Updated October 1998
All selections are in streaming Real Audio. To listen you will need the free Real Audio player. Click on the icon to download yours.
On The Title.
To listen to all 30 selections played in the order they appear, click here.
To listen to selections 1-15 played in the order they appear, click here.
To listen to selections 15-30 played in the order they appear, click here.
Clarence Williams and His Jazz Kings 1929
Not only was Williams a bandleader, he was also a noted pianist, song writer, music publisher and served as business manager for other black entertainers. From 1923 to 1928, he was also the artist and repertoire director of Okeh Records. This particular record is quite rare.
Lucky Strike Presents: I Love To Whistle(Audio file updated 10/5/03)
Kay Kyser & His Orchestra; Sully Mason, vocal 1938
This is from a short radio broadcast sponsored by the makers of Lucky Strike Cigarettes. More so than the music, what I think is most interesting about this selection is the testimonial Mason gives afterwards about how good the cigarettes are for one's throat! Not a claim that is likely to be heard today. In fact, this broadcast would actually be illegal today as cigarette ads have been banned from radio since the 1970s.
I Know Why(Audio file updated 10/5/03)
Roy Collins' Dance Orchestra 1927
This is another example of a song that I cannot decide whether it is happy or sad. It is extremely upbeat and cheerful but, at the same time, has a certain haunting quality. My understanding is that the Roy Collins Dance Orchestra was a recording pseudonym used by the Nathan Glantz and Joseph Samuels bands - and perhaps some others. The use of such pseudonyms was extremely common in the '20s and '30s.
Left My Gal In The Mountains(Audio file updated 10/5/03)
Gene Kardos and his Orchestra 1933
The words on this one are thoroughly depressing and dismal - but the band is upbeat and "hot." I especially enjoy the musical "duel" near the end. This selection is from the Electradisk record pictured at the top of the page. Electradisk was a low-priced label produced by RCA from 1932-1934. Today Electradisk records are rather hard to find.
Something To Remember You By(Audio file updated 10/5/03)
Sam Lanin's Dance Ensemble; Paul Small, vocal 1931
This one is from a cardboard Hit Of The Week Record. The inexpensive one-sided records were sold through newsstands in an ill-fated attempt to induce a Depression strapped public to once again buy records. I think this is a very beautiful song that would make an excellent closing theme.
Top Hat(Audio file updated 10/07/03)
Ray Noble and His Orchestra;
Al Bowlly and The Freshmen, vocals 1935
This song is usually associated with Fred Astaire, but I like this version better. Noble was an extremely successful British bandleader who moved to the USA where his success continued. Noble was also popular on network radio - during the 1940s he was part of the cast of "The Burns and Allen Show" (one of Dismuke's favorites, by the way) as well as "The Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy Show." Bowlly was England's most popular male vocalist in the 1930s. He was killed in a London air raid during the Blitz. Someone once told me that the cause of death was fright and not injuries sustained as a result of the bomb blast - and that is what I originally noted here. A visitor to the site, however, has provided me with evidence to the contrary. Bowlly was asleep in bed when the bomb struck his apartment building.
I've Got You On My Mind(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Leo Reisman and His Orchestra; Fred Astaire, vocal 1932
Speaking of Fred Astaire, here's a recording he made before he achieved the film success he is today remembered for. At the time of the recording, Astaire was already a star of the musical stage. A year later, however, when he made his first screen test, Hollywood was not so impressed. The response: "Can't act. Can't sing. Can dance a little." He sure showed them, didn't he?
Sunday(Audio file updated 10/07/03)
Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
The Keller Sisters and Lynch, vocals 1926
You couldn't ask for a more stereotypical 1920's selection than this. It's got everything: jazz, flappers, a ukulele solo and even some "vo-do-do-de-do!"
Sweet Georgia Brown(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Isham Jones' Orchestra; Bing Crosby, vocal 1932
While Jones was active as a bandleader from 1919 until after World War II, I think his recordings from the early '30s were his best. Unfortunately, they are the ones I have the hardest time finding. This one is nice and jazzy - as is Crosby's vocal.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra 1937
Here is a tune that is still around and occasionally performed - and deservedly so. Over the years, this song has been recorded in a wide variety of styles. I think this particular version deserves to be considered a classic in its own right.
Wrappin' It Up(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra 1934
Fletcher Henderson was one of the major influences behind what is now known as "swing music." Unfortunately for him, he shared little in its financial success. The year after this was recorded, Henderson was forced to disband and go to work as an arranger for Benny Goodman. It was on the strength of Fletcher Henderson arrangements that Goodman caught the nation's attention and became known as the "King of Swing."
Take It Easy(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Orville Knapp and His Orchestra; Edith Caldwell, vocal 1935
Knapp was the brother of movie star Evelyn Knapp. His band, though definitely on the "sweet" side, featured an interesting style and some rather unusual musical effects. It was rapidly on its way to national fame when Knapp was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1936. His theme song "Accent On Youth" is an incredibly beautiful recording and is near the top of my want list. As soon as I can locate a copy, I will feature it here.
Where The Shy Little Violets Grow(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Campus Boys; Ralph Haines, vocal 1928
Don't be misled by the song's hokey title; this is a really snappy number. None of my reference material has any information as to which band the "Campus Boys" was a pseudonym for. To venture a guess, I would say that this recording sounds a lot like one of Harry Reser's. Perhaps one of the visitors to this site will be able to confirm this one way or another.
Rhumbola(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Abe Lyman and His California Orchestra 1935
I enjoy a lot of the Latin American styled recordings from the 1930s and will occasionally feature some. Lyman's was a mainstream band and not primarily Latin, though he is credited as the composer of this tune.
Old Playmate(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Ted Lewis and His Band; Ted Lewis, vocal 1931
Billed as "The High Hat Tragedian of Song" Ted Lewis fronted an organization that was as much a vaudeville act as it was a dance band. Though the critics usually trash Lewis as "corny" I consider myself a fan. His band was often quite jazzy and employed several musicians who would later be considered as "greats."
Jungle Fever(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra 1934
This band, which enjoyed continual popularity throughout the '30s and 40's, recorded both "hot" and "sweet" numbers. This selection is typical of their early '30s jazz recordings. The Casa Loma's jazz efforts had a unique stiff, staccato style.
I'm An Old Cowhand(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Charlie Barnett and His Glen Island Casino Orchestra 1936
We Can't Use Each Other Any More(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Lew Bray, vocal
Sunny Clapp & His Band O' Sunshine 1929
This is the only Lew Bray record that I presently have. I don't know anything about him other than the fact that he was from Texas and did not make very many records. Too bad because, if this selection is any indication, he had a nice style. I really like the band that plays in the background on this. One would think, however, that they could have come up with a better name for themselves! I sure hope that Sunny Clapp was the leader's real name as I can not imagine why anyone would choose it! Then again, with a name like Dismuke, who am I to talk!
If I Could Be With You(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Hotel Pennsylvania Music; Billy Coty, vocal 1930
This group appeared on the different Columbia subsidiary labels. I assume that the name refers to New York's famous Hotel Pennsylvania - the largest in the world in its day - whose phone number Glenn Miller would immortalize a decade later.
The Lonesome Road(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra 1931
This is an unusual recording to say the least! Nevertheless, the band - and, of course, Armstrong's playing - is great. The comedy routine has its moments as well.
Shine(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Ella Fitzgerald and Her Savoy Eight 1936
Send For Me(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Fred Rich and His Orchestra 1930
Mixed Salad(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
The New Orleans Bootblacks 1926
This is an extremely rare recording. The band was run by Louis Armstrong's wife, Lil.
Keep A Song In Your Soul(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra 1930
London Rhythm(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Mills Brothers, vocal 1936
Recently, I acquired several 1930s Mills Brothers records and am starting to develop an appreciation for them. One novel feature of their recordings from this period is the fact that they used their voices to mimic the sounds of musical instruments. In fact, the label for this record sub-titles the group's name as "Four Boys and a Guitar" and emphasizes "No Musical Instrument or mechanical devices used on this recording other than one Guitar." (capitalization Decca Records' - not mine) An additional interesting fact is this recording was actually made in the song title's city when the group was on a trip to England.
On The Sunny Side Of The Street(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra 1937
I'm Needing You(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Ben Hammond and His Orchestra 1937
This is from an old Crown Record - a 9 inch disc (as opposed to the more standard 10 inch ones) that was manufactured for and sold through F.W. Woolworth Company's British stores. As my knowledge about the British bands is still rather limited, I have no information on this group - but this particular recording has a nice "big band" style.
What Do We Do On A Dew-Dew-Dewy Day(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Nat Shilkret and The Victor Orchestra; Johnny Marvin, vocal 1927
Here is another upbeat "Roaring Twenties" selection. Johnny Marvin was a very popular vocalist in the '20s . On a 1928 trip to London, Marvin became friends with the Prince of Wales and reportedly taught the prince how to play the ukulele. I have a whole bunch of his records and I'm sure I will eventually get around to including some more.
Following The Sun Around(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Carl Fenton's Orchestra 1927
This song is from the Ziegfeld Production "Rio Rita." The really catchy tune you hear after the vocal chorus is another song from the same show called "The Kinkajou."
Butch The Beach Boy(Audio file updated 10/12/03)
Frankie Masters and His Orchestra 1939
This is a novelty tune about a Hollywood success story gone bust.
Featuring: Clarence Williams , Benny Goodman, Leo Reisman, Ted Weems, Smith Ballew, "Fats"
Waller, Joe Venuti, Xavier Cugat, Bunny Berigan, and more
Originally Posted April 1998
Volume I Originally Posted March 1998 14 Recordings