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Re: Race records

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  • jtdyamond
    ... The answer is a simple one: Johnny Dodds was a respectable man of fastidious personal habits. His outlook on life was careful and thrifty. He had invested
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 30, 2009
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      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Mordechai Litzman <folke613@...> wrote:
      >
      > Race Records
      > After reading all the interesting posts a thought occurred to me: According to many of the accounts cited, musicians like Dodds played for white audiences in the 20's on Chicago's south side, but the records that we all cherish were made mainly for a black audience and issued as race records. Is what we hear a version of Dodds' artistry geared to a black audience, in contrast to perhaps a different style performing for white audiences?
      >
      > The following article sheds some light on the magnitude of the race records business:
      >
      > Primarily excerpted from Jazz: A History of America's Music with contributions by Loren Schoenberg, Saxophonist and Conductor
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Okeh Race Records
      > Image courtesy of Frank Driggs Collection
      >
      > After the Victor Talking Machine Company introduced the Victrola � one
      > of the first phonographs � in 1901, the recording industry became big
      > business. But, before 1915, no one had thought of recording jazz. Then,
      > that December, a spokesman from the Victor Talking Machine Company
      > approached Creole trumpeter Freddie Keppard and his Original Creole
      > Orchestra about recording their music. But first, he explained, they
      > would have to hold a try out to see if the firm's primitive recording
      > device could pick up the sound of the band's bass player. Keppard
      > turned them down, insulted that the spokesman was asking them to
      > audition without pay. His clarinetist George Baquet recalled him
      > saying, "Nothing doing, boys. We won't put our stuff on records for
      > everybody to steal." Within two years, the all-white Original Dixieland
      > Jazz Band would sell over a million copies of their version of New
      > Orleans jazz � outselling best-selling artists such as tenor Enrico
      > Caruso and the composer/bandleader John Phillip Sousa.
      > By the 1920s, records were big business. Despite the popularity of
      > African-American bands and musicians, record producers felt that white
      > audiences would be more inclined to buy jazz recordings made by white
      > musicians. Other specialty record labels, offering recordings aimed at
      > a particular audience, began when record companies discovered an
      > untapped market in new immigrants yearning for the sounds of home.
      > Special catalogs of ethnic records included both re-pressed recordings
      > from Europe, and new recordings by American immigrant artists marketed
      > directly to various ethnic (Polish, Jewish, Italian, Irish)
      > communities, where they sold prodigiously. While many of these
      > performances traffic in stereotypes that make them difficult to listen
      > to today, the term race, in this context, was not used or understood as
      > a pejorative at the time.
      >
      > Victor Race Records
      > Image courtesy of Institute of Jazz Studies
      >
      > During the Great Migration � the northern exodus of southern blacks
      > that began in 1917 � approximately 1.5 million African-Americans left
      > the South in search of a better life in the economically thriving
      > North. Record companies such as Okeh, Paramount, Vocalion, and Columbia
      > soon began to market special labels of "race records" � music by and
      > for an African-American audience, especially recent migrants longing
      > for Southern sounds. Blues singer Bessie Smith's 1923 recording of Down Hearted Blues was Columbia Records first popular hit and race record. This new genre
      > of recordings allowed many African Americans artists to reach a
      > national audience for the first time. "There's 14 million Negroes in
      > our great country and they will buy records if recorded by one of their
      > own," said the pioneering black record producer Perry Bradford in 1920,
      > "because we are the only folks that can sing and interpret hot jazz
      > songs just off the griddle."
      > Harry Pace established the first black owned record company, called
      > Black Swan, whose pointedly ironic slogan was "The Only Genuine Colored
      > Records � Others Are Only Passing for Colored." Sales of race records
      > soon reached five million copies a year.
      > A large segment of race records were marketed directly to an
      > African-American audience, and soon became part of the black
      > community's culture. The Chicago Defender encouraged "lovers of
      > music everywhere and those who desire to help in the advance of the
      > Race" to purchase these records. Listening to and enjoying these
      > recordings not only unified the listener with the artist, but also with
      > African-Americans in other communities across the country, giving them
      > a voice and a place within the chaos of urban life. Newsboys sold blues
      > records. So did door-to-door salesmen. Pullman porters carried copies
      > south with them and peddled them at whistlestops. The records that
      > singer Bessie Smith and her rivals made were a sensation in black
      > communities all over the country. Smith sold so many records, got so
      > famous that she was cast in an early sound film � one of the first to
      > feature black performers.
      >
      > Child playing phonograph
      > Image courtesy of Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
      >
      > Soon, these race records intended for the African-American community
      > went on to expand beyond just jazz and blues. Record companies were
      > eager to increase their markets, and even developed some non-musical
      > recordings, including recorded sermons, gospel music, spirituals and
      > comedy routines.
      > Eventually, white record producers recognized the appeal of
      > African-American bands and made a deliberate attempt to market them to
      > white audiences. But the chronic idiocies of race among the men who ran
      > the recording industry decided what music was appropriate for each
      > audience. Sweet and sentimental tunes should remain the dominion of
      > white bands, while black orchestras had better stick with the blues and
      > stomp numbers that supposedly came to them "naturally" and would be the
      > kind of race records African-Americans would want to buy.
      > The booming record industry nearly collapsed with the onset of the Great Depression,
      > when the Stock Market Crash of 1929 brought the so-called Jazz Age to
      > an end. After selling more than 100 million records a year in the
      > mid-1920s, record company sales dropped to six million. Okeh, Gennett
      > and Paramount Records all when out of business.
      >
      >
      >
      > ________________________________
      > From: David Brown <johnhaleysims@...>
      > To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2009 5:00:00 AM
      > Subject: RE: [RedHotJazz] Re: The Anxiety of Influence was The Influence of Anxiety
      >
      >
      > 'Kelly's was packed every night. There were special nights, one for
      > theatrical entertainers and another for the college crowd. The band played
      > for dancing and backed the Club's singing waiters. They played pop music
      > with a jazz twist but hardly ever blues for the strictly white
      > tronage.' --- Baby Dodds Story
      >
      > From Kelly's, Dodds moved to the K-Nine from 1931-34 --- 'for floor shows
      > and dancing. Mostly they played for white audiences and had to know the
      > latest pop tunes --- classics like Faust and the Hungarian Rhapsodies.'
      >
      > Thereafter jobs got scarcer and meaner, like The New Stables, an amusement
      > park, where the band played for floor shows and dancing. Eventually Dodds
      > was playing alone at the One Cent Club where Bill Russell found him.
      >
      > So Dodds was playing a wide repertoire in the 30s without any blues bias,
      > probably even with an anti-blues bias. I don't know whether this was
      > freedom.
      >
      > I also don't know whether a black audience would have demanded more blues
      > but I suspect so. There was a large market in Chicago for the proto-urban
      > blues of Broonzy et al. Odell Rand and Arnett Nelson worked in this milieu
      > but Dodds never did. I wonder why.
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      The answer is a simple one: Johnny Dodds was a respectable man of fastidious personal habits. His outlook on life was careful and thrifty. He had invested the money he made from the boom times of the 1920s wisely. He owned an apartment building and was involved with his brothers in running a taxi company. He had no need in the Depression years of playing music for kitty contributions in sleazy non-union bars. Like many others, in middle age he drifted out of music, earning his living by more regular means. Nelson on the other hand was a spendthrift who liked his liquor and enjoyed the company of less reputable individuals.
    • David Brown
      What was the question ? We have seen how Dodds struggled for work in the 30s and the humiliation he sustained as a result, including the super sleazy One Cent
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 31, 2009
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        What was the question ? We have seen how Dodds struggled for work in the 30s
        and the humiliation he sustained as a result, including the super sleazy
        'One Cent Club'. Fred Ramsey describes in 1938 'Dodds' old clarinet was
        falling apart at the joints and much of the time instead of playing he kept
        lighting matches under it to swell the cork gasketting.' ( Klatzko) This
        does not sound as if Dodds had achieved any degree of financial security let
        alone affluence.

        Dave



        -----Original Message-----
        From: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com [mailto:RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com]On
        Behalf Of jtdyamond
        Sent: Montag, 30. März 2009 13:56
        To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: Race records


        The answer is a simple one: Johnny Dodds was a respectable man of fastidious
        personal habits. His outlook on life was careful and thrifty. He had
        invested the money he made from the boom times of the 1920s wisely. He owned
        an apartment building and was involved with his brothers in running a taxi
        company. He had no need in the Depression years of playing music for kitty
        contributions in sleazy non-union bars. Like many others, in middle age he
        drifted out of music, earning his living by more regular means. Nelson on
        the other hand was a spendthrift who liked his liquor and enjoyed the
        company of less reputable individuals.




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • fearfeasa
        What was the question? On Thursday, February 19, 2009 David Brown ... milieu ... Maybe that s not expressed as a question, but I was providing a possible
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 31, 2009
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          "What was the question?" On Thursday, February 19, 2009 David Brown
          wrote in this thread:

          >There was a large market in Chicago for the proto-urban
          > blues of Broonzy et al. Odell Rand and Arnett Nelson worked in this
          milieu
          > but Dodds never did. /I wonder why. /[My emphasis]

          Maybe that's not expressed as a question, but I was providing a possible
          solution to the source of your wonderment, David. Everybody struggled
          for work in the 1930s; most suffered humiliation as a result, Music in
          the 1920s had been Dodds' sole occupation. Fortunately for him, he was
          thrifty and got himself not one but two sources of income outside music.
          I certainly did not say he was affluent, nor even that he "had achieved
          any degree of finanial security". His apartment building, in which he
          lived himself, would have provided some income from the flats that were
          rented out (probably no more than two of them), as long as the tenants
          could pay their rent; his taxi would have provided other income,
          provided he could maintain it and get enough customers for a small
          profit. His music - what there was of it - would have occupied him on a
          part-time basis for one. maybe two nights a week, provided he could get
          the rate for the job.

          This report of his lighting matches under his clarinet "to swell the
          cork gasketting" is interesting, but confusing. I suspect that Fred
          Ramsey was not himself a clarinettist. I have a 1930 Selmer clarinet in
          good working order. I've maintained it myself for 30 years, because I
          can't see the point of wasting good money paying someone to do a job I
          can do myself, usually better. Personal pride and thrift born of
          necessity taught me all the tricks of maintaining an ageing instrument
          in playable condition. You can bet that Dodds did the same, through a
          mixture of pride, thrift and, by the mid 1930s, financial necessity.

          I don't know precisely what Ramsey meany by "cork gasketting."
          Certainly Dodds would not have applied a match to the cork seals in the
          joints of his instrument. Cork is inflammable - such a procedure would
          have only acerbated the situation. A temporary measure (how long is
          "temporary"?) would have been to wrap strips of paper around the tenon
          of the leaking joint.

          Except possibly for the pad on the register key (which is only very
          rarely made of cork. and then only on cheap instruments - and Dodds
          played a Selmer himself, judging by the available photographs), all the
          pads on Dodds' clarinet would have been covered with leather - probably
          kid. Oldtime New Orleans clarinettists used to make their own
          replacement pads, cutting the covering from from old kid gloves. Dodds'
          teacher, or older clarinettists no doubt taught him how to do this.

          The pads were (and still are on my instrument) held in their seats by a
          resinous adhesive. I have often, on a job, applied a lighted match to
          the outer side of the metal cup to loosen the pad in order to reseat it
          if I thought it was leaking, and to dry out the pad temproarily. If the
          pad is taking in water, blotting-, news- or lavatory-paper can be good
          to soak up some of the moisture, too. If a spring goes, use a rubber
          band. These are all run-of-the-mill temporary measures that any
          clarinettist worth his salt will apply until he gets a chance to do a
          proper maintenance job. No big deal. Perhaps Ramsey's report smacks of
          white middle-class romanticism?

          Another reason why Dodds didn't work with Broonzy /et al./ is the simple
          one that perhaps they weren' t the crowd he hung out with. Who got him
          the job in the 'One Cent Club'? Was the owner/manager a friend of his?
          Or was it just his way of keeping in practice during a period when he
          was scuffling for a living in areas of employment outside music and
          didn't have time nor energy to do all the depressing doorknocking and
          throw all the tiresome sales pitches required to make money out of his
          music? Did Ramsey or any of his mates organise a real music job for
          Dodds at union scale?

          David Brown wrote:
          >
          > What was the question ? We have seen how Dodds struggled for work in
          > the 30s
          > and the humiliation he sustained as a result, including the super sleazy
          > 'One Cent Club'. Fred Ramsey describes in 1938 'Dodds' old clarinet was
          > falling apart at the joints and much of the time instead of playing he
          > kept
          > lighting matches under it to swell the cork gasketting.' ( Klatzko) This
          > does not sound as if Dodds had achieved any degree of financial
          > security let
          > alone affluence.
          >
          > Dave
          >
          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com
          > <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> [mailto:RedHotJazz@yahoogro
          > ups.com <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com>]On
          > Behalf Of jtdyamond
          > Sent: Montag, 30. März 2009 13:56
          > To: RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com>
          > Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: Race records
          >
          > The answer is a simple one: Johnny Dodds was a respectable man of
          > fastidious
          > personal habits. His outlook on life was careful and thrifty. He had
          > invested the money he made from the boom times of the 1920s wisely. He
          > owned
          > an apartment building and was involved with his brothers in running a taxi
          > company. He had no need in the Depression years of playing music for kitty
          > contributions in sleazy non-union bars. Like many others, in middle age he
          > drifted out of music, earning his living by more regular means. Nelson on
          > the other hand was a spendthrift who liked his liquor and enjoyed the
          > company of less reputable individuals.
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Dan Van Landingham
          When I taught myself clarinet,I ultimately,learned how to repair them.I took this several steps further when I started to play sax as well as trumpet and
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 1, 2009
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            When I taught myself clarinet,I ultimately,learned how to repair them.I took this several steps further when I started to play sax as well as trumpet and trombone.I could not af-
            ford to take my horns into the shop so I learned how to repair them what I hung around
            a couple of musicians who did repair for a living.As for the corks,I would like to know what
            using a lighter to cause the pads to swell.I've heard of such a thing.I used a match along
            with an alcohol lamp to loosen the pad or pads to replace them.I've been guided by the need to do my own work out of financial reasons.What I never got into was how to repair a
            badly mangled bell of either trombone or trumpet.I used an old drumstick to take creases
            in the bell or to remove dents that were nearer to the bell.I didn't know that kidskin was
            used on clarinet.Every clarinet I've ever owned had a thin membranous fiber that was
            clear.The pad itself was a white felt like wafer.That,of course,held true with flutes as well
            as those of the double reed instruments such as the oboe and bassoon.I also learned,on
            my own,to do my own repair work on both violin and guitar as I play those instruments as
            well.Some of it wasn't "kosher" as I had to use carpenter's glue rather than animal hide
            glue which I can't get here as this area is a bit out of the way from the large cities such as
            Portland,Oregon or San Francisco.At any rate,that's how I do it.Call it doing what I do as
            "Necessity being the Mother of Invention".

            --- On Tue, 3/31/09, fearfeasa <fearfeasa@...> wrote:

            From: fearfeasa <fearfeasa@...>
            Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: Race records
            To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 8:43 AM






            "What was the question?" On Thursday, February 19, 2009 David Brown
            wrote in this thread:

            >There was a large market in Chicago for the proto-urban
            > blues of Broonzy et al. Odell Rand and Arnett Nelson worked in this
            milieu
            > but Dodds never did. /I wonder why. /[My emphasis]

            Maybe that's not expressed as a question, but I was providing a possible
            solution to the source of your wonderment, David. Everybody struggled
            for work in the 1930s; most suffered humiliation as a result, Music in
            the 1920s had been Dodds' sole occupation. Fortunately for him, he was
            thrifty and got himself not one but two sources of income outside music.
            I certainly did not say he was affluent, nor even that he "had achieved
            any degree of finanial security". His apartment building, in which he
            lived himself, would have provided some income from the flats that were
            rented out (probably no more than two of them), as long as the tenants
            could pay their rent; his taxi would have provided other income,
            provided he could maintain it and get enough customers for a small
            profit. His music - what there was of it - would have occupied him on a
            part-time basis for one. maybe two nights a week, provided he could get
            the rate for the job.

            This report of his lighting matches under his clarinet "to swell the
            cork gasketting" is interesting, but confusing. I suspect that Fred
            Ramsey was not himself a clarinettist. I have a 1930 Selmer clarinet in
            good working order. I've maintained it myself for 30 years, because I
            can't see the point of wasting good money paying someone to do a job I
            can do myself, usually better. Personal pride and thrift born of
            necessity taught me all the tricks of maintaining an ageing instrument
            in playable condition. You can bet that Dodds did the same, through a
            mixture of pride, thrift and, by the mid 1930s, financial necessity.

            I don't know precisely what Ramsey meany by "cork gasketting."
            Certainly Dodds would not have applied a match to the cork seals in the
            joints of his instrument. Cork is inflammable - such a procedure would
            have only acerbated the situation. A temporary measure (how long is
            "temporary"? ) would have been to wrap strips of paper around the tenon
            of the leaking joint.

            Except possibly for the pad on the register key (which is only very
            rarely made of cork. and then only on cheap instruments - and Dodds
            played a Selmer himself, judging by the available photographs) , all the
            pads on Dodds' clarinet would have been covered with leather - probably
            kid. Oldtime New Orleans clarinettists used to make their own
            replacement pads, cutting the covering from from old kid gloves. Dodds'
            teacher, or older clarinettists no doubt taught him how to do this.

            The pads were (and still are on my instrument) held in their seats by a
            resinous adhesive. I have often, on a job, applied a lighted match to
            the outer side of the metal cup to loosen the pad in order to reseat it
            if I thought it was leaking, and to dry out the pad temproarily. If the
            pad is taking in water, blotting-, news- or lavatory-paper can be good
            to soak up some of the moisture, too. If a spring goes, use a rubber
            band. These are all run-of-the-mill temporary measures that any
            clarinettist worth his salt will apply until he gets a chance to do a
            proper maintenance job. No big deal. Perhaps Ramsey's report smacks of
            white middle-class romanticism?

            Another reason why Dodds didn't work with Broonzy /et al./ is the simple
            one that perhaps they weren' t the crowd he hung out with. Who got him
            the job in the 'One Cent Club'? Was the owner/manager a friend of his?
            Or was it just his way of keeping in practice during a period when he
            was scuffling for a living in areas of employment outside music and
            didn't have time nor energy to do all the depressing doorknocking and
            throw all the tiresome sales pitches required to make money out of his
            music? Did Ramsey or any of his mates organise a real music job for
            Dodds at union scale?

            David Brown wrote:
            >
            > What was the question ? We have seen how Dodds struggled for work in
            > the 30s
            > and the humiliation he sustained as a result, including the super sleazy
            > 'One Cent Club'. Fred Ramsey describes in 1938 'Dodds' old clarinet was
            > falling apart at the joints and much of the time instead of playing he
            > kept
            > lighting matches under it to swell the cork gasketting.' ( Klatzko) This
            > does not sound as if Dodds had achieved any degree of financial
            > security let
            > alone affluence.
            >
            > Dave
            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com
            > <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com> [mailto:RedHotJazz@ yahoogro
            > ups.com <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com>]On
            > Behalf Of jtdyamond
            > Sent: Montag, 30. März 2009 13:56
            > To: RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com>
            > Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: Race records
            >
            > The answer is a simple one: Johnny Dodds was a respectable man of
            > fastidious
            > personal habits. His outlook on life was careful and thrifty. He had
            > invested the money he made from the boom times of the 1920s wisely. He
            > owned
            > an apartment building and was involved with his brothers in running a taxi
            > company. He had no need in the Depression years of playing music for kitty
            > contributions in sleazy non-union bars. Like many others, in middle age he
            > drifted out of music, earning his living by more regular means. Nelson on
            > the other hand was a spendthrift who liked his liquor and enjoyed the
            > company of less reputable individuals.
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



















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