Columbia 1761-D – Harry Reser’s Syncopators – 1929

Today, January 17, we celebrate the 120th birthday of that great banjo luminary, Harry Reser.  He was born on that day in 1896.  Reser is known for his great multitude of recordings under an enormous number of names in the 1920s and 1930s, perhaps the most memorable of which were the Clicquot Club Eskimos, who took their name from the brand of ginger ale that sponsored a radio show featuring Reser’s band.  Reser also recorded under many other band names, including the Clevelanders, the Six Jumping Jacks, and, as in this case, his Syncopators.  Many of his groups featured vocals by Tom Stacks.  Last time we heard from them was on Christmas Day.

Harry Reser was born in Piqua, Ohio, and was a first cousin of the Wright brothers.  He was a child prodigy on string instruments and had perfect pitch.  By the early 1920s, Reser was playing banjo professionally, and by the second half of that decade, he was headlining Clicquot Club’s radio program with his “Eskimos”, a position which he and his band held for over a decade, from 1923 until 1936.  In 1936, he recorded a short film with the Eskimos for Vitaphone.  Though Reser faded from the spotlight after the 1930s, he remained an active musician until his death in 1965 in the orchestra pit at the Imperial Theatre in Manhattan.

Columbia 1761-D was recorded March 7, 1929 in New York by Harry Reser’s Syncopators, with a vocal on both sides by Tom Stacks.  Both sides also feature a riveting bass saxophone and all-around superb musicianship, making for an excellent pair of recordings.  As far as I can tell from the nearly incomprehensible Dance Band Discography (this one really ought to have been in Jazz and Ragtime Records if you ask me), this personnel of Reser’s Syncopators includes Tommy Gott on trumpet, Sam Lewis on trombone, Larry Abbott on clarinet, alto sax, and baritone sax, Jimmy Johnston on bass sax, Bill Wirges on piano, Harry Reser on banjo and Tom Stacks on drums.

First, they play a great version of “Kansas City Kitty”, not to be confused with “Kitty from Kansas City”, as was featured by Rudy Vallée.

Kansas City Kitty

Kansas City Kitty, recorded March, 7, 1929 by Harry Reser’s Syncopators.

The reverse’s title is quite a mouthful, “I’m Wild About Horns on Automobiles that Go ‘Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta'”, but this side remains one of my favorites.

I'm Wild About Horns on Automobiles (That Go Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta)

I’m Wild About Horns on Automobiles that Go Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta, recorded March 7, 1929 by Harry Reser’s Syncopators.

Updated on September 4, 2016.

Velvet Tone 1859-V – Annette Hanshaw Accomp. by New England Yankees – 1929

October 18 marks the birthday of “Personality Girl” Annette Hanshaw, who was born on this day in 1901.  Hanshaw began recording for Pathé Records in 1926 and recorded for them for two years before moving to Columbia, where most of her records were issued on their Harmony, Velvet Tone, and Diva budget labels, with a small number on Okeh and Columbia.  She remained with Columbia until 1932, when she began a contract with the American Record Company which she maintained until her retirement from music in 1934.  Although her singing was beloved by fans, Hanshaw was not fond of her records, and in her own words “disliked all of them intensely.”

Velvet Tone 1859-V was recorded February 20, 1929 in New York City, and was also issued on Harmony 859-H and Diva 2859-G.  Miss Hanshaw is accompanied by the “New England Yankees”, actually Ben Selvin’s Columbia studio orchestra, which includes Tommy Dorsey and Tommy Gott on trumpets, Charlie Butterfield on trombone, Jimmy Dorsey on clarinet and alto sax, and Hank Stern or Joe Tarto on tuba, among several others who remain unknown.

First, Miss Hanshaw delivers a delightful performance of the 1929 classic “A Precious Little Thing Called Love” from The Shopworn Angel.

A Precious Little Thing Called Love,

A Precious Little Thing Called Love, recorded February 20, 1929 by Annette Hanshaw Accomp. by New England Yankees.

Next, she sings one of her signature songs, “Mean to Me”.

Mean to Me,

Mean to Me, recorded February 20, 1929 by Annette Hanshaw Accomp. by New England Yankees.

That’s all.

Updated on June 24, 2016.