Victor Talking Machine Co.
The Eternal Dog
Archivist's Note: For an outstanding visual web site dedicated to the fruits of the Dog, check out the Victor Pages from UBS MUSICOM Productions. This place is the standard from which Antique Phonographic Webs Sites should be judged.
The "Stock Dog" - Late 1900s To Mid Twenties
VIC: This is the side that ushered in the "Jazz Age", the first recorded AND released popular jazz record, (although for this disk it was spelled "Jass"). It was an instant hit, as was this new raucous form of music. The "Original Dixieland Jazz Band" was formed by Dominic James "Nick" LaRocca, a New Orleans cornetist. In 1916, He talked several of his fellow musicians in the Chicago-Based Johnny Stine Band into forming a co-op band to get better paying gigs.
Through LaRocca's public relations hype, the band was offered a steady job in New York at Reisenweber's Cafe in January of 1917. The P.R. was so great, that Columbia Graphophone Co. rushed to cut several sides with the band. The Columbia brass however thought that the band was too brash, vulgar and raucous, and turned them down flat. But arch-rival Victor was not so easily turned off, and decided to cut and release "Livery Stable Blues" and the "Dixieland Jass One-Step". Of course both cuts were a runaway hit, making jazz an immediate national sensation.
Once the disks were selling like hotcakes, LaRocca started referring to himself as the "Columbus of Jazz", (Coincidentally, the ODJB's 75th anniversary was 1992, 500 years after Chris' famous crossing!). LaRocca himself never learned to read music, and was proud of that fact. He was said to have commented in later years: ". . . I don't know how many pianists we tried before we found one who couldn't read music."
These two tunes were recorded in New York City on February 26, 1917, and released the next month. The other musicians on the date besides LaRocca on cornet were Henry Ragas, piano; Eddie Edwards, trombone; Larry Shields, clarinet; Tony Sbarbaro, drums. Victor master numbers were 19331-1 and 19332-3.
The "Orthophonic" Scroll - Mid-20s to Mid-30s
There was a story told by Victor recording artist Paul Whiteman in his book "Records for the Millions" about how while on an extended tour of Great Britain with his famous band in 1924, he was introduced to a person who had developed a method for recording electronically, and that upon his return to the U.S., he immediatly notified the Victor people, who promply pooh-poohed the idea. They likewise passed up an exclusive contract for the Western Electric process as well, which was subsiquently offered, at rival Columbia Graphophone suggestion, to other labels on an equal royalty basis.
Needless to say, electronic recording revolutionized the industry, which had previously recorded everything accoustically, with the artist(s) gathered around one or more large horns to cut a record. Of course Victor DID go electric: They had to, since everyone else was AND the records sounded better! Victor switched to this design shortly after adopting this new recording technique, (note the "VE" on top, for Victor Electric) and also through the "Orthoponic" tradename, they hyped their new line of "Orthophonic" Victrolas. The orthoponic victrola was the apex of accoustical reproduction, (even though the industry went electric, most homes didn't get electric phonographs until the 1930s, at which time, ALL accoustic machines became obsolite).
The Artists on this label, listed as "Red & Miff's Stompers," was one of the many psuedonyms that Loren "Red" Nichols recorded under, (with trombonist Miff Mole). The most famous of these being "The Five Pennies." The tune was written by Nichols' fellow cornetist and close friend, Bix Beiderbecke, who composed the piece as an honor to his home town of Davenport, Iowa. (The composer line on the original record has Bix's name misspelled as "Bix Beiderbecks," which I corrected in the paint program as a courtesy to Bix. Collectors should note the mistake when mining those dark second hand stores for rich shellac deposits from the 20s).
This version of "Davenport Blues" was cut on 2/11/27 in Victor's New York City studio, and besides Nichols & Mole, featured Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet & alto sax, Arthur Schutt, piano, Tony Colucci, banjo and onetime Wolverine drummer/manager Vic Burton,* drums. It was mastered as BVE-37769; takes 1-3, and released as VIC 20778B. I believe the second take was pressed here, although the third was reissued on CD just recently, as a compilation of several white jazz bands who recorded for Victor in N.Y.C. during the late 1920s.
Red & Miff went on to bigger an better things of course, with Miff ending up as lead `bone for the NBS Symphony Orchestra in the 40s. Red continued recording with various "Five Pennies" until his death in 1965.
* Burton's other "claim to fame" came when he was busted for smoking a joint between sets at a gig with Louis Armstrong in L.A. in 1931.
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