Collector’s Corner • Some December 2019 Additions
Lloyd Finlay, California Ramblers, Fletcher Henderson, Earl Hines, Minasian Trio
Our last “Collector’s Corner” posting for 2019 — It’s been a very good year for additions and upgrades to the collection, and we’ve enjoyed sharing some of the highlights with you. “Wang Wang” and “Grand Piano” have been posted here before; these new versions are upgrades to our V+ copies, which served long and well, and soon will be passed along to new homes.
As is usually the case for records of this period, personnel listed in Rust’s Jazz Records and derivative works like Lords are undocumented — no sources are cited, and they are not from company file data.
LLOYD FINLAY & HIS ORCHESTRA: Fiddlin’ Blues (E-)
Houston: March 18, 1925
Victor 19644 (mx. B 32104 – 3)
Originally titled “Fido Blues” in the Victor recording ledgers, but labeled as above.
LLOYD FINLAY & HIS ORCHESTRA: Jew’s Harp Blues (E-)
Houston: March 19, 1925
Victor 19644 (mx. B 32108 – 5)
These sides were from Victor’s first Houston–New Orleans recording expedition. They were part of a special group of “Southern Releases” listed in late May 1925 (see ad at the end of this post) and deleted in 1926. Because of their limited geographic distribution and short catalog life, all issues in this group are scarce.
CALIFORNIA RAMBLERS (as GOLDEN GATE ORCHESTRA): Sweet Man (E)
New York: September 15, 1925
Edison 51622 (mx. 10574 – A)
Red Nichols is generally credited as the cornetist on this side (although curiously enough, not by Brian Rust, who normally was quick to credit Nichols on many sides where his presence is questionable). Ramblers manager Ed Kirkeby’s surviving payroll books, which list personnel for each session, unfortunately don’t begin until 1926.
FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: Have It Ready (EE-)
New York: January 22, 1927
Vocalion15532 (mx. E 4406 W)
Listed as a “Special Race Recording” on the recording sheet, but not issued in the Race series. False mx. numbers for the corresponding Brunswick release were assigned on February 2, 1927. (And what’s that “W,” plainly visible in this pressing? Western Electric, it turns out. For years it’s been said that W.E. licensed its electrical recording system exclusively to Victor and Columbia. But now, thanks to a disclosure by Brunswick’s Gus Haenschen (made public for the first time here, in Jim Drake’s historic Haenschen interview), we know that W.E. signed a secret licensing deal with Brunswick to replace its inferior “Light-Ray” system.)
FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: The Wang Wang Blues (E)
New York: May 16, 1925
Columbia 1913-D (mx. W 148541 – 3)
Benny Carter, arranger
EARL HINES & HIS ORCHESTRA: Grand Piano Blues (E)
Chicago: October 25, 1929
Victor V-38096 (mx. BVE 57322 – 2)
The common Bluebird reissue of this side (and most LP and CD reissues) use a dubbed master made on December 21, 1936 (take -1R), which suppesses much of the original bass heard here.
MINASIAN TRIO: Shalakho (E-)
Los Angeles: c. 1938
Rec-Art 1511 (mx. 1229)
The shalakho is a traditional dance of the Caucasus region in 6/8 time, in which two men dance to win the favor of a woman. This was one of a small group of commercial releases made in the late 1930s by Rec-Art Recordings, a Los Angeles custom-recording service managed by Al Nazareth. For more on Rec-Art and other small studios of the period, see American Record Companies and Producers, 1888-1950, a special limited edition available from Mainspring Press (we have just a few remaining copies, order soon).
Victor’s “Southern” regional releases from the Houston–New Orleans recording expedition included the Lloyd Finlay sides, along with the first recordings by the Boswell Sisters, and had only limited geographical distribution. A reviewer for the black-owned Pittsburgh Courier apparently mistook them for race records, although all of the artists except Piron’s orchestra were white. This ad, from Greenwood, Mississippi, ran on May 22, 1925, and all of these records were deleted in 1926.