The Coon-Sanders Nighthawks

Everything Is Hotsy-Totsy Now

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While Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra was the authentic epicenter of hot jazz in K.C. during the 1920s and early '30s, a swell jazz-inflected dance band called the Coon-Sanders Novelty Orchestra started making records in 1921 and eventually became known through their live nocturnal radio broadcasts from Kansas City's Muehlbach Hotel as the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks. Moving to Chicago in 1924, the Nighthawks played the Congress Hotel, the Lincoln Tavern, and the Blackhawk Restaurant. Their previous broadcasting experience served them well as they secured regular performing slots on both WGN and NBC radio programs. This in turn led to a contract with the Victor record company. In 1996, Living Era released a chronologically organized overview of the Nighthawks' recorded works from 1924-1932. The pleasantly old-fashioned vocals are by pianist Joe L. Sanders, percussionist Carleton Coon, or both in duet performance. Their almost vaudevillian deliveries are fun, but the best all-purpose tracks are the instrumentals -- "Deep Henderson," "Hallucinations," and "The Wail." Every selection radiates a marvelous antiquated charm that can only be found on hot dance records from the early '20s. Of the tracks present here, 13 were recorded in Chicago, four in Camden, NJ, and five in the Nighthawks' home base of Kansas City, and for dessert there's a smart rendering of Fats Waller's "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now" recorded in New York City during one of the darkest years of the Great Depression, 1932. Only weeks after this record was made, Carleton Coon was felled by an apparent systemic blood infection arising from complications following oral surgery intended to remedy an abscessed tooth. Soon afterwards the Nighthawks dispersed and never recorded again.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:03
2 3:10
3 3:13
4 3:27
5 3:10
6 3:08
7 3:08
8 3:19
9 3:15
10 3:37
11 3:17
12 3:44
13 3:18
14
3:36
15 3:28
16 3:21
17 3:21
18 3:21
19 3:21
20 3:35
21 3:06
22 3:09
23 2:54
blue highlight denotes track pick