- Wabash Blues (Isham Jones and his Orchestra)
- Ma! Heís Making Eyes At Me (Isham Jones and his Orchestra)
- Down By The O-HI-O (Al Jolson)
- The Wang Wang Blues (Paul Whiteman)
- Feather Your Nest (Henry Burr and Albert Campbell)
- The Shiekh Of Araby (Sam Lanin)
- When Buddah Smiles (Rudy Wiedoeft)
- Look For The Silver Lining (Marion Harris)
- Palesteena (The Original Dixieland Jazz Band)
- Bright Eyes (Leo Reisman and his Orchestra)
- Make Believe (Nora Bayes)
- My Mammy (The Peerless Quartet)
- Say It With Music (Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra)
- Ainít We Got Fun? (Van and Schenck)
- Kismet (The Yerkes Jazarimba Orchestra)
- All By Myself (Ted Lewis)
- Cherie (Paul Whiteman)
- Margie (Eddie Cantor)
- Home Again Blues (Aileen Stanley)
- Song of India (Paul Whiteman)
- Crazy Blues (Maimie Smith and her Jazz Hounds)
- Yoo-Hoo! (Al Jolson)
- Tuck Me To Sleep In My Old ĎTucky Home (Vernon Dalhart)
- And Her Mother Came Too (Jack Buchanan)
- My Man (Mon Homme) (Fanny Brice)
I wonder how many people today realise that it is less
than one hundred years ago that the words "Jazz Age" were
whispered, something not to be discussed in "polite" circles.
Only people who should know better played Jazz, it was said. With The
Great War over many "ordinary people" were hoping to get back
to their neo-Victorian way of living. Hadnít there been a public ceremony
of the tomb on the "unknown soldier" in 1921 to remind everyone
of the past and be thankful war was over? There was even a feeling of
prosperity on the horizon. Wasnít that enough? But in spite of all this
there was a new age emerging, a carefree era just beginning in
1921. News began to trickle through to Britain of happenings in America.
A scandal-ridden Presidency, riots, and news of an actor called Rudolph
Valentine, the film worldís first sex symbol. Of course "sex"
was not a word to be used at that time either. Of course it was, as
ever, the younger generation who were influenced by what we now call
the Jazz Age.
In late 1919 Paul Whiteman formed his first band and
in August 1920 in New Jersey recorded "The Wang Wang Blues".
I like this, particularly the trumpet virtuoso Henry Bussie who features
throughout. To me he enhances the recording into what is reported to
have been a real "hit". The next recording is "Crazy
Blues" with Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds, recorded in New York
in August 1920. Smith was the first to record a blues song and it was
a winner in America too. Buy I didnít care for this version even after
listening to this recording several times. Again in New Jersey in September
1920 Vernon Dalhart recorded "Tuck Me To Sleep In My Old ĎTucky
Home". Dalhart made this with the Criterion Quartet accompanied
by Roasario Bourdon and his orchestra. If you listen carefully you will
hear every word, even the slight pauses when Dalhart talk/sings his
way through. This is how many of the comics of the time performed. Their
songs were like listening to a story. So listen and I think you will
agree that this is one of those unique recordings of long ago.
The New York orchestra under the direction of Harry
Yerkes on this CD recorded prolifically for just about every label in
the 1920s under a variety of names. The most popular being the Happy
Six and the Yerkes Jazarimba Orchestra. It is with his Jazarimba Orchestra
that he recorded "Kismet" in New York in October 1920. I liked
this number. It reminds me of Wilson, Kepple and Betty doing their Egyptian
sand dance. There is that strain of the same exotic melody running through
it. The trombonist, Tom Brown, does an excellent job too and together
with the rest of the Orchestra you have a number to cherish.
A pleasant recording of "Feather Your Nest"
was made in Camden, New Jersey in November 1920 with Roasario Bourdon
and His Orchestra. It was during that year The Victor Talking Machine
was featuring a group of best selling performers just called "Eight
Famous Victor Artists". They consisted of several different performers
all well known at the time. It was Albert Campbell and Henry Burr who
combined their singing talents in "Feather your Nest" and
an excellent song they make of it as they harmonise together, accompanied
by the orchestra quietly in the background and finish the song in the
same melodic way.
By 1921 Jazz had become more popular in England and
the group who made a big mark here was The Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
They recorded "Palesteena " in New York in December 1920.
I love this contrasting type of music and this number also has just
a touch of the East about it. A pleasure to listen to and with a little
imagination you can get a picture in your mind of an exotic place somewhere
in the East.
The recording of "Margie" with the great
Eddie Cantor and a studio orchestra in New York in December 1920 really
delighted me. Here was a recording I was very familiar with and I am
sure many of you will be too. With this recording Eddie became one of
the most popular personalities on radio and records of the day and if
by any chance you havenít heard this before number, try humming along
with it, and the tune will linger.
"Down By The O-HI-O" was a hit for a number
of people at this time but here we have the one and only Al Jolson with
Charles Prince and His Orchestra recorded in New York in December 1920.
This is a very young Jolson, but how good he sounds singing right from
his heart. The orchestra play the introduction superbly then quietly
accompanies never interfering with Jolsonís distinctive delivery of
a song you can believe is directed straight to you. While at the height
of his success as star of the Winter Gardens productions Jolson was
also at work for Columbia and a product of that association is "Yoo-Hoo"
from 1921 again with Charles Prince. Again not the later Jolson we became
accustomed to. Itís a good song but not a song you could expect to hear
him sing on his much later records. .
From New York in January 1921 we have "My Mammy".
Al Jolson again, I can hear you saying. Not so. Itís only a legend that
that as far back as 1918 Jolson used this as his signature. But the
liner notes tell us this song didnít get copyrighted until 1921 and
there was no recording of it by Jolson until 1928. It seems the first
performance was in vaudeville by one William Frawley. This 1921 collaboration
by Fred Van Eps and the Peerless Quarter (both members of the Eight
Famous Victor Artists team) is among one of the first recording and
of the many Iíve heard over the years I think this arrangement one of
When Leo Frank Reisman began training on a violin at
the age of ten, and as a young man played in several orchestras in Boston,
I wonder if he ever imagined having his own orchestra. But by 1919 he
did and "Bright Eyes" was his first hit which he recorded
this in New York in January 1921. Along the way Reismanís Orchestra
backed Fred Astaire on many recordings in the early 1930s as well as
introducing us to such eminent people as Eddy Duchin and Johnny Green.
"Bright Eyes" is a good musical number but not one for me,
not as played here anyway. For one thing I found the clarinet comes
over too shrill to listen to in comfort.
I found it difficult to decide about "Make Believe"
recorded in New York in January 1921 by Charles Prince and his Orchestra
with Nora Bayes on vocals. Itís a pleasant enough song and Nora Bayes,
unknown to me, sings clearly, making sure you understand her every word.
But her voice isnít great. However, itís a catchy tune that doesnít
jar. I didnít find it difficult to decide over the
next recording, though. Indeed I could listen to "Song of India"
time after time. This arrangement with Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
is heard often and it was recorded in New York in March 1921. Its interesting
to note that Whiteman was classically trained in the viola but his idea
for "jazzing" up the classics, as he does here with this Rimsky-Korsakov
melody, had been born early in his career. "Song of India"
horrified some critics of the day but in spite of this he was drawing
record crowds nightly at the Palais Royal in Manhattan. I love this
What a terrific year 1921 was for Paul Whiteman. "Say
It With Music" was recorded in New York in August that year and
was another record breaking hit causing a sensation with its colossal
sales figures. Written by Irving Berlin it was a best-seller for five
weeks and I remember a few bars of this number was used by our own Henry
Hall and his orchestra to introduce his BBC programme. Good to hear
the whole number played and Whiteman certainly deserved all the credit
he had when it was first recorded. I found myself beating time with
the different instrumentalists; itís the kind of music that can really
get you going. Finally from Whiteman on this disc is "Cherie".
I guessed that I would hear some pleasant harmonious music again and
I was right. I havenít heard this before, but nevertheless it is catchy
and bright and comes over as an excellent, spirited arrangement of a
"Home Again Blues" was recorded in New Jersey
in April 1921 with Rosario Bourdon and Orchestra and Aileen Stanley
on vocals. She started out playing in nickelodeons in the mid-west with
her brother. I donít care for her type of singing, but the occasional
"clack" of the nickelodeons add effect to the song. Frank
Crumitís version of this was the bigger seller.
Introduced in vaudeville by the now forgotten George
Watts we have "Ainít We Got Fun?" from the comedy duo Van
and Schenck. This was recorded by Columbia in New York in April 1921
and soon became a hit. I remember this well and was soon humming away
with it again. Although I canít recall exactly when I first heard it
Iím certain it must have been back in the mists of time because "Aint
We Got Fun" was once what we would call the "in" catch
phrase amongst the young. After this I was delighted to hear "All
By Myself" with Ted Lewis and his band. This dynamic and lively
arrangement was recorded in New York in June 1921. Lewis, whose career
spanned sixty years, was a hit in both America and England and his trade
mark call was "Is everybody happy?" The instrumentalists in
this number are particularly good and appear to come alive as they play
this pulsating music. A number to be enjoyed, and although normally
I abhor loud music I loved the vibrancy of this.
The next two songs were what were known in 1921 as
"double-sided hits". Brunswick, who built an experimental
studio specifically to accommodate the recording of the Isham Jones
Orchestra, recorded them in Chicago in October. The gamble must have
paid off as these two recordings prove. The first is "Wabash Blues"
with Louis Panico on trumpet and recorded in the October. I wondered
as I looked at the odd sounding title what I was about to hear, but
to my surprise I can only say here was a first class record with music
I could really enjoy. Panico is excellent. He keeps the sound of his
instrument down just enough to stay on a level with the band yet loud
enough to make it sound just right. "Ma! Heís Making Eyes At Me"
was on the other side of this record and this number has lasted even
better. A popular number even then and here it is sung by some well-known
names. This record was a hit at the time it was made, and Iím not surprised
as both these numbers are lively and jolly and this release certainly
put Brunswick into the big name recording companies.
Normally known for glorifying the all-American girl,
the singer who eventually became associated with The Ziegfeld Follies
was certainly not known for her beauty. In fact she was lanky and gawky.
Her name was Fanny Brice, primarily a comedienne who mostly sang novelties
and dialect songs but she was also known for Torch numbers. That is
until fate intervened and after Flo Ziegfeld himself had imported the
French chanteuse Mistinguette to sing the song "Mon Homme".
For some reason Ziegfeld changed his mind after hearing her perform,
and Fanny Brice immediately stepped in and asked Ziegfeld to let her
do it and he agreed. Fanny sang the English lyrics written by Channing
Pollock in rags whilst leaning against a lamppost and it was exactly
what Ziegfeld had been looking for. So the song became hers for the
rest of her life. It was recorded in November 1921 with Rosario Bourdon
and His Orchestra. Normally this wouldnít be a song I would particularly
care for but there is something different about this and the way Fanny
Brice sings it. I listened several times and became fascinated by Fanny
Brice and her way of singing. Using my imagination I could see this
not particularly attractive young girl dressed in rags and leaning on
a lamppost. Try and visualise it. I think you will be agreeably surprised.
It was with great pleasure I listened to our own Jack
Buchanan, the debonair song and dance man about town, singing in that
so distinctive way of his "And Her Mother Came Too"
by Novello and Titherage and recorded in Hayes in November 1921. This
classic is from one of Jackís earliest London revues. I have heard many
of his songs and I donít think his type of singing would be accepted
in this day and age but back then he was a household name and a great
star. Perhaps better known by those living close to London and the theatres,
though. I was very much aware of these people and would always listen
avidly to the grown-ups that went to any new shows. I often think about
those days when I was very young would pretend to be an actress. Well
I did marry an actor in the end.
"When Buddah Smiles" with Rudy Wiedoeft on
saxophone with his Californians was recorded in New York in November
1921. This is lively, bold and jaunty. On the other side of this record
was that all-time favourite "The Sheikh of Araby" with Sam
Lanin and his Roseland Dance Orchestra. 1921 was the year Rudolph Valentino
caused a furore of hysterics and adulation with the female population
when he performed a sensual Tango across the screen in "The Sheikhí.
The music of the film was a sensation too with its Middle-Eastern feel
and this tune certainly fitted that mood. At the time I was still at
an age when I wondered what the adults were speaking about when they
referred to the film. When I eventually saw a picture of Valentino even
I saw he was certainly all everyone said.
I have enjoyed listening to this hotchpotch of musical
numbers from 1921 and can congratulate Living Era for once again successfully
transferring very old 78rpm records to CD. I highly recommend this,
as here you will hear many old performers who in their heyday were as
well known as their equivalents today.