Melotone M 12828 – Joe Venuti and his Orchestra – 1933

Happy Easter (1942) from Old Time Blues to you!

A Happy Easter (1942) from Old Time Blues to you!

I spent some time carefully deliberating over an appropriate record for this Easter.  I considered a variety of rural sacred material, but nothing seemed to fit properly, before it hit me: what song could be more fitting for the occasion than Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade”!  I don’t know how I could have initially made such an oversight.

While these sides bear the name of Joe Venuti (though it was largely just an ARC studio band that included Venuti), they’re not particularly hot music.  In fact, they’re rather run-of-the-mill Depression-era pop tunes, not bad by any means, quite good actually, but not hot jazz.  However, these sides are remarkable for at least one reason: they both feature a vocal refrain by one Dolores DeFina, using the name Dolores Reade at the behest of her agent.  Less than a year after this record was made, Dolores Reade married an emergent vaudevillian by the name of Bob Hope.  Though she had to put up with Bob’s womanizing habit, the two remained married until Hope’s death in 2003.  Dolores passed in 2011 at the age of 102.

Melotone M 12828 was recorded October 26, 1933 in New York City by Joe Venuti and his Orchestra, featuring a vocal chorus on both sides by Dolores Reade.  Both songs originate from Irving Berlin’s 1933 revue, As Thousands Cheer.  While the full personnel is not known, the band includes, besides Venuti on violin, Max Farley on clarinet and alto sax and Pat Davis or Bud Freeman on tenor sax.

In celebration of the holiday today, here’s a charming rendition of “Easter Parade”.

Easter Parade

Easter Parade, recorded October 26, 1933 by Joe Venuti and his Orchestra.

On the other side is another song from As Thousands Cheer, though it’s not as well remembered as “Easter Parade”, “Heat Wave”.

Heat Wave

Heat Wave, recorded October 26, 1933 by Joe Venuti and his Orchestra.

Updated on June 24, 2016.

Melotone M 12639 – Cab Calloway and his Orchestra – 1930

I think it’s about time I featured a Cab Calloway record, so here it is, one of his earliest records, as well as one of his best.  At such an early recording date, Calloway’s band retained the most of the members, and hot sound of their predecessor, the Missourians.

Melotone M 12639, originally issued as Brunswick 6020, was recorded on December 23, 1930 in New York, two days before Cab’s birthday, in New York City, this Melotone was issued around early to mid 1933.  These sides feature Cab singing and directing the band, and includes R.Q. Dickerson, Lammar Wright, and Reuben “River” Reeves on trumpets, De Priest Wheeler and Harry White on trombones, William Thornton Blue on clarinet and alto sax, Andrew Brown on bass clarinet and tenor sax, Walter “Foots” Thomas on alto, tenor and baritone saxes, Earres Prince on piano, Morris White on banjo, Jimmy Smith on bass, and Leroy Maxey on drums.

The band’s energetic performance of the evergreen classic “Some of These Days” is one of Cab’s hottest tunes ever recorded, with the (ex-)Missourians playing as hot as ever.  This side has a few small needle digs that cause slight disruption near the end, please try to excuse them.

Some of These Days, recorded December 23, 1930 by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.

Some of These Days, recorded December 23, 1930 by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.

Maceo Pinkard’s “Is That Religion” is performed in the form of a mock-sacred song, with a chorus singing in the background, and Cab preaching.

Is That Religion?, recorded December 23, 1930 by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.

Is That Religion?, recorded December 23, 1930 by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.

A Brief Guide to the ARC Numbering System

Around September of 1935, the American Record Corporation (ARC) revamped their catalog numbering system for most of their budget labels.  Prior to this change, all of the multitude of labels made by the ARC used different numbering schemes for their cataloging, and this new system created a unified system of numbers.

This new cataloging system involved a five digit code consisting of three numbers separated by hyphens.  The first number represents the year of release, the second the month of release, and the third the release number and series (e.g. popular, race).

The first number used a single digit code for the release year.  For example: 6 would equate to 1936, 7 to ’37, and so on.  The first two months of releases using this system used 35 as the first number before changing to the single digit system in November of that year.

The second, two digit number, quite straightforwardly, refers to the month of release, 01 for January, 04 for April, 11 for November, and so on.

The third number refers to the release number of the record, 01 would be the first issue, 12 for the twelfth, etc.  Beginning around November 1935, releases in the popular series used numbers beginning at 01 for the final number, and releases in the Race/Country & Western series began at 51.

For example: 7-04-18 would be the eighteenth issue in the popular series for April of 1937, 7-04-68 would be the eighteenth in the Race/Country series.

Romeo 1936In the case of the record pictured, Romeo 6-06-03, the numbers equate to the following:

  • 6: the year of release, 1936
  • 06: the month of release, June
  • 03: the release number, third in the popular series

That means the above record is the third record released in the popular series in June of 1936.

The ARC used this system for Banner, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, and Romeo.  Conqueror and many of the ARC’s small client labels did not adopt the system.