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Record Label Profiles

Retrieval Records: Treasures Lost and Found

By Published: October 13, 2010
The recordings on this fine collection are from late 1923 to early 1925. A.J. Piron's Orchestra recorded some of the earliest material featuring trumpeter Peter Bocage
Peter Bocage
b.1887
and drummer Louis Cottrell, and also feature the clarinet of Lorenzo Tio Jr. At age 7, Piron had a hip injury, which left him relatively immobile. It was due to this that Piron attained his savvy organizational and business abilities. He and Clarence Williams even had a joint publishing company that lasted from 1915-1918. A. J. Piron would wind up taking over the Olympia Brass Band in 1912, due to trumpeter Freddie Keppard
Freddie Keppard
Freddie Keppard
1890 - 1933
cornet
moving out west to join Bill Johnson
Bill Johnson
b.1912
. Piron was also a great judge of raw potential and ability. He replaced Keppard with a trumpeter named Joe Oliver, before he was lauded as Joseph "King" Oliver
Joseph
Joseph "King" Oliver
1885 - 1938
cornet
. In 1918, his group held residence at the St. Charles Hotel as well as Tranchina's Restaurant in New Orleans. In 1923, Piron's Orchestra was offered residency and recording contracts in New York City. This was for the OKeh Record Company through a connection with Clarence Williams. Peter Bocage has even commented on this time with Piron as saying he felt that this was the "prime" of his career. After their stint in New York, Piron and the band returned to Tranchina's in New Orleans until 1928. After 1928, Piron went on to lead bands on the S.S. Pelican and the S.S. Capitol. 1942 turned out to be a highlight in Piron's career. He was finally admitted membership to ASCAP on the strength of his best known composition, "Sister Kate," which is still a standard among traditional jazz groups.

Standout tracks: Ghost of the Blues; Bouncing Around; Bright Star Blues; West Indies Blues; New Orleans Wiggle; Mama's Gone Goodbye.

Harry Reser's Six Jumping Jacks

1926-1930

Harry Reser
Harry Reser
b.1896
were a fantastic musical group for their day. They were also known to provide comedy in their numbers. Harry Reser had tremendous technique and solid rhythm on the banjo. Whatever his reasons were, he placed great musicality side by side with comedy, and that was something that the "average joe" could understand and enjoy, and thus sold him and his group a lot of records. Consider Harry Reser and his group the Flight of the Conchords for their day.

Growing up, Reser had perfect pitch and started playing professionally at the age of 16 on piano (so he could be compared with Justin Bieber as well). The 1910s saw the banjo take flight in popularity. A young Harry Reser took up the tenor banjo due to its similarities to violin tuning. He then met Gus Haenschen, who was the manager of the records department of the newly formed Brunswick label. It was through Haenschen that Reser found plenty of work in New York as a studio musician playing with everyone from Ted Lewis
Ted Lewis
b.1892
to Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
1894 - 1937
vocalist
. This eventually landed Reser a job leading a radio band called the Clicquot Club Eskimos for Clicquot Club Ginger Ale. He maintained this job for 10 years, eventually going to NBC and Columbia. This group is important because the Six Jumping Jacks were actually various members of the Clicquot Club Eskimos.

One of the main featured soloists for the Jumping Jacks was Larry Abbott. Besides playing wonderful clarinet, alto saxophone, and "hot" kazoo solos, he apparently knew how to teleport from coast to coast (please save all "Hey Abbott" jokes until the end). Retrieval even suggests that if indeed there is only one Larry Abbott (and not just another reedman with the same name) then this guy needs to be seriously looked into. Abbott's work is documented to have started in the early 1920s when he was a member of Herb Wiedoeft's Cinderella Roof Orchestra in California. In May of 1928, Wiedoeft with a number of his band members (including Abbott) were driving from Klamath Falls to Medford, Oregon through vicious weather for a gig. Just outside of Pinehurst, the car swerved and wound up in a ditch. Abbott and Wiedoeft both had serious head injuries, with Wiedoeft also suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung. The circumstances were so bad that Wiedoeft caught pneumonia and died the following day. Four days later, Larry Abbott was named in the Brunswick files in New York as being one of the vocalists on Reser's "Etiquette Blues." This suggests that there are two different Abbotts, but no one knows for sure. Either way it is interesting.

Reser fell out of popularity during the Great Depression in America, only to return in the 1950s as part of the contemporary Dixieland Revival. After a short burst of popularity and work in the 1950s, Reser went to work for New York's Broadway pit orchestras in the 1960s, landing work with many shows including the premiere of Fiddler on the Roof.

Standout tracks: She's Got "It;" Etiquette Blues; I Wonder How I Look When I'm Asleep; She's Got Great Ideas.

The University Six

1925-1927


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