It's difficult to believe, based on a paltry pair of compact discs of Ted Lewis' music that exist, that from the beginning of the '20s until the mid-'30s, he was one of the most popular music acts in the world, cutting million-selling records when those scarcely happened more than once a year. It's even harder to comprehend that Lewis maintained an active recording, radio, movie, television, and concert career for 50 years, 1917 to 1967, and enjoyed respect from members of the jazz community that was unique for a leader of a dance band. Ted Lewis was never considered a great, or even a good jazz player -- though he was a better player than he got credit for being -- and wasn't taken seriously as a singer, nor was most of the music that he recorded considered good jazz. For most of the '20s, his biggest decade for record sales, he favored dance and novelty numbers that today evoke the zanier side of the era. Even his catch phrase -- "Is everybody happy?" -- seemed, by the end of '30s, to be a quaint echo of the so-called Roaring Twenties. He was a figure like Paul Whiteman, but more of a musician, and he also resembled Al Jolson, as a personality as much as musician. Lewis also employed an extraordinary array of talented musicians and even a few future legends -- the men who passed through the ranks of his band included Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Muggsy Spanier, Jimmy Dorsey, Frank Teschemacher and George Brunies, and even Fats Waller did a turn with the band.