Portsmouth music scene



IN THE year before the birth of the Melody Maker, there were two significant events. 1925 saw the arrival in Britain from America of a new dance craze, the Charleston. It was also the year when the first electrical gramophone recordings were made.
These two factors marked the beginning of an era of revolutionary change and development in popular music. Through decades of war and peace, prosperity and depression, music has reflected public moods, fads, fears and fashions. And since 1926 the Melody Maker has charted the changes, a reflecting and magnifying mirror of an artistic and technological phenomenon.
The Charleston, like its predecessor, the Cakewalk, was one of a succession of tidal waves of black American music that swept across the Atlantic, to be accepted and absorbed by the masses in Europe and all around the world.
It heightened the interest in dancing which marked the breakdown of social barriers in the wake of World War One. It coincided with an awareness of "hot music," the jazz rapidly emerging from the melting pot of New Orleans in America's Deep South.
And the growth of the phonograph, the American invention called a gramophone in Britain, brought hot dance music to the masses long before the development of radio. The people of the world were hungry for entertainment as they coped with the adventures and uncertainties of post-war life.
America was the fountainhead, the well-spring of so many innovations and so much talent that for years Britain could only sink beneath its weight, seduced, charmed and, at times, outraged.
Dance crazes, dance bands, hot jazz, records, movies, hit songs, hit musicals, all came in a flood that BBC Television once called in a memorable documentary, The Friendly Invasion.
In Britain there was musichall, the remnants of a Victorian tradition; the theatre; and good songwriters and musicians, too.
But above all there were enthusiasts and fans. It was this kind of dedication that formed much of the backbone of the Melody Maker's success as the world's first music weekly newspaper.
The writers and contributors throughout the decades have been men and wo- men who believed in the intrinsic value of popular music, and the work of musicians, in whatever form it took, from the hot jazz and syncopated music of the Twenties, through the swing era, modern jazz to. the age of rock.
And the readers were those who took an enthusiastic interest in all aspects of this deluge of inspiration and sheer entertainment that came from an America brimming with the new-found confidence and excitement of the youngest and richest nation oh earth.
In the Twenties, women's skirts rose above the ankle to the knee for the first time.
Couples could dance together in public embrace, and the frenzy of black syncopated music seemed an open incitement to fling off the yoke of social repression.
Unconsciously repressed whites found it as much a panacea as more consciously suppressed black people.
The jazz boom of the Twenties was not without its critics and would - be oppressors.
Fans of rock and roll who are used to hearing their music abused would be amused by the lyrics of a Noel Coward song "Teach Me To Dance Like Grandma" from a C. B. Cochran revue This Year of Grace, which said: I'm getting tired of jazz tunes; Monotonous, they've got'n us crazy now, Though they're amusing as tunes, Music has gone somehow.
Noel Coward's attitude to jazz was expressed in the refrain: I refuse to dance blues; Black Bottoms, Charlestons What wind blew them in? Monkeys do them in zoos.
(Words reprinted by kind permission of Chappell and Co. Ltd. and the Noel Coward Estate).
Serious music critics were vitriolic in their condemnation of jazz and dance crazes which they branded as decadent, shocking and immoral. Headlines spoke of ' the music of the jungle.'
Nevertheless, palms ballrooms spread across the country, men and women danced the Charleston, Black Bottom and Shimmy Shake.
British bandleaders copied and developed American music, having been given their initial impetus by the arrival in London of the (white) Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1919, and later inspired by the formalised arrangements of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
Whiteman had been a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and later played in jazz groups.
He decided to write down the improvisations he heard and use them in an orchestra] context, which staid the foundations of his hugely successful orchestra.
But although it contained players like Bix Beiderbecke, the unique cornet player who died tragically young, and played symphonic syncopation when it premiered George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue," Whiteman's band was not an authentic jazz hand, although perhaps no less so than the kind of black military syncopated band led by Jim Europe during the First World War.
Joe "King" Oliver, the trumpet player from New Orleans, led the first recorded jazz band of any power and authenticity, and his protege, the young Louis Armstrong, quickly took the New Orleans small group formula to its apogee in the legendary Hot Five and later, the Hot Seven. The true jazz orchestra was developed in the mid- Twenties by another musician whose career, like Louis', would run virtually concurrent with the history of Melody Maker: the suave and urbane pianist from Washington, Edward Kennedy Ellington - The Duke. Ellington and Armstrong were names championed by Melody Maker, and by jazz fans across the world throughout six decades of music. From the 'Twenties onwards, Duke and Louis set new standards in terms of performance and Writing. Their example and inspiration spurred countless musicians and provided them with their roots and base for future development. Both achieved fame as international celebrities and entertainers, overcoming the barriers of background and poverty; and both were hailed as musicians of true genius, recognised and feted by laymen and intellectuals. Louis Armstrong died in July 1971 and Duke Ellington died in May 1974. It could not be said that Britain developed such towering talents. But there was a flourishing home music industry and bandleaders became idols.
Many British bandleaders could produce orchestras to rival the Americans in quality if not originality.
Jack Hylton and Jack Payne became household names.
Hylton's was the first band to make electrical recordings for HMV in 1925, and the following years saw the development of electrically powered gramophones (although the handcranked variety survived for many years); electric pick-ups relayed the record through a wireless receiver's speaker; and in 1926 came an all-electric radiogramaphone, and then an electric record player.
Sound quality was improved enormously, even though the records were still shellac 78 rpm discs.
Society bands played for the rich in the big hotels, but soon the sound of dance orchestras was to be brought to the masses live and into every home in Britain.
The other major breakthrough in the Twenties was the birth of broadcasting.
Experiments had been going on with wireless telegraphy since the beginning of the century and had received a tremendous boost during the First World War.
Eventually, the time came when wireless should be put to peaceful purposes, and the British Broadcasting Company was set up in 1922, taking over from early broadcasts by 2L0 from Marconi House aerials in the Strand.
America already had several hundred commercial radio stations on the the air, competing for wavelengths.
The BBC avoided the evils of commercialism and airwave anarchy. But it brought music "out of the ether," into millions of homes.
Sheet music sales were hit by the new wave of broadcasts. Why play the piano when you could hear it on the wireless? But bands became ever more popular as they broadcast every evening from 6 pm to 7 pm and there were late night sessions with the Savoy Orpheans, Savoy Havana Band, Jack Howard and many more.
The Melody Maker pioneered dance band contests, and while Carnegie Hall in New York was to become the ultimate accolade for jazz in America, in Britain, Jack Hylton was already conducting his 25-piece orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.
During the Twenties, before Musicians Union practices on both sides of the Atlantic became more severe, American and British musicians could work abroad.
In 1926, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra toured Britain and their virtuoso pemformers astounded British ears.
The ocean liners between New York and Southampton provided both envoyage work for musi- cians and gave them a chance to hear what was happening on the other side.
American bandleaders were booked to play at London clubs like the famous Kit Kat. The Prince of Wales gave the seal of royal approval by having Char- leston lessons.
Rock fans are used to scenes of hysteria at concerts. It is a revelation to know that in the Twenties police had to be called to control crowds waiting to see Jack Hylton's Band.
And in 1928 he was able to tour the world for 12 weeks, 40 years before the Beatles.
Fortunes were to be made - and lost - by the name bandleaders, some ' of whom could earn 700 a week.
American star instrumentalists could freelance for 200 a week, which went a long way in 1929.
Paul Whiteman was hailed as the world's highest paid bandleader, grossing 30,000 dollars a week.
While the Establishment fought a rearguard action against night clubs, dance music, broadcasting and all things permissive, the tidal wave could not be halted, and in typically cautious, but pioneering, fashion, the BBC employed possibly the world's first disc jockey, Christopher Stone, to review the latest "rhythmic" records from America.
And there was a lot of rhythm to hear as jazzmen, and even the country blues players, gradually migrated in search of work and op-portunities from the Deep South, further North, to Chicago, and Kansas City.
It was in Chicago that the young white high school kids heard the records and saw the legendary black artists land made their own frenetic development of the class-ic New Orleans style of collective improvisation and "Hot choruses."
New Orleans Jazz was based around a rhythm section of a bass (either string bass, tuba or sousaphone), banjo and drummer.
The front line consisted of a cornet, clarinet and trombone. And the music they played was a kind of collective shout.
I was the prowess of men like King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds and Sidney Bechet that resulted in the concept of the individual soloist improvising over the syn- copated beat.
The Chicago jazz of the Twenties increased the urgency and wound up the tempos. Its excitement was typified in the recordings of the Mound City Blue Blowers, which combined key figures in the future of jazz like Coleman Hawkins and Gene Krupa.
Youngsters like Krupa, Frank Teschemacher and Benny Goodman were busy learning their craft in Chicago; while in New York, at the Cotton Club, Duke Eilington was bringing new sophistication to jazz, performing "jungle music" for the society patrons of Harlem's steamy nightlife.
This was an exotic novelty for nightclubgoers, but the music was orchestral jazz in the white beat of creation, with players like Bubber Miley and Arthur Whetsol giving the band its flavour of harsh beauty, on performances like "Creole Love Call," and "East St Louis Toodle-Oo."
The public was enraptured With jazz, not always, with its most ethnic form, perhaps preferring the prettier sounds of Red Nichols and his Five Pennies.
But they were listening, and eager for more.



JANUARY: Melody Maker's first issuecontains stories on Jose Collins, the Houston Sisters Dick Henderson, Bert Firman, Dorothy Ward and Jack Hylton At Starita, former saxist with Savoy Orpheans, is leading Jack Hylton's Kit Cat Club band at Piccadilly Hotel Bert Firman, who left the Savoy Hotel in 1923, returns from a tour of Australia and New Zealand and goes into the Carlton Hotel.
FEBRUARY: Lawrence Wright signs top US arranger Arthur Lange at 6,000 a year Paul Specht's Canadian Club Orchestra, a 10-piece featuring 35 different instruments and three vocalists, is paying at Kit Cat Savoy Havana Band original Billy Mayerl leaves to open syncopated piano school Don Parker, saxistleader at Piccadilly Hotel, insurer his lips for f10,000 Melody Maker adverts are 10 a page and classifieds are introduced at is a line. Gramophone records are reviewed for the first time.
MARCH: Paul Whiteman will tour Britain with his 27- piece symphonic syncopated orchestra in April Al Starita starts answering saxophone queries for Melody Maker readers. Lawrence Wright celebrates 20 years In music publishing. Jack Hylton conducts 25-piece orchestra comprising his No. 1, Kit Cat and Kettner bands before 7,000 at Albert Hall, presenting new fantasy by Eric Coates, "The Selfish Giant."
APRIL: Paul Whiteman starts 15-concert tour and short season at Kit Cat at reputed salary of 2,000 a week. Heavyweight xylophonist Teddy Brown is bandleading at Cafe de Paris. Newly-formed London Radio Dance Band, directed by Sydney Firman, is augmented from six to nine. Dance bands now broadcast every evening from 6 to 7 p.m. and late-night sessions are done by Savoy Orpheans, Savoy Havana Band, Jack Howard, Jean Larsen and Bert Firman. Jack Hylton adds string quartet to his Kit Cat Band led by Al Starita Sheffield choir trainer Dr Henry Coward and light orchestra leaders J H. Squire and W. de Groot make "a contemptible attack on syncopated bands", which is contested by Eric Coates, Jack Hylton, Ambrose, etc.
MAY: Debroy Somers quits leadership of Savoy Orpheans to launch an arranging business and take his band on tour. He Is succeeded by Ramon Newton, who is replaced as leader of the Savoy Havana Band by Reg Batten Records cost between is and 2s 6d and instrument price ex- amples are saxophones 25-45,  1%0 N trumpets and trombones 18-20 and drum kits 17-25. Melody Maker criticises vastness, lack of intimacy and equipment of Albert Hall, where "even the brightest concert suffers a blight".
JUNE: Bandleader at Hotel Majestic, St Annes on Sea, is pianist Gerald Bright, who became famous as Geraldo. London pianist 29-year-old Ronnie Munro wins first Melody Maker arranging contest and becomes top arranger-bandleader. Jack Hylton and his Band are chosen for Royal Variety Performance at London Alhambra. British musicians can earn 5 a week on ocean liners with free voyages to America to see and hear the star musicians and bands Musical profession carries on serenely during General Strike which puts many bands out of work.
JULY: American bandleader Ben Bernie is booked for eight weeks at London's Kit Cat starting September 13. Sax virtuoso Rudy Weidoeft opens as soloist at New Princes Restaurant. Jazz versus straight music radio battle between orchestras of Jack Hylton and Sir London Roland . Composer-arranger Senor Luigi Fortoni produces 'handmade musical typewriter with 7,000 different signs, capable of producing complete score, including lyrics, but dies before it can be marketed, after working for 12 years Streatham semi-pro pianist leader 22-year-old Ray Noble wins Melody Maker arranging contest and becomes world- famous composer-arranger-MD indestructible gramophone records which can be rolled into a tube are produced for is by Duophone Syndicate MU clamps down on pricecutting military musicians grabbing civil engagements.
AUGUST: American Saxist AI Payne and his 10-piece Kittens open at Kit Cat and Piccadilly Hotel. Ben Bernie refused work permit for projected resident season at Kit Cat. Melody Maker accuses rope-spinning comedian Tex McLeod of bad taste jokes about Royal Family . Prince of Wales is taught the Charleston at the Hellianthe Hotel in Biarritz.
SEPTEMBER: Lew Leslie's all-black show, Blackbirds of 1926, starring Florence Mills and the Plantation Orchestra, opens in London after a big success In Paris. Bert Ralton and his Band leave for a three- month tour of South Africa which ends with his death. Ray Noble wins Melody Maker arranging contest for second time with his score of "Coming Thro' The Cornfield". Keith Prowse produce jazz drum kit costing only four guineas.
OCTOBER: Musicians meeting to conduct business in London's Archer Street on M o n d a y afternoons are threatened with prosecution for loitering and obstruction. Savoy Hotel Director of Music W. J. de Mornys visits the States and brings back five ace musicians, including trumpet-player Charles Rocco and pianist Carroll Gibbons. Howard Jacobs, saxist-leader at the Berkeley Hotel, returns home to America and is succeeded by Carroll Gibbons. Fan worship for dance bands reaches theatre besiegement, with police called to control crowds waiting for Jack Hylton and his Orchestra at Birmingham Grand.
NOVEMBER: American bandleader Irving Aaronson, currently playing four-week season at Haymarket's Plaza Cinema, was granted a work permit only on the under- standing that he presented a vaudeville act and did not play for dancing. Debroy Somers makes his variety debut at Birmingham Grand and one of his two pianists is Melody Maker arranging contest double winner Ronnie Munro. Ambrose is resident at the Embassy Club with a 10-piece band, including alto star Joe Crossman. Dallas produce "the perfect doubling instrument", the Jedson musical saw, price 25s complete with bow. Trumpet ace Max Goldberg gives up band leading at the Criterion Restaurant to join the Savoy Havana Band. Singling out a song as a potential hit while broadcasting from the Hotel Cecil, Jack Payne is accused by daily papers of "oblique advertising" , "prostitution of the microphone" and "graft."
DECEMBER: BBC imposes standard form of announcing for dance band broadcasts after rumpus over alleged indiscretions of Jack Payne. Smith and Son market a portable gramophone with record-carrying pocket at 42s. Melody Maker arranging contest double winner Ray Noble joins Debroy Somers . Melody Maker will promote its first official dance band contest at Hammersmith Palais on January 21, covering Greater London Area.


JANUARY First bands to broadcast under the regime of the new BBC as the clock struck midnight on December 31 were Jack Hylton and his Orchestra, alternating with AI Leslie and his New Dixieland Orchestra at Marine Gardens Pavilion, Edinburgh, Billy Cotton and his Band start their second year at Southport Palais Glasgow's Locarno Ballroom, which holds 1,000 and 600-700 dancers, is opened by Leslie D. Jefferies and his Band Melody Maker stresses danger of price-cutting and reveals that some semi-pros are working for 8s. a man.
FEBRUARY: Debroy Somers takes his band into Ciro's Club but still doubles variety. Savoy Hotel impresario W. F. de Mornys reorganises bands under his control, increasing strings, retaining saxes but eliminating brass, because it is "satisfactory solo but too noisy en bloc" Ambrose is leaving Embassy Club to open at Mayfair Hotel on March 28 at reputed salary of 10,000 p.a. Charing Cross Road Astoria Ballroom opens with nine-piece band led by W. L. Trytel, MD of Astoria Cinema Syd Roy's Lyricals, playing variety after a season at Cafe de Paris, include his clarinettist brother, future bigtime bandleader Harry Roy. Savoy Orpheans now led by Carroll Gibbons, Sylvians by Ramon Newton and Havana Band by Reg Batten.
MARCH: Jack Hylton puts his Piccadilly Revels Band, now recording for Columbia, into Piccadilly, Hotel, led by tenor-saxist Ray Starita, with brother Rudy as drummer-xylophonist Day-and-night musical instrument repair service launched by Keech and Co in London's Archer Street. "Shepherd Of The Hills" is written by Horatio Nichols (alias Lawrence Wright), while visiting America with Jack Hylton's wife Ennis, who sings it on transatlantic phone at cost of 350 to London, where it is taken down and scored by arranger Leighton Lucas for band's show that evening at Alhambra Theatre As result of police raid, Kit Cat Club becomes a restaurant, but band remains under Al Starita. leading for Jack Hylton.
APRIL: Ambrose has five American musicians in his new band at the Mayfair Hotel: George Posneck (piano), Harry Rederman (drums), Lew Cooper (banjo), Harry Levine (trumpet) and Louis Martin (sax) Following the death on safari of Bert Ralton, his band is carrying on its South African tour under tenor-saxist Bill Barton. Saxophone virtuoso Howard Jacobs, who returned to the States after a long association with the Savoy bands, is back as joint leader of the Sylvians with Ramon Newton at the Berkeley Hotel Cabaret Dance Band wins Melody Maker contest and gets resident job at Forest Gate Palais.
MAY Pianist Fred Elizalde who sprang into prominence with his own small band at Cambridge University and went to America to study their top bands is to orchestrate for Ambrose Melody Maker attacks snarx music publishers who make amateur songwriters unfulfilled promises of publication and exploitation for a fee of 2-3, plus 10% commission New Sylvans, led by Howard Jacobs at Savoy Hotel, includes violinist Sydney Kyte, who became a top society bandleader Concern is expressed because some managements consider musicians too old at 40.
JUNE: Savoy Havana Band, which first played the London Coliseum under Bert Ralton on 13/March/1922, is to appear there again, under the direction of Reg Batten, with a star line-up including Tony Thorpe (tmb), Dave Thomas (bjo), Laurie Huntington (drs), Max Colberg (tpf) and Val Phillips (sax), who became a famous arranger-M.D. Ambrose and his orchestra, resident at Mayfair Hotel, play variety at London Palladium.
JULY: First notable discovery in an Melody Maker dance band contest is banjoist-guitarist Ivor Mairants, who wins the individual prize with third-placed Cabaret Dance Band at Alexandra Palace and becomes a leading player, teacher and dealer. Lieut. Bilton, of the Royal Horse Guards, who judged the military band section at the Brighton Festival, deplores "the infection of English music by a microbe called jazz " Epiphone make a recording banjo fitted with a special tone chamber "giving complete clarity and balanced sound".
AUGUST: Needing a "hot" trumpet player, Jack Hylton signs the late Bert Ralton's young protege Jack Jackson, for whom it means the start of a colourful career as showman, trumpeter, bandleader and zany disc jockey. American bandleader Ben Blue is playing at the Tricity Restaurant in the strand and doubling at the Alhambra Theatre, proving a big success with his clever clowning. Xylophonist Teddy Brown, bandleading at the Cafe de Paris, does variety at the London Palladium.
SEPTEMBER: Joe Brannelly, who played banjo with Bert Ralton, leaves for America to seek some star musicians for a famous bandleader in the West End of London, but won't say who it is, although it proves in the end ta be Ambrose at the Mayfair Hotel. Death of songwriter Herbert Rule, who wrote "Abe My Boy", "There You Are Then", "My Girl's Got Long Hair" and other comedy hits of the Twenties. William. Delesaire, lecture in musi- cal appreciation, lambasts dance music as worthless.
OCTOBER: Ambrose re-organises his band at the Mayfair Hotel with Jack Miranda (sax, clt), Joe Crossman (alto, tnr), Joe Brannelly (bjo, gtr), Fred Escott (bass) and Max Bacon (drs), plus Americans Perley Breed (lst alto) and Leo Kahn (pno, arr). Jack Hylton stages first big popular music publicity stunt by chartering a plane and flying his band over Blackpool playing Joe Gilbert's song "Me And Jane in. A Plane", published by Lawrence Wright, who sold over 5,000 copies in an hour at his seafront booth. Vocalion and Aco records replaced by Broadcast at Is 6d. American leader Jean Goldkette is disbanding and his ace trumpeter Bix Biederbeckee will join Paul Whiteman. Don Voorhees, ex-leader for Earl Carroll's Vanities, forms band's which includes Miff Mole (tmb), Vic Burton (drs) and Red Nichols (tpt).
NOVEMBER: Jack Howard, audacious bandleader who plays what he likes without regard to his audience, and comes on the stand when he feels like iL disappears after a summer season at Villa Marina, Douglas, Isle of Man ... New world non-stop playing record of 30 hour, claimed by the Berger Band, resident at the Father Rhine Restaurant in Berlin . Savoy Hotel director of music W. F. de Mornys threatens to withdraw his bands because the management have prohibited outside engagements . Melody Maker gives grave warning on price cutting and urges MU to act against musicians working for 5s a night.
DECEMBER: Savoy Hotel is expected to have two bands on January 1, led by Reg Batten and Fred Elizalde. Pianist-composer Dave Comer, whose "Hors D'Ouvres" written in 1915, was the first English foxtrot, retires to make way for younger blood, after a long run at the Savoy Hotel, plus records for Columbia and EMI. Melody Maker record reviewer Needle Point tries out the first electrically operated gramophone produced by HMV for 170. Melody Maker arranging contest won for second time by saxist Sid Phillips, who becomes famous bandleader-arranger.


JANUARY: Pianist-leader Fred Elizalde opens with his all-star Anglo-American Savoy Music at the Savoy Hotel, supported by violinist Reg Batten leading the New Savoy Orpheans Freddie Rich and his Band, who have been resident at New York's Hotel Astor for the past five years, start a British variety tour. First big tuition school with top' musicians as teachers is set up in London by Alvin D. Keech Professor Leo Theremin demonstrates his new scientific apparatus for producing music from ether at London's Savoy Hotel.
FEBRUARY; London saxist leader Sid Philips, discovered by his victories in Melody Maker arranging and dance band contests, is given a recording contract by Edison Bell and fixed for a variety tour Teddy Brown is featuring a keyless saxophone, the five guinea Mellosax, produced by Keith Prowse, who claim that it "has a compass of 21 octaves, can be learned in an hour or two, and with its sliding carriage, gives the same results as an ordinary saxophone without the complicated network of keys so difficult to master." Hit songs include I Never Knew," I Ain't Got Nobody " and " My Blue Heaven."
MARCH; Original Savoy Orpheans a big success on tour, directed by pianist Carroll Gibbons and managed by Teddy Sinclair Jack Hylton is awarded slander damages of 5O against Piccadilly Hotel chairman Edward Harris and is chosen for his second Royal Variety Performance Ambrose renews his five-figure contract at the Mayfair Hotel Hal Swain opens at the rebuilt Cafe Royal, Sid Phillips will go into Cafe de Paris after his current variety tour Rector's Club becomes the New Carlton Ballroom with bands led by Max Chappell and Percival Mackey, who was the first MD to use a modern dance band as a theatre pit orchestra for No, No Nanette in 1926.
APRIL: Lloyd Shakespeare and Band win Melody Maker dance contests at Chelsea and Alexandra Palace and get a recording contract with Parlophone Pianist - vocalist - leader Jack Payne, who is playing at the Hotel Cecil is chosen as first BBC resident bandleader and forms 10-piece outfit to take over from Sydney Firman and his London Radio Dance Band on March 12. HMV exhibit gramophone with an automatic record-changer at the Ideal Home Exhibition American sax star Adrian Rollini explains the goofus and how to play it.
MAY: Billy Cotton one-time drummer-boy destined to become a national favourite, is appointed MD of General Theatres Corporation and is appearing with his own band at London's Astoria Dance Hall Broadcasting graft is rampant "inflicting many melodies on listening public for the golden harvest they have brought to the performer, regardless of their merit." Jack Hylton sets off with his band on world tour on August 5th. His racehorse Rathmore, whose colours are white with a "jazz" band, runs in Grand National, Lady bandleader Hitch Ward contends that women can successfully tackle syncopation.
JUNE: John Birmingham, one of the pioneers of syncopated music in Britain, dies aged 39 in a fall from the balcony of his flat at Earls Court. Marius B. Winter, who replaces Jack Payne at the Hotel Cecil, says his hand was the first to broadcast on 2L0, from Marconi House on 27th February 1923. Blind pianist 17-year-old Alec Templeton, reviewed by Melody Maker at London Palladium, is hailed as a brilliant discovery and becomes a featured attraction with Jack Hylton. Production of an all-metal clarinet, claimed to be less affected by the vagaries of temperature than the normal "gobstick."
JULY: Sophie Tucker is a riot at Whitechapel Tivoli, where even six years ago her salary was 500 a week, probably the biggest fee paid to any variety artist in Britain. French professor M. Maurice Martenot demonstrates his scientific device for producing music from ether, development of a similar invention by Professor Theremin. Metropole records come on the market at 3s.
AUGUST: Fred Elizalde leaves Savoy Hotel and opens with a 19-piece band, including handsome singing guitarist discovery Al Bowlly, at Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant in Paris. Brunswick hit vocalist Harry Shalson, touring in a revue called The Spice Of life, features a panatrope on which his records can be played as he sings them, possibly the first example of stage synchronisation First signings on new Metropole label are George Fisher and his Kit Cat Band and Jay Whidden and his Band.Unit organs are big attraction in cinemas, notably Wurlitzer, Christie and Compton J. Russell Pickering, general manager of Olympia for Bertram Mills, gets a shock when he goes to Paris to book Waring's Pennsylvanians and finds they want 700 a week Zonophone label is introduced by EMI.
SEPTEMBER: Jack Hylton is offered 40,000 for one year with his band at the Leicester Square Theatre, but declines because he would have to provide some film accompaniment and could not accept other engagements Celtic Five, resident band at Cardiff's Celtic Palais owned by ex-world boxing champion Jimmy Wilde, include saxist-vocalist Dan Donovan, who becomes a featured singer with Henry Hall and his BBC Dance Orchestra in Thirties Melody Maker radio critic Detector maintains BBC should pay for the services of broadcasting bands Violinist-leader At Tabor Is appointed MD at Hammersmith Palais and replaces Alan Green with a band which includes future showman drummer and band leader Joe Daniels Melody Maker explores the slump in dance band bookings at variety theatres Banjos cost 12, saxophones 27-32, trombones 32, accordions 17 and a drum kit 20.
OCTOBER: Melody Maker says there are rumours that the Savoy Orpheans under Reg Batten were dispensed with for being old-fashioned, indicating that other bands in the West End will have to modernise to keep their jobs Carroll Gibbons has become MD for HMV, inspiring other recording companies to consider similar appointments for dance-band leaders O'Malley's Romany Band, at Hendon's Brent Bridge. Hotel, Includes college boy saxist H, F. (Buddy) Featherstonehaugh, who becomes great jazz terrorist and motor racing fanatic Billy Cotton makes recording debut on Metropole with his London Savannah Band.
NOVEMBER: Reg Batten takes his Orpheans into Topsy and Eve at the Gaiety Theatre, but the MU refuses to allow his American musicians to do the show American jazz trumpeter Sylvester Ahola joins Am- brose, obtaining his labour permit on condition that he doesn't record with any other band. First talking film, Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, is reviewed by Melody Maker. Reviewer is not impressed. doesn't anticipate a boom in talkies and hopes not because it would threaten the employment of musicians Mario Lorenzi, who has joined Fred Elizalde at the Savoy Hotel, was first to use the harp in a dance band with the Dix Band at Olympia in 1923.
DECEMBER: Introduction of recordings on wire, using just enough to go round a cotton reel, giving a 15-minute performance which can be erased and re-recorded as desired Rebuilt Leicester Square Theatre reopens with tine variety featuring 35-piece band led by organists Sandy McPherson and Reginald Foort Reg Batten and his Orpheans are out of Topsy and Eva, because they prove too expensive, and the new band soon falls foul of US star Rosetta Duncan who suffers a nervous breakdown, closing the show and starting an MU enquiry into discipline.


JANUARY: Horatio Nichols (Lawrence Wright) composition " You're In My Heart " is first song to be sent across Atlantic by Marconi photo-radio. Melody Maker Liverpool dance band contest won by Jack White's Collegians, who were subsequently resident for many years at Charing Cross 'Road Astoria and enjoyed record run in 'BBC's Music While You Work. BBC is shortly in moving from Savoy Hill to Broad- casting 'House, which has nine studios, including one with three storeys, capable of holding 1,000 people End a big orchestra'. Melody Maker says night clubs should be cleaned up as there are dozens of " rotten holes " where underpaid musicians work in disgraceful conditions.
FEBRUARY: Bandleader Paul Whiteman 's paying expenses of his trumpet genius Bix Beiderbecke, who is seriously ill in a sanatorium. Music publishing pact to stop song plugging breaks down, leaving companies to [adopt their own methods, a tricky situation for BBC. Heyworth's, of Blackpool, market an adjustable octave tuning key for the saxophone. Saxist deader Charles Spinelli opens the new Ritz Ballroom in Manchester.
MARCH: Bass-saxist Adrian Rollini goes to the States for a talent-seeking trip and returns with his saxist brother Arthur, tenorist Fud Livingston and multi-reedist Max Farley for Fred Elizalde, who signs guitarist Jack Hill to replace Len Fillis and his band at the Savoy Hotel, where all broadcasts have suddenly ceased with no explanation from the management or the BBC. Piccadilly records are introduced at 1s 6d, featuring Lloyd Shakespeare and his Band, the Ever-Bright Boys and the Bohemian Band. Attempts to book Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys and saxist Jimmy Dorsey for the Savoy Hotel have broken down. Melody Maker complains of disparaging remarks about jazz musicians in the daily papers and asks for more visits by US instrumentalists to stimulate our own players.
APRIL: Jack Hylton and his Band return from 12-week tour of Europe to play London Palladium, with talented young reedist Billy Ternent who became a noted multi-instrumentallist , arranger and bandleader New band supplied by Jan Ralfini at Hammersmith Palais is fronted by sax-violinist Maurice Winnick, starting his career as a world-famous bandleader and impresario US musicians are quitting bands to freelance at 200 a week. Keith Prowse markets a gramophone needle capable of playing 50 to 150 records.
MAY: Bern Evers, who was arranger with the original Savoy Orpheans, revives the band, backing the ventures with a limited company in which some of the musicians hold shares, possibly the first-ever co-operative dance-band. Billy Merrin and his Band, placed second in Melody Maker Nottingham dance band contest becomes renowned ballroom favourites all over the country. Jack Hylton is first British bandleader invited to play in America, but his 1,300 a' week offer to appear with his band at New York's Roxy and Paramount is cancelled because the theatre musicians object. Hit crooner Rudy Vallee receives 600 a week for 10-week season at New York Paramount.
JUNE: Jack Payne adds another sax, two violins and a viola to his BBC Dance Orchestra to provide a choice of 40 instruments for the elaborate orchestrations of Ray Noble. According to Frankie Trumbauer, Paul Whiteman is highest paid bandleader in world, grossing around 30,000 dollars a week. but spending 1,800 dollars on arrangements and 8,000 dollars on salaries, with his corner men earning 400 dollars.
JULY: American musicians in Fred Elizalde's band unaccountably leave for home a few hours before Melody Maker special concert at Shepherd's Bush Pavilion, which attracts over 3,000 people from all over Europe. Decca records are launched with capture of Ambrose and Billy Cotton. Jack Hylton and his Orchestra play in Trafalgar Square on Election Night. 500 professional musicians in London sign petition asking for restrictions on entry of American musicians to ensure only the best are admitted. Far-seeing bandleader Al Davison introduces system of adjustable mikes for each instrument to ensure correct balance of his band.
AUGUST: Ray Noble gives up BBC staff arranging post to become MD for HMV, who celebrate 25 years of record manufacture, which started with 700 a week and has now reached a million. Columbia release first Regal records at 2s 6d featuring Rudy Vallee and Hal Swain. Keith Prowse market a 75 guinea home talkie machine combining a radio set, an electric gramophone and a kinematograph projector, capable of synchronising music and vision. Concern is felt over introduction of a new amplifying device which can make a band of five sound like a dozen and is bound to affect the employment of musicians.
SEPTEMBER: American bandleader Ben Bernie starts 8 week season at Kit Cat. Rival leader Ted Lewis is offered 9800 a week for an appearance with his band at Piccadilly Hotel. Pianist-leader Noble Sissle brings his all-black band over from Paris for a British variety tour. Brixton's F250,000 Astoria is opened with cine-variety featuring a 20-piece band led by Fred Kitchen. Melody Maker reveals that rising young provincial musicians are finding it hard- to break into the " magic circle " in the West End of London. Paul Whiteman declines an acting role in the King of jazz for which he will receive 40,000.
OCTOBER: Piccadilly Hotel re-opens after 8,000 redecoration with new-style band show featuring AI Starita and his Piccadilly Players dressed in white commodore uniforms and playing white enamelled instruments. Ambrose takes his band off the air and refuses to give reason. but it is doubtless due to BBC veto on announcement of song titles. Paul Whiteman returns to New York because the King of Jazz film has been postponed to find a better story. Music publisher Lawrence Wright takes Daily Mail front page at 1,400 to publicise " Excuse Me Lady ".
NOVEMBER: BBC removes its embargo on vocal choruses and announcement of song titles. Christopher Stone broadcasts a commentated recital of advance US rhythmic records, becoming radio's first DJ. Marius B. Winter loses resident job at Hotel Cecil, which is bought as office block by Shell Mex. Trumpeter Jimmy McPartland and altolst Benny Goodman quit the Ben Pollack Band. Parlophone introduce new blue label Rhythm Style series with Eddie Lang, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey.
DECEMBER: Top saxist-teacher Ben Davis becomes sole British rep for Selmer and opens historic shop in London's Charing Cross Road. Red Nichols has a 14-piece band at Broadway's new restaurant, the Hollywood. Bandleader Guy Lombardo opens at New York's Roosevelt Hotel. Hot trumpeter and comedian Jack Jackson leaves Jack Hylton, who is to do a 10-week season at Kit Cat for biggest fee ever paid to a dance band, with minimum of 450 a week which could rise to 1,000. Jazz is included for the first time in the Encylopedia Brittanica.

Return to the previous page