Kendra Steiner Editions

July 17, 2019

discover The Popular Jazz Archive

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 7:08 pm

ben 1

BEN SELVIN ORCHESTRA

Smith_Ballew___His_Orchestra_Whyte_s_Restaurant_1929

SMITH BALLEW AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Ted_Weems_orchestra_circa_1936

TED WEEMS ORCHESTRA

harry reser

HARRY RESER & HIS CLICQUOT CLUB ESKIMOS

fred

FRED RICH AND HIS HOTEL ASTOR ORCHESTRA

hickman2

ART HICKMAN AND HIS HOTEL ST. FRANCIS ORCHESTRA

abe

ABE LYMAN AND HIS CALIFORNIA ORCHESTRA

cliff

CLIFF  “UKULELE IKE”  EDWARDS

For many years, THE POPULAR JAZZ ARCHIVE has been posting online collections of 78 RPM recordings of the great pre-Swing Dance Bands of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Bands such as Art Hickman’s and Isham Jones’ are as important to the development of what became Swing as Fletcher Henderson’s was–it’s just that Henderson’s  (with the coming of Louis Armstrong in 1924 and the influence of Don Redman’s arrangements) had a strong jazz element, and people with a jazz orientation can clearly see the line of development from Henderson through, say, Benny Goodman.

The Dance Bands of the 1920’s—-not the small jazz combos such as the Wolverines, but the larger groups who recorded regularly and may have had residencies at hotels—-existed during the Jazz Age, and many of them had a jazz element (some did not), but they would have associated “jazz” with the bands who had the Original Dixieland Jazz Band or the New Orleans Rhythm Kings as their models.

My late mother, who was alive in the 20’s and 30’s and who attended many Swing concerts at movie theaters in the late 30’s and early 40’s, certainly knew what jazz was….but she had a term that she used often to define music with a jazz element that would not be labelled jazz, and that was JAZZY. Louis Prima’s 1950’s hits would be called “jazzy” as would Van Morrison’s scat singing as would a 20’s hotel orchestra doing a Charleston number.

Here’s the link:

Popular Jazz Archive at the Internet Archive, 1000+ songs from 78 RPM discs

Not only do you get expertly curated, chronological 78-by-78 surveys of the different dance bands covered, but often, when there were pressings on different labels and under pseudonyms, you are provided with both (or all, if there are three or more) versions, even though they may not necessarily be different takes. Wow!

Few labels do reissues of this kind of music anymore, and these transfers are excellent, the kind of thing you’d find on a specialist reissue label. Just choose an artist at random, let the songs run through (be ready for multiple versions of many) the playlist, and put it on while you are working or doing something at home. Pretend you are at some swanky hotel with a sprung dance floor in 1926… For me, 20’s dance bands have a dynamism and freshness that’s always appealing and always puts a smile on my face. Here and there you’ll find some lugubrious crooning, but you’ll also find uniquely 20’s lyrics as absurd or surreal as Robyn Hitchcock at his best. Hey, it’s free….so don’t complain–just enjoy. And think about the fact that we’re just five months short of the 1920’s being 100 years ago!

wah

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