Volume 1: 1920-1921

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Scott Yanow
The Archeophone label is the premiere record company in reissuing pre-1920 music on CDs. While its releases have included ragtime, vaudeville, Bert Williams, pop songs, and novelties, this CD by the Benson Orchestra of Chicago was its first full-length jazz set. Actually, the 26 performances on this complete set the earliest recordings by this group are as much dance music as they are jazz. Edgar A. Benson, a top booking agent, had quite a few bands working in Chicago area hotels during the first half of the 1920s. The main purpose of his orchestras was to satisfy dancers, so the tempos were always steady, the emphasis was on ensembles, and the melody was a prominent part ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Scott Yanow
The Archeophone label is the premiere record company in reissuing pre-1920 music on CDs. While its releases have included ragtime, vaudeville, Bert Williams, pop songs, and novelties, this CD by the Benson Orchestra of Chicago was its first full-length jazz set. Actually, the 26 performances on this complete set the earliest recordings by this group are as much dance music as they are jazz. Edgar A. Benson, a top booking agent, had quite a few bands working in Chicago area hotels during the first half of the 1920s. The main purpose of his orchestras was to satisfy dancers, so the tempos were always steady, the emphasis was on ensembles, and the melody was a prominent part of the music. His main band, the Benson Orchestra of Chicago, was a nonet with pianist/arranger Roy Bargy, four horns, violinist Joe Baum, banjo, bass sax, and a drummer who was probably the one doubling on xylophone. There are some short solos during the performances, but those tend to stick close to the melody. The musicianship is excellent for the period, the arrangements have subtle surprises, and "Na-Jo" is considered to be the first recording ever to use stop-time rhythm. Some of the tunes "San," "Ain't We Got Fun," "Wabash Blues," and "Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me" are still known today, but the majority of these songs have long been forgotten. Since these recordings are quite early two years before King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton made their debut, the jazz content is more of a slight influence than a dominant part of the music, mostly felt in the syncopated rhythms. The recording quality is top-notch for the era, the 28-page booklet is very detailed and informative, and very few of these performances have been reissued since they were first recorded. Collectors of early American music will want this set.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/30/2004
  • Label: Archeophone Records
  • UPC: 777215105508
  • Catalog Number: 6001
  • Sales rank: 383,601

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Benson Orchestra of Chicago Primary Artist
Roy Bargy Piano
Guy Carey Trombone
Charley Straight Piano, Group Member
Joe Baum Violin
Rick Adkins Trumpet
Thomas Thatcher Tenor Saxophone
Matthew Amaturo Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone
Technical Credits
Fred E. Ahlert Composer
Gus Arnheim Composer
Con Conrad Composer
Walter Donaldson Composer
Gus Kahn Composer
Bert Kalmar Composer
Fred Rose Composer
Vincent Rose Composer
Herman Ruby Composer
Sam M. Lewis Composer
Roy Bargy Arranger, Composer, Director
Paul Biese Composer
Earl Burtnett & His Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Orchestra Composer
Ted Fio Rito Composer
Frank Westphal Composer
Ray Perkins Composer
Rudy Wiedoeft Composer
Joe Young Composer
Richard A. Whiting Composer
Frank Magine Composer
Dave Ringle Composer
Mary Earl Composer
Albert Von Tilzer Composer
George W. Meyer Composer
Charley Straight Composer
Fred Meinken Composer
Meagan Hennessey Producer, Liner Notes
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