Frankie Carle had one of the longest careers in big-band music, from the '30s right up through the '80s, more than a half-century of making music, and even more amazing a record given his current lack of representation in the CD bins. Carle began his career as a pianist, taught by his uncle Nicholas Colangelo. At age 13, he landed a gig in his uncle's orchestra, playing for $1 a week; by 1920, he was already leading his own short-lived group. He participated in his first recording sessions -- at Victor -- in 1925 as a member of Edwin J. McEnelley's band, which he joined in 1921. Carle's first important gig was as a member of Mal Hallett's band, where he got to work with drumming legend Gene Krupa, saxman Toots Mondello, and trombonists Jack Jenny and Jack Teagarden. Although the Hallett band never achieved major success before its breakup in 1937, it did provide Carle with experience and gainful employment, after which he spent a period leading his own band, playing in New England and recording for Decca. Carle officially joined up with Horace Heidt in July 1939, and it was as a member of his Musical Knights, a band with a huge national following on radio, that Carle became much better known. By the early '40s, he felt the time was right to start his own band.