Johnny Dunn And His Jazz Band – 1923

Columbia 13004-D label image

“I Promised Not To Holler But Hey! Hey!”
Johnny Dunn And His Jazz Band
(Columbia 13004 D mx 81322 )        October 30, 1923


“Jazzin’ Baby Blues”
Johnny Dunn And His Jazz Band
(Columbia 13004 D mx 81321)   October 30, 1923


Here are two pre-microphone era jazz recordings from a hard-to-find record in the Edward Mitchell collection.

This record was one of only eight issued in Columbia’s 13000-D catalog number series of so-called “race records.”  In an era when it was common for hotels to skip over the number 13 when designating floor and room numbers,  Columbia officials quickly realized that widespread superstition about that number would cut into sales of any catalog number series that started with it.  Thus the numbering block used for its “race” series was almost immediately changed to 14000-D.

“Race records” was an industry term used to describe records by black artists performing music that was in high demand by black record buyers.  Such records featured a diversity of musical styles including blues, jazz, gospel, “hot” dance band, and sometimes classical and operatic.

The first label to issue “race records” was OKeh when, after the phenomenal success of its 1920 recording of Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues,” it became clear that there was a large, lucrative and under-served market for black performers and musical styles that had been almost completely overlooked by the handful of record labels that existed prior to the 1920s.  Other labels soon came out with their own line of “race records” and a black-owned independent label also emerged.  Over time, increasing numbers of white record buyers became aware of and sought out such records.

Columbia began selling “race records” in 1921 but they were issued under the same catalog numbering scheme as its general interest and popular records.  Earlier in the same month that the selections here were recorded, financially troubled Columbia was forced into receivership.  During the reorganization period, the company introduced a colorful new “flag label” design and a brand-new catalog numbering system that gave its “race records” their own numbering block.

The industry also had a less-than-flattering term for records that were marketed to rural white audiences, “hillbilly records.”  By the early 1950s the terms “race records” and “hillbilly records” had given way to the less derogatory rhythm-and-blues and country-and-western categories.  Today, the old “race records” are highly sought after by collectors and tend to fetch premium prices, especially if they are in excellent condition.

Johnny Dunn was regarded as one of the top New York City-based jazz cornet players during the early 1920s,  though his fame was eventually eclipsed by other artists such as Louis Armstrong.  He made his last recordings in 1928 before permanently moving to Europe where continued to perform but did not make any more records.   He died in Paris, France in 1937 from tuberculosis.

This recording “I Promised Not To Holler But Hey! Hey!” was the band’s third try at recording the song.  They had previously attempted to record it in sessions held earlier in the year on February 20 and again on March 13, but, for whatever reason, those takes were rejected.  My guess is they were very happy to have finally gotten that one knocked off their list.

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Can Ya’ Spare A Dime? – 3 Songs About The Great Depression 1930-1933


“Brother Can You Spare A Dime”
Charlie Palloy & His Orchestra; Charlie Palloy, vocal
(Crown 3392-A mx 1878)                          October 1932


“Cheer Up (Good Times Are Comin’)”
“Leo Reisman And His Orchestra; Lew Conrad, vocal
(Victor 2245- A)                                        June 11, 1930


“The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re In The Money Now)”
Jack Berger And His Hotel Astor Orchestra; Ted Holt, vocal
(Bluebird B 5054-A)                         May 5, 1933


Here are three topical recordings, courtesy of Matt From College Station’s collection, about the Great Depression.

Most of the period’s popular songs about the Depression were upbeat with lyrics that emphasized optimism or, at the very least, a “glass is half-full” perspective.  “Brother Can You Spare A Dime,” which debuted in the 1932 revival of the musical revue Americanawas a definite exception.

Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee made the most famous recordings of the song.  The Charley Palloy version here, which Matt played on Radio Dismuke’s recent New Year’s broadcast, was not as well-known.  The recording was issued on Crown, a short-lived low-price label that was distributed through the F. W. Woolworth dime store chain.  A detailed profile of Palloy and his career can be found at this link.

“Cheer Up (Good Times Are Comin’)” is a much more typical Depression-themed recording.  A lot of bands besides Leo Reisman and His Orchestra recorded the song, including Ben Selvin And His Orchestra, Phil Spitalny’s Music,  Roger Wolfe Kahn And His Orchestra as well as Jack Albin’s Hotel Pennsylvania Music.

“The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re In The Money)” was introduced by Ginger Rogers in the opening segment of the film Gold Diggers of 1933The song remains well-known and sometimes finds its way into films, television programs and, more frequently, commercials.  Bandleader Jack Berger is mostly forgotten today but, in the early 1930s, he was well-known through national radio broadcasts and his band was a fixture for several years at New York’s Hotel Astor.  More information about Jack Berger can be found at this link.

About the image – Every time I have posted the above image I have received questions about it.  I stumbled across it several years ago on the Library of Congress website.  It is from July 1939 and is one of several on the website taken by photographer Lee Russell that feature a family from rural Oklahoma as they begin their cross-country journey in an old truck in search of new opportunities in California.

There was something about the photo that I found particularly captivating and I became curious as to where it was taken.  Unfortunately, the only information provided on the Library’s website is: “Migrant family’s car stalled in main street of small town near Henrietta [i.e., Henryetta,] Oklahoma.

After a lot of playing around in Google Maps, I eventually was able to identify the location as being Morris, Oklahoma.  Sadly, the town was hit by a deadly tornado on April 26, 1984 that destroyed 85 percent of its structures, including any in the photo that might have remained. Here is a Google Streets view of approximately the same spot today.  The buildings that now line the cross-street are of very plain modern construction and my guess is they are replacements that the insurance companies were willing to pay for when the originals were destroyed.

– Dismuke

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Nice Online Tribute To Eddie Mitchell



I just became aware of a very nice and touching tribute to the late Early 1900s Music Preservation board member and Radio Dismuke contributor Edward Mitchell that a young collector posted to his YouTube channel a few months ago.

In it, he talks about the impact Eddie had on him as he sought to explore and learn more about the music of the 1920s and 1930s and 78 rpm records. He also talks about the community of vintage music YouTubers that Eddie became a part of.

The video also talks about various YouTubers gathering for yearly online listening parties to hear Eddie on Radio Dismuke’s annual New Year’s broadcasts. I was not aware that such listening parties were occurring and thus don’t know if Eddie was aware of them or not. But I thought that was very neat.

The tribute also includes comments by a couple of other YouTubers regarding their online friendship with Eddie.

I know that Eddie would have been profoundly touched and moved by this tribute. On many occasions, I heard Eddie talk about interacting with people he had met through his YouTube channels and it was clear that the community he found there meant a lot to him. And I am amazed at how people who did not know Eddie for as long as I did and who only knew him online are able to so accurately capture Eddie’s personality.

After his passing I wrote that the Eddie one heard on Radio Dismuke broadcasts was the same Eddie we knew in real life. Since that time I have met people from other areas of Eddie’s life and interests that I was not part of but had heard him talk about often who shared various anecdotes about him. In all instances, I found myself nodding my head thinking, “Yep! That’s Eddie!” He was truly down-to-earth and authentic. If he ever paid you a compliment or said a kind word, I guarantee you that it was heartfelt and authentic (and, likewise, he did not hold back when expressing his scorn for those he felt had behaved unjustly).

I think this is a wonderful tribute to Eddie and wanted to share it with all those who enjoyed listening to the interesting stories and background information that he provided during our broadcasts.

The creator of this video, by the way, is in the process of writing a book about the 1920s and 1930s bandleader Will Osborne. He points out elsewhere on his channel that, at present, there is no source that has more than a page or two of information about Osborne and his career – which is the case with many who were famous stars during the era but have largely been forgotten. I will be keeping an eye out for its publication and will put up a posting once it becomes available.

– Dismuke

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Red Nichols And His World Famous Pennies 1934


“The Very Thought Of You”
Red Nichols And His World Famous Pennies; King Harvey, vocal
(Bluebird B 5548-A)          July 18, 1934


This recording is from the collection of Matt From College Station who let me digitize it for Radio Dismuke. I think it is a very pleasant version of a song famously recorded by Al Bowlly with the Ray Noble Orchestra in England. When the Ray Noble recording was released in the United States, it quickly climbed to the top of the Billboard music charts. The song has been recorded by a variety of artists over the decades and is regarded as a pop standard.

I was not able to find biographical information about vocalist King Harvey other than he was a guitar player and vocalist for both the Herbie Kay and Red Nichols bands.

While preparing this posting, I saw that Ricky Nelson, son of 1930s bandleader Ozzie Nelson, revived the song in 1964 with a big-selling rock and roll version. I thought that was interesting because King Harvey’s voice strikes me as being similar to Ozzie Nelson’s.

I am currently working on a few other recordings from Matt’s collection, some of which I will share in future postings.

– Dismuke

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New Orleans Owls 1925

Columbia 489-D label image


“Stomp Off – Let’s Go”
New Orleans Owls
(Columbia 489 D mx 140992)        September 24, 1925


“Oh Me! Oh My!”
New Orleans Owls
(Columbia 489 D mx 140993)     September 24, 1925


Here’s a hard-to-find record from the Edward Michell collection featuring two excellent examples of New Orleans-style jazz (which would later be commonly referred to as “Dixieland”) from a historic recording session held at the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans.

The recordings were not just the first recording session for the New Orleans Owls, they were part of the first field recording session to utilize the new electrical recording process via a mobile recording van.   The recording session ended early due to technical difficulties that you can actually hear in portions of both recordings in the form of odd noises and distortion, a particularly noticeable example of which can be heard just after 2:03 into the “Stomp Off- Let’s Go” side.  I saw some speculation online that it might have been caused by an issue with the cutting head, possibly brought on by high New Orleans humidity.

Fortunately for jazz enthusiasts ever since, despite the obvious technical flaws, Columbia nevertheless decided to bring both recordings to market.

– Dismuke


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Willie Bryant And His Orchestra 1936

Bluebird B-6361-B label image


“The Right Somebody To Love”
Willie Bryant And His Orchestra; Jack Butler, vocal
(Bluebird B 6361 B)       April 9, 1936


“All My Life”
Willie Bryant And His Orchestra; Taft Jordan, vocal
(Bluebird B 6361 A)       April 9, 1936


Here’s a record I came across while browsing through a box of previously unlistened-to records in my personal collection looking for interesting selections to present on Radio Dismuke’s recent New Year’s broadcast.

Somehow, in all my years of collecting and being a fan of the era’s music, this was the first time I had come across a Willie Bryant record – and I was particularly impressed with the “The Right Somebody To Love” side.

Sadly, that side of the record has an edge flake about 7/8 of an inch wide and that goes about a quarter of an inch into the record impacting the first dozen or so grooves.  The other side of the record is not impacted by it at all.

I decided to play the damaged side during the broadcast beginning just past where the damage ended as I knew that there was a strong possibility that I might not be able to include it in the station’s regular playlist.  But after the broadcast I was, to my surprise, able to get a needle to track through the damaged portion.  This resulted in some loud pops when I played back my transfer.  But, because of the speed at which the record travels, the pops were short enough in duration that my software was easily able to repair them and interpolate the missing audio.

What I did not realize when I introduced the recording during the broadcast was that the song was first introduced by, of all people, Shirley Temple in the film mentioned on the label Captain January – which explains its rather odd lyrics.  Thanks to the talents of vocalist Jack Butler, the band and whoever its arranger was, this recording is what I would consider to be the diametric opposite of how the song was presented in the film, which you can see on this YouTube clip.  Nothing against Shirley Temple as she was certainly very talented,  but let’s just say that, in my personal opinion, Bryant’s recording has aged far better than the scene from the film.

“All My Life” was introduced by Phil Regan in the film Laughing Irish Eyes.  Several bands at the time recorded the song and I think Fats Waller had an especially good version.

– Dismuke


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Flappers, Red Hotters & Yellow Jackets 1925

Okeh 40382-A label image


“The Flapper Wife”
The Red Hotters
(Okeh 40382-A mx 73370-B)      May 1925


“Love Light Lane”
The Yellow Jackets
(Okeh 40382-B mx 73152-B)     February 4, 1925


Here is a record from the Edward Mitchell collection that has on my want list for inclusion in Radio Dismuke ever since I stumbled across a recording of this version of “The Flapper Wife” that had been uploaded to YouTube.

This recording is a jazzy instrumental by Harry Raderman’s Jazz Orchestra issued under the pseudonym of The Red Hotters.  But other versions feature lyrics by Beatrice Burton, a popular romance fiction writer whose 1925 novel, The Flapper Wife, The Story Of A Jazz Bride, and subsequent sequels included lots of references to the era’s popular culture and slang.

You can find the upload to YouTube I mentioned at this link.  I think the channel owner did an outstanding job of matching period film footage to the music.  I recommend the channel as it provides a lot of nice vintage recordings from various decades and genres.

However, when you listen to the YouTube upload of the recording, you will notice that it sounds somewhat different than the copy here.  Both are of the exact same recording (though the YouTube version is from a German pressing on the Lindstrom label).

The difference is that the version here was transferred at 80 rpm, which is what the Okeh label published as the correct playback speed for its records during that period.  The YouTube version was transferred at a slower speed, around 78 rpm.

I actually prefer how it sounds at the slower playback, perhaps because it is how I was used to hearing the recording.

My policy is to transfer recordings at the speed recommended by the label that first produced the record.   But I am not prepared to say that whoever transferred the YouTube upload was incorrect.  Perhaps the person wasn’t aware of the correct speed. However, during that period, it wasn’t uncommon for records to have been recorded at speeds somewhat different than their officially published speeds.  Some people are able to determine the exact recording speed based on pitch.  Given the high quality of the YouTube version, I am open to the possibility that the slower speed might have been intentional.  But, since I do not have the skillset needed to match pitch to speed, I transfer at the recommended speed and guess only in cases where information about that speed is unavailable.

I regard either approach as historically accurate in the sense that the official speed is the speed that record buyers who followed the manufacturer’s instructions would have heard them at, even if, on occasion, it varied slightly from what was heard in the recording studio.

The recording on the flip side, performed by an Okeh in-house band led by Justin Ring under the pseudonym of The Yellow Jackets, is not particularly jazzy. But I find the tune and the arrangement to be both charming and haunting.

– Dismuke

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“Felix The Cat” Paul Whiteman Orchestra 1928

Columbia 1478-D "Potato Head" label


“Felix The Cat”
Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra; Austin Young, vocal
(Columbia 1478 D mx 146334)          May 25, 1928


Here’s a cute recording that I had been wanting to add to Radio Dismuke’s playlist for a while and found in the late Eddie Mitchell’s record collection.  The song was inspired by the Felix The Cat animated cartoons that were played before the main feature in 1920s-era movie theaters.

This was recorded the same month that Paul Whiteman switched his recording affiliation from Victor to Columbia.  Luring away one of arch-rival Victor’s top artists was a big coup for Columbia which went all-out in terms of publicity.  This included creating a colorful new label specifically for Paul Whiteman’s records.  Collectors refer to this label as the “potato head label,” a reference to its caricature of Whiteman’s face.

At 1:36 into the recording, you can hear the first of two solo passages by cornetist Bix Beiderbecke.  Immediately after the vocal, you can hear a solo by Frankie Trumbauer playing the C-melody saxophone.  During this period the Whiteman band had about 26 musicians, not counting its vocal artists – large even for the era.


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Nice Record From The Charleston Craze – 1925

Domino 3632-B label


“My Charleston Dancing Man”
Six Black Diamonds
(Domino 3632 B mx 6315-3)       November 28, 1925


“Spanish Shawl”
Missouri Jazz Band
(Domino 3632 A mx 6312-5)    December 14, 1925


Here are two selections from one of the records in the late Edward Mitchell’s collection.  Both are excellent examples of sort of “hot” dance recordings that were popular during the mid-1920s Charleston craze.   Eddie had a lot of hot dance records from this period in his collection which will be added to the Radio Dismuke playlist in the weeks and months ahead.

The artist credits behind both of these selections illustrate the convoluted and sometimes confusing world of 1920s and 1930s recording pseudonyms.

The selections here were transferred from a Domino record.  Domino was a budget-priced record label produced by the Plaza Music Company which also made the budget-priced Regal, Banner and Oriole labels.

In addition to Domino, both of these selections were also issued on other Plaza labels, sometimes with completely different artist credits.

On Domino, “My Charleston Dancing Man” is credited to the Six Black Diamonds.  There was no such actual band – it was merely a recording pseudonym, in this case, for the Nathan Glantz Orchestra.  But Nathan Glantz wasn’t the only bandleader to record under that pseudonym.  Other records credited to the Six Black Diamonds were recorded by the Joseph Samuels, Adrian Schubert and Sam Lanin bands, among others.

The recording was also credited to the Six Black Diamonds on the Banner label.  But on the Regal label, the artist’s credit was listed as The Missouri Jazz Band.  On the Oriole label, it was credited to the Dixie Jazz Band.

The recording on the flip side, “Spanish Shawl,” was credited on this Domino disc as well as on the Banner label to the Missouri Jazz Band which was, in this instance, Ben Selvin and His Orchestra.  But on the Regal label, it was credited to the Imperial Dance Orchestra. On Canadian pressings, it was credited to Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra, an actual band headed up by one of the major talents in American jazz history but which did not participate in the recording session.

There were several reasons why such recording pseudonyms were used.  In the case of companies such as Plaza, sometimes a label was pressed specifically for sale through a particular retail chain and they wanted to differentiate one chain’s offerings from another. Sometimes a major artist, such as Duke Ellington, might have been under an exclusive contract with one record label but was allowed to record for other labels so long he didn’t do so under his real name.  In most cases, the labels had their own in-house studio orchestras whose recordings were often issued under a pseudonym.

What this meant, however, was that many a 78 rpm record buyer, both then and now, excited over discovering a different version of a favorite song, purchased a record only to discover upon playing it at home that it is an exact copy of a record they already had.  That has happened to me more than once.

– Dismuke

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Update: Edward Mitchell 78 RPM Collection

Okeh 4630-A label


Many Radio Dismuke listeners are already aware that Edward Mitchell (known as “Eddie The Collector” when appearing on the station’s New Year’s and other special broadcasts) passed away this past August.  Eddie was generous in making 78 rpm records from his collection, some of them quite rare,  available for me to digitize for the station.  On any given day’s playlist, one will hear a number of his records.

I can now announce that Eddie’s collection will remain intact (as opposed to being sold off piecemeal) and will be fully available to Early 1900s Music Preservation for use on Radio Dismuke.  In that sense, even though he is gone, Eddie will continue to contribute recordings to the station for several years to come.

I say “several years” because, due to his collection’s size, it will realistically take me that long to digitize and clean up all of the records in it that are a good fit for the station – which is likely to be a significant percentage of the collection.

Eddie started collecting records in the 1950s and my rough guess is that over 90 percent of his collection consists of 1920s jazz and dance band recordings.  I have noticed a few excellent records from the 1930s mixed in.  But, for most of his life, Eddie’s collecting focus was on the 1920s.  It was only in his later years that he started developing more of an appreciation for the music of the early 1930s and sometimes expressed regret at having, for years, passed over opportunities to acquire outstanding and hard-to-find 1930s records.

While Eddie made a lot of records available for me to digitize, until now I had little idea of the size and scope of his collection.  Whenever we got together for me to digitize, Eddie already had a big pile of records that he knew I would regard as a good fit for the station picked out for me.  What I didn’t realize until now was that the vast majority of his collection was of similar caliber as the records he had picked out from it.

As I work through digitizing the records for the station, from time to time I will pick out a few to share here on this blog.  The recordings below come from a more or less random handful of records I pulled out to listen to.   Almost all of them were worthy of digitizing for the station – but here are a few sides that I thought were particularly enjoyable or interesting.

– Dismuke


“The Keyboard Express”
Clarence Williams’ Jazz Kings
(Columbia 14348-D mx 146825)          August 1, 1928

“Walk That Broad”
Clarence Williams’ Jazz Kings
(Columbia 14348-D mx 146826)           August 1, 1928

“Starlight And Tulips”
Thelma Terry And Her Play Boys
(Columbia 1532-D mx 145855)       March 29, 1928

“Lonesome Mama Blues”
Mamie Smith And Her Jazz Hounds
(Okeh 4630-A)                                  May 1922

“Wonder If She’s Lonely Too”
Bennie Krueger’s Orchestra
(Brunswick 2485-B)                       September 21, 1923

“Satanic Blues”
Lanin’s Southern Serenaders
(Regal 9191 mx 42163)                January 24, 1922


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