocalists, including Harold Arlen, Fred Astaire, Clifton Webb, and Arthur Schwartz. He also featured Lee Wiley in 1931-32 for her first 3 recordings. More often than not, his vocalists were Frank Luther, Dick Robertson and later Sally Singer and George Beuler. A notable recording from this era was "Happy Days Are Here Again" in November 1929, with vocals by Lou Levin.
Among his more popular hits were his #1 recordings of Cole Porter's "Night and Day" (1932) and Con Conrad's "The Continental" (1934), and Astaire's recording of Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" (1935).
Reisman's was primarily a dance orchestra; he was not a fan of jazz music, but some of his early 1930s 78 RPM recordings were a bit "hot". (However, Reisman employed the legendary trumpet player Bubber Miley in 1930–31, who had been a featured member of Duke Ellington's orchestra.)
Leo Reisman died in New York City on December 18, 1961, at the age of 64.
1 The Eddy Duchin Story. Columbia Pictures, Samuel A. Taylor (screenplay) and Leo Katcher (story), released 21 June 1956 (USA)
2 William G. Hyland, George Gershwin, A New Biography (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), p. 151