Emil Stark

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The history of the cello in jazz is not exactly illustrious, summarized best by a nightclub booker who wasn't even sure what the instrument was: "What do y'all want with an oboe instead of a bass?" Emil…
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The history of the cello in jazz is not exactly illustrious, summarized best by a nightclub booker who wasn't even sure what the instrument was: "What do y'all want with an oboe instead of a bass?" Emil Stark might be one of the first cellists to record on a record considered to be jazz with several takes of "Lover Come Back to Me" cut in 1929 by an expanded outfit credited as the Dorsey Brothers Concert Orchestra. Thus Stark and his cello were there not as an attempt to liberate the instrument from the non-swinging orchestral context but rather an effort to snazz up the popular Dorsey Brothers with classical backing. Stark was the lone cellist in an ensemble lineup that also included a quartet of violinists plus an actual oboe and a bassoon. Jazz discographers may have actually been too unfamiliar with these instruments to do their jobs properly, thus creating a mistake that often shows up where a credit for Stark is parked. The common discography abbreviation for cello is "vc," based on the instrument's full name, violoncello. That is, in turn, confused with "vocal," not to mention "Viet Cong." The actual discography term for vocal is just plain "v" and the real vocalist on "Lover Come Back to Me" is Smith Ballew. No doubt Stark was a busy orchestral freelancer of his era, but these players did not often receive credits; the Dorsey Brothers recording, Volume Two (Timeless) is the lone recording he is on that has acquired historical interest.