This intriguing set contains 24 recordings from the year 1922, a year marking the near-end of a transitional period. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band had introduced jazz on recordings five years earlier, but it was not until 1923 that most of the great black pioneer jazzmen had an opportunity to be recorded. This collection of dance music, novelties, and period vocals, often has the slight influence of jazz, even if none of the performances really cut loose. The Paul Whiteman Orchestra appears four times; "Three O'Clock In The Morning" and "Hot Lips" feature cornetist Henry Busse, and became hits, although Isham Jones and His Orchestra (heard twice) is actually hotter. Also featured are singers Fanny Brice, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Ada Jones, the underrated Marion Harris, Vernon Dalhart, Isabella Patricola, Henry Burr (with a sentimental rendition of "My Buddy"), and Vaughn DeLeath. All have their charm, with only "Song Of Love" (from Lucy Isabelle Marsh and Royal Dadmun) being difficult to sit through. The team of Ed Gallagher and Al Shean is also featured, along with the duo of Ernest Hare and Billy Jones (doing a tribute to Gallagher and Shean), while the Club Royal Orchestra performs "The Sheik." In addition, there are groups singing from the Peerless Quartet and the American Quartet. Missing are any of the classic blues singers, like Alberta Hunter and Ethel Waters, and the best jazz group on records at the time, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. This CD remains valuable, however, and gives listeners a good sampling of what the average American was listening to on records in 1922, before the jazz age became much jazzier.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow