Duke Ellington Promotional Folder (1935)

This unusual piece was produced for the Brunswick division of the American Record Coporation in late 1935, to mark the release of Ellington’s four-part “Reminiscing in Rhythm” (recorded September 12 of that year) — a work that elicited mixed reactions, as the copy hints. The 8″ circular folder is hinged and opens to reveal reviews of Ellington records from the popular magazines and papers of the day.


Discograpghical details of all of these recordings can be found in Brian Rust’s classic Jazz & Ragtime Records, 1897-1942, Sixth Edition — out-of-print in book form, but available exclusively from Mainspring Press on a convenient, fully searchable CD.

Marion Harris Moves to Brunswick Records (September 1922)

Brunswick dropped a bombshell on the record industry in August 1922, announcing to the trade that it had signed comedienne Marion Harris away from Columbia. The public announcement came in a September ad that played on Harris’ international following, with sketches of New York and  London flanking her photo. She had already cut her first Brunswick masters before the announcement was made, accompanied by Isham Jones’ Orchestra, in late July 1922. The records went on sale the following October.

Harris had been one of Columbia’s best-selling stars, but in 1922 the label was struggling financially. Her Brunswick signing was an opening shot in a war that culminated sixteen months later with the defection of Al Jolson, who was lured away from Columbia by a million-dollar contract with the deep-pocketed Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company.


Harris was also one of the most-photographed stars of the period. These undated shots were taken by the Bain New Agency, which supplied celebrity stills to most of the major labels for use in their catalogs and ads:


Complete discographic details on Marion Harris’ recordings can be found in The American Stage Peformers Discography, available from Mainspring Press (although we’re nearly sold out) and many major libraries.


Friday’s Playlist (July 13) • Hot Kazoos


New York: February 9, 1925
Brunswick 2849  (mx. 14872, 14873, or 14874)
Note: Neither the files nor the discs indicate the take(s) used. Lang’s name is misspelled “Lange” on the label composer credits.



Chicago: February 23, 1924
Brunswick 2581  (mx. Ch78)


FIVE HARMANIACS: Coney Island Washboard

New York: September 17, 1926
Zonophone (British) 2920  (mx. BVE-36327-2)


Full discographic details on these and more than 32,000 other jazz and jazz-related recordings can be found in Brian Rust’s Jazz and Ragtime Records, 1897-1942 (6th Edition), out-of-print in book form but available as a convenient searchable CD-ROM exclusively from Mainspring Press.

Fred Astaire Brunswick 78 Records Brochure (1935)

Brunswick issued this flyer for highlights from the movie “Top Hat” in August 1935. These were not sound-track excerpts, but studio re-creations on which Astaire tapped and sang along with two popular dance bands. “Cheek to Cheek” and “No Strings” were recorded in New York on June 26, 1935. The next day, Astaire returned to the studio to record additional selections with Johnny Green’s Orchestra. Then on July 15 he recorded the vocal of “The Piccolino” with Reisman’s Orchestra.


If you enjoy recordings from the 1930s, be sure to check out Recording the Thirties: The Evolution of the American Recording Industry, 1930–1939, from Mainspring Press. It covers all types of recording — from swing, jazz and blues, to country, classical, and even recordings for the Mexican-American market, Communist labels, and adult-only “party records.”

Friday’s Playlist (February 10) • The Original Memphis Five


Paramount 20281  (mx. 1584-3)
New York: c. December 1923


He May Be Your Man, But He Comes to See Me Sometimes

Brunswick 2380  (mx. 9309)
New York: November 1922



Columbia A3565  (mx. 80157-3)
New York: January 23, 1922


Complete discographic details on these and more than 32,000 other jazz and jazz-related 78s can be found in the sixth edition of Brian Rust’s classic Jazz and Ragtime Records, 1897-1942, out of print in book form but now available as a covenenient, fully searchable CD from Mainspring Press.

Friday’s Playlist (January 13) • Clarence Williams on Broadway: The “Bottomland” Recordings

In 1927 Clarence Williams tried his hand as the producer of a New York musical. “Bottomland” — which he produced and wrote, and for which he supplied the music and most of the lyrics — opened at the Princess Theater on June 27 of that year.

The show starred Katherine Henderson (who was very much a real person, and not a pseudonym as some jazz hobbyists have claimed), Sara Martin, and Eva Taylor, with Williams directing the orchestra and also appearing at the piano on stage.

The first two titles here are instrumental treatments of vocal selections from the show. “Shooting the Pistol” is an adaptation “Shoot dat Pistol,” the choral finale to Act I. “(I’m Going Back to) Bottomland” was the show’s opening number, sung on stage by Eva Taylor.

“Any Time” was from the second act (Williams continued to record songs from the show for several years, as is the case with this 1928 issue). “Take Your Black Bottom Dance Outside,” which was recorded while the show was still in its planning stages, was sung as part of a mini-revue within the main  production.

The critics couldn’t find much to like about “Bottomland,” and it closed after nineteen performances.



New York (probably Independent Recording Laboratories): c. July 1927
Paramount 12517  (control # 2837-2)


CLARENCE WILLIAMS’ ORCHESTRA: (I’m Going Back to) Bottomland

New York (probably Independent Recording Laboratories): c. July 1927
Paramount 12517  (control # 2838-2)


CLARENCE WILLIAMS’ JAZZ KINGS (vcl – Clarence Williams):
Any Time

New York: April 10, 1928
Columbia 14314-D   (mx. W-145993-1)


CLARENCE WILLIAMS’ BLUE FIVE ORCHESTRA (vcl – Katherine Henderson): Take Your Black Bottom Dance Outside

New York: April 27, 1927
Brunswick 7015   (mx. E-23237)


Full discographic details of all of Clarence Williams’ recordings can be found in Brian Rust’s classic Jazz Records 1897-1942, 6th Edition — now out-of-print in book form, but available from Mainspring Press as a convenient, instantly searchable CD ROM (Windows and Mac OS-X compatible).