Finzel's Arcadia Orchestra of Detroit

Biography by

It is a good thing for discographers that Finzel's Arcadia Orchestra of Detroit added the name of their hometown to the recording session credits for the Okeh label in the early '20s. As it stands, the…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

It is a good thing for discographers that Finzel's Arcadia Orchestra of Detroit added the name of their hometown to the recording session credits for the Okeh label in the early '20s. As it stands, the scholars who peruse such antique recordings still can't agree on which music-crazy town Okeh field recording engineers were in when the dance band of trumpeter William Finzel got in front of their microphones: some say Chicago, some say St. Louis. The band, more often known simply as Finzel's Arcadia Orchestra, was indeed from Detroit and was associated with that city's Arcadia Ballroom. Finzel's band, the membership of which is at least partially a mystery, played regularly at that popular dance venue between 1923 and 1925.

The Finzel outfit was one of many similar large bands during this era that were pressed into service creating competing recorded versions of whatever new songs were popular. One of the earliest appearances of a group credited as Finzel's Arcadia Orchestra of Detroit on disc was in 1921, doing a song titled "I'm on My Way to New Orleans" that had already been a smash for artists such as Jimmy Durante and Sugarfoot Gaffney. As was typical music business practice in those days, Finzel's recording of the song was created with the Detroit market in mind, while a similar arrangement cut by one of bandleader's Rudy Wiedoeft's outfits was stocked in St. Louis shops. A raucous version of "The Animal Fair" featuring great sound effects is the most illustrious Finzel recording, followed closely by "I'm Going to Wander (Back Over Yonder)." Finzel sidemen who have been identified include soprano and alto saxophonist Louis Gambel, pianist Justin Ring, and vocalist Billy Jones.