One Night in June . . . Looking for the First Jazz Records in Scott Joplin’s Stomping Ground

It’s only been a little more than a year since Colin Hancock first wrote us up with a rough idea about reissuing the six personal records made by Gus Haenschen and his banjo orchestra in 1916. We’d already released one of them, “Sunset Medley,” on our 2003 issue, Stomp and Swerve—and we’re big fans. So, had Colin located the other five discs?

Well, not exactly.

He had a line on four of the six, thanks to David Sager and Mike Kieffer, with a strong likelihood of the fifth. When that fifth came through, from Rob Chalfen in Boston, we were all getting pretty excited. So close! There was one more, elusive, with rumors of it being in the collections of two mutual friends: “Maple Leaf Rag,” the legendary piece by Joplin, performed by one of his students while the master was still alive. Sager knew where to find it. He told us to go to Joplin’s one-time home, St. Louis, and there we would find it in the collection of the late St. Louis Ragtimer, the great Trebor Tichenor.

Trebor’s daughter Virginia and son-in-law Marty Eggers took David’s advice, went searching among his thousands of 78s and found it! Marty and Virginia, who are spending time between Oakland and St. Louis, graciously worked out a time for us all to meet, Colin drove up from Texas, and we were joined by the fantastic musician T. J. Müller to do a transfer session.

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Tribute to Darrell

Darrell Baker, in character as Fagin

Darrell Baker, in character as Fagin (Darrell Baker, via Facebook)

Last week we lost one of our best friends and staunchest supporters, Darrell Baker. In between the last e-mails we exchanged a few weeks ago and our plan to call him this weekend for his 69th birthday, pancreatic cancer intervened, and now he’s gone in a flash.

Darrell’s great early musical loves were Harry Lauder, Al Jolson, and Bert Williams. It was because of Bert that we first “met”—as people do nowadays, by e-mail—back in late 2001. He enthusiastically offered his assistance (and records) in putting together our CD volumes of Bert Williams’ records. Over time Darrell became a trusted consultant, helping us with selecting records for projects, loaning us items from his collection, reviewing our writing, connecting us with other collectors, and even helping us pitch our restorations correctly. He was funny and irreverent and kept us honest.

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