Joe Herlihy

Edison Hot Dance Obscurities, Vol. 3

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Although Thomas Alva Edison initially opposed the use of his phonograph recording technology for anything more "frivolous" than Opéra bouffe, by the late 1920s he was begrudgingly allowing jazz-inflected dance music to become available on his heavyweight platters. In 2006, as if to celebrate the sheer joy of pre-Depression hot dance music, the people behind the Jazz Oracle label gathered together 21 Edisons dating from the years 1927-1929. Tracks 1-11 are by pianist Joe Herlihy & His Orchestra, a lively organization under the direction of Joe Breck, numbering between nine and eleven players and probably including trombonist (and future loudmouth comedian) Jerry Colonna as well as trombonist Bill Rank, clarinetist Don Murray, banjoists Walter Herlihy or Howdy Quicksell, tuba handler Steve Brown, and drummer Chauncey Morehouse, in addition to a vocal trio that on the later sessions counted among its members Rudy Vallée. "Cornfed" and "State and Madison" are the most often reissued Herlihy titles, and justifiably so, because this band really knew how to get hot. If three takes of the "Gold Digger Stomp" seem excessive, count your blessings, humble yourself, and pretend that this is one cyclic, 12-minute jam, for many Edisons averaged four minutes in duration. The Piccadilly Players appear today as a somewhat more enigmatic act. Personnel information is quite scarce, and all we know is that the band operated under the direction of Mel Morris and possibly contained trumpeters Earl Baker and Irving Peskin as well as clarinet and sax man Jimmy Dorsey. Vocals are by Vaughn DeLeath, believed to have been the first woman ever to sing over live radio. This heartwarming anthology closes with four sides recorded at the beginning of October 1929 by Mal Hallett & His Orchestra, an 11-piece band that included valve trombonist Brad Gowans, and sax and clarinet man Toots Mondello. Hallett's portion of the entertainment resounds with the then-popular "Wang Wang Blues," something about "The Boomerang," and W.C. Handy's "Beale Street Blues."

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