Vol. 14 in a series of reissues released by Harlequin Records during the '80s, each one focusing on a different country or region (including but not limited to Germany, Hungary, San Francisco, Sweden and India).
According to the liner notes, there were black musicians (many of whom were freed or escaped slaves) in Canada as early as 1775. Towards the end of the 19th century some, including Nathaniel Dett, began writing and performing ragtime music, which over time (this is a gross over-simplification) mutated into what became known as swing and jazz. These styles spread in popularity across the globe and were played by musicians of all races and nationalities, and Canada was no exception to this cross-pollination.
A1: Harry Thomas - Delirious Rag (1916)
Pianist Harry Thomas was born in England but moved to Montreal, where he became a protégé of Willie Eckstein (one of Canada's most popular musicians at the time) and developed a gift for improvisation honed by endless hours spent accompanying silent movies, despite his inability to read music. The Canadian Jazz Discography describes him as Canada's first real jazz musician. "Delirious Rag," a frenetic solo piece for piano, was written by Eckstein and Thomas and was recorded in New York in 1916.
Harry Thomas, piano) / Harry Thomas, Willie Eckstein
A2: The Melody Kings And Willie Eckstein - Music (Makes The World Go Round) (1922)
Banjo player Andy Tipaldi formed The Melody Kings in Montreal in 1921, and they played that city's best dance clubs until 1928. They also recorded a number of sides, including this jaunty 1922 tune co-written by Eckstein, Billy Munro and Sam Howard. Apparently The Melody Kings were considered a "hot dance" group, rather than a jazz band. If you're wondering what the difference is, Eckstein's entry in The Virtual Gramophone (which is an *amazing* resource) describes it thusly; "Hot dance music, usually played by bands that had piano, saxophone, and cornet or trombone, was then thought of as jazz; but in fact several characteristics distinguished it -- and Eckstein's piano style -- from true jazz. These included arranged solos and a more restrained swing rhythm." At the time of this recording, the group's lineup was Johnny Dixon (trumpet), Alex Lajoie (alto sax), Tipaldi (banjo), Eckstein (piano), Tipaldi's brother John (violin) and Rob Roy (drums), with unidentified tuba and trombone players rounding out the ensemble. Apparently, this side was recorded the night after a long party, and the group members were allowed to improvise a bit; Eckstein's dexterous runs on the piano absolutely own the track.
Willie Eckstein, piano ; Andy Tipaldi, banjo, leader ; unidentified, tuba ; Rob Roy, drums) / Billy Munro, Willie Eckstein, Sam Howard.
A3: Guy Lombardo And His Royal Canadians - Cotton Picker's Ball (1924)
Lebert Lombardo, trumpet ; Jack Miles, trombone ; Carmen Lombardo, clarinet, alto saxophone ; Fred Higman, clarinet, tenor saxophone ; Fred Kreitzer, piano ; Francis Henry, banjo ; Eddie Mashurette, tuba ; George Gowans, drums ; Guy Lombardo, leader) / Elmer Schroebel
A4: Millard Thomas & His Chicago Novelty Orchestra - Lazy Drag (1924)
Daniel J. Smith, cornet ; Charles Harris, cornet, alto sax ; Emmanuel Cassamore, trombone ; Theodore West, clarinet, Millard Thomas, piano) / unknown composer.
A5: The New Princes Toronto Band - How's Your Folks And My Folks (1926)
Alfie Noakes, trumpet ; Bill Hall, trombone ; Les Allen, Hal Swain, alto saxophone, vocal ; Frank Walsh, piano ; Dave Caplan, banjo ; Ran Garrison, tuba ; Ken Kenny, drums) / deVoll, Mecum.
A6: Dave Caplan's Toronto Band - Up And At 'Em (1926)
Dave Caplan's Toronto-Band from Canada: Art Lousley, trumpet, Jack Collins, trombone ; Art Christmas, clarinet, alto saxophone ; Les Allen, clarinet, tenor saxophone ; Lauri Day, piano ; Dave Caplan, banjo ; Art Clakin, tuba ; Lorne Cole, drums) / Jack Pettis, Al Goering.
A7: Gilbert Watson and His Orchestra - I Just Want To Be Known As "Susie's Feller" (1926)
Curtis Little, trumpet ; Vern Shilling, trombone ; Ed Culley, clarinet, alto saxophone ; Gilbert Watson, piano ; Charlie Hayward, guitar ; Sam Ryle, tuba; Doc Hollingshead, drums) / Brown, Dreyer.
A8: Trump Davidson and His Orchestra - Darktown Strutter's Ball (1937)
Sudbury, Ontario's Jimmy "Trump" Davidson formed and led The Melody Five, which was possibly Canada's first jazz band. But this take on the jazz standard "Darktown Strutters' Ball" was recorded with a different group (Davidson - cornet, Gordy Connell and Frank Barnard - trumpet, Ken Houston - trombone, Cokey Campbell - clarinet, tenor sax, Herbie Mason - alto sax, Vern Kahanen - alto & baritone sax, Eddie Houston - tenor sax, Johnny Burt (later the musical director of the CTL) - piano, Joe Niosi - bass, and Reef McGarvey - drums) at Club Esquire in Toronto in 1937.
Trump Davidson, cornet ; Gordy Connell, Frank Barnard, trumpet ; Ken Houston, trombone ; Cokey Campbell, clarinet, tenor saxophone ; Herbie Manson, alto saxophone ; Vern Kahanen, alto and baritone saxophones ; Eddie Houston, tenor saxophone ; Johnny Burt, piano ; Joe Niosi, bass ; Reef McGarvey, drums) / Shelton Brooks.
A9: Morgan Thomas and His Orchestra - Bugle Call Rag (1938)
probably: Mickey Horner, Tristano Salciccioli, trumpets ; Floyd Roberts, trombone ; Morgan Thomas, clarinet ; Ed Darby, Gav Morton, Louis Police, saxophones ; Bud Hall, piano ; Alex Jacks, guitar ; Sam Taylor, bass ; Ron Wicken, drums) / Jack Pettis, Billy Meyers, Elmer Schoebel
B1: Sandy DeSantis Orchestra - Christopher Columbus (1938)
probably: Johnny Murdie, trumpet ; Claude Hill, clarinet ; Carl De Santis, tenor saxophone ; Joe Perry, piano ; Don Raino, guitar ; Jackie Williamson, drums ; Sandy De Santis, leader) / Leon "Chu" Berry
B2: Allan McIver and Orchestra - One O'Clock Jump (1940)
Montreal pianist, composer and arranger Allan McIver was another guy who got his start in music playing alongside silent films. Throughout the '30s and '40s his ensembles were frequently heard on radio and he eventually went on to work as the musical director on many CBC television shows. "One O'Clock Jump, a Count Basie classic, was recorded in Montreal in 1940 with McIver conducting Raymond Denhez, Louis Eusanio and Frank Taylor on trumpet, Joe Bell and Frank Taplitsky on trombone, Alec Finlayson, Howard Higgins, Edgar Tremblay and Lucio Agostini on saxophone, Rusty Davis on piano, Dave Kirschberg on guitar, Hymie Krasner on bass and Leslie Mills on drums.
Raymond Denhez, Louis Eusanio, Frank Taylor, trumpets ; Joe Bell, Frank Taplitsky, trombones ; Alec Finlayson, Howard Higgins, Edgar Tremblay, Lucio Agostini, saxophone ; Rusty Davis, piano ; Dave Kirschberg, guitar, Hymie Krasner, bass ; Leslie Mills, drums ; Allan McIver, leader) / Count Basie.
B3: George Sealy and His Orchestra - Moanin' At The Montmartre (1941)
Benny Montgomery, trumpet ; Hugh Sealey, alto saxophone ; George Sealey, tenor saxophone ; Harold Steep Wade, piano; Freddy Blackburn, drums) / Mynie Sutton.
B4-B5: Oscar Peterson - Flying Home (1944)
Flying home / Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton; If I could be with you / James P. Johnson (Oscar Peterson, piano; unidentified bass; unidentified drums).
B6: Mynie Sutton - Honeysuckle Rose (1947)
Mynie Sutton, alto saxophone ; Howard Bradley, trumpet ; Harry Brunt, trombone ; Johnny May or Jac McAllister, piano ; Ralph Grant, bass ; Doug Arsenault or Frank Pelose, drums) / Fats Waller.
B7: Bert Niosi And His Sextet - The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise (1947)
Tony Furano, trumpet ; Bert Niosi, clarinet, alto saxophne ; Phil Antonacci, tenor saxophone ; Harold Gray, piano ; Doug Hurley, guitar ; Johnny Dobson, bass ; Sonny Hart drums) / Ernest Seitz.
B8: Lorna Dean - Pallet On The Floor (1949)
It doesn't appear as though much is known about singer Lorna Dean, which is a shame because I love her gorgeously melancholic 1949 rendition of the folk standard "Pallet On The Floor". The liner notes do state that this band - led by Lorna's husband Dean (cornet), with Bill Hicks (guitar) and Michael Snow (yes, that Michael Snow) (piano) - was one of a few amateur outfits which played dances in and around Toronto during a late '40s revival of traditional New Orleans jazz; this record was sold to fans at their gigs.
Lorna Dean, vocal ; Ken Dean, cornet ; Mike Snow, piano ; Bill Hicks, guitar) / unknown composer.