Columbia 523-D – The Georgians – 1925

It’s time now for more music for music’s sake, and it’s hard to go wrong with a Columbia Viva-Tonal, they tend to sound decent even when they’re beat to hell!

There were a number of bands to go by the name “The Georgians”.  The one in question here was a jazz ensemble made up of members of the Paul Specht Orchestra, and led by trumpet player Frank Guarente.  Guarente’s Georgians first recorded for Columbia in 1922, and traveled to Europe later in the decade at least once, making a number of recordings in Switzerland.  There seems to be some uncertainty as to when the original Georgians broke up.  Some sources indicate that they disbanded in 1924, and that Columbia later used the name for different groups.  Other sources indicate that Guarente continued to lead the band until several years later.

Columbia 523-D was recorded November 18 and December 12, 1925 in New York, New York.  According to the DAHR, this session was still under the direction of Guarente, and reportedly includes the talents of Charlie Spivak on trumpet, Al Philburn on trombone, Ernie Warren or Frank Kilduff on clarinet, alto sax, and baritone sax, Gilbert Dutton on clarinet and tenor sax, Walker O’Neil on piano, Roy Smeck on banjo and harmonica, and Johnny Morris on drums.

First up is “Clap Hands! Here Comes Charley!” a dandy little tune, featuring a vocal by drummer Johnny Morris.  While Rust notes Smeck as doubling on harmonica on this side, the instrument has always struck my ear as sounding like a goofus (aka Couesnophone), a toy saxophone adopted in jazz music by Adrian Rollini in 1924, I’m not sure who’s playing it here.  Recorded on the latter of the two dates, the DAHR shows takes “6” and “7” as issued for this side, this is “7”.

Clap Hands! Here Comes Charley!

Clap Hands! Here Comes Charley!, recorded December 12, 1925 by The Georgians.

“Spanish Shawl” has quite a ding in the label, but on the bright side, it creates a good cross-section of the unique composition of Columbia records; coarse shellac in the middle, surrounded by a paper coating, and topped with a playing surface of smooth laminate in which the grooves are pressed.  This side was recorded on the earlier date.

Spanish Shawil

Spanish Shawl, recorded November 18, 1925 by The Georgians.

Updated on June 24, 2016 and with improved audio on April 30, 2018.

Gennett 3005 – Straun’s Pullman Porters – 1925

Come all you rounders if you want to hear, a story about a brave engineer.  Casey Jones was the rounder’s name.  On a six-eight wheeler, boys, he won his fame.  Exactly one-hundred-sixteen years ago, on April 30, 1900, the brave engineer mounted to his cabin and he took his farewell trip into the promised land.

Casey Jones was born Jonathan Luther Jones in 1863.  He got the nickname “Cayce” from his hometown in Kentucky, and he restyled it as “Casey”.  Jones married Mary Brady in 1886 and raised three children.  He worked for the M&O and the IC railroads, and eventually rose to his dream of being an engineer, becoming one of the most able and respected in the profession, famous for his unique sound with the train whistle.  In 1893, Casey’s services were employed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

On April 30, 1900, Casey Jones made his final run.  It was a foggy night, and Casey departed in the Old 362, behind schedule at 12:50 am, pulling the No. 1.  Despite several delays, Casey was able to get the train running on schedule for a time.  The end of the run came for Casey, however, when his fireman Sim Webb spotted something on the tracks ahead.  It was a stalled freight train.  Casey slammed on his airbrakes, but it was too late, and the Old 362 plowed into the rear of the freight train, going through several cars before derailing.  Thanks to his heroic actions that night, Casey’s life was the only loss in the accident.  His story was immortalized in song by IC engine-wiper Wallace Saunders.  Casey Jones went down in history as an American folk hero, he was a teetotaler, a family man, a baseball lover, and a brave engineer.

Gennett 3005 was recorded March 24 and April 5, 1925 in Gennett’s New York studio.  “Straun’s Pullman Porters” is a pseudonym for Nathan Glantz and his Orchestra, fronted by vocalist “Chick” Straun, apparently yet another a pseudonym, this time for Jack Kaufman.  I’m not entirely sure what you’d call these old folk songs reworked as jazz, if there even is a name for them, but I know I like them.  Much like Paul Tremaine’s hot dance renditions of “She’ll Be Comin ‘Round the Mountain” (and so forth), but these two are much earlier.

The first song on this disc is Wallace Saunders’ famous tale of the brave engineer, “Casey Jones”, sung by “Chick” Straun/Jack Kaufman.  Songwriting credit is given on the label to vaudevillians T. Lawrence Seibert and Eddie Newton, who popularized the song as a comedy act, with lyrics alleging infidelity on the part of Mrs. Jones, which she opposed for many years.  I selected this version specifically to avoid those lines, in order to maintain some respect toward poor old Casey.

Casey Jones

Casey Jones, recorded March 24, 1925 by Straun’s Pullman Porters.

Unfortunately for us, the old classic tune, “A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”, is marred by some skips, but it’s still a neat little side.

A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, recorded April 5, 1925 by Straun’s Pullman Porters.

Victor 19919 – Vernon Dalhart – 1925

From 1930 Victor catalog.

From 1930 Victor catalog.

Extenuating circumstances over the past several days unfortunately prevented me from publishing a tribute to Vernon Dalhart on his birthday yesterday, April 6, but here is a belated celebration today.

Vernon Dalhart was born Marion Try Slaughter, April 6, 1883 in Jefferson, Texas.  After his father was murdered behind the Kahn Saloon there, his family relocated to Dallas, where he attended a music conservatory and became an operatic tenor.  Assuming the name “Vernon Dalhart” after two Texas towns, he began recording in the 1910s.  Having previously learned cowboy songs while working on the range as a teen, in 1924, Dalhart became a pioneering figure in country music, when he recorded “Wreck of the Old 97” and “The Prisoner’s Song” for the Victor Talking Machine Company.  That record was met with huge success, and Dalhart, working frequently with guitarist and sometimes singer Carson J. Robison, became one of the most popular artists in the 1920s.  Dalhart’s success waned by the end of the decade, and he only recorded sporadically in the 1930s, making his final records in 1939.  Vernon Dalhart died of a heart attack in 1948.

Victor 19919 was recorded was recorded December 21, 1925 in New York City.  Vernon Dalhart is accompanied by Carson Robison on guitar and Murray Kellner on violin. Dalhart himself plays the harmonica.

Vernon Dalhart is best known for his ballads and tearjerkers (e.g. “The Prisoner’s Song”, “In the Baggage Coach Ahead”), but he recorded quite a number of songs outside that genre, including “Putting on the Style”.  This tune was later revived in 1957 by Lonnie Donegan.

Putting on the Style

Putting on the Style, recorded December 21, 1925 by Vernon Dalhart.

“The Little Black Moustache” is one of those songs written for a singer of the opposite sex, making it into quite a humorous affair.  Vernon sings it in good spirits, and does a good job with it if you ask me.

The Little Black Moustache

The Little Black Moustache, recorded December 21, 1925 by Vernon Dalhart.

Victor 19779 – Vernon Dalhart – 1925

Around February 13—the exact day and moment is uncertain, in 1925—the Kentucky spelunker Floyd Collins met his end in what is now called Sand Cave after being trapped there for about fourteen days.  In early twentieth century Kentucky, many former farmers, disillusioned from their craft by the poor soil, took to exploring the extensive cave system beneath them, in hopes of creating a prosperous tourist attraction.  Having discovered Crystal Cave in 1917, now part of Mammoth National Park, which lay on his family’s property, but attracted few tourists because of its remote location, Collins attempted to find an alternate, more convenient entrance.  On January 30, 1925, Collins dug his way through the narrow passageways of Sand Cave, but became pinned there by a rock that had become wedged near his leg.  Friends found him the next day, and a rescue effort was mounted.  Digging a new tunnel to reach Collins, by the time the his would-be rescuers made it to the chamber where he was located, he was already dead from exposure.  The attempted rescue of Floyd Collins created the third largest media sensation between the World Wars (the other two involved Lindbergh), and the first major news event to be covered on the radio.  On Collins’ grave reads the epitaph, “Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known.”

Victor 19779 was recorded September 9, 1925 in New York by Vernon Dalhart, accompanied on guitar by Carson Robison and violin by Lou Raderman.  This issue was pulled from the Victor catalog several weeks after it was issued following complaints that Victor was profiting from the USS Shenandoah disaster, “Floyd Collins” was reissued on number 19821 the following month, paired with a different flip-side; apparently no one had a problem with profiting off Floyd Collins’ death.

On what was actually intended as the “B” side of this disc, but served as the “A” on the reissue, Vernon Dalhart sings Rev. Andrew Jenkins famous tribute, “Death of Floyd Collins”.

Death of Floyd Collins, recorded

Death of Floyd Collins, recorded September 9, 1925 by Vernon Dalhart.

The flip-side, “Wreck of the Shenandoah”, refers to another major event that occurred in 1925, the crash of the USS Shenandoah, a US Navy airship (from those amazing science fiction-esque days when the Navy took to the sky). After embarking on a promotional tour of the Midwest, the airship crashed during a storm in Noble County, Ohio on September 3, 1925.

Wreck of the Shenandoah, recorded

Wreck of the Shenandoah, recorded September 9, 1925.

Sunset 1136 – Carlyle Stevenson’s El Patio Orchestra – 1925

Today, I offer for your listening pleasure the sounds of mid-1920s, as played by this regional dance band from Los Angeles, California.  The somewhat seldom seen Sunset label was made in California in the mid-1920s, as early as 1923 to about 1926, and features an attractive illustration of the Western landscape.  Among other interesting content, such as the record featured here, Sunset recorded a young Morey Amsterdam in pair of songs with ukulele.

Sunset 1136 was recorded in July of 1925 by Carlyle Stevenson’s El Patio Orchestra in Los Angeles, California.  The Red Hot Jazz Archive lists the personnel as Ralph Marky and Leslie Moe on trumpets, Doc Garrison and Harley Luse on trombones, Leslie Lyman and Harry Vaile on clarinet, alto sax, and tenor sax, leader Carlyle Stevenson on alto sax, Bob Sawyer on piano (who later went on to lead an outstanding jazz band), Carol McManus on banjo, Oscar Martin on brass bass, and Buddy Johnson on drums.  According to that listing, the vocalist would be either Carl Edwards or Walter Dupre.  However, I can’t guarantee that any or all of those musicians played on these recordings.  Leader Carlyle Stevenson recorded previously with Jan Garber’s orchestra.

First up, the band plays a fine version of the big hit of 1925, “Sleepy Time Gal”.

Sleepy Time Gal

Sleepy Time Gal, recorded July 1925 by Carlyle Stevenson’s El Patio Orchestra.

Next, keeping in a similar theme, they play “Lonesomest Gal in Town”.

Lonesomest Gal in Town

Lonesomest Gal in Town, recorded July 1925 by Carlyle Stevenson’s El Patio Orchestra.