Gennett Records: The Cradle of Jazz

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

January 2nd, 2008, 1:09 pm #1

Thanks to the generosity of Steve, here is an article from the March 1949 isssue of Record Changer.







Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

January 3rd, 2008, 1:04 am #2

King Oliver is one of the jazz giants in the Gennett Walk of Fame. Take a look at Oliver's plaque.



No one commented about the statement in Al G. McCord's article that " ... the Creole Jazz band descended on Gennett, univnvited. " Is this correct? I could not find this information in Rick Kennedy's "Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy." In fact, Kennedy writes, "After being ignored by record companies for years, Oliver signed his first contract with Fred Gennett in 1923." It does not make sense to me that the King Oliver band musicians would take a train from Chicago to Richmond, a mostly white city, find their way to the recording studio and, on the spot, being accepted and getting the recording engineer to wax several sides.

There is a problem with dates also. Rust (2002 edition gives April 5 and 6 , 1923 for the first two recording sessions of King Oliver. Kennedy mentions the first recording session as April 6, 1923 and writes, "the nine Oliver sides released by Gennett from the April 1923 session (singular) ..." Rust gives five mastered recordings on April 5, 1923 and four on April 6, 1923.

The UCLA files give the following in

http://www.library.ucla.edu/music/mlsc/78/gen18.htm

Gennett 5132-A Dipper Mouth Blues Oliver-Armstrong / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11389, 11389B, [-]
Gennett 5132-B Weather Bird Rag Armstrong / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11388, 11388, [-]
Gennett 5133-A Just Gone Oliver-Johnson / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11383, 11383B, [-]
Gennett 5133-A Just Gone Oliver-Johnson / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11383, 11383B, [-]
Gennett 5133-A Just Gone Oliver-Johnson / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11383, 11383B, [-]
Gennett 5133-B Canal Street Blues Oliver-Armstrong / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11384, 11384B, [-]
Gennett 5133-B Canal Street Blues Oliver-Armstrong / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11384, 11384B, [-]
Gennett 5133-B Canal Street Blues Oliver-Armstrong / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11384, 11384B, [-]
Gennett 5134-A Mandy Lee Blues Bloom-Melrose / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11385, 11385C, [-]
Gennett 5134-B I'M GOING AWAY TO WEAR YOU OFF MY MIND smith / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 11386, 11386C, [-]
Gennett 5135-A Froggie Moore Spike Bros,-Morton / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band End piece chipped off 11390, 11390B, [-]
Gennett 5135-B Chimes Blues Oliver / King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band End piece chipped off 11387, 11387a, [-]

Unfortunately, no dates.

The Satchography agrees with Rust.

http://www.michaelminn.net/armstrong/index.php?section1

King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band
April 5, 1923, Richmond, Indiana

Just Gone (Oliver, Joe "King"; Johnson, Bill) [master 11383-B] -- Gennett 5133
Canal Street Blues (Oliver, Joe "King"; Armstrong, Louis) [master 11384-B] -- Gennett 5133
Mandy Lee Blues (Bloom; Melrose) [master 11385-C] -- Gennett 5134
I'm Going Away To Wear You Off My Mind (Smith; Johnson) [master 11386-C] -- Gennett 5134
Chime Blues (Oliver, Joe "King") [master 11387-A] -- Gennett 5135

Oliver, Joe "King" (Cornet, Leader)
Armstrong, Louis (Cornet)
Dutrey, Honore (Trombone)
Dodds, Johnny (Clarinet)
Hardin, Lil (Piano, Arranger)
Scott, Bud (Banjo)
Dodds, Baby (Drums)
Johnson, Bill (Vocals on Dipper Mouth Blues?)

Fresh from faraway [sic] New Orleans, long before he was known as Pops, Louie or Satchmo, young Louis found himself a nervous sideman in the band of his mentor, King Oliver, performing in Chicago and the surrounding area. Here, he makes his first recordings, surrounded by musicians with whom he would perform for years. Indeed, the pianist would soon become his second wife. From this session comes four records for the Gennett label. Better studios were in existance [sic] when King Oliver led his band in for their first recording sessions, but apparently not in Richmond, Indiana. This building was in such close proximity to nearby railroad tracks that the band had to time their performances not to coincide with trains passing through. (de Davrichewy, discographer for Media 7's Complete Edition series) As has often been related, Armstrong stood far from his bandmates huddled around the acoustic recording horn, so as not to overpower their sound with the enormous strength of his delivery.

King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band
April 6, 1923, Richmond, Indiana

Weather Bird Rag (Armstrong, Louis) [master 11388] -- Gennett 5132
Dipper Mouth Blues (Oliver, Joe "King"; Armstrong, Louis) [master 11389-B] -- Gennett 5132
Froggie Moore (Spikes; Moore) [master 11390-B] -- Gennett 5135
Snake Rag (Oliver, Joe "King") [master 11391] -- Gennett 5184

Oliver, Joe "King" (Cornet, Leader)
Armstrong, Louis (Cornet)
Dutrey, Honore (Trombone)
Dodds, Johnny (Clarinet)
Hardin, Lil (Piano, Arranger)
Scott, Bud (Banjo)
Dodds, Baby (Drums)
Johnson, Bill (Vocals on Dipper Mouth Blues?)

Original release plans left "Snake Rag" the odd track out. It was, not coincidentally, the first number recorded at King Oliver's second set of recordings in Chicago two months later. "Snake Rag" did find eventual release on Gennett, though what number it was paired with is unclear.

The online discography gives 4/6/23 as the date of the sides.

http://settlet.fateback.com/GNT5000.htm

5132A KING OLIVER CREOLE JAZZ BAND DIPPERMOUTH BLUES G11389=B - - 4/6/23 OLIVER-ARMSTRONG
5132B KING OLIVER'S CREOLE JAZZ BAND WEATHERBIRD RAG G11388 - - 4/6/23 L.ARMSTRONG
5133A KING OLIVER'S CREOLE JAZZ BAND JUST GONE G11383=B - - 4/6/23 J.OLIVER
5133B KING OLIVER'S CREOLE JAZZ BAND CANAL STREET BLUES G11384=B - - 4/6/23 J.OLIVER-L.ARMSTRONG
5134 KING OLIVER CREOLE JAZZ BAND I'M GOING AWAY TO WEAR YOU OFF MY MIND G11386=C - - 4/6/23 W.SMITH-L.SMITH-C.JOHNSON
5134 KING OLIVER CREOLE JAZZ BAND MANDY LEE BLUES G11385=C - - 4/6/23 BLOOM-MELROSE
5135 KING OLIVER CREOLE JAZZ BAND CHIMES BLUES G11387=A - - 4/6/23 JOE OLIVER
5135 KING OLIVER CREOLE JAZZ BAND FROGGIE MOORE G11390=B - - 4/6/23 SPIKES-MORTON
5184 KING OLIVER'S JAZZ BAND SNAKE RAG G11391 - - 4/6/23 J.OLIVER

Any comments?

Albert
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Fredrik Tersmeden
Fredrik Tersmeden

January 3rd, 2008, 1:17 pm #3

In the 1983 edition of "Jazz records" he too lists all titles as being made on the very same day: April 6th. There's even a footnote with the following content:

"The datae frequently given om past works of reference and on LP sleeves is March 31, 1923, but this was due to originally to a misinterpretation of the entry in the Gennett numerical ledger, where this date is given at the head of the column, not against the King Oliver session, which is undated. the recording cards for each title show it as April 6, 1923, however, which must be accepted as correct."

The question of course is: if rust himself had checked all these recording cards and know that they all said April 6th, how come he later has changed his opinion to a two separate sessions on April 5th and 6th? Or perhaps he had not seen them himself but merely relied on another discographer's word?

Fredrik
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Fredrik Tersmeden
Fredrik Tersmeden

January 3rd, 2008, 1:33 pm #4

According to the Online Discographical Project the flip side of Oliver's "Snake Rag" on Gennett 5184 is "Choo Choo Blues", an accordion solo by one Herbert Brownfield.

Fredrik
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

January 3rd, 2008, 2:39 pm #5

.... that accompanies the Archeophone set ARCH OTR-MM6-C2

Off The Record: The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Recordings
King Oliver?



The Red Hot Jazz archive gives April 5 and 6, 1923 for the recording dates of the first nine titles waxed by the Creole Jazz Band.

A very detailed article about King Oliver by Gene Anderson in American Music, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 283-303 provides the following information.



At the end of the article there is a chronology. It gives the following

1923
April 5,6 The Creole Band records for Gennett records in Richmond, Indiana.

There is a note that provides the following information.

The question of recording dates for the Gennett session appears settled in Walter C. Allen and Brian A. L. Rust, "King" Oliver, rev. ed. by Laurie Wright (Chigwell, Essex: Storyville, 1987) 20, 21.

I believe April 5 and 6 are the correct dates. Does anyone have a copy of Allen and Rust's book on King Oliver and can report on what they write about the recording dates?

Albert
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Jazz lover
Jazz lover

January 3rd, 2008, 6:21 pm #6

Allen and Rust give:
March 31st 1923. Just Gone;Canal St Blues;Mandy Lee Blues;I'm Going Away to Wear You Off My Mind; Chimes Blues.
April 6th 1923. Weatherbird Rag;Dippermouth Blues; Froggie Moore;Snake Rag.
Next session June 22 1923.
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Albert Haim
Albert Haim

January 3rd, 2008, 7:04 pm #7

.... the original edition from 1957 or the updated version by Laurie Wright from 1987?

Albert
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Chris Barry
Chris Barry

January 3rd, 2008, 8:15 pm #8

...in his 1987 revision of "King" Oliver that Chimes Blues was the last title recorded on 5 April 1923 and Weather Bird Rag was the first recorded on 6 April. He cites the original Gennett recording cards, images of which are included in the book.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

January 3rd, 2008, 10:42 pm #9

It is pretty clear that the CJB recorded its first nine sides on April 5 and 6, 1923. If we go by the letters following the master numbers in Rust, I figure that nearly 20 takes of the nine numbers were waxed. All of that in one day (April 6) seems quite unlikely.

Two questions remain.

1. Where did the musicians spend the night of April 5? Maybe sleeping in the studio? I doubt that they would have gone to town trying to find a hotel.

2. The suggestion by Al G. McCord's that " ... the Creole Jazz band descended on Gennett, uninvited. " and proceeded to record nine numbers seems rather implausible, doesn't it?

Of the numbers recorded on April 5 and 6, 1923, my favorite tune is "Froggie Moore,"

http://redhotjazz.com/Songs/Oliver/Creole/froggie.ram

the Spikes-Morton composition. To boot, there is a really excellent solo by Louis.



(from http://rateyourmusic.com/release/single ... mes_blues/

It was weird to have two cornets in a small band such as the Creole Jazz Band, wasn't it? In Jazz Masters of the Twenties, Richard Hadlock quotes Louis, "I guess Joe decided to have two cornets because he figured I could blend with him, because he liked me and wanted me to be with him." (Louis's recollections, 1950). This does not seem a good explanation to me. In his article "The Genesis of King Oliver's Creole Jazz band," Anderson writes,



Sort of tentative, but reasonable.

It is unfortunate that King Oliver did not record "Eccentric," (or "That Eccentric Rag") a really fine tune by J. Russell Robinson,



the co-composer of [connection to Bix] "Bless You Sister," "Margie," "Rhytm King," and "Singin' the Blues." Robinson was from Indianapolis, IN (another great Hoosier) and was billed as "The White Boy with the Colored Fingers". Here is the 1922 version by the NORK.

http://redhotjazz.com/songs/nork/eccentric.ram

Red Nichols with Leo McConville, Miff Mole, Pee Wee Russell, Fud Livingstone, Adrian Rollini, Lennie Hayton, Dick McDonough, Vic Berton recorded the tune on August 15, 1927. Terrific version. Lots of two trumpet parts (a la Goldkette as Steve Stroff points out) and great Rollini and Mole solos.

http://www.jazz-on-line.com/a/ramc/BRUE24228.ram

Enjoy,

Albert
Last edited by ahaim on January 3rd, 2008, 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bill Clifford
Bill Clifford

January 4th, 2008, 8:46 am #10

According to the Online Discographical Project the flip side of Oliver's "Snake Rag" on Gennett 5184 is "Choo Choo Blues", an accordion solo by one Herbert Brownfield.

Fredrik
Choo Choo Blues on Gennett 5184 is by Art Landry and his Call Of The North Orchestra. An excellent white jazzband and an excellent jazz recording.
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