Flexo – Jack Riley’s Orchestra – 1927

This Flexo disc in its original paper sleeve.

This Flexo disc in its original paper sleeve.

The unusual disc we have here is one of those extraordinarily uncommon and equally intriguing Flexo records, a slightly smaller than usual disc pressed in flexible translucent plastic of some sort.

The first line of Flexo Records rolled off the press in Kansas City in 1925, an invention of one Jesse J. Warner.  They were originally produced by the Warner Record Company until 1927, when Warner presumably joined forces with someone with a name ending in “bine” to form the Wabine Company, which continued to produce the records until 1929.  Some of the earliest recordings feature hot jazz by Johnnie Campbell’s orchestra, and many of the Kansas City Flexos contain religious music, many of them labeled “Unity”.  The sleeve of this one mentions the Unity School of Christianity, though the music is secular.  In ’29, Warner moved the production of Flexo records to San Francisco, where they were produced by Pacific Coast Records.  The California Flexos feature recordings by dance bands such as that of Jack Coakley, and interviews with popular Hollywood personalities of the day, including one with Norma Shearer.

Flexo matrices 845 and 848 make up this disc, the record itself is not given a catalog number.  Given the titles, these two sides were most likely recorded in mid-1927, and were produced by the second entity to make Flexos, the Wabine Comapny.  Both feature instrumental fox-trots of two popular hits of ’27, played with plenty of pep and excitement.  It is plausible that this was distributed at gigs by Riley’s orchestra.

Jack Riley’s orchestra was a distinguished but scarcely recorded band from Kansas City, Missouri.  In the 1910s, Riley’s orchestra had the distinction of having a young drummer in their ranks by the name of Carleton Coon, a man that would go on to become one half of the leadership of America’s favorite radio band, Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra.  Riley’s orchestra was still active as late as 1937.

First, Jack Riley’s Kansas City territory band plays a delightful rendition of the classic tune “Side By Side”.

Side By Side

Side By Side, recorded 1927 by Jack Riley’s Orch.

Interestingly, this side is labeled differently than the first, written in Spanish, and credited to the “Mexo-Flexo Co.”  This side features “Me and My Shadow”.

Me and My Shadow

Me and My Shadow, recorded 1927 by Jack Riley’s Orch.

Updated with improved audio on November 13, 2016.

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