Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra: A Few Newspaper Highlights from Our Ongoing Henderson Research (1923 – 1931)
An even earlier example of a Henderson satellite band (see previous post) — a November 15, 1924 appearance in Watsonville, California. The actual Henderson band recorded in Columbia’s New York studio on November 14. Given the state of American transportation at the time, the band could not possibly have reached California by the following day, and then returned to New York in time for its November 17 Plaza date. (There is no connection to the “Tennessee Ten” on Victor records, which was a white band.)
Henderson was a prolific broadcaster (this relatively early example is from August 1923). He accompanied Emma Gover and Edna Hicks on some of their recordings during this period. The 1923 Gover–Henderson Pathé sides were brokered by band manager Ed Kirkekby (whose California Ramblers did not yet occupy him full-time), as confirmed in Kirkeby’s logbook.
As one of several headliners with the Club Alabam’ show
A plug for Henderson in a 1924 popularity contest. In the early 1930s he was bested by Blanche Calloway in a similar contest, but only by a few votes. (New York, November 1924)
Sam Lanin sharing the bill with Henderson at the Roseland, during Louis Armstrong’s tenure with the Henderson band (New York, December 1924)
Romano’s was one of several white bands, besides Lanin’s, to share the bill with Henderson at the Roseland. (New York, September 1924)
The Henderson orchestra, or a small unit from it (depending upon the session), masqueraded as The Dixie Stompers for Columbia’s low-priced Harmony line. (June 1926 ad for an April recording)
“The white man of colored musicians” — a supposed compliment? (Pottsville, Pennsylvania, July 1926)
Henderson and cutting-edge phonographic technology — the Brunswick Panatrope, the first all-electric phonograph for the consumer market (although the Henderson orchestra had not made any electrical recordings for Brunswick at that time). Scranton, Pennsylvania, June 1926.
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, June 1926
Pottsville, Pennsylvania (July 1926)
A Henderson band and Ed Kirkekby’s California Ramblers made several joint appearances during their summer 1926 tours. Earlier, while still a freelance band manager and talent broker, Kirkeby had secured some recording sessions for Henderson, as confirmed in his logbooks. (Scranton, Pennsylvania, August 1926)
Pittsburgh, July 1926
Battle of the bands at the Roseland, with Henderson facing off against Jean Goldkette’s newly arrived orchestra (New York, October 11, 1926)
Chillicothe, Ohio, July 1927
Henderson’s auto accident in August 1928 took a heavy toll on him,
as well as on his band (September 1 report)
New York, June 1929. The mention of “classical airs” bears out reports that the band’s full repertoire was not represented on its records.
The “Great Day” debacle of 1929. For a detailed account of this unfortunate turning point in Henderson’s career, see Jeffrey Magee’s The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz (Oxford University Press), available from amazon.com and many libraries.
Henderson’s orchestra had been a mainstay of Columbia’s standard pop catalog since 1923, but for reasons unknown, the company assigned his December 1928 recordings of “Come On, Baby!” (a commercial hit tune) and “Easy Money” to the segregated 14000-D Race series. He was quickly returned to the pop series.
If the Victor contract referenced in this June 1931 blurb was truly exclusive, it’s not reflected in Henderson’s actual Victor output for 1931–1932, which was intermixed with releases on several competing labels and fell far short of the twenty records per year mentioned here.
Hard times — New York (July 1931)