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.
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.
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.