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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28 for 1909

 

oh-you-kid

One of many contemporary “Oh, You Kid!” themed illustrations. (Library of Congress)

You fans of our Phonographic Yearbook series have waited a long time for the newest one, so we have a little gift for you. We had a lot of great material from which to choose our playlist for “1909,” and we weighed and sifted our options to try to cut down the list. In the end we decided to give you an extra song (or two) over the usual. So it’s a total of 28 tracks and 77 and a half minutes of playing time. Is everybody good with that?

The year in music for 1909 is probably best remembered for the popularity of the slang phrase, “Oh, You Kid!”—especially in the form of the song, “I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife, but Oh, You Kid!” Other songs borrowed the phrase (and occasionally the musical motif) as well. Besides that, though, a number of songs deal slyly with the subject of marital infidelity to a degree that seems pretty shocking for our forebears. Thus, the subtitle, “Talk of Your Scand’lous Times.”

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Smith Arrives!

It’s new-release Friday and the beginning of Archeophone’s Fall Sale. Be sure to pick up your copy of our new double-CD set, Songs of the Night by Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra, and grab those other items you’ve been eyeing. Everything is at least ten percent off.

For today’s blog, let’s celebrate by taking a good look at Smith’s band—literally. Admittedly, the print size of a standard CD-sized booklet means we can’t always print album art as big as we’d like. So we thought it would be nice to blow up the size of some Smith catalog pictures for you to examine.

Here’s the first time Smith’s band was pictured in a record-company catalog supplement, from Victor’s June 1917 “New Victor Records.” The studio lineup at this time consisted of two violins, cello, string bass, bass clarinet, cornet, trombone, piano, and traps—but we see no bass clarinet here, suggesting it was added only for recording purposes. The string bass provided a lovely foundation for the music, but it did not record especially well, so the bass clarinet was used to help out. Smith stands in the middle, holding his violin and bow. That’s probably Hugo Frey at the piano. (click photos to enlarge)

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