OK I found the two Rudy Foster sides to which you refer. Very interesting!
What is interesting is that BOTH tunes (Corn Trimmers and Black Gal Make It Thunder) appeared on Capitol coin piano rolls from the period (1920's).
Since, as with many Capitol blues selctions on coin piano rolls, the 88-note roll versions have never been found, we can only speculate as to whether it's actually Blythe or someone else (perhaps Foster himself?) playing these rolls.
All Columbia/Capitol rolls, and in fact, nearly all hand-played piano rolls, period, were filtered through the sensibities of the roll editors on staff at that particular roll company, and the particular rhythm scales and charts used by said editors to "clean up" and rhythmically align the raw hand-played master into strict rhythm, which also took out much of the touch and fine rhythmic distinctions of the original pianist and is largely responsible for the "mechanical" sound of piano rolls. The mechanical-sounding rhythms are not the fault of the player-piano, it is the fault of the rolls, and particularly the people who edited them!
This explains why James P. Johnson's rolls for Bennett and White (Artempo), Aeolian (Universal, Metro-Art), Standard (Perfection), and QRS all sound distinctively different, although they were made within a few years of each other, by the same musician! The three known hand-played rolls of "Caprice Rag", made by Bennett and White, Aeolian, and Standard, all different from each other, illustrate this excellently.
Columbia/Capitol (the same roll company which changed its name in late 1924) had a few editors, who were good musicians and made some very tasteful and musical edits, resulting in some of the finest blues, jazz, and pop piano rolls ever made.
Mr. P.M. Keast was a former vaudeville drummer who came over to Columbia from Clark Orchestra Rolls, a competing coin piano and orchestrion roll company who mostly used QRS masters for their roll arrangements. He was responsible for adapting the 88-note QRS masters to the smaller note scales, and creating the on and off cue tracks for extra instruments such as xylophone, flute pipes, violin pipes, mandolin effect, etc. He also used his experience as a drummer to create some very fine and snappy drum parts for the orchestrion rolls.
There are some fine early Clark roll arrangements which do not match up with any known QRS rolls. These are believed to be the work of Mr. Keast who claimed in an interview that he could imitate most of the QRS roll arrangers' styles himself, including Max Kortlander, Pete Wendling, Zez Confrey, etc. Some of his arrangements are really fantastic.
Mr. Roy V. Rodocker is believed to have been one of the founders of the Columbia roll department, since Columbia itself was originally an arm of the Operators Piano Company, which made "Coinola" brand coin pianos and orchestrions, and "Reproduco" brand piano/organs for theatres. Mr. Keast remembered his old boss Rodocker not only as a fine musician and a friend, but one who took a particular interest in editing roll performances made by various African-American pianists who visited the Columbia and Capitol studios.
Given the sheer number of Columbia and (especially) Capitol rolls which have not turned up yet in credited 88-note editions, we may never know the names of all the pianists who made rolls for this company. Some, such as Jelly Roll Morton, only made two or three rolls, while others, like Jimmy Blythe and Clarence Johnson, were extremely prolific.
Check these two lists to see if you have any undiscovered Columbia or Capitol (or Supertone, mostly made by Columbia/Capitol) rolls:
The unknown rolls are the numbers without titles! Also, if you don't know the roll number, just search on the title and if you don't find it you probably have a previously-unknown roll!
Further regarding the Columbia and Capitol arrangements, Mr. Rodocker (and other editors) added a lot of their own style to that of the recording pianists, resulting in rolls which, musically, were sometimes 50% pianist and 50% editor! (a somewhat high ratio). However, they are still quite listenable and are very good rolls.
We are quite fortunate in that many of the pianists who made rolls for this company also made recordings, thus we can compare how they sounded on roll to how they REALLY played.
Here is a (partial) list of African-American (or presumed African-American) pianists who made rolls for this company:
James Blythe (1901-1931)
Jimmy Blythe should need no introduction. His estimated 100 or so recordings form a perfect compliment to his 200 or so piano rolls.
Clarence "Jelly" Johnson (1900-1933).
Clarence Johnson (not to be confused with a later Jazz organist by the same name) was originally from Kentucky, served in World War I (I believe) and traveled at least to Chicago, New York, and Milwaukee, where he made a couple dozen recordings backing up blues singers such as Lizzie Miles, Edna Hicks, Monette Moore, and Priscilla Stewart. He also made a couple hundred piano rolls for Columbia/Capitol (mostly), U.S., QRS, Aeolian (Mel-O-Dee), and Billings Roll Co. (Staffnote).
He was a good friend of Jimmy Blythe and the two had similar piano styles. Clarence in particular used a lot of "drop-bass" which he must have picked up from James P. Johnson when he was in New York. He was a fantastic, incredibly tasteful and bluesy pianist, and some of his rolls rank among the hottest ever made. He died a very untimely death of Tuberculosis in 1933.
Mike Montgomery got to meet and interview one of Clarence's young aunts in the 1960's who spoke at length about him as a person and as a musician. Next time I talk to Mr. Montgomery I will see if he is willing to publish this important information since I don't believe it has ever been published anywhere before.
Clarence M. Jones (1889-1949)
Clarence Jones was a very good pianist, composer, and bandleader who is mostly remembered today as Jimmy Blythe's piano teacher, and also for his single novelty piano solo composition "Modulations". However, Jones was a versatile musician who ran the gamut from classical, through popular and novelty, all the way to true blues piano, which he demonstrated on his numerous rolls and recordings. He was also regularly featured on radio in the 1920's, but I am not sure if any of these broadcasts were ever recorded.
After his main period of activity from the mid-teens through the late 1920's, he seems to have retired to a mostly religious musical life, away from the jazz and blues scene of which he was once a vital part.
He only made a few rolls for Columbia/Capitol, but they are excellent, including "Jazzin' Babies Blues". By far his largest roll output is for the Imperial and Vocalstyle companies. He also made a few rolls, early on, for Rolla Artis, a short-lived 88-note roll company run by Wurlitzer. Rumor has it that the Cincinnati-based Rolla Artis company became Vocalstyle, circa 1916. Imperial was a Chicago-based firm which was later bought by QRS. While at Imperial, Jones influenced Roy Bargy, who later remembered him as one of his favorite pianists.
list of Columbia/Capitol "Clarence Jones" rolls:
Columbia 457 Jazzin' Baby Blues
Capitol 1566 Heebie Jeebies Blues
Capitol 1567/Supertone 5850 Sweet Little Mammy
This man was a songwriter (who wrote, among other things, "Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do"), and one of several recording pianists with Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds (also, Mamie Smith and her Jazz Band).
He also cut at least three sides for the rare Autograph label in Chicago, one a solo piano and vocal performance called "A Triflin' Daddy's Blues"; another a piano accompaniment to singer H.N. Green, who sings "A son of the desert am I"; and the last as bandleader, leading "Everett Robbins and his Syncopating Robins" in a rendition of "You didn't want me when I wanted you, I'm somebody else's now"
This is in addition to his 16 or so piano rolls. Judging from the few piano rolls of his I have heard, he was a fine and funky blues pianist who could also play in a more straightforward snappy "pop" manner.
Columbia 747 Love (My Heart is Calling You)
Columbia 767 Lonesome Cinderella
Columbia 770/Supertone 5391 When It's Night-time in Italy it's Wednesday Over Here
Columbia 780/Supertone 5384 A Smile Will Go a Long Way
Columbia 782 Maggie! (Yes Ma'am)
Columbia 784 Hard Luck Blues
Columbia 820 Egyptian Rose
Columbia 823 Immigration Rose
Columbia 844/Supertone 5408 After the Storm
Columbia 846/Supertone 5396 Forget Me Not (Means Remember Me)
Columbia 876 Not Yet, Suzette
Columbia 918 Big Boy
Columbia 923 Oh! Eva!
Capitol 987/Supertone 5493 Red Hot Mamma
Capitol 989 Old Plantation Melody
Capitol 991 You Know Me, Alabam'
Everett Robbins is sometimes erroneously confused with fellow songwriter and bandleader Robert W. Ricketts, to the extent that I have seen many websites etc. listing the bogus credit "Everett Ricketts" who I don't believe was a real person!
Mike Montgomery has recently done some research on this gentleman and I hope to post the results here once I talk to him.
Alex Hill (1906-1937)
Alex Hill, although not very well-known to the public today, should be familiar to you early jazz buffs out there. However, the RedHotJazz page on Hill does not mention the piano rolls he made in the late '20s and early '30s.
Here's a list:
Supertone 6231 Singin' in the Rain
Supertone 6236 Happy Days Are Here Again
Supertone 6245 Cryin' For the Carolines
Supertone 4395 Baby, Oh Where Can You Be?
Supertone 4400 Singin' in the Rain (duplicate of 6231?)
Supertone 4401 Wishing and Waiting for Love
Supertone 4476 Happy Days Are Here Again (duplicate of 6236?)
Supertone 4477 Cryin' For the Carolines (duplicate of 6245?)
Supertone 4504 Man From the South, the
Supertone 4691 Cabin In the Hills
Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1890-1941)
Jelly Roll should need no introduction at all. In addition to his rolls made (mostly) for Vocalstyle and QRS, Jelly made at least two rolls for Capitol: "Sweet Man", which has been found on 88-note rolls, and "Soap Suds" which has not, but which turned up on a Capitol A-roll.
Jelly Roll Morton rolls on Columbia/Capitol
Capitol 1334 Sweet Man
[Capitol A-roll, unknown roll number, tune 2] Soap Suds
I know very little about Mr. Smith other than he was almost certainly African-American, and also made some very highly-regarded yet somewhat mysterious jazz band recordings with his family in 1930, as "Lloyd Smith's Gut-Bucketeers". His 5 or so piano rolls form an important and overlooked addition to these recordings.
Columbia 606 I'm Going Away Just to Wear You Off My Mind
Supertone 4722 When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Supertone 4724 Too Late
Supertone 4758 I'm With You
Supertone 4800 Home
I know nothing about this man other than, in addition to his piano rolls, he recorded four solo piano sides on the Autograph label. Judging from his name and the titles of the tunes he recorded, I am guessing he was African-American, however the one roll I have (of several made by him) doesn't sound very "black".
Columbia 350/Supertone 5214 California
Columbia 372/Supertone 5520 Nobody Lied
Columbia 402 Haunting Blues
Columbia 403 Clover Blossom Blues
Columbia 409 Struttin' at the Strutters' Ball
Columbia 443 You Gave Me Your Heart
Columbia 444/Supertone 5253 Coal Black Mammy
Columbia 448 Mary Dear
certain other Columbia/Capitol artists such as Marg Thompson and/or Paul Jones may or may not have been African-American, I do not know enough about them right now. However both made some very hot and swinging rolls.
Of course, Columbia/Capitol also made rolls of performances by well-known white musicians in the area, such as Irma Glen, Pearl White, Ethwell "Eddy" Hanson (who were also theatre organists); singer/entertainer/pianist Art Gillham; dance band leaders Delbert "Del" Delbridge, Gus Drobegg, and Harry Sosnik; arranger/pianist Lindsay McPhail (who also made solo piano records), and pianists Kyle Pierce, Johnny Honnert and Charlie Garland.
Irma Glen, Pearl White and Ethwell Hanson lived long enough to be invited to meetings, remembered, and appreciated for their fine theatre organ skills by ATOE, the American Theatre Organ Enthusiasts, which would soon become ATOS, the American Theatre Organ Society.
Johnny Honnert lived into the 1990s, long enough to become a well-loved honorary member of AMICA (Automatic Musical Intrument Collectors' Association), while Charlie Garland later became the mayor of the town where Mike Montgomery grew up! Kyle Pierce, of course, is best known for his piano work with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.
Almost nothing is known about the other names which appear on Columbia and Capitol rolls. Some of them may have been real people; others doubtless pseudonyms used by various roll arrangers and artists (such as "Rod Romberto" who was probably Roy Rodocker; and "John Matthews" who was really Johnny Honnert). More research is needed.
P.S. I've posted performances of two Jimmy Blythe tunes to Youtube for right now. More to come within the next few months:
--- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "rag1916" <rag1916@...> wrote:
> Haha that's OK,
> I haven't heard Rudy Foster's recording to which you refer, but I do
> play a few of Jimmy Blythe's piano solos, namely "Armour Ave.
> Struggle" (which I learned straight off the recording), "Chicago
> Stomp" (ditto), "Farm House Blues", "Society Blues", "Butcher Shop
> Blues", and "Fast Stuff Blues"; the latter four transcribed off piano
> He has a notably different style than the earlier ragtime players.
> Blythe's piano teacher was Clarence M. Jones who was a thoroughly
> schooled Chicago pianist, composer, and bandleader who could play
> anything from classical music, to the latest pop tunes of the day, to
> his own novelty solo "Modulations", and then turn around and give you
> extremely fine and detailed gut-bucket blues playing (such as on most
> of his piano rolls, some of his solo recordings, and especially his
> fantastic 1927 recordings accompanying Laura Smith: "Lonesome
> Refugee", "Mississippi Blues", "Fightin' Blues", and "Red River
> Clarence M. Jones' piano teacher, in turn, was Fannie Bloomfield
> Zeisler, the famous concert pianist.
> However, Jones was not the only influence on Blythe. Besides the
> obvious blues "tricks" picked up from presumably now-obscure and
> unrecorded early Chicago blues greats, Blythe learned a lot from the
> early piano rolls and recordings of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller,
> among others.
> There are several instances in his recordings or piano rolls where
> Blythe quotes, note-for-note, a previously-issued roll or recording
> by one of these two men. An example that springs to mind immediately
> is his 1925 recording "Jimmie Blues" where, in the second theme, he
> quotes James P. Johnson's second theme of his "Toddlin' Home - piano
> stomp" which Johnson had recorded in 1923, and was later published in
> And of course there are other examples. His tour-de-force
> recording, "Lovin's Been Here and Gone to the Mecca Flat" (a real
> honest-to-goodness stomp), quotes so many different things it is hard
> to name all of them, it is a virtual musical tour of early Chicago!
> Notable are "Yankee Doodle", "Funky Butt", and another folk theme
> which first appeared in print in Homer Denney's "Hot Cabbage Rag" in
> 1905 and was later quoted and re-used in dozens of other rags and
> Blythe's piano style is too complicated and has too many different
> facets to it for me to analyze right this minute. He was not the only
> person to play like this however. As well as his mentor Clarence M.
> Jones, Blythe's friend Clarence "Jelly" Johnson (1900-1933) also had
> a similar style, and was likewise influenced by James P. Johnson and
> Fats Waller, and may have even met them personally, unlike Blythe who
> apparently never left Chicago once he moved there.
> As to other pianists of the time who played like that, one might
> single out Robert Cline Tindull (sp?) AKA "Kline Tyndall"; Lemuel
> Fowler; Cassino Simpson (at least in the early years): and possibly
> Everett Robbins and others, although I personal consider Mr. Robbins
> to have a much funkier style.
> Anyway, I should post some videos of me doing those Blythe things up
> on Youtube since I haven't yet.
> In a nutshell, of modern-day pianists, Tom Brier can be compared to
> an early ragtimer, while Robbie Rhodes and Nathan Bello can be
> compared to Jimmy Blythe:
> --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Bob Eagle <prof_hi_jinx@> wrote:
> > Not guilty, your Honour.Â I said transformed, not improved.Â
> Blythe's approach is that of a ragtime player - Foster's of a
> barrelhouse performer (assuming he is the pianist).
> > Â
> > If I could play anything resembling the work of either man, I could
> die happy.
> > Â
> > The title is "Corn Trimmer Blues".
> > Â
> > Bob
> > --- On Thu, 17/7/08, rag1916 <rag1916@> wrote:
> > From: rag1916 <rag1916@>
> > Subject: [RedHotJazz] Will Ezell (was Re: Frank Melrose)
> > To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
> > Received: Thursday, 17 July, 2008, 9:35 AM
> > Dear Bob Eagle,
> > how can ANYONE improve upon "one of Jimmy Blythe's piano roll
> > (and you didn't say which one)? It doesn't seem possible! Who is
> > "Rudy Foster" character, and which tune are you referring to?
> > Bob, can YOU play piano like Jimmy Blythe?
> > -Andrew
> > --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com, Bob Eagle <prof_hi_jinx@ ...>
> > >
> > > now you've started on the slippery slope to Roosevelt Graves &
> > Brother (accompanied by Ezell), and the Mississippi Jook Band (sans
> > Ezell), not to mention Lee Green, Blind Leroy Garnett, and a host of
> > others. Rudy Foster transforms one of Jimmy Blythe's piano roll
> > pieces into another dimension. And so on, ad infinitum (or so it
> > >
> > > Bob
> > >
> > > spacelights <spacelights@ ...> wrote:
> > > --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com, Mordechai Litzman wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Can anybody direct me to other similar recordings by other
> > > in this rough and tumble barrelhouse style?
> > >
> > > I've been listening to "the Barrelhouse Man himself" Will Ezell's
> > > complete works on RST/Document (BDCD-6033). Haven't played this
> in a
> > > while, I'm enjoying it even more than I remember... Lots of
> > > variety--obscure singers Marie Bradley and Ora Brown are quite
> > > and Dave Nelson turns up on a Bertha Henderson date. Ezell's piano
> > > style remains distinctive in the "barrelhouse" realm on a number
> > > original solos. Of special interest is a 1929 band session in
> > > Richmond, Ind., with "Hot Spot Stuff" presenting some unalloyed
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Yahoo! Groups Links
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > ------------ --------- --------- ---
> > > Do you Yahoo!?
> > > Yahoo! Music: Check out the gig guide for live music in your area
> > >
> > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> > >
> > Start at the new Yahoo!7 for a better online experience.
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]