Looking Back: The musical accomplishments of Edmonds School District grads Ken Cloud and Murray Sennett

Ken Cloud and his trombone, circa 1960s. (Courtesy of Edmonds Historical Museum)

Through the years, Edmonds High School became noted for its music department. Since the school’s early days, and especially under the direction of William Osburn in the 1930s, the high school started winning awards, beginning with an excellent rating in April 1933 at the Western Washington Music Meet held at the University of Washington. Only two other bands outranked them.

In May of 1935, the EHS Band placed first in the B Division at the meet. For a high school with an enrollment of just a bit over 1,000 students, this was quite an accomplishment.

Through the years, the school’s music department has produced several talented musicians —  none more worthy of note than high school band members Ken Cloud of Edmonds (class of 1933) and Murray Sennett, Alderwood Manor resident (class of 1937). During their days at Edmonds High School, Ken Cloud and Murray Sennett learned well, and then used that training and their own unique talents to become successful in the world of music.

Kenneth “Ken” Allen Cloud – 1916-1999

Ken Cloud as a University of Washington senior — from college yearbook online.

Ken Cloud was born Aug. 10, 1916 in Everson, Whatcom County, Washington, the son of Ray V. Cloud and Fanny McCallum. If his father’s name sounds familiar, you may recall that Ray Cloud was the longtime owner and editor of the Edmonds Tribune-Review from 1921 to 1952.

Ken Cloud was 5 years old when his parents purchased the Tribune-Review and moved the family from Ferndale, Wash. to Edmonds. He attended Edmonds Grade School before entering Edmonds High School. In high school, he excelled in music as a member of the Edmonds High School Band, and graduated from EHS in 1933.

While still a high school student, he played for local dances, such as joining with Alderwood Manor residents Dice and Mabel Lobdell providing the music for dances held at the Cedar Valley Grange hall. His trombone blended well with the violin and piano of the local husband- and-wife duo.

In August of 1933, young Ken Cloud and his trombone joined six other musicians to perform at the Evergreen Dancing Club. The group called themselves the Charmed Land Dance Band, and performed at the Maplewood Clubhouse — where the Maplewood Rock and Gem Club is presently located.

Following high school, Ken Cloud entered the University of Washington, and to please his journalist father, for the first year he studied journalism.  However, his real love was music, and he made a switch after that first year. Tall and lanky in his band uniform, Ken Cloud stood out as he played his trombone in both the University’s Husky Band and the Concert Band. After earning his bachelor’s degree in music in 1941, he became a member of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

In August of 1942, Ken Cloud enlisted in the military to serve during WWII. This turned out to be his opportunity to join the big-time world of music. Ken Cloud played trombone with the 505th Army Air Force Band, traveling throughout the United States. It was at this time that he had the lucky break to play for his idol, the leader of the Air Force Band — the highly-celebrated Glenn Miller. Although Ken Cloud did play classical, pop and jazz music, during his career the highly-recognizable, smooth, big-band Glenn Miller sound remained his favorite.

Discharged in 1946, Ken Cloud returned to Seattle, where he rejoined the Seattle Symphony Orchestra — retiring in 1981. Throughout his long-time journey in the music world — over 50 years — Ken Cloud played his trombone and wrote musical arrangements for Seattle Symphony concerts, Ice Follies shows and Seattle Center dances, as well as teaching young students.

Some may remember Ken Cloud from the Century 21 Exposition, the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.  After first performing as a trombonist with Jackie Souder’s official World’s Fair Orchestra, Ken Cloud put together his own group of musicians. Ken’s Big Band made its debut at the fair, and won the title of the best dance band in the Northwest. The band traveled to Chicago to place in the national competition. The Ken Cloud Orchestra continued to perform at the Seattle Center, as well as other locations.

For those of us who grew up with the sound of the big-band music, just to have been able to continue dancing to Ken Cloud’s rendition of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” was special.

The sweet sound of Ken Cloud’s trombone was silenced when he died Nov. 9, 1999 at the age of 83.  However, his work continued on — his music arrangements still in use after his death.  Also, according to Ken Cloud’s obituary, in his will, he left his music library of scores and charts to Edmonds High School.

Murray Frank Sennett – 1918-2003

Murray Sennett from his 1937 Edmonds High School graduation photo, also from the EHS yearbook.

Murray Sennett was another graduate of the Edmonds High School Music Department to find success in a field he loved. He became a longtime Seattle music teacher and a very successful and colorful musician, playing drums for some well-known orchestras and groups.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 15, 1918, he came to Washington state with his parents Harry C. and Effie H. Sennett in 1925, as a 7-year-old child. The family first lived in Seattle, and then soon moved to Alderwood Manor (Lynnwood), where Harry Sennett worked as a bookkeeper for a feed and grain company.

Murray Sennett first attended Alderwood Manor Grade School and then Edmonds High School, graduating in 1937. In high school, he was a member of both the school band and the orchestra, and during his sophomore, junior and senior years, he participated in the Western Washington Music Meet, a high school band contest. He also took part in music festivals during each of his four years in high school.

While still living in Alderwood Manor with his parents, Murray Sennett continued his schooling as a student at the University of Washington. He played drums for the University’s Symphony, and also participated part time with local music groups. Like Ken Cloud, he sometimes joined with Alderwood Manor musicians Dice and Mabel Lobdell and played for dances at the Cedar Valley Grange. He graduated from the University of Washington with bachelor of arts and master’s degrees in music, as well as a degree in teaching.

The 1934 award-winning Edmonds High School Band. Murray Sennett is in the second row, sitting behind the drums, 6th from the left. (Photo from the Edmonds High School yearbook)

During WWII, while serving with a USO troop, Murray Sennett entertained members of the armed forces.

Although, Murray Sennett would later become a drummer with Ken Cloud’s sweet-sounding Seattle Center dance band, his earlier music career included playing his drums with groups featuring some decidedly different styles of music.

One of those engagements was in Los Angeles, where Murray Sennett played drums for Spike Jones and his City Slickers. The City Slickers provided music with a highly unusual and raucous sound that not only featured drums, but also some wacky and questionable musical instruments, including xylophones, cowbells, wash boards, whistles and even a cannon, with gunshots heard at times in the background. This was all while leader Jones and his band members were dressed in garish checkered suits or some other outlandish costumes. No tuxedos for this fun-loving group of musicians.

Murray Sennett also joined steel guitarist Alvino Rey and his jazz band, and even ventured to Nevada’s Las Vegas Strip and played his drums as part of a stage show featuring the popular, and often times risqué nightclub entertainer Sophie Tucker.

Returning to the Northwest, to make his home in Seattle, Murray Sennett played his drums at local night clubs, and also taught music classes.

Later, he was a member of the Seattle Symphony, Jackie Souder’s 1962 Seattle World’s Fair Orchestra, and Ken Cloud’s Orchestra at Seattle Center. He also performed at the Blue Banjo, an informal and popular 1960s Seattle Pioneer Square nightclub, where the patrons sang along with the music while eating peanuts and popcorn, and drinking beer from pitchers.

In his later years, Murray Sennett continued to teach music part time, and to play his drums at Seattle’s Latona Pub near Green Lake, until a broken hip in 2000 brought on medical problems, forcing his retirement. He died at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle on Aug. 8, 2003 at the age of 85.

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a former long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. Although now living in Anchorage, she occasionally writes about the history and the people of both early-day Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.

 

 

3 Replies to “Looking Back: The musical accomplishments of Edmonds School District grads Ken Cloud and Murray Sennett”

  1. Good story, Betty. My dad, Bob Evans, was also a musician and a classmate of Ken Cloud’s. They played together for lots of dance clubs in the ’30s and ’40s.

    Also enjoyed your story on Gwendolyn Shakespeare, published a while back. She was my penmanship teacher. Will never forget her walking into the classroom singing “Perfect posture, perfect posture, do not slump” and then making us do all kinds of exercises, such as making Slinky-like coils with our pencils on our papers, as she endeavored to teach us the intricacies and flourishes of the Palmer method.

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  2. Bruce — I did see your father’s name as a member of the EHS graduating class for 1933 and his name mentioned in the music department articles. Also, I believe, as a member of the Charmed Land Dance Band, along with Ken Cloud. Yes, Gwen Shakespeare was quite the gal. As well as the Slinky-like coils, we also had the push and pulls. Once, very good, my penmanship is now terrible.

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  3. And we have continued the tradition with the wonderful Mr. Bergevin! What a great town for budding musicians to grow up in.

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