Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Studios and the Birth of Recorded Jazz

Overview

"Delightful history of Gennett Records, its parent the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana, in the 1920s, and the birth of recorded jazz... For jazz followers, not to be missed. A huge success."—Kirkus Reviews

"... a labor of love if ever there was one.... [Gennett] helped get everything started, and we are in Rick Kennedy's debt for paying it due tribute." —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"... lively and anecdotal history... "—JazzTimes

From 1917 to 1932, in a primitive studio next to the railroad ...

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Overview

"Delightful history of Gennett Records, its parent the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana, in the 1920s, and the birth of recorded jazz... For jazz followers, not to be missed. A huge success."—Kirkus Reviews

"... a labor of love if ever there was one.... [Gennett] helped get everything started, and we are in Rick Kennedy's debt for paying it due tribute." —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"... lively and anecdotal history... "—JazzTimes

From 1917 to 1932, in a primitive studio next to the railroad tracks, the Gennett family of Richmond, Indiana recorded some of the earliest performances of jazz, blues, and country greats—including Jelly Roll Morton, Big Bill Broonzy, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Bix Beiderbecke, and native Hoosier Hoagy Carmichael (whose "Stardust" debuted on Gennett as a dance stomp).

Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy is the first detailed account of the people and events behind this unique company. Personalized by anecdotes from musicians, employees, and family members, it traces the colorful history of a pioneer recording company.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this well-researched, behind-the-scenes account, Kennedy, a media relations manager at General Electric, tells the story of Gennett Studios, a small company in the 1920s that produced the first recordings of many of our nation's great jazz, country and blues performers. The Gennett family of Richmond, Ind., owners of the Starr Piano Company, opened a recording studio in 1915 to make records to sell in their showrooms across the country. Taking advantage of a court decision that placed recording processes in the public domain, the Gennetts entered the business as jazz captured the population's fancy. They would record anyone who approached them and thus captured, often quite primitively, the original sounds of such artists as Jelly Roll Morton, Joe ``King'' Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Earl ``Fatha'' Hines, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Bradley Kincaid and Charlie Patton. Unable to ride out the Depression and family bickering, the Gennetts stopped producing records in 1934. Kennedy's account adds a significant footnote to the history of recorded music. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Nestled in rural Richmond, Indiana, the Gennett studios made musical history in the 1920s, producing early and important discs by the legendary Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, and Hoagy Carmichael, among others. By focusing on the trio's recording studio activities, Kennedy adds a new dimension to our knowledge of their careers. He also shows how early recordings accelerated popular acceptance of new musical styles, signaling the birth of what is now a billion-dollar industry. Carefully researched and well written, this study strikes an entertaining balance between the business of recording and the art of early jazz and popular music. Good for large collections.-- Paul Baker, Wisconson Ctr. for Education Research
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253213150
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

RICK KENNEDY is a media relations manager with General Electric Company. A former journalist, he was business and entertainment reporter for the Richmond Palladium-Item and the Cincinnati Post.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Steve Allen Preface

1. A Music Dynasty in Victorian Indiana Starr Piano Company Courtroom Showdown: Victor vs. Starr Piano Halcyon Days in Starr Valley

2. A New Wind is Blowing through Chicago The Origins of Jazz Recording The New Orleans Rhythm Kings King Oliver and His Legendary Creole Jazz Band The Music of Jelly Roll Morton Just Passing Through: Other Jazz Debuts in Richmond, 1923-25
Louis Armstrong and the Red Onion Jazz Babies

3. Jazz Hysteria in the Hoosier State Bix and the Wolverines Hoagy and Bix: Soulmate in Jazz Shaping the Beiderbecke Legend From Obscurity to Stardust

4. Rural Recordings in the Electronic Era From Electrobeam to Budget Labels Scouting the Hills of Appalachia for That Old-Time Music The WLS "National Barn Dance" and Its "Kentucky Mountain Boy"
The Golden Era of the Old-Time Singing Country Blues Recording Gennett's Last Hurrah in Jazz

5. Yet the Music Lives On The Noisemaker: Harry Gennett, Jr., and His Sound Effects Records The Final Accounting

Appendix: Gennett on Reissue Anthologies Notes Selected Bibliography Topical Index Index of Music

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