42nd Street  

The Encyclopedia of American Songs and Musicals

in the "Thirties"

Tough times ahead

   1  The United States will experience from 1930 an unprecented downturn known as the Great Depression. It will last more than four years. Putting a rough term to the speculative racing of stock markets, the crash of September, 1929, revealed the weaknesses of the U.S. economy and the pernicious effects of a capitalism drunk with easy profits. After having  logically affected banks, the crisis tackles industry, bringing down large parts of the essential activities of the country.

There are also all these families who, overnight, find totally ruined after risking their savings in hazardous investments. The share prices are in free fall and agriculture, already weakened by a continuous overproduction, suffers quite hard the collapse of cereal sales.

Forced to leave their land, thousands of small farmers, until then free of their destiny, will sell themselves as pea pickers whereas in cities, jobless people gather in endless queues with the hope of some food or a casual work.


President Herbert Hoover appears in this difficult year as the main protagonist of the disaster, not for bearing directly the responsibility but because of his miscalculations. It  must be admitted that since his triumphant election, he has ceaselessly disappointed the opinion. He is blamed for his lack of foresight, his displaced optimism, his cut-and-dried decisions , his erratic economic choices, his passivity against the power of the Federal Reserve and still so many other things.

In spite of his apparent willingness and of praiseworthy feelings (wasn't he formerly a humanitarian), Hoover will however never manage to regain the confidence of the American people. He tries as best as he can to limit the effects of the crisis on the most vulnerable by creating emergency relief, financing hastily some social housing, symbolically raising taxes on the wealthiest class or by granting to debtor countries the suspension of their war debt but nothing helps. He remains for all the great, the one responsible for the "hangover" after the recklessness of the "Roaring Twenties".


 2    It is in 1930 that the silent film bows out. It is also the year which marks the advent in the dark rooms of the cartoon, a genre until then considered to be secondary. Born two years earlier, Mickey Mouse's family now has a new boarder, the dog Pluto (named thus in tribute to the recent discovered planet Pluto). Warner Bros come into the adventure by launching the famous Looney Tunes sequence while the Max Fleischer studios give rise to a pulpy ingenue named Betty Boop.
About feature films, the Academy Award for best movie goes to Broadway Melody, a fully talking comedy released the previous year that leads the viewer in the backstage of a musical show. Written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, the score, fortunately very successful,

compensates for the poor originality of

the characters. One retains especially

the symbiosis between the

glitter side of Broadway and the plot

(in that case a love story).

The talkies provide the opportunity to

adapt the Broadway hits to the screen .

Would it be about a new seam? One

might  think it by seeing the energetic

young actress Alice White occurring

successfully in A show girl in

Hollywood and Sweet Mama, or well

Marilyn Miller, the "Queen of Broadway" skillfully asserting herself in Sunny, a new version of the musical released in New York in 1926. More classical but humorous, Whoopee! whose score was assigned to Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn is a successful version of a recent  Broadway hit. Eddie Cantor occupies there the main role, sided by the Goldwyn Girls. The producer Samuel Godwyn took on for the choreography a certain Busby Berkeley, an atypical character about whom he already knows what he is able to do behind a camera.

At the side of inventions, 1930 is the year of the first roll of scotch tape, that of the first female hostess (Ellen Church) on a regular airline and that of the unveiling of the Mount Rushmore monument (SD).



 Sweet Mama  (Warner Bros.)

 3   Director: Edward Cline - Runtime: 56 min
Actors: Alice White (Goldie), David Manners (Jimmy), Ken Thomson (Joe Palmer)
This feature film whose plot is setting in a club (led as it should be by the mob) is less a musical than a gangsters' movie. Alice White plays the role of a young revue leader named Goldie, whose voice altogether rather ordinary is offset by a very attractive physical. The part devoted to the show occupies only a secondary place but the camera films for the first time a resolutely cinematographic choreography while playing on the mobility of the plans and the use of effects of vertical high-angle shots of a new kind. The presence of a wide rotating scene associated with combinations of synchronized dance routines announces the future orientations of Busby Berkeley.

Alice White (Paterson (NJ) 1904 – Los Angeles

(CA) 1983) 

This hot-blooded actress worked first in

Hollywood as a simple secretary before being

spotted by Charles Chaplin. Some saw already in

 her the new Clara Bow but  her career actually

started rather timidly. It is in 1929 finally that

she was offered a first significant role in

Broadway Babies, a comedy directed by Mervin

LeRoy. She did it again the next year with Show

girl in Hollywood, a rather successful musical

directed by the same Mervin Le Roy, and then

in Sweet Mama. Alice White will see however

her reputation definitely tarnished from 1933

following a scandal.


Sunny  (Warner Bros.)

 5  Director: William A. Seiter - duration: 78minutes

Score: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein

Actors: Marilyn Miller, Lawrence Gray (Jimmy), Inez Courtney (Joe Palmer)

Marilyn Miller (Mary Ellen Reynolds - Evansville (IN) 1898 - New York 1937)

She makes her debut at the age of four in the small family vaudeville troupe with which she knows a travelling life. This drives her especially to Europe and it is in London at the Lotus Club that the young Marilyn is pointed out by the New York producer Lee Schubert. She therefore starts a career on Broadway where she becomes one of the undisputed stars after her performance in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1918. She alternately contracts with both competitors Charles Dillingham and Florenz Ziegfeld, but it is the latter who offers her the best roles.

Thus, she stars in Rosalie, the famous musical composed by George Gershwin and is in 1930 the partner of Fred Astaire in Smiles. The advent of the talkies offers her the same year an opportunity to appear on the screen in Sunny, a movie based on a show created in 1926 and scored by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. Warner Bros, however, do not fit their costs, the public suddenly sulking this kind of adaptation.

The musical news 1930


 4      Bing Crosby releases ​​his first solo recording with Gus Arnheim Orchestra. His warm and velvety baritone voice starts the “crooning” way that  will have the upper hand over popular music until the late 50s. The advent of radio in American homes will soon prove on the other hand decisive for the artists' careers. It is from now with this magic object that will return the right to make and break fashions. Furthermore, listening being done in an intimate settingmost of the audience will from then consist of

 housewives who will gradually impose their preferences.

The year offers, however, hardly change in the musical field. Stars of the 1920s as Ben Bernie, Paul Whiteman, Ben Selvin keep still a strong popularity even if their inspiration remains confined in the style that made them famous. It must be said that at 40, Paul Whiteman may always enjoy his achievements and a tremendous reputation throughout the world. He tested all kinds of music but time has come for him to reconsider otherwise musical arrangements that made the heyday of the "Roaring Twenties". In May is released "King of Jazz", a movie to his glory shot in Technicolor. Paul Whiteman insisted so that the sound is recorded regardless of the pictures in order to preserve its quality. But neither this technical boldness nor the original insertion of a cartoon, or even the impressive rendition of Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin's  iconic composition dated 1924 that he had performed from its outset, prevent the film making a true failure. The penniless viewers do not go along with the emphatic side of the show.

Nothing actually goes in 1930. Bandleaders do not manage any more to pay their musicians and lay off, some vaudeville troupes disperse,  many chorus-singers  without  contract hustle themselves in the few castings. The most jazzy"big bands", however, still work the better: Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, Luis Russell and of course Duke Ellington have the most verve while on the side of"white" musicians ,Ted Lewis, Leo Reisman, George Olsen, Ted Weems or Gus Arnheim have enough maturity to continue to display good health. For small bands begin, on the contrary, very bad years of scarcity. In such a gloomy background, the style itself is evolving. The public currently seems to expect emotion and it is time for it to turn the page of the "Roaring Twenties", too light, too odd  and already outdated.

Considered redundant, classic musicals are on the way to take a few wrinkles. Despite their talent, singers like Bernice Claire, Helen Morgan and Jeanette McDonald miss fewer grace than rhythm. The voices of the moment are those of Ethel Waters, Annette Hanshaw, Libby Holman and especially the Boswell Sisters, a close harmony trio undoubtedly the most modern of the time that has already overshadowed their bright elders, the Brox Sisters. Looking closley, however, 1930 appears to be a year of withdrawal, confirmed artists being still those who take out the best. The most popular singers are mostly about thirty years old when they have not exceeded.

 6   Therefore, gone fantasy, charleston dancing"flapper" spirit, over the carelessness of the post-war period. Recession, concern of the following day, lack of work, threatening poverty are now on the menu of the daily life for millions Americans. The audience expects something better matching the reality of time and society. Even Louis Armstrong refines his style, giving up the unbridled virtuosity of the bands in New Orleans for a more temperate mode, without frills. A new generation appears soon with saxophonists Coleman Hawkins or Chu Berry. Sensuality that emanates from their instrument will emerge gradually and relegate some day the trombone to the rank of accessories. But we're not yet there in 1930, Lionel Hampton makes ​​just his debut at vibraphone. The big hitters of the 20s as King Oliver (master of Louis Armstrong) and Jelly Roll Morton, however, are on the other hand out of breath and will not return to highlight.

And what about blues in all this? It was a favorite theme during the previous years and the spirit of this music yet so harsh and tortured is found in a number of popular songs. It had partly inspired ragtime and jazz but especially made the glory of prolific singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey whose hollering style peculiar to the 1920s seems less resist at the turn of the decade.

Born in the Mississippi Delta, the "classic blues "is still, at the time, 

an essentially African-American music. It carries on its long roads,

lulled by the hope of finally being recognized but without much  

illusion as for the benefit to be drawn.

Musicians such as Lonnie Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Charley Patton  

come out however of anonymity. More unexpected in this year remains

the recording of four titles by a mysterious songster come from nowhere

about which one only knows she was called Geeshie Wiley.

This melancholic music from the south, with lyrics  that often works as

a bittersweet chronicle of daily life with its hopes and its disappointments, 

joined by some aspects the other music, white this time, down from the nearby

hills of Tennessee or Alabama, the hillbilly blues (ancestor of the Country).

Let us simply include the outsatnding guitarist and singer Jimmie Rodgers who

 goes to Hollywood in October 1930 to record together with ... Louis Armstrong.

And finally there is the youngest, Cab Calloway, a dashing  entertainer just landed at the Cotton Club, where he struggles musically against Duke Ellington for the place of No. 1. He is hardly 23 years old, but brimming with talent. For those who still do not know it, the Cotton Club is the largest night club located in Harlem, a neighborhing area of New York City, where occur only black musicians for an audience mainly composed of white fans come to fetch exoticism and inspiration . They really need it right now.


    The Boswell Sisters - That's What I Like About You 2:50 (Walter Donaldson)

Raised all three in New Orleans, Connee (1907-1976), Martha (1908-1958), and Vet (Helvetia, 1909-1988) Boswell start their career in 1925 in the theaters of the city. Logically influenced by local jazz, they formed initially an instrumental trio before gradually moving towards a vocal group. Bright and innovative, they literally revolutionized the art of popular song by forming not only a group of rare homogeneity but push further the limits of the close harmony by reconsidering in their way the hits of the moment, combining their knowledge of syncopated measure and changes in tempo to their ability to pass from major to minor mode and conversely. Although they started recording for Victor Records, it is only when they performed in New York in 1930 and after their first radio broadcasts that they will earn a real popularity. Victim of poliomyelite during childhood, Connee has retained a disability that makes her to always stand seating.

  8    Duke Ellington feat Ivie Anderson - Mood Indigo 

2:52 (Duke Ellington, Barney Bigard, Irving Mills) 

Duke Ellington is already at that time, one of the iconic figures of jazz. Inspired composer, rigorous pianist, uncompromising leader and true slogger, his fame has spread far beyond U.S. borders. His avant-garde style made ​​him a reputation that attracts the most prominent musicians while in intimacy, his married life is a nightmare. In 1930, Duke Ellington is still at the Cotton Club but the crisis and the fall of record sales maked him diversify his style and plan to spend more time on tour. Mood Indigo is a hit which will cross times but the sung version is actually later.

  The essential hits of 1930 (1)


 9  01 – The Boswell Sisters & The Jackie Taylor Orchestra (Formed in New Orleans 1925)That's what I like about you 2:58 (Walter Donaldson)

   Before forming his own band, Jackie Taylor formerly performed as violinist in the

   orchestra of Vincent Rose with whom he toured through the West Coast during the 20s.

   02 – Duke Ellington feat. Ivie Anderson Mood indigo 2:50 (Barney Bigard, Duke Ellington,

   Irving Mills)

03 – Cab Calloway (Rochester (NY) 1907 - Hockessin (DE) 1994) – St James Infirmary 3:05 (Jo Primrose, Traditional)

This traditional song had previously been performed by Louis Armstrong in 1928.

04 –  Gus Arnheim & his Cocoanut Groove Orch. (Philadelphia (PA) 1897 – Los Angeles (CA) 1955) feat. Bing Crosby (Tacoma (WA) 1903 - Madrid (Spain) 1977) Fool me some more 3:17 (Haven Gillepsie, Peter DeRose)


























05 – The McKinney's Cotton Pickers (formed in Springfield (OH)1922) The words can’t express the way I feel 3:16 (Andy Razaf, Don Redman, Charlie Stanton)

06 – Hoagy Carmichael (Bloomington (IN) 1899 –  Rancho Mirage (CA) 1981) Georgia on my mind 3:08 (Carmichael)

   This masterpiece immortalized in 1960 by Ray Charles was written ​​30 years earlier  

   in his spare time by Hoagy Carmichael, while working in a New York investment

   company. The saxophonist Frank Trumbauer suggested him to write a song

  about Georgia because, according to him, the South was a topic that usually sell well.

  Among the musicians who took part in the first recording  for Victor Records were

  particularly Bix Beiderbecke (cornet), Jack Teagaerden  (trombone), Jimmy Dorsey

   (clarinet), Pee Wee Russell (alto sax), Joe Venuti (violin), Eddie Lang (guitar).

07– Lee Morse (Lena Corinne Taylor – Cove (OR) 1897 – New York 1954)Tain’t no sin 3:35 (Walter Donaldson, Edgar Leslie)

08 – Bert Lown & His Biltmore Hotel Music (White Plains (NY) 1903 – Portland (OR) 1962)Blue is the night 2:57 (Fred Fisher)

Song introduced  in the movie Their Own Desire released in 1929 starring Norma Shearer. The lyrics are sung here by Elmer Feldkamp.

09 – Luis Russell (Careening Clay (Panama) 1902 – New York 1962)  Poor lil' me 3:23 (Paul Barbarin)

10 – Leo Reisman (Boston (MA) 1897 – Miami (FL) 1961) feat. Lew Conrad Puttin’ on the Ritz 2:47 (Irving Berlin)

11 – Ethel Waters (Ethel Howard – Chester (PA) 1896 –  Chatsworth (CA ) 1977)  What did I do to be so black and blue? 3:01 (Harry Brooks, Any Raza, Fats Waller)

Written by Fats Waller, this song has been first introduced by Edith Wilson in the musical Hot Chocolates released on Broadway in 1929.

12 – Louis Armstrong  Body and soul 3:16 (Edward Heyman, Frank Eyton, Johnny Green, Robert Sour)

  Song written shortly before for the English vocalist Gertrude Lawrence and soon

  covered by  many artists.





 The essential hits of 1930 (2)


 11   01 – Ted Weems (Wilfred T. Weymes – Pitcairn (PA) 1901 - Tulsa (OK) 1963)The man from the south 2:37 (Rube Bloom, Harry Woods)

  The atmosphere of Chicago suits rather well to Ted Weems and his musicians who

  match the hits including this song ranked No. 1 of sales during the year.

02 – The Boswell Sisters Gee but I’d like to make you happy 3:11 (Larry Shay)

03 – Isham Jones (Colton (OH) 1891 – Hollywood (FL) 1956)My baby just cares for me 2:32 (Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn)

Song from the musical Whoopee! starring Eddie Cantor

04 - Paul Whiteman (Denver (CO) 1890 – Doylestown (PA) 1967)  feat. Bing Crosby Song of the dawn 3:12 (Jack Yellen, Milton Ager)

05 – Bert Lown  Under a Texas moon 3:00 (Ray Perkins)

Song introduced by Frank Fay in the movie of the same name directed for Warner by Michael Curtiz.






















06 – Helen Kane (New York 1904 – New York 1966) I owe you 3:07 (Leo Robin, Richard A. Whiting)

Helen Kane performs this song in the movie Dangerous Nan Mc Grew produced by Mack Senett in which she  plays alongside Victor Moore.

07 – Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (Ogden (UT) 1905 – Las Vegas (NV) 1965)  Corinne, Corinna 2:56 (Bo Carter, Charlie McCoy)

This song belonging originally to the repertoire of blues had been recorded for the first time in 1928 by Bo Carter.

08 – Eal Burtnett & His Los Angeles Biltmore Orch. feat. Eddie Walters () ‘leven thirty Saturday night 2:58 (Earl Burtnett, Bell Grantham, Jess Kirkpatrick)

Eddie Walters will record thereafter a second version of this hit with the Dorsey brothers.

  09 – Jack Teagarden (Vernon (TX) 1905 - New Orleans (LA) 1964) Love me 2:51

  (Victor Young) 

  10 – Annette Hanshaw (New York 1901 – New York 1985)Little white lies 2:56

  (Walter Donaldson, Tchaïkovsky)

 Introduced by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, the song will very quickly be the

 object of numerous covers among which those of Earl Burtnett, Lee Morse and

  Marion Harris.

  11Joe Venuti & His Orchestra (Philadelphia (PA) 1903 – Seattle (WA) 1978) feat. Frank

  Luther (Laki (KS) 1899 - New York City, 1980) Wasting my love on you 3:08

  (Harry Warren, Edgar Leslie)

  12 - Cab Calloway & His Orchestra - Happy Feet 2:39 (Jack Yellen, Milton Ager)

  This song written for the movie King of Jazz  was originally recorded in February 1930

  by Paul Whiteman  and performed by Bing Crosby and the  Rhythm Boys.





 The essential hits of 1930 (3)


18  01 – Paul Whiteman  feat. Bing Crosby Without a song 3:21 (Billy Rose, Edward 
Ilescu, Vincent Youmans)
Song written in 1929 for the Broadway musical The Great Day whose career was most 
2 – Ruth Etting (David City (NE) 1897 – Colorado Springs (CO) 1965)  – Just a little

  closer 2:58 (Howard Johnson, Joseph Mayer)

  Song written for the movie Remote Control directed for the MGM by Nick Grinde and

  Malcolm St Clair, starring William Haines.

  03 – Duke Ellington & Irving Mills (New York City, 1894 - Palm Springs (CA) 1985) -

  That Lindy Hop 2:52  (Andy Razaf, Eubie Blake)

 The Lindy Hop, named in honour of Charles Lindbergh, was a dance with acrobatic figures

 popularized at the end of the 1920s in the Harlem nightclubs.

 Derived from Charleston and various African rhythms, it will largely inspire

the swing, boogie-woogie and rock "n" roll.

  04 – Libby Holman (Elizabeth Holzman – (Cincinnati (OH) 1904 – Stamford (CT) 1971)  –

  Body and soul 3:17 (Edward Heyman, Frank Eyton, Johnny Green, Robert Sour)

 05 – Ben Selvin Knickerbockers (New York 1898 – New York 1980) feat. Helen Rowland  

  Cheerful little Earful 3:20 (Billy Rose,  Ira Gershwin, Harry Warren)

 Song created for the musical Sweet and Low presented in Broadway in 1930 with

 Fanny Brice in the leading role.

























06 - Bert Lown's Biltmore Hotel Orchestra feat. Smith Ballew (Palestine (TX) 1902 -

  Longview (TX) 1984) - Keeping myself for you 2:52 (Vincent Youmans, Sidney Clare)

 07 – Jimmie Lunceford (Fulton (MS) 1902 – Seaside (OR) 1947) In dat’ morning 2:48


 08 - Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees

(Island Pond (VT) 1901 - North Hollywood (CA)

 1986) - If I had a girl like you (Louis McDermott)

 09 - Leo Reisman feat. Frank Luther -

You've got that thing 3:10 (Cole Porter)

Song written for Fifty Million Frenchmen, a

show designed by Herbert Fields

and released on Broadway the previous year.

It compared the freedom which enjoyed

the French to the censorship and the Prohibition

which ruled the United States.

Michael Cummins and Joyce Wheeler were the stage performers.

 10 - Louis Armstrong & His Savoy Ballroom Five - I can't

give you anything but love 3:36 (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields)

Song introduced by Adelaïde Hall in the show Blackbirds

created on Broadway by the producer Lew Leslie.

 11 - Isham Jones & His Orchestra feat. Eddie Stone - Trees 3:01

(Joyce Kilmer, Oscar Rasbach)

 This popular ballad written in 1922 by Oscar Rasbach from a poem by

Joyce Kilmer was introduced by the opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

 12 - Jimmy Noone Apex Club Orchestra (CutOff (LA) 1894 -

New York City, 1944)  I'm following  you 2:36 (Ballard McDonald,

Dave Dreyer)







  10   Cab Calloway made ​​his debut in 1930 in New York. He can dance, sing, he plays well the drums and behaves as a true showman. The strand in the wind and dressed in his smart white tails, he appears  owing to his outgoing personality as a remedy for depression that hits the country.

Gus Arnheim and Bing Crosby -"Fool me some more" .

This is while performing in a theater of Los Angeles in 1926 that Bing made the acquaintance of the famous bandleader Paul Whiteman. Aware of dealing with a promising talent, Whiteman decided to grant his services and integrated him to his orchestra. He also hired Al Rinker, another young singer  with whom  Bing Crosby already formed a vocal duet called the Rhythm Boys. Pianist Harry Barris will soon complete the group. So formed, the trio soon became popular. It was however obvious that the misconduct of the group being less and less compatible with the rigor that he imposed on the orchestra, Paul Whiteman prefered separating after the release of his film King of Jazz in May 1930 .

The Rhythm Boys then join the Gus

Arnheim Orchestra until internal dissents

cause their disbandment. At 27, Bing

Crosby, however, had all the capacities

to achieve a soloist career, even if it is

noticeable that his way of performing Fool me

some more  is  curiously lacking pep.

Dynamic, hearty, elegant and funny, the

Rhythm Boys including Bing Crosby,

Al Rinker (Tekoa (WA) 1907- Burbank (CA)

1982) and Harry Barris (New York City1905 -

Burbank (CA) 1962) would have made until

1931 the heyday of Paul Whiteman’s orchestra

Louis Armstrong - Body and Soul

 12   Formed in Detroit in 1926 by the drummer Wiliam McKinney, The McKinney Cotton Pickers (The words can' t express the way I feel) were joined in 1927 by the composer and bandleader Don Redman. The band becomes then very popular, stringing together records among which some become best-sellers. The Cotton Pickers are a real nursery of talented artists including some such as Benny Carter, Doc Cheatham or Coleman Hawkins will be called to bright solo careers.


  13   Native of Bloomington, Indiana, the young Hoagland Carmichael (Bloomington (IN) 1899 - Rancho Mirage (CA) 1981), Hoagy for his friends, owes to her mother who plays the piano in theaters his early interest for this instrument. He also sings occasionally and writes when a teenager his early songs. However, his musical career takes time to start until his meeting in 1926 with cornetist Bix Beiderbecke that will prove decisive. He composes especially for him Riverboat Shuffle called to become a jazz standard. Carmichael wrote then for Louis Armstrong and moved to New York in 1929 where he met Irving Mills, the producer of Duke Ellington who hired him for a series of recordings. He composed next year Georgia one my mind, a future universal hit.


 14   Trained violonist, Bert Lown (White Plains (NY) 1903 – Portland (OR) 1962) leads in 1930 the Biltmore Hotel Orchestra based in New York. His elegant musical style enlivens brilliantly the dancing parties in society. He has already recorded many hits of the moment for Victor Records including the famous Bye Bye Blues that he introduced himself in 1925. The vocalist Elmer Feldkamp performs Blue is the night.


Luis Russell (Careening Clay (Panama) 1902 – New York 1962) - Poor Lil me Born in Panama, he learns during his childhood to play the piano, the violin and the trombone under the direction of his father, a music teacher. He is fifteen years old when he begins to accompany in the piano the silent movies screened at the local theater but destiny really smiles when he wins the lottery and buys a one-way ticket to New Orleans. He makes it the apprenticeship of  jazz and follows the great migration that drives him to Chicago where he joins King Oliver's orchestra. Then he moves to New York where he starts his own band in 1927. He finds therefore to play occasionnally

with renowned jazz musicians like Jelly Roll Morton, Red Allen or Louis Armstrong when they record in studio.


  15   Trained violonist, Leo Reisman (Boston (MA) 1897 – Miami (FL) 1961)  takes as early as 1918 the direction of his own band. He does not really adhere to the jazz style, preferring to confine in dance music. Concerned about the effect and elegance, he is one of the most wanted leaders to accompany the big productions of Broadway as in particular the famous Puttin' on the Ritz.


Ted Weems (Wilfred T. Weymes – Pitcairn (PA) 1901 - Tulsa (OK) 1963) - The Man From The South - born in Pitcairn, Pennsylvania,  he makes by chance acquaintance with music after winning a violin in a competition. He formed his first band in college and enters the professional circuit in 1923, at the end of his university studies. He is popular for his eclectic style and the quality of his arrangements. "The man from the south" that he completed by a sequence of energetic scat is ranked No. 1 during the year.


Having held the baton from the age of 15 years, Isham Jones (Colton (OH) 1891 - Hollywood (FL) 1956) is already in the time a stage veteran. He is recognized as an experimented bandleader but especially a bold arranger. The fact that his repertoire is mainly devoted to the dance music does not prevent him from attracting talented young musicians as Benny Goodman or Woody Herman, among others.

16   Paul Whiteman (Denver (CO) 1890 – Doylestown (PA) 1967) 

His musical eclecticism blending with the same efficiency jazz and trendy tunes to the  traditional repertoire earned him to be certainly during the 20s the most popular bandleader throughout the country and abroad. His name alone is enough to draw the crowd. He is in 1930 at the peak of his fame and is being featured in a movie entirely dedicated to the King of Jazz, a label somewhat snooty which will be worth him some critics. It is a series of music and dance routines shot in Technicolor in ambitious sceneries. But curiously, this assembling goes bad and public is missing.

Why such a failure? It is not enough to call up the crisis. The film has no real story.

It is simply a set of sequences in the style of vaudeville. The show mostly lacks imagination and, despite a hint of humor and an ambitious but ice-colored performance of Rhapsody in Blue composed in 1924 by George Gershwin, the viewer remains impassive. Moreover, the insertion of a poor cartoon-like caricature brings nothing attractive due to the tiny quality in the drawing. Phew! There remains the Rhythm  Boys with Song of the dawn and Happy Feet  to instill some freshness to the whole. Anecdotally, Bing Crosby was excluded from the stage after he was sentenced to two months in jail for drunkenness, that Paul Whiteman badly appreciated.



 17   Red Nichols & His Five Pennies - Corinne Corinna.

Trumpeter, cornetist and eclectic bandleader,

Nichols is the archetypal talented musician. But

although he is able to perform all the kinds

with the same easiness, it is still in jazz that he

expresses himself the best. His sidemen include some 

of the best musicians, to name only Joe Venuti, the

Dorsey brothers, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller,
Jack Teagarden, Gene Krupa and many others.
The performer of the song is none other than

Wingy Manone.


 Jack Teagarden - Love me,

This inventive trombonist native from Texas owes to

his father, an amateur trumpeter, his taste for brass instruments. He is so often vocalist, unfrequent thing if we except Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway.

Earl Burtnett -  Having become famous on Broadway by performing the

music of the Ziegfield Follies of 1920, he took up residency with his dance band at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

Red Nichols – I got rhythm.

The song has just been created in Broadway by the brothers George and Ira Gershwin for the musical Girl Crazy. The young Ethel Merman performs it on stage while Red Nichols conducts the band surrounded with exceptional young musicians including Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa and Glenn Miller. He will retain on the other hand his official vocalist Dick Robertson for the studio version.

19  Irving Mills (Manhattan (NY ) 1894 – Palm Springs (CA)1985) 

Without being a good composer or even a true musician, he had on the other hand some financial means which enabled him to invest in the quest

of new talents. He was especially behind of the success of several songwriters as Sammy Fain, Hoagy Carmichael, Dorothy Fiels or Jimmy

McHugh and contributed to launch artists' career so prestigious as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, etc...

He was also the first one to make record together white and black musicians. Mills was almost unaware of the music theory

but he spent his evenings at the Cotton Club and possessed a real knack to pick up the track that would become a hit. Concerned about supporting a

high level musical spirit to the Cotton Club, he formed his own group the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, which proved to be a real incubator for young

leading musicians.

The essential hits of 1930 (4)

 20  1 - Gus Arnheim feat. Bing Crosby – It must be true 3:08 (Harry Barris,

Gus Arnheim, Gordon Clifford)

Guys Arnhem and his band enlivened at the time the evenings of the Cocoanut Grove

in Hollywood. They had become so popular owing to their numerous radio programs

 that it took only a few months to Bing Crosby to assert himself  as a real star.

2 - Ruth Etting – Ten Cents a dance 3:16 (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)

This song telling the moods of a taxi-dancer was introduced in Simple Simon,

a musical released on Broadway in 1930. Lee Morse had to perform it

on stage but Ruth Etting was finally preferred by the producer Florenz Ziegfeld.

3 - The California Ramblers – Wally Edwards & His Orchestra feat. Elmer

Feldkamp – Dream Girl 3:09 ()

Formed in 1921 in Ohio instead of California, the Ramblers were one of the most

prolific groups of the decade welcoming by the way young musicians as Red Nichols

or the Dorsey brothers.

4 - Hoagy Carmichael – Up a Lazy River 3:18 (Hoagy Carmichael, Sidney Arodin)

5 - Teddy Bunn (Freeport (NY) 1909 - Lancaster (PA) 1978) & Spencer Williams 

(New Orleans (LA)1889 – Flushing (NY) 1965) - It’s Sweet Like So 2:44 (Teddy Bunn,

Spencer Williams) -

We owe to the pianist Spencer William to have composed some successful hits such as

Basin Street Blues, Royal Garden Blues or still Everybody loves my baby.

He comes back in 1930 from of a long stay in Paris where he wrote especially for Joséphine Baker and the Folies Bergères.

6 - Bubber Miley (Aiken (SC) 1903 - Welfare Island (NY) 1932)St James Infirmary 3:36 ()

Outstanding trumpeter, Miley was attracted at first by the style of King Oliver before joining the orchestra of Duke Ellington between 1923 and 1929. Certains consider that he was at the time one of the main reponsibles for the fame of the band especially by inventing the style " wah-wah ". After a stay in Paris, he is back in New York in 1930 where he records a series of songs for Victor Records.

7 – Sam Lanin’s Orchestra (Russia 1891 – Hollywood (FL) 1977) and Annette Hanshaw Cooking breakfast for the one I love 3:18 (Billy Rose, Henry Tobias)

Song introduced by Fanny Brice in the musical Be Yourself produced by United Artists.

8 – McKinney’s Cotton Pickers – Zonky 2:59 (Andy Razaf, Fats Waller)

A major achievement of the band whose lyrics are performed by vocalists Dave Willborn.

9 – Louis Armstrong – I’m A Ding Dong Daddy 3:07 (Phil Baxter)

Song written in tribute to the town of Dumas (TX) where had stayed the bandleader Phil Baxter during the 20s.

10 – Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees – I’m confessin’ 3:28 (Al J. Neiburg, Ellis Reynolds)

The first version of this song inspired by a ballad written one year earlier by Fats Waller was recorded in August, 1930 by Louis Armstrong.

11 – Red Nichols & His Five Pennies feat. "Scrappy" Lambert (Harold Lambert - New Brunswick (NJ) 1901 – 1989) Embraceable you 3:01 (George & Ira Gershwin)

Song introduced by Ginger Rogers in the musical Girl Crazy released the same year on Broadway.

12 - Lee Morse  - I still get a thrill 3:07 (Benny Davis, J. Fred Coots)

The female singers of the year


 21  1 - The Boswell Sisters - Don't tell him what happened to me 3:19 (Buddy DeSylva, Ray Henderson, Lew Brown)

The Boswell Sisters are on the way to become stars. It must be admitted that the subtle dose of jazz that gives rhythm to their performances (what seems actually rather natural when you come from New Orleans) makes them the representatives of the " new sound " of the song.

2 -  Annette Hanshaw - I'm following you 3:19 (Ballard McDonald, Dave Dreyer)

Annette Hanshaw lied on her civil status, she is not as  young as she claims. Anyway, she worships the audience due to her pretty mixture of ingenuity and character.

3 – Helen Kane If I faw down and go boom 3:03 (Brockman, Stevens)

Helen Kane’s childish voice suits perfectly in this song mixing acid humor and false naivety. After making her debut in the Bronx, she has been on the Broadway stage for two years. She was especially the one who introduced the famous I wanna be loved by you covered 30 years later by Marilyn Monroe. With her so distinctive voice, Helen Kane is beloved by the public. The Fleischer Studios return it well to her while immortalizing her in the character of Betty Boop.

4 - Ethel Waters - I got rhythm 3:01 (George & Ira Gershwin)

Although she started from the early 1920s to sing the blues in the nightclubs of Harlem, Ethel Waters  came to move to Broadway where she expresses with ease

her ability to combine the jazz rhythm and the classic song.

5 - Libby Holman -  Cooking Breakfast for the one I love 2:04 (Billy Rose, Henry Tobias)

Libby Holman, a sultry beauty, a somptuous voice with dramatic accents but also a torch singer become a femme fatale. Her artistic career is as much satisfied as her sentimental life is stormy. The song had been introduced on Broadway by Fanny Brice in  the play Be Yourself.

6 -  Marion Harris (Mary Ellen Harrison - Henderson (KY) 1896 – New York 1944) - He's my secret passion  3:06 (Joseph Young)

Very popular during the 20s, she made up there an honorable career but is somewhat in withdrawal at the dawn of the new decade.

                                                                                                                     7 - Ethel Merman (Ethel Zimmerman - Queens (NY) 1908) - Sweetheart 3:18 ()

This young actress whose powerful voice was vibrating the Broadway stages arose from a rigorous Presbyterian family belonging to the New Yorker upper-middle class. Her fresh performance in Girl Crazy, the musical written by the brothers Gershwin earned her at once a popularity which will not flag any more.

8 - Lee Morse - Blue turning grey over you 3:18 (Andy Razaf, Fats Waller)

Lee Morse was at that time one the most poular singers. She started her career  in the early 20s in musicals  and vaudeville on the West Coast before recording her first original songs for Pathé in 1924. Often accompanied with her acoustic guitar, Lee Morse is a natural contralto but her vocal register extends actually on eight octaves, a quite exceptional quality. Her problems with alcohol will cause her, unfortunately, some professional setbacks.

9 - The Brox Sisters - Crying for the Carolines 1:38 (Sam H. Lewis, Joe Young, Harry Warren)

Born in Kentucky and Tennessee, the three sisters Brock (Bobbe, Lorayne and Patricia) grew actually in Edmonton , Alberta where they began to occur teenagers on the stage of the Canadian vaudeville. Back in the United States, they starred during the 20s in many Broadway shows including the Ziegfeld Follies and performed especially  beside the Marx Brothers. Allying their undeniable beauty to their vocal qualities, they are rightly regarded as the first all-female close harmony group to have been very successful. The song Crying for the Carolines, from the movie Spring is Here, opposes disappointments of the city to nostalgia of the Southern country life.

10 - Alice White -                                                                  I've got my eye on you 4:28 (Cole Porter)

Alice White is not the best                                                     vocalist of the year but she stars in two successful musical

movies and has an                                                                      undeniable charm.

The song is from Showgirl                                                        in Hollywood directed by Mervin LeRoy.

11 - Ruth Etting -                                                                           Ten Cents a dance (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)

Ruth Etting is especially known                                               to have been one of the very first singers to shoot in short

musicals and for the beauty of her                          legs which made her a star of some the most

trendy shows in Broadway including the famous  Ziegfeld Follies.

Ten Cents A Dance had been composed for Simple Simon produced by Florenz Ziegfeld and was initially to be performed

by Lee Morse. But this one occurred in the rehearsal in such a bad condition that she was fired and immediately replaced

by Ruth Etting.

             Whoopee !

22  Director :  Thornton Freeland

Producer : Samuel Goldwyn, Florenz Ziegfeld

Screenplay : William M. Conselman, Owen Davis

Score: Nacio Herb Brown, Walter Donaldson, Edward Ilescu

Choreography : Busby Berkeley

Actors: Eddie Cantor (Henry Williams), Ethel Shutta (Mary Custer), Eleanora Hunt (Sally


Adapted from a musical Broadway hit released in 1928, the movie coproduced by Florenz Ziegfeld

and Samuel Goldwyn would allow Eddie Cantor who had previously starred it on stage to become

one of the most popular artists in the country.

Busby Berkeley uses it to prove his genius of choreography, introducing in

particular some audacious camera motions that will soon constitute his trademark.

Among the chorus-singers perform two young actresses further called to reach some fame,

Betty Grable and Ann Sothern. Shot in Technicolor, this light and often very funny musical

included in particular some quality songs among which My Baby Just Cares For Me or Yes Sir,

That's My Baby  called to belong to the classics of popular music.

The movie was nominated  to Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction.

Eddie Cantor (Edward Israel Iskowitz  - New York City, 1892 – Beverly Hills (CA) 1964)His numerous radio broadcasts and his comic sense of storytelling made him a star with a wide audience. Comedian, dancer, singer, actor, author, he also appeared during for almost two decades among the most popular stars of Broadway, making especially famous by his inimitable eye-rollings, hence his nickname Banjo Eyes.

Orphan from the age of two, he was brought up by his grandmother and began his theatrical career as a waiter and singer in a saloon of Coney Island, accompanied by a young pianist named Jimmy Durante. To be tried a time in vaudeville, mostly made up black, he started in the Ziegfeld Folies of 1917 and therefore performed regularly until 1927. Eddie Cantor was also included at that time among the pioneers of radio, as the host of various broadcasts on stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Married and father of five daughters, he comforted his popularity by being on air the narrator of crispy twists and turns of the family tribe.



          23 Reaching for the Moon (United Artists)

Direction: Edmund Goulding

Screenplay: Irving Berlin, Edmund Goulding

Acteurs: Douglas Fairbanks (Larry Day), Bebe Daniels (Vivian Benton), Edward Everett Horton (Roger)


Perhaps the script does not lack vim in this gloomy times but the interest of the film

comes mainly from the performances achieved by Douglas Fairbanks and Bebe Daniels, two stars

of the silent movies freshly converted to the talkies.

Larry Day ( Douglas Fairbanks), the king of Wall Street is certainly a financial genius but knows  

nothing about women and when he falls for the lovely Vivian Benton ( Bebe Daniels), he asks

his valet Roger (Edward Everett Horton)  to teach him how to seduce her.

He follows her on a luxurious steamer but his efforts bring no result. He learns besides

that the crisis has just caused his downfall and thinking losing the young woman he pursues,

he begins drinking. As often, a Happy End will conclude this adventure.

Irving Berlin had initially

planned to make a musical

movie but the genre 

being shunned by the public,

all the songs he had composed remained in the drawers except Lower than Low-down, a so brightly played track that posterity will remember it as the shallmark of the movie. In great shape, Bing Crosby makes quite a peachy cameo appearance, barely the time for him to sing the first verse Lenox Avenue is known, for doing the Low-Down, but you'll find they're not alone , in doing the Low-Down....  before Bebe Daniels takes the refrain on her account , carrying out a rather interesting performance. June McCloy takes over from her in a vocal register for the less amazing. With its catchy rhythm, not to say tonic, Lower than Low-down will become one of the hits of the years 1930-31.

 24  The essential songs of the year (5)

01 – Henry Thies (1893-1935) & His Hotel

Sinton Orchestra feat. Jane Froman (University

City (MO) 1907 – Columbia (MO) 1980)- June


Trained violonist, Henry Thies enjoyed

some success in the late 20s at the head of

his own band. He became especially

appointed conductor of the Hotel Sinton in

Cincinnati and recorded repeatedly for Vocalion. Victim as many musicians of the effects of the Great Depression, he ended his life at the age of 42 without knowing that his program would be broadcast that same evening on the national airwaves.
Still a little girl, Jane Froman began to stutter after her father gave up the family but this disability did not however prevent her from following classic singing lessons and to become familiar with the fashionable tunes of George Gershwin or Cole Porter. She auditioned successfully for the local radio station in Cincinnati and got acquainted with the leader Henry Thies with whom she recorded her first songs for Victor Records. Her unmistakable vocal qualities would later take her to Chicago and New York where she was to befriend the famous Broadway actress Fanny Brice. Considered during the 30s as one of the reference vocalists of the New York stage, she would know a singular destiny. On February 
22, 1943, her plane crashed in the Tagus arriving in Lisbon. She survived the accident despite serious injuries which would always leave after-effects. She did not so far interrupt her career and even had the honor of staging her life in the film With A Song in My Heart (1952) starring Susan Hayward.

02 - Paul Whiteman feat. Bing Crosby  -You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me (Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal)

Song introduced by Maurice Chevalier in The Big Pond, a movie released the same year.

03  - Chester Gaylord (1899 – Shrewsbury (MA) 1984)What’s The Use (Isham Jones – Charles Newman)

Dubbed The Whispering Serenader, Chester Gaylord was known  as saxophonist before becoming

during the 20s a very popular singer due to his vocal qualities. He had even in the time the privilege of

signing an exclusive contract with Brunswick Records. The purchase of their studios by Warner Bros. led in

1930 a reorganization of which, like many artists, he was however to pay the price. His contract was not

renewed but he kept over the years a trusty audience on the radio programs.

04 – The Boswell Sisters with Jackie Taylor & His Orchestra(We’re On The) Highway To Heaven (Joe Burke,

Al Dubin)

 05 – Al Goodman (Nikopol (Russia) 1890 – New York City , 1972)Red Hot Chicago (Ray Henderson, Buddy

De Sylva, Lew Brown) - This song written for the musical Flyin’ High is performed in New Yotk at the Apollo

Theater from March 1930. Al Goodman leads himself the musicians.

06  - Joe Venuti  (Philadelphia (PA) ,? 1904 – Seattle (WA) 1978) feat. Irene Beasley (1904 – 1980)My Man from

Caroline (Walter Donaldson)

Soon named the Long Tall Gal from Dixie, Irene Baisley is still starting her career.

07 – The Rhythm BoysThree Little Words (Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby)

One of the last songs recorded in the Victor  studios by the vocal trio including Bing Crosby, Al Rinker and Harry Barris.  They are for the occasion accompanied by Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

08 – Annette HanshawI Love A Ukulele  (A. Fields, F. Hall)

09 – Bert Lown & His Biltmore Hotel Music feat. Smith Ballew (Sykes Ballew – Palestine (TX) 1902 – Longview (TX) 1984) Hello Baby (Herb Magidson, Ned Washington, Michael H. CLeary)

Smith Ballew was so popular that he soon felt in the mood to form his own band. The experience was however quickly cut short, bringing him to move to the film and perform the singing cowboy, a logical consequence for a singer from Texas.

The song had been written for the movie " The Forward Pass " whose plot took place in the world of football. Released in 1929, it had in the main roles Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Loretta Young.

10 – Lee Morse (Lena Corinne Taylor – Portland (OR) 1897- New York City, 1954)Sing You Sinners (W. Franke Harling, Sam Coslow)

From the top of her 5 ft., Lee Morse was since the early 20s one of the most prolific and popular artists in the country. In 1930, however, her image had to tarnish due to her problems with alcohol. Approached to star in Simple Simon, the musical to be presented the same year on Broadway, she was for that reason simply fired for the benefit of Ruth Etting.

Before becoming a global hit, Sing You Sinners was originally composed for the movie Honey and already outstandingly performed by Lilian Roth.

11 - Louis Armstrong (New Orleans (LA) 1901, New York City, 1971)Exactly Like You (Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh)

Song written for the Lew Leslie’s International Revue of Broadway and performed on stage by Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence

12 - Frankie Trumbauer (Carbondale (IL) 1901 –  Kansas City (MO) 1956)  feat. « Scrappy » Lambert (Harold Lambert – 1901 – New Brunswick (NJ) 1987)Bye Bye Blues (Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown, Chauncey Gray)

One of the best jazz saxophonists of the 20s, Frankie Trumbauer worked with Bix Beiderbecke with whom he joined the orchestra of Paul Whiteman. He has also signed on behalf of numerous recordings to honor the contract that still binds him in 1930 to Okeh Records. Trained pianist, Harold "Scrappy" Lambert was especially appreciated  for his vocal qualities. 

Jane Froman

Chester Gaylord              












                                                                  Smith Ballew

Lee Morse

Cab Calloway, the full of energy


  25    Cabell Calloway (Rochester (NY ) 1907 - Hockessin (DE) 1994)

Born on Christmas day, he came from a rather well-off family, his father being indeed a lawyer and his mother a teacher. This one played in particuliar the organ in a parish of Baltimore where the family had settled down, allowing the small Cabell to sing from an early age with the choir of the church. He displayed real abilities for music and his parents enrolled him in classical singing lessons. He however prefered to attend the jazz clubs of the city where he was introduced to the drums by Chick Webb and to the piano by Johnny Jones.

In 1925, he went with his elder sister Blanche to Chicago where she got her first success at the head of her Joy Boys. Cab played on his side the drums and sang in various nightclubs in the city but he did not therefore give up his studies, holding even his place in thBaltimore Athenians, the basketball team evolving in the university championship.

After being left graduated from the Douglas High School, he leaves fast the Lincoln University of Pennsylvania where he was yet expected to continue his studies to take part with Blanche to the Plantation Days tour, a review intending to promote black popular music. It ends in the fall of 1927 in Chicago where he decides to stay. He plays as a drummer in Dreamland Cafe where he starts to enliven the evenings till his meeting with Louis Armstrong who teaches him to "scat". He forms in 1929 the Alabamians with which he first  fronts in Chicago before occurring in New York's Savoy Ballroom, the luxury dance club also known as the temple of Lindy Hop. He wins the award for best band and is granted by the owner Charles Buchanon, the direction of the house band named the Missourians, an orchestra reputed for having previously been based at the Cotton Club. He finds again shortly after Louis Armstrong who allows him to take part in the review Connie's Hot Chocolate that overcomes the Hudson Theatre. In 1930, his career was finally launched and he replaces Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club when this latter is on tour. Cab Calloway also takes part in radio shows including the famous Lucky Strike hosted by Walter Winchell. Known for his friendship with gang leaders, this one is also known to break down racial barriers still present among the broadcast programs to make him a jazz symbol throughout the country.

Puttin' on the Ritz

1930 - "Puttin' on the Ritz"

 26    Puttin ' on the Ritz means literally " to dress up ".

Although this song written by Irving Berlin has proved as many others the fame of Fred Astaire, it is not due to him in the first performances.

The eponym film released on screens stars Harry Richman, a veteran of the Broadway stage who signs here his first appearance in movies and the young but how talented Joan Bennett.

The story tells the rise and fall of a crooner of the scene. The movie is however only a relative success while the title song brings the house down. Harry Richman records it with the orchestra of Earl Burtnett and it soon becomes a hit of the year.

Voices from the South


27  1 -Bukka White - (Booker T. Washington White – between Aberdeen & Houston (MS) 1909 – Memphis (TN) 1977) - The Panama Limited

Trained fiddler, he learnt the guitar alongside Charley Patton who especially taught him the slide technique. He makes in 1930 his first recordings for Victor Records claiming a style that blends both country blues and gospel.

The Panama Limited was the sleeper-train which operated from 1911 between Chicago and New Orleans.

2 -  Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers  ( Red Banks (1883) – Memphis (TN) 1979)Bring it with you when you come 2:48 ()

Born in a plantation on the banks of the Mississippi River, Guy Cannon is a kind of alive legend in himself. He left his family at the age of 15 to go to Clarksdale, one of these places where was played the music of the Delta. He then went to find W.C. Handy, the "Father of the Blues ", who lived in Alabama. He built a banjo with a frying pan stretched by a racoon skin, was introduced to fiddle and guitar, learning by the way the "slide" by dragging a bottleneck worn over the 4th finger along the strings. Then, he rose to Memphis where he shared his time between odd jobs in the daytime and the music he played at night in dances together with his friend Jim Jackson. He made his first recordings in 1927 and due to this first experience, he was able to form a band there called the Jug Stompers (the jug being this whiskey pitcher that emits a bass sound when you blow the neck) with harmonicist  Noah Lewis and guitarist Ashley Thompson. Able by himself to play the 5-string banjo while blowing into a jug, he was given to have skilly mixed the style of the first Delta blues with traditional folk culture.

3 - Geeshie Wiley () Skinny legs blues 3:12 ()She became a myth by keeping her whole mystery. We know to her credit only four songs recorded in the Paramount's  studio in Grafton, Wisconsin. We ever knew nothing about her, either where she came from, nor where she went but the few she left is simply fascinating. A dark voice that sounds like the murmurings of southern plantations, a minimalist music, a mournful lament, a percussif rif come out from nowhere, will we some day be able to give a face to these skinny legs?

4 -  The Allen Bothers (Formé à Chattanooga (TN) 1923) Reckless night blues 3:22 (Allen)

Austin playing the banjo and Lee the guitar and the kazoo, this is the way both brothers make their musical training on the banks of Tennessee. They occur at first in the local shows and record from 1927 for Columbia which ranks them by mistake among the African American songsters. They decide then to switch to Victor Records for which they will record their best songs in 1930 . 



29 5 - Lonnie Johnson (Alonzo Johnson – New Orleans (LA) 1899 – Toronto (Ontario) 1970) - No more trouble now 3:14 (Johnson)

Being born in a musicians' family of New Orleans allowed him to learn very early to play an instrument. He studied violin,  guitar, piano and occured in the local gigs alongside his father. He then toured for two years in England and moved after his return in 1921 to St Louis. He won there a blues contest  which allows him to get a recording contract with Okeh Records. Called to perform in  New York and Chicago, he recorded especially for vocalists like Bessie Smith as well as beside Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington or Eddie Lang.



6 -  Jimmie Rodgers, (Meridian (MS) 1897 – New York 1933) - Those Gambler's Blues 2:51 (Rodgers, Traditional)

Dubbed the " Father of Country Music ", he was born in a modest family of Mississippi and taught  music by himself, sometimes helped by his aunt. He roamed as a teenager along the roads of his area with his guitar, picking on the way some meager subsidies. Resolutely opposed to this situation, his father forced him to return home and invited him to work for the railroad where he became a brakeman before renouncing in 1924 after having contracted tuberculosis. This disease offered him the opportunity to sidetrack to the show and he made in 1927 his first recordings after a radio broadcast. His career was at last truly launched.

On July 16th, 1930, he recorded even with Louis Armstrong " Standin ' on the corner ".


7 - Geeshey Wiley Last kind words 3:03 ()

8 - Son House (Eddie James « Son »House, Jr. – Riverton ‘MS) 1902 - Detroit (MI) 1988) – My Black Mama Part 1

It was only after having become a preacher near Clarksdale that at 20, he learned about the guitar. Inspired by Willie Wilson's music, he started to play beside Charley Patton who taught him the "slide" and a way of producing a strong syncopated rhythm. He was then involved in the murder of a man next to a brawl and although having called the self-defense, he was sentenced to 15-years in prison. He was however relaxed after two years in the Mississippi State Pentitentiary. Then, he moved  in 1930 with Charley Patton, Willie Brown and the pianist Louise Johnson to the Paramount studios in Grafton (WI) to record a series of tracks. The eight songs released resulted in commercial failures and Son House decided to retire in Mississippi sharing from now onwards his time between working in plantations and juke joints. It will take more than ten years before he agrees to return to the studio. 

9 - Lonnie Johnson - Got the blues for murder only

10 - Big Bill Broonzy - Skoodle Doo Doo


The stages of Jimmie Rodgers' course

Leo Reisman releases shortly after a lush

version with his vocalist Lew Conway, as well

as the bandleader Jan Garber who sees there an

opportunity to recover after having been mangled since the beginning of the crisis.


        Paul Whiteman: the King of Jazz

  28  The start of King of Jazz was so laborious since the Universal Studios have launched the project that the movie is released too late to have the expected success. Shot in 1929, its release happens at a time when this kind of musical productions seems already outdated. Everything is there too excessive, just like the image of Paul Whiteman himself!  Nobody doubts a second the extent of his talent but the cocktail lacks cruelly originality. The singers John Boles and Jeanne Loff evolve in lavish sets but are both soporific; choreographies never fail to miss efficiency but are a trifle dated. For lack of story, the succession of sequences look like fair routines.

 Fortunately, The Rhythm Boys bring down the touch of youth and cheerfulness that is sorely lacking at all.

They are at the top of their form. Harry Barris and Al Rinker at the pianos, Bing Crosby standing in the middle will separate however shortly after the release of the movie. Composed by Milton Ager with lyrics by Jack Yellen, Happy Feet is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film. Following The Rhythm Boys are the Sisters G (Karla and Eleonor Gurtchlein) who take over for a surrealist voice clip and especially a gymnastic dance routine so short as audacious. Al " Rubber legs " Norman comes then…
















The Allen Brothers - Reckless Night Blues

The Sisters G

Eleanor and Karla Guchtrlein, vaudeville singers and dancers are still like the 20's extravagant and full of daring.


 30   Among the featured musicians led by Paul Whiteman  appears Joe Venuti (Philadelphia (PA) on 1903 - Seattle (WA) on 1978), the most popular jazz violinist of his time.






















Of Italian descent, he would have been born as it is said on the liner who carried his parents to America. He first trained with the classic violin, then turns to jazz with the complicity of his friend, guitarist Eddie Lang. He made with him his first recordings in 1926 and pointed out himself by the fluidity and the precision of his style as much as by the almost insolent quality of his improvisations.






Creative and brilliant  musician,  Joe Venuti was able to fully integrate his instrument into the jazz orchestration developing a distinctive style which will make soon school.

Joe Venuti feat. Frank Luther

Wasting my love on you

The Cotton Club

  31  At the crossing of Lenox and 142nd Street,  the first Club De Luxe opened its doors in 1920. Its owner was the former  heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, since become a key figure in the New York nights. He did not hide his passion for Opera while ostentatiously displaying his taste for fancy cars, jewels and luxury clothes. He was also known to have openly transgressed the racial conventions by campaigning for equal social and economic rights to African Americans. He was moreover to put into practice his claims by choosing to marry only white women.

Johnson sold his club in 1923 to Owney Madden, a mobster specializing in bootlegging well known in the local underworld. It was he who renamed it Cotton Club, making first of it a speakeasy with a back room discreetly reserved for liquor drinkers, before launching into an otherwise ambitious project.

Although the establishment was located in the district of Harlem, Madden decided to reserve the club for white customers only whereas the staff and the musicians were almost exclusively black. The waitresses' criteria of recruitment were in type very explicit, rather tall and thin, not too african-looking, very "sexy" and less than 20 years old. Against a background of strong racial connotations and underlying Mafia's connection, the Cotton Club became the major temple of jazz and new music trends. New York stars were also on the occasion invited to enliven evenings there.

This was particularly the case of Eddie Cantor, Mae West, Al Jolson, George Gershwin or Irving Berlin.


Bandleader Fletcher Henderson was appointed in 1923 the first official permanent there before handling over four years later the place to Duke Ellington.

This one enjoyed until his departure in 1931 of a total creative freedom to accompany the dances, provide openings or transitions and arouse an exotic atmosphere by instrumental effects that must evoke the "jungle".

He had thus the opportunity to explore new orchestral colorations and audacious arrangements. Evening programs broadcast from the Cotton Club proved to be a tremendous tool of promotion and contributed to ensure its fame and its popularity. In 1930, Cab Calloway made his debut there before taking board next year.

31   Duke Ellington   and his Cotton Club orchestra.

Excerpt from the movie Black & Tan Fantasy (1929)

The musicians include notably trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton, trumpetters Arthur Whetsol and Bubber Miley, saxophonists Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges, clarinetist Barney Bigard.

Blind Lemon Jefferson (Couthman (TX) 1893- Chicago (IL) 1929) -

Born in Texas, he made his first recordings in Chicago in 1926

and was with Blind Blake one of the first bluesmen to enjoy notoriety.

However, it took until the beginning of the 1960s to see his music

popularized by artists like B.B. King or the Beatles.

42nd-street.fr - Gerard Tondu

All rights reversed - nov. 2010