In Production • “Orlando Marsh: Chicago’s Pioneer of Electrical Recording” (Richard Raichelson)

 

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Nearly four years before Columbia and Victor released their first electrical recordings, Orlando Marsh was already recording electrically in Chicago and issuing the results under custom labels. Marsh’s story is finally told in depth by historian Richard Raichelson in Orlando Marsh: Chicago’s Pioneer of Electrical Recording, which is now in production for a summer release.

Impeccably documented and engagingly written, this new book includes a vast amount of newly unearthed information, while dispelling the various myths and misconceptions that have grown up around Orlando Marsh and his records over the years. Marsh’s entire career — from his earliest experimental work for the legendary Essanay movie studio, to his involvement with the short-lived Chicago Recording Laboratories, founding and operation of Marsh Laboratories, and later work with radio transcriptions — are covered in fine detail.

But more than that, Orlando Marsh takes a wide view, examining  Marsh’s work within the context of the 1920s and early 1930s Chicago recording industry. It also does an authoritative job of untangling Marsh’s various connections with other Midwestern labels and studios, including Paramount and the Rodeheaver studio — a subject that is often addressed only vaguely or incorrectly in earlier works.

Also included is the most complete and accurate Marsh discography ever published, covering his output from the earliest custom labels of 1921 to the final transcriptions and acetates of the 1930s, with illustrated guides to label types and markings in the wax. In addition to highly detailed discographical data taken from first-hand inspection of the original discs, the entries are extensively annotated,  with artist biographies, observations on musical aspects of the recorded performances, and fascinating historical notes.

The book will be printed in color throughout, with more than 160 illustrations.  (Projected release: August 2016)
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About the Author

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Richard Raichelson obtained a Ph.D in folklore/anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the University of Memphis and was Director of Education and Research at the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis. He is a member of the Association of Recorded Sound Collections, and a founding member and past president of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, for which he is co-editor of the Discographical section and the editor of two other columns for the Journal. As a record collector, one of his special interests is the history of record labels. He has written numerous articles and liner notes on jazz and blues, as well as two books, Beale Street Talks: A Walking Tour Down the Home of the Blues (Arcadia Records, 2nd edition, updated in 2008) and Memphis Innovations: People, Ideas, and Innovations That Changed Our World (Power House, 2006). In addition, he was photo editor of Bluff City Barristers by John Thomason (Legacy, 2008) and Memphis Medicine by Patricia LaPointe McFarland and Mary Ellen Pitts (Legacy 2011). Currently, he continues his research and writing on early jazz artists, and lectures with piano demonstrations about the history and music of Memphis and the Mid-South for various Road Scholar (elderhostel) programs.

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