Archive for the The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78’s Category

Earl Hines And His Orchestra-Sweet Ella May, 1929

Posted in 78's on Screen, Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists of the 1930's and 1940's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , on March 29, 2015 by the78rpmrecordspins

Back in the early 1970’s I fondly remember taking my father to the now defunct Chicken Deli in Toronto one evening to see the great Earl “Fatha” Hines play piano. Since then, I have long admired his styling, as he was known for his great technique and talent for improvisation, horn-like phrasing, and a rhythm which influenced popular jazz throughout the swing era and into bebop. One of my favorite Hines recordings is “Sweet Ella May” recorded on Victor in 1929, and we hear Hines providing the vocals and solos on the piano.

 

Advertisements

Mart Britt And His Orchestra-Goose Creek, 1928

Posted in 78's on Screen, Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , on March 28, 2015 by the78rpmrecordspins

Here is a great little territory band that recorded sides with Victor. The personnel include Tony Almerico or Irwin Kunz-c/? Blue Steele-tb/Sidney Arodin-cl/Terry Shand-p/Mart Britt-bj/? sb/? d. Memphis, September 14, 1928. Vic 21760.

The 78 RPM Sound Of Gilbert Watson And His Orchestra 1925 To 1926

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , on March 27, 2014 by the78rpmrecordspins

On  March 12, 2014 I published a blog dealing with Canada’s Gilbert Watson and his Orchestra, and that I would be receiving sound files from his son. Those sound files have now been uploaded, and contain eight tracks of music that was recorded between 1925 to 1926 by the Compo Company, Lachine, Quebec, and released on several of their labels. The other two tracks that were recorded are not present, unfortunately. The track list is as follows:

 

1. Apex 728 Lonesome Me

2. Leonora 23016 That’s All There Is

3. Leonora 23016 Bamboola

4. Apex 728 Don’t Wake Me Up

5. Domino 21563 I Just Want To Be Known As “Susie’s Feller”

6. Microphone 22544 How Could Red Riding Hood?

7. Domino 21563 St. Louis Blues

8. Microphone 22544 Don’t Be Angry With Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our One Year Anniversary Special! The Chicago Rhythm Kings “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” 1928

Posted in 78's on Screen, Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by the78rpmrecordspins

Recorded in Chicago, April 4th 1928

Personnel: Muggsy Spanier-cornet / Frank Teschmachmer-clarinet / Mezz Mezzrow-tenor sax / Joe Sulivan-piano / Eddie Condon-banjo / Jim Lannigan-brass bass / Gene Krupa-drums / Red McKenzie-vocal.

Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang – My Lit’l Honey And Me (Brunswick 4674 1929)

Posted in 78's on Screen, Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

 

Irving Mills (Jan.16,1894 – April 21,1985) was a jazz music publisher, also known by the name of “Joe Primrose.”

Mills was born to Jewish parents in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. He founded Mills Music with his brother Jack in 1919. Between 1919 and 1965, when they sold Mills Music, Inc., they built and became the largest independent music publisher in the world. He died in 1985 in Palm Springs, California.

Irving and Jack discovered a number of great songwriters, among them Sammy Fain, Harry Barris, Gene Austin, Hoagy Carmichael, Jimmy McHugh, and Dorothy Fields. He either discovered or greatly advanced the careers of Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, Will Hudson, Raymond Scott and many others.

Although not a musician himself (he did sing, however), Irving decided to put together his own studio recording group. In Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang he had for sidemen: Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Arnold Brillhardt, Arthur Schutt, and Manny Klein. Other variations of his bands featured Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Red Nichols (Irving gave Red Nichols the tag “and his Five Pennies.”)

One of his innovations was the “band within a band,” recording small groups (he started this in 1928 by arranging for members of Ben Pollack’s band to record hot small group sides for the various dime store labels, out of the main orchestra and printing “small orchestrations” transcribed off the record, so that non-professional musicians could see how great solos were constructed. This was later done by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and many other bands.

In late 1936, with involvement by Herbert Yates of the American Record Corporation, Irving started the Master and Variety labels, which for their short life span were distributed by ARC through their Brunswick and Vocalion label sales staff. From December, 1936, through about September, 1937, an amazing amount of records were issued on these labels. Master’s best selling artists were Duke Ellington, Raymond Scott, as well as Hudson-De Lange Orchestra, Casper Reardon and Adrian Rollini. Variety’s roster included Cab Calloway, Red Nichols, the small groups from Ellington’s band led by Barney Bigard, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, and Johnny Hodges, as well as Noble Sissle, Frankie Newton, The Three Peppers, Chu Berry, Billy Kyle, and other major and minor jazz and pop performers around New York. In such a short time, an amazing amount of fine music was recorded for these labels.

By late 1937 a number of problems caused the collapse of these labels. The Brunswick and Vocalion sales staff had problems of their own, with competition from Victor and Decca, and it wasn’t easy to get this new venture off the ground. Mills tried to arrange for distribution overseas to get his music issued in Europe, but was unsuccessful. Also, it’s quite likely that these records simply weren’t selling as well as hoped for.

After the collapse of the labels, those titles that were still selling on Master were reissued on Brunswick and those still selling on Variety were reissued on Vocalion. Mills continued his M-100 recording series after the labels were taken over by ARC, and after cutting back recording to just the better selling artists, new recordings made from about January 1938 by Master were issued on Brunswick (later Columbia) and Vocalion (later the revived Okeh) until May 7, 1940.

Irving was recording all the time and became the head of the American Recording Company, which is now Columbia Records. Once radio blossomed Irving was singing at six radio stations seven days a week plugging Mills tunes. Jimmy McHugh, Sammy Fain, and Gene Austin took turns being his pianist.

He produced one picture, Stormy Weather, for Twentieth Century Fox in 1943, which starred jazz greats Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Zutty Singleton, and Fats Waller and the legendary dancers the Nicholas Brothers and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. He had a contract to do other movies but found it “too slow” so he continued finding, recording and plugging music.

Much has been made about Mills’ co-writing credit on a number of key Ellington compositions. The fact remains that those acts managed by Irving Mills got the best gigs and had the greatest opportunities in the recording studio.

Irving lived to be over 91 years old. His place in the history of jazz is founded primarily on his business skills rather than his singing and songwriting abilities, but it was his management skills and publishing empire that were central to the history and financial success of jazz. Because of his promotion of black entertainers a leading black newspaper referred to him as the Abraham Lincoln of music.

Irving Mills and his Hotsy Totsy Gang – My Lit’l Honey And Me (1929)

The Unrecognized Bix Beiderbecke #2 – Alabammy Snow

Posted in The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

On 15 May 1929 a small contingent of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra recorded two sides for Columbia – “What A Day” and “Alabammy Snow”.
The record was issued under the pseudonym “The Mason-Dixon Orchestra” no doubt as an “in-joke” because the catalogue number of the record was 1861.
Okeh (a subsidiary label of Columbia) always issued recordings with a similar personnel under saxophonist Frank Trumbauer’s name.
It is rumoured that “Tram” once mentioned that cornetist Bix Beiderbecke did not record with his orchestra for Okeh after the session of two weeks earlier, 30 April 1929.
But with a slightly different personnel under another name and for another label, this one-off session may have escaped Tram’s memory and Bix recorded in the same studio on the day after this session.
The discographies have always named three trumpeters/cornetists for this date, Charlie Margulis, Harry Goldfield and Andy Secrest, all three Whiteman regulars and the latter known for his ability to sound like Bix, who was being featured less and less and was to leave the band permanently in September.
But at the time of the Mason-Dixon recording date, Bix was still very much with Whiteman and it would have been logical if he was present; he had done a radio show with the band the day before and recorded in the same Columbia studio with them the day after.
Still, in the discographies and books about Bix, it has always been accepted that he was not present and that everything on this record that sounds like Bix was actually played by Secrest.
However, careful listening and deducting reveals that Bix can be heard on both sides.
Using the latest techniques we have newly restored both titles from a mint copy of Columbia 1861-D and identification of Bix has become quite obvious.
First of all, on both sides Secrest is the very prominent lead cornetist and it is clear that there is only one other cornet present – Bix.
On “Alabammy Snow” there are two horns in the written ensembles (with Secrest again prominent) while the other, Bix, is filling in here and there – most significantly two descending phrases in the background from ca. 0:28 and another line, typical for him, in the final chorus at 2:29.
Neither of these phrases can be by Secrest who is heard simultaneously, nor do they sound anything like Margulis or Goldfield and we are confident that they are by Bix.
Note: all Bix Beiderbecke biographies that mention the session as well as “Jazz Records” name this title incorrectly as “Alabamy Snow”.

The Unrecognized Bix Beiderbecke #1 – What A Day!

Posted in The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

On 15 May 1929 a small contingent of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra recorded two sides for Columbia – “What A Day” and “Alabammy Snow”.
The record was issued under the pseudonym “The Mason-Dixon Orchestra” no doubt as an “in-joke” because the catalogue number of the record was 1861.
Okeh (a subsidiary label of Columbia) always issued recordings with a similar personnel under saxophonist Frank Trumbauer’s name.
It is rumoured that “Tram” once mentioned that cornetist Bix Beiderbecke did not record with his orchestra for Okeh after the session of two weeks earlier, 30 April 1929.
But with a slightly different personnel under another name and for another label, this one-off session may have escaped Tram’s memory and Bix recorded in the same studio on the day after this session.
The discographies have always named three trumpeters/cornetists for this date, Charlie Margulis, Harry Goldfield and Andy Secrest, all three Whiteman regulars and the latter known for his ability to sound like Bix, who was being featured less and less and was to leave the band permanently in September.
But at the time of the Mason-Dixon recording date, Bix was still very much with Whiteman and it would have been logical if he was present; he had done a radio show with the band the day before and recorded in the same Columbia studio with them the day after.
Still, in the discographies and books about Bix, it has always been accepted that he was not present and that everything on this record that sounds like Bix was actually played by Secrest.
However, careful listening and deducting reveals that Bix can be heard on both sides.
Using the latest techniques we have newly restored both titles from a mint copy of Columbia 1861-D and identification of Bix has become quite obvious.
First of all, on both sides Secrest is the very prominent lead cornetist and it is clear that there is only one other cornet present – Bix.
On “What A Day”, it can only be Bix who takes the final bridge beginning at 2:40.
This soft and subdued 8-bar solo is typical for him and in stark contrast with Secrest’s dominating lead which immediately precedes and follows it.
Also it can clearly be heard that the two have different positions in relation to the microphone; Secrest is further away from it than the soloist and we are confident that this is Bix.
Addendum: Altoalto makes another interesting point : Secrest is out of tune, especially in the ensembles of the last chorus. However, Bix plays the middle eight perfectly in tune.

My Ohio Home – Paul Whiteman and his orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, Recording Artists Who Appeared in Film, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , on March 6, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

My Ohio Home – Paul Whiteman and his orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke.
This is the only known footage of Bix playing the cornet. A Fox Movietone Newsreel for the week of May 18, 1928, shows Paul Whiteman tearing up his old contract with Victor on the stroke of midnight. Paul now has a new contract with Columbia and leads his orchestra playing My Ohio Home. At one point, during a chorus by the brass section, we see Bix standing up and playing his part on the cornet. There are two transfers, one normal and a second one with somewhat more of a close-up.

Original Dixieland Jass Band

Posted in Recording Artist's of the 1920's and 1930's, The Sound of Jazz and Hot Dance 78's with tags , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by the78rpmrecordspins

Original Dixieland Jass Band

From Wikipedia
Original Dixieland Jazz Band

A 1918 promotional postcard showing (from left), drummer Tony Sbarbaro (aka Tony Spargo), trombonist Edwin “Daddy” Edwards, cornetist Dominick James “Nick” LaRocca, clarinetist Larry Shields, and pianist Henry Ragas
Background information
Origin New Orleans, Louisiana
Genres Jazz
Years active 1916–1925
1936

The Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB) were a New OrleansDixieland jazz band that made the first jazz recordings in early 1917. Their “Livery Stable Blues” became the first jazz single ever issued.  The group composed and made the first recordings of many jazz standards, the most famous being “Tiger Rag“. In late 1917 the spelling of the band’s name was changed to Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

The band consisted of five musicians who previously had played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a diverse and racially integrated group of musicians who played for paradesdances, and advertising in New Orleans.

ODJB billed itself as the Creators of Jazz, because it was the first band to record jazz commercially and to have hit recordings in the new genre. Band leader and trumpeter Nick LaRocca argued that ODJB deserved recognition as the first band to record jazz commercially and the first band to establish jazz as a musical idiom or genre.


Origins

The first release of “Tiger Rag” on Aeolian Vocalion, B1206, 1917.

In early 1916 a promoter from Chicago approached clarinetist Alcide Nunez and drummer Johnny Stein about bringing a New Orleans-style band to Chicago, where the similar Brown’s Band From Dixieland led by trombonist Tom Brown already was enjoying success. They then assembled trombonist Eddie Edwardspianist Henry Ragas, and cornetist Frank Christian. Shortly before they were to leave, Christian backed out, and Nick LaRocca was hired as a last-minute replacement.

On March 3, 1916 the musicians began their job at Schiller’s Cafe in Chicago under the name Stein’s Dixie Jass Band. The band was a hit and received offers of higher pay elsewhere. Since Stein as leader was the only musician under contract by name, the rest of the band broke off, sent to New Orleans for drummer Tony Sbarbaro, and on June 5, started playing under the name, The Dixie Jass Band. LaRocca and Nunez had personality conflicts, and on October 30 Tom Brown’s Band and ODJB agreed to swap clarinetists, bringing Larry Shields into the Original Dixieland Jass Band. The band attracted the attention of theatrical agent Max Hart, who booked the band in New York City. At the start of 1917 the band began an engagement playing for dancing at Reisenweber’s Cafe in Manhattan.

When the New Orleans Jazz style swept New York by storm in 1917 with the arrival of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Jimmy Durante was part of the audience at Reisenweber’s Cafe on Columbus Circle when ODJB played that venue. Durante was very impressed with the band and invited them to play at a club called the Alamo in Harlem where Jimmy played piano.

Durante had his friend, Johnny Stein, assemble a group of like-minded New Orleans musicians to accompany his act at the Alamo. They later billed themselves as “Durante’s Jazz and Novelty Band”. In late 1918 they recorded two sides for Okeh under the name of the New Orleans Jazz Band. They recorded the same two numbers a couple of months later for Gennett under the name of Original New Orleans Jazz Band, and in 1920 the same group recorded again for Gennett as Jimmy Durante’s Jazz Band. Numerous jazz bands were formed in the wake of the success of ODJB that copied and replicated its style and sound.

First recordings

Victor release of “Livery Stable Blues”, 18255-B, 1917.

While a couple of other New Orleans bands had passed through New York City slightly earlier, they were part of vaudeville acts. ODJB, on the other hand, played for dancing and hence, were the first “jass” band to get a following of fans in New York and then record at a time when the USA’s recording industry essentially, was centered in New York and New Jersey.Shortly after arriving in New York, a letter dated January 29, 1917, offered the band an audition for the Columbia Graphophone Company. The session took place on Wednesday, January 31, 1917. Nothing from this test session was issued.

The band then recorded two sides for the Victor Talking Machine Company, “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jass Band One Step“, on February 26, 1917,  for the Victor label. These titles were released as the sides of a 78 record on March 7, the first issued jazz record. The band records, first marketed simply as a novelty, were a surprise hit, and gave many Americans their first taste of jazz. Musician Joe Jordan sued, since the “One Step” incorporated portions of his 1909 ragtime composition “That Teasin’ Rag”. The record labels subsequently were changed to “Introducing ‘That Teasin’ Rag’ by Joe Jordan”.

In the wake of the group’s success for the Victor release, in May the band returned to Columbia, recording two selections of popular tunes of the day chosen for them by the record company (possibly hoping to avoid the copyright problems which arose after Victor recorded two of the band’s supposedly original compositions) “Darktown Strutter’s Ball” and “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” as catalogue #A-2297.

The surprising success of the band influenced other groups to form jazz bands and to record the new music of jazz, such as “Earl Fuller‘s Famous Jazz Band”, the Frisco Jazz Band, and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.

W. C. Handy recorded one of the earliest cover versions of a ODJB song when he released a recording of “Livery Stable Blues” by Handy’s Orchestra of Memphis on Columbia Records in 1917, as Columbia A2419 and Columbia 2912, recorded on September 25, 1917.

The seminal 78 releases by the band include the following Victor, Columbia, and Aeolian Vocalion recordings:

  1. “Dixie Jass Band One Step”/”Introducing That Teasin’ Rag”/”Livery Stable Blues“, 1917, Victor 18255
  2. At the Jazz Band Ball“/”Barnyard Blues”, 1917, Aeolian Vocalion A1205
  3. “Ostrich Walk”/”Tiger Rag“, 1917, Aeolian Vocalion A1206
  4. “Reisenweber Rag/Look at ‘Em Doing it Now”, 1917, Aeolian Vocalion 1242
  5. Darktown Strutters’ Ball“/”(Back Home Again in) Indiana“, 1917, Columbia A2297, the ODJB recording of “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame on February 8, 2006
  6. “At the Jazz Band Ball” (1918 version)/”Ostrich Walk” (1918 version), 1918, Victor 18457
  7. “Skeleton Jangle”/”Tiger Rag” (1918 version), 1918, Victor 18472
  8. “Bluin’ the Blues”/”Sensation Rag“, 1918, Victor 18483
  9. “Mournin’ Blues”/”Clarinet Marmalade”, 1918, Victor 18513, “Mournin’ Blues” also appeared as “Mornin’ Blues” on some releases
  10. “Fidgety Feet (War Cloud)”/”Lazy Daddy”, 1918, Victor 18564
  11. “Lasses Candy”/”Satanic Blues”, 1919, Columbia 759
  12. “Oriental Jazz” (or “Jass”), 1919, recorded November 24, 1917 and issued as Aeolian Vocalion 12097 in April 1919 with “Indigo Blues” by Ford Dabney’s Band
  13. “At the Jazz Band Ball” (1919 version)/”Barnyard Blues” (1919 version), 1919, recorded in London, England, April 16, 1919, English Columbia 735
  14. “Soudan” (also known as “Oriental Jass” and “Oriental Jazz”), 1920, recorded in London in the UK in May 1920 and released as English #Columbia 829; “Soudan” was composed by Czech composer Gabriel Sebek in 1906 as “In the Soudan: A Dervish Chorus” or “Oriental Scene for Piano, Op. 45”. The B side was “Me-Ow” by the London Dance Orchestra
  15. Margie“/”Singin’ the Blues”/”Palesteena”, 1920, Victor 18717
  16. “Broadway Rose”/”Sweet Mama (Papa’s Getting Mad)”/”Strut, Miss Lizzie”, 1920, Victor 18722
  17. “Home Again Blues”/”Crazy Blues”/”It’s Right Here For You (If You Don’t Get It, Tain’t No Fault O’ Mine)”, 1921, Victor 18729
  18. “Tell Me/Mammy O’ Mine”, 1921, recorded in the UK and released as Columbia 804
  19. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles“/”My Baby’s Arms”, 1921, Columbia 805
  20. “I’ve Lost My Heart in Dixieland”/”I’ve Got My Captain Working for Me Now“, 1921, Columbia 815
  21. “Sphinx/Alice Blue Gown”, 1921, Columbia 824
  22. “Jazz Me Blues/St. Louis Blues“, 1921, Victor 18772
  23. Royal Garden Blues“/”Dangerous Blues”, 1921, Victor 18798
  24. “Bow Wow Blues (My Mama Treats Me Like a Dog)”, 1922, Victor 18850. The B side featured “Railroad Blues” by the Benson Orchestra of Chicago under pianist and composer Roy Bargy
  25. “Toddlin’ Blues”/”Some of These Days”, 1923, Okeh 4738
  26. “You Stayed Away Too Long/Slipping Through My Fingers”, 1935, Vocalion 3099
  27. “Original Dixieland One-Step/Barnyard Blues” (new version of “Livery Stable Blues”), 1936, Victor 25502
  28. “Who Loves You?”/”Did You Mean It?”, 1936, Victor 25420, which featured vocals by Chris Fletcher and Nick LaRocca on trumpet
  29. “Good-Night, Sweet Dreams, Good-Night”/”In My Little Red Book”, 1938, RCA Bluebird B-7444, which featured vocals by Lola Bard
  30. “Tiger Rag” (1943 version), 1944, V-Disc 214B1, issued June, 1944, with Eddie Edwards and Tony Sbarbaro
  31. “Sensation” (1943 version), 1944, V-Disc 214B2, with Eddie Edwards and Tony Sbarbaro
  32. “Shake It and Break It”/”When You and I Were Young, Maggie”, 1946, Commodore C-613

Victor release of “Dixie Jass Band One-Step”, 18255-A, 1917.

Later history of the band

After their initial recording for Victor, they recorded for Columbia (after the first Victor session, not before as has sometimes been said) and Aeolian-Vocalion in 1917, and returned to make more sides for Victor the following year, while enjoying continued popularity in New York. Trombonist Edwards was drafted for World War I in 1918 and replaced by Emile Christian, and pianist Henry Ragas died ofinfluenza in the Spanish flu pandemic the following year and he was replaced by pianist and composer J. Russel Robinson.

Robinson composed the jazz standard “Eccentric” (“That Eccentric Rag”), “Margie”, “Jazzola”, “Singin’ the Blues (Till My Daddy Comes Home)”, which was recorded by Bix BeiderbeckeFrankie Trumbauer, and Eddie Lang, “Mary Lou”, “Pan Yan (And His Chinese Jazz Band)”, “How Many Times?”, “Aggravatin’ Papa (Don’t You Try to Two-Time Me)”, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, “Get Rhythm in Your Feet”, recorded by Red Allen and His Orchestra with Chu Berry, “Yeah Man!”, recorded by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra in 1933 and released on Vocalion, “Reefer Man” for Cab Calloway in 1932, “Dynamite Rag”, “Meet Me at No Special Place”, recorded byNat King Cole, “Alhambra Syncopated Waltzes”, “Te-na-na (From New Orleans)”, “Beale Street Mama”, recorded by Bessie Smith and Cab Calloway, and “Palesteena (Lena from Palesteena)”. In 1916, Robinson, whose name appeared as “J. Russel Robinson”, collaborated with W. C. Handy on the song “Ole Miss Rag”. In 1919, Robinson collaborated with Handy and Charles N. Hillman on “Though We’re Miles and Miles Apart”, which was released by Handy’s publishing company. Robinson also wrote the blues classic “St. Louis Gal”, which was recorded by Bessie Smith.

Robinson’s compositions for the band in 1920, the classic “Margie”, “Singin’ the Blues”, and “Palesteena (Lena from Palesteena)”, released as a 78, were among the most popular and best-selling hits of 1920. “Aggravatin’ Papa” was composed with lyricist Roy Turk and Addie Britt and was recorded by Alberta Hunter in 1923 with Fletcher Henderson’s Dance Orchestra and also by Bessie Smith, Sophie TuckerFlorence MillsLucille Hegamin, and Pearl Bailey. Robinson also collaborated with Roy Turk on the compositions “Sweet Man O’ Mine” and “A-Wearin’ Away the Blues”, and he wrote “Mama Whip! Mama Spank! (If Her Daddy Don’t Come Home)” for blues and jazz singer Mamie Smith and her Jazz Band in 1921, which were released on the Okeh label. Robinson was a member of the band until it broke up in 1923. He rejoined the band when it reformed in 1936.

The ODJB classic “Margie”, composed by J. Russel Robinson with Con Conrad, with lyrics added by Benny Davis, has been covered over a hundred times. “Margie” has been recorded by Louis Armstrong, who also covered the band’s “Tiger Rag”, Ray CharlesAl JolsonDuke Ellington and His Orchestra in 1935, the Billy Kyle Swing Club Band, Claude HopkinsRed NicholsDjango ReinhardtGeorge Paxton, the Dutch Swing College BandFats DominoSidney BechetDon RedmanCab CallowayJim ReevesGene Krupa, andBenny Goodman.

“Margie” was a no. 9 hit for ODJB in 1921 with J. Russel Robinson on piano. Eddie Cantor had the biggest hit version of the ODJB classic, spending five weeks at no. 1 in 1921. The song also was featured in the movie The Eddie Cantor Story and was the theme of the television series of the same name in 1961–1962. Cantor also recorded ODJB’s “Palesteena (Lena from Palesteena)”. Gene Rodemich and His Orchestra reached no. 7 with their version in 1920. Ted Lewis and His Band reached no. 4 in 1921. Frank Crumit had a no. 7 hit in 1921. Claude Hopkins and His Orchestra reached no. 5 in 1934 with Orlando Peterson on vocals. Don Redman and His Orchestra got to no. 15 in 1939 with a cover of the ODJB song. Dave BrubeckBix BeiderbeckeBing CrosbyJo StaffordErroll GarnerOscar PetersonCharlie ShaversJimmy SmithJoe VenutiRay Barretto, and Shelly Manne also have recorded the song. Jimmie Lunceford recorded the song in 1938 with a Sy Oliver arrangement that featured Trummy Young.

London tour

Tigerag.jpg

Other New Orleans musicians, including Nunez, Tom Brown, and Frank Christian, followed ODJB’s example and went to New York to play jazz as well, giving the band competition. LaRocca decided to take the band to London, where they would once again enjoy being the only authentic New Orleans jazz band in the metropolis, and again present themselves as the Originators of Jazz because they were the first band to record the new genre of music dubbed jass or jazz. The band’s 1919 appearance at the London Hippodrome was the first official jazz gig by any band in the United Kingdom and was followed by a command performance for King George V at Buckingham Palace. The concert did not start auspiciously, with the assembled aristocracy, which included French Marshall Philippe Pétain, peering through opera glassesat the band “as though there were bugs on us”, according to LaRocca. The audience loosened up, however, after the king laughed and loudly applauded their rendition of The Tiger Rag. The British tour ended with the band being chased to the Southampton docks by Lord Harrington, who was infuriated that his daughter was being romanced by the lead singer of the band.  In London, they made twenty more recordings for the British branch of Columbia. While in London, they recorded the second, more commercially successful, version of their hit song “Soudan” (also known as “Oriental Jass”).

The band returned to the United States in July 1920 and toured for four years. This version of the band played in a more commercial manner, adding a saxophone to the arrangements in the manner of other popular orchestras. In the 1920s LaRocca was replaced by teen-aged trumpeter Henry Levine, who later brought this kind of repertoire to the NBC radio show The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street. Jazz pianist and composer, Frank Signorelli, who collaborated on the jazz standards “A Blues Serenade”, recorded by Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington, “Gypsy”, and “Stairway to the Stars“, joined ODJB for a brief time in 1921.

Break-up

The band broke up in the mid-1920s and its originators scattered. During the Depression, trombonist Eddie Edwards was discovered operating a newsstand in New York City. Newspaper publicity resulted in Edwards fronting a local nightclub band.

In 1936 the musicians played a reunion performance on network radio. RCA Victor invited them back into the studio, and they recorded six numbers as “The Original Dixieland Five.” The group toured briefly before disbanding again. Clarinetist Larry Shields received particularly positive attention on this tour, and Benny Goodman commented that Shields was an important early influence.

Edwards and Sbarbaro formed some bands without other original members in the 1940s and 1950s under the ODJB name. In 1944, a new version of “Tiger Rag” was released as aV-Disc or Victory Disc, V-Disc 214, by the reformed band. “Sensation Rag” also was released as V-Disc 214B2. V-Discs were non-commercial releases recorded for the U.S. armed forces.

Back in New Orleans, LaRocca licensed bandleader Phil Zito to use the ODJB name for many years. Nick LaRocca’s son, Jimmy LaRocca, continues to lead bands under the name The Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

In 1960 the book, The Story of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, was published. Writer H. O. Brunn based it on Nick LaRocca’s recollections, which sometimes differ from that of other sources.

Film appearances

In 1917, the band made the first appearance of a jazz band in a motion picture, a silent movie entitled, The Good for Nothing (1917), directed by Carlyle Blackwell, who also played the lead role as Jack Burkshaw. Written by Alexander Thomas, it also featured Evelyn Greeley and Kate Lester and was produced by William Brady. Nick LaRocca, Larry Shields, Tony Sbarbaro, and Henry Ragas appeared in the film as a band, with LaRocca on trumpet, Shields on clarinet, Ragas on piano, and Sbarbaro on drums. The film was released on December 10, 1917, produced by Peerless Productions, and distributed by World Pictures.

Nick LaRocca and the reunited Original Dixieland Jass Band performed “Tiger Rag” in The March of Time newsreel segment titled “Birth of Swing,” released to U.S. theaters February 19, 1937.

Music of ODJB

“Tiger Rag” and “Sensation” released on V Disc by the ODJB, No. 214B, VP 435, Hot Jazz, June, 1944, with Eddie Edwards and Tony Sbarbaro.

Their first release “Livery Stable Blues” featured instruments doing barnyard imitations and the fully loaded trap setwood blocks,cowbellsgongs, and Chinese gourds. This musical innovation represented one of the first experimental exercises in jazz. At the time, their music was liberating; the barnyard sounds were experiments in altering the tonal qualities of the instruments, and clattering wood blocks broke up the rhythm. The music was very lively when compared to the pop music of the time.

It can be argued that they ranked among the most talented composers of popular music of their day. Many of the tunes first composed and recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, such as “Tiger Rag” and “Margie”, were recorded by all the major jazz bands and orchestras of the twentieth century, black and white. “Tiger Rag” was recorded by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Duke Ellington to Glenn Miller to Benny Goodman. “Tiger Rag”, in particular, became popular with many colleges and universities having a tiger as a mascot. In the biography John Coltrane: His Life and Music, published in 1999, Lewis Porter noted that ODJB’s classic, “Margie”, was a “specialty” of John Coltrane, a song he performed regularly in his early career. “Tiger Rag”, “Margie”, “Clarinet Marmalade”, “At The Jazz Band Ball”, “Sensation Rag”, and “Fidgety Feet” remain much played classics in the repertory of contemporary Dixieland and traditional jazz bands. Their tunes were published as collaborations by some or all of the entire ensemble, including band leader Nick La Rocca.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recording of “Tiger Rag” was no. 1 for two weeks on the U.S. Hit Parade charts beginning on December 11, 1918. The Mills Brothers recorded “Tiger Rag” in 1931 with lyrics and spent four weeks at no. 1 on the charts in 1931–1932 with their version of the ODJB song.

The Eddie Edwards composition “Sensation Rag” or “Sensation” was performed at the 1938 landmark Benny Goodman jazz concert at Carnegie Hall released on the album The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert.

Compared to later jazz, the ODJB recordings have only modest improvisation in mostly ensemble tunes. Clarinetist Larry Shields is perhaps the most interesting player, showing a good fluid tone, and if his melodic variations and breaks now seem overly familiar, this is because they were imitated widely by musicians who followed in the band’s footsteps.

Their concept of arrangement was somewhat limited, and their recordings can seem rather repetitive. The lack of a bass player is scarcely compensated for by the piano on their earlier, acoustically recorded sessions. Nonetheless, ODJB arrangements were wild, impolite, and definitely had a jazz feel, and that style still is referred to as the style of music known as Dixieland.

Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra, one of the most popular and influential jazz bands of the 1920s, recorded several ODJB compositions:

  1. “Beale Street Mama”, composed by ODJB pianist J. Russel Robinson, was recorded by the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1923 as an instrumental and was released on Paramount
  2. “Clarinet Marmalade” was recorded in 1926 by the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and released on Vocalion and on Brunswick. In 1931, Henderson recorded a new version of “Clarinet Marmalade”, which was released on Columbia
  3. “Livery Stable Blues” was recorded in 1927 and released on Columbia;
  4. “Fidgety Feet”, composed by Nick LaRocca, was recorded in 1927 and was released on the Vocalion label
  5. “Sensation” was recorded in 1927 and released on Vocalion
  6. “Tiger Rag” was recorded in 1931 and was released on Crown
  7. “Aggravatin’ Papa”, a collaboration with ODJB pianist J. Russel Robinson, was recorded by the Fletcher Henderson Dance Orchestra in 1923 with Alberta Hunter on vocals
  8. “Singin’ the Blues (Till My Daddy Comes Home)” was recorded in 1931 with Rex Stewart on cornet

Jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke recorded nine compositions by ODJB in various bands and orchestras from 1924 to 1930: “Fidgety Feet”, his first recording in 1924, “Tiger Rag”, “Sensation”, “Lazy Daddy”, “Ostrich Walk”, “Clarinet Marmalade”, “Singin’ the Blues” with Frankie Trumbauer and Eddie Lang, “Margie”, and “At The Jazz Band Ball”. Beiderbecke was influenced by ODJB to become a jazz musician and was heavily influenced by Nick LaRocca’s trumpet style with the band.

Louis Armstrong acknowledged the importance of ODJB in the evolution and development of jazz and the influence they had on him:

“Only four years before I learned to play the trumpet in the Waif’s Home, or in 1909, the first great jazz orchestra was formed in New Orleans by a cornet player named Dominick James LaRocca. They called him ‘Nick’ LaRocca. His orchestra had only five pieces but they were the hottest five pieces that had ever been known before. LaRocca named this band ‘The Old Dixieland Jass Band’. He had an instrumentation different from anything before, an instrumentation that made the old songs sound new. Besides himself at the cornet, LaRocca had Larry Shields, clarinet, Eddie Edwards, trombone, Ragas, piano, and Sbarbaro, drums. They all came to be famous players and the Dixieland Band has gone down now in musical history.” – Louis Armstrong, Swing That Music, 1936

ODJB was the first band to record jazz successfully, establishing and creating jazz as a new musical idiom and genre of music.

%d bloggers like this: