Category: Vintage Recordings Pre-1950

Pianist Irving Fields Mixed Bagels and Bongos

By , August 2, 2017 9:52 am

Irving Fields-playing piano

Two weeks after his 101th birthday, pianist and composer Irving Fields passed away August 20, 2016 in Manhattan. He was perhaps the longest working musician in the world. At the age of hundred, he used to play the piano several nights a week at Nino’s Tuscany restaurant in Manhattan. Irving Fields became known by fusing Jewish tunes, jazz, and popular songs with Latin music.

Born as Isidore Schwartz in 1915 New York City to Jewish immigrants, Irving Fields started working as a pianist in the thirties during the years of the Great Depression. In this time of high unemployment, he started playing piano in resort hotels in the Catskills Mountains, and then he found work as a pianist on cruise ships sailing from New York to Havana, capital city of Cuba. In Havana, Irving Fields listened to the great Cuban orchestras, and developed his love for Latin music. Attracted by pictures from palm trees and beaches in travel magazines, Irving decided to settle in Miami Beach and performed in hotels playing dinner music, and did sessions with local orchestras.

After joining the army, he began the Irving Fields Trio, with a bass and a drummer, and started composing his own songs. In 1947, his song Miami Beach Rhumba became a big success by versions of Kay Kyser, Freddy Martin, Carmen Miranda, and even by the popular band leader Xavier Cugat. During the Latin craze trend in the 40s, Irving Fields was at the right time and place, and soon Miami Beach Rhumba was followed by the number one hit song Managua, Nicaragua (1947) recorded by big band leader Guy Lombardo, and ten years later by Chantez-Chantez (1957) by singer Dinah Shore.

Bagels and Bongos - Irving Fields TrioIn 1959, the Irving Fields Trio recorded the album Bagels and Bongos blending popular Jewish tunes with Latin rhythms such as Bei Mir Bist Du Schön as a mambo, Havannah Negila a paso doble, and I Love You Much Too Much a rhumba. The album became a big hit all over the world, and was followed by the albums More Bagels and Bongos (1960), Pizzas and Bongos (Italian traditionals), Champagne and Bongos (with French standards), and Bikinis and Bongos (with Hawaiian music). Every song was mixed with a Latin beat, which turned out to be a story of success.

After the success with his trio in the sixties, Irving Fields went back working as a solo pianist on cruise ships again, where he sailed the whole world, and finally settled as a music entertainer in restaurants, from 2004 six nights a week in Nino’s Tuscany, Manhattan. This would become the place, where he started his second career.

In the last decade, several films appeared about Fields playing piano on YouTube. These films form a good impression of his talent, wisdom, and humor. Although Irving Fields was not a user of a computer or the Internet, he did compose the YouTube theme song.

 

Regarding my research about the influence of Jewish tunes in American popular song, I contacted Irving Fields, and then I received several handwritten letters from him. At my birthday March 2010, I met Irving Fields and his lovely wife Ruth in person in Nino’s Tuscany restaurant, where he entertained the guests with his music. From my letters, he knew that I should visit him this special evening. To my surprise, he welcomed me with a newly composed personal anniversary song. When listening to his music and talking to him, I knew that I was close to one of the last persons, already in his nineties, who could tell me first-hand about the history of popular music in the Tin Pan Alley period before the second World War.

 

Irving Fields and Niels Falch at Nino's

Irving Fields and Niels Falch at Nino’s

Of course, I also asked him about his secret for longevity, and he replied with more than ten rules. The first three rules for longevity are; (1) Have a sense of humor (you’ll never get ulcers), (2) Think of these three magic letters before you make a decision: L.T.D. Look, Think and Do, and (3) Be the first to say “hello” with a smile on your face and a friendly glow. Following these rules during his life, Irving Fields became ultimately 101 years young.

Even U.S. President Donald J. Trump admired Irving Fields, and shared one of his secrets for longevity: “Irving has said that work is a blessing, especially when you like your work. He loves his work, and that love is evident in his music. Irving is a great pro.”

Irving Fields will be remembered as the pianist who blended bagels and bongos, although he never had a way to play a bagel…

You can listen to over 30 recordings by Irving Fields on the Recorded Sound Archives website by clicking here.

 

RSA Guest Blogger, Niels Falch, is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently writing a dissertation on the influence of Jewish music in American popular songs.

Please note, due to copyright some of these recordings may only play for 45 second snippet to give the user a taste of what this music sounded like back in the day, if you are interested in full access considering applying for Research Station Access. Access to Research Station is limited to educators, students and serious researchers.

Vintage Songs About Fourth of July – Independence Day

By , June 30, 2017 5:52 pm

Vintage Songs about Fourth of JulyCelebrate this Fourth of July by listening and discovering some vintage songs from the early 1900s. Listen to a funny monologue and learn how the Fourth of July was celebrated at the Pun’kin Center back in 1915 or learn more about the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and other Americana.

Below you will find a list of 5 songs and albums for you to share and enjoy this year with family and friends.

 

 

Fourth of July at Pun’kin Center by Cal Stewart and Steve Porter

Spirit of Independence March by Conway’s Band

The Liberty Tree by The Sand Pipers & Mitch Miller and Orchestra

Our American Heritage Album by Wesley Addy

American Patriotic & Marching Songs by Various Artists

Please note, due to copyright some of these recordings may only play for 45 second snippet to give the user a taste of what this music sounded like back in the day, if you are interested in full access considering applying for Research Station Access. Access to Research Station is limited to educators, students and serious researchers.

Timeless Love Songs of the 1920s

By , February 3, 2016 3:19 pm

Timeless Love Songs from the 1920sIf there’s one type of song that we will never grow tired of, it is the ever popular love song. Mellow or upbeat, mushy or filled with angst; whatever the tempo or the lyrical content…Enjoy these nine timeless love songs from the 1920s found in the Recorded Sound Archives Vintage, Judaic and Jazz collections just in time for Valentines day.

 

 

 

 

Nine Timeless Love Songs of the 1920s

  1.  Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Fats Waller written in 1929 by Thomas “Fats” Waller himself, Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf.
  2. All Alone by Al Jolson, written by Irving Berlin and published in 1924.
  3. April Showers by Al Jolson, written by B.G. DeSylva music composed by Louis Silvers originally published in 1921.
  4. Blue Skies by The Hour of Charm Girl Orchestra and Choir, written and composed by Irving Berlin in 1926.
  5. I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me by Artie Shaw, written by Jimmy McHugh and Clarence Gaskill in 1926.
  6. With a Song in My Heart by Dennis Day, originally written for the musical Spring is Here by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers in 1929.
  7. What’ll I Do? by Henry Burr and Marcia Freer, written by Irving Berlin in 1923.
  8. Who’s Sorry Now? by Ernest Stevens, written by Bert Kalmer and Harry Ruby composed by Ted Snyder this song was published in 1923 and featured in the 1950 film, Three Little Words.
  9. Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Don’t Love Nobody but Me) by Aileen Stanley, composed by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams in 1924.

 

Some songs may only be available as snippets due to US Copyright laws.

These items are noted in the player with the words (Research Station) and only allow for 45 seconds snippets to be played to give you a sense of what that recording originally sounded like. Full access is available through the RSA’s Research Station access is limited to educators, students and serious researchers.

Hit of the Week (1930 – 1932)

By , March 19, 2015 11:58 pm

Introduced in 1930 and discontinued in 1932, these records were made from a flexible synthetic resin (Durium) coasted on brown paper.

Introduced in 1930 and discontinued in 1932, these records were made from a flexible synthetic resin (Durium) coated on brown paper.

What are sound recordings made of?

Initially sound was recorded on wax cylinders. By the end of the 1920s, however, recordings were made of a heavy, fragile shellac compound.

Producers began looking for better options and started experimenting with materials that were lighter, flexible and less fragile.

One of these experiments, Hit of the Week records, were actually made of resin coated brown paper! This lightweight, flexible, “unbreakable” composition was unique and provided a 78 rpm recording with sound equal to or better than ordinary shellac.

Beginning in February 1930 a new recording featuring a current “hit” song was released each week. They were sold at newsstands, likemagazines, with past issues being available by mail order. They were recorded on one side only and sold for 15 to 20 cents per recording. The unrecorded side was often printed with advertising or the performer’s portrait. They had a tendency to curl up over time and came in flimsy rice paper sleeves.

The unrecorded paper side of Hit of the Week recordings were sometimes printed with advertising a performer’s portrait, in this case Morton Downey.

The unrecorded paper side of Hit of the Week recordings were sometimes printed with advertising a performer’s portrait, in this case Morton Downey.

These recordings were a big hit with the public in the early days of the Great Depression and provided easy, cheap entertainment to the masses. However, as the depression wore on sales slumped. the last Hit of the Week issue was released in June 1932.

The Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries is pleased to share 39 of these original recordings with our website users. Due to US Copyright laws only 45-second snippets are available on our public website.  Full recordings are available to RSA Research Station users.

Click here to see and hear the Hit of the Week collection.

Songs of the Second World War

By , February 2, 2015 2:39 pm

WW2The Second World War waged around the globe from 1939 to 1945.

The impact of WWII on the daily lives of Americans and Europeans cannot be overstated. As the atrocities of the Nazis raged in Europe, American men were drafted and called to war. American music of the WWII era spoke to the soldiers far from home and also to those they left behind.

The Second World War changed the course of history in many ways. One of the things that changed was music…what it sounded like, how we listened to it and how intimately it touched our lives.

During WWII music became personal as well as entertaining. Major technological advances such as radio and phonograph recordings took music out of the theater and into middle-class homes. Big Bands, Jazz and Swing created a new vibe that defined a generation.V-disc

The Recorded Sound Archives has digitized two very special collections from the Second World War era. V-discs  were produced between October 1943 and May 1949 by the US Armed Forces for military personnel overseas.  Vogue Picture Records were produced between May 1946 and April 1947 by Sav-Way Industries using a special process engineered by Tom Saffady.

Enjoy the music that defined a generation – the best loved songs from the World War II era. Many thanks to all those who sent in the titles of their favorite songs from the 1940s and 1950s.

Click here to listen to Songs of the Second World War. Due to copyright concerns, some recordings may be limited to 45-second snippets.  Full versions are available to users of the RSA Research Station.

Click here for Youtube videos.

 

FAU events that may interest you.

wWWII exhibit2/2/15 through 2/25/15 – FAU Wimberly Library: World War II Highlights from Special Collections

2/17/15 (Tuesday) @ 5pm – FAU Wimberly Library: The Most Controversial Decision Lecture by Wilson Miscamble. Mr. Miscamble is a prize-winning author and historian.

2/18/15 (Wednesday) @ 3:30pm – FAU Barry Kaye Auditorium: Truman’s Presidency and WWII – Lecture by David McCullough. David McCullough is  is an American author, narrator, and historian. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

3/18/15 (Wednesday) @ 3:30 pm – FAU Wimberly Library: Nazi War Criminals, US Intelligence and the Cold War – Lecture by Dr. Norman Goda. Norman Goda received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He studies modern European history and specializes in the history of the Holocaust, war crimes trials, and twentieth century diplomacy.

 

Austrian museum explores Jewish influence on recorded music

By , October 8, 2014 4:23 pm

plakat_jukebox_webJukebox. Jewkbox! An exhibition of the Jewish Museum Hohenems in collaboration with the Jewish Museum Munich will run from October 19, 2014 until March 8, 2015.

According to the website  of the Hohenems Jewish Museum in Austria the exhibit presents the history of Jewish recordings “from the first gramophones and shellac records to the dissolution of this medium in World Wide Web.”

This sounds like a wonderful project. Looking at sound recordings as cultural mirrors of the 20th century experience, the exhibitors write that “the omnipresent sound of the 20th century, its best known songs, musicals and soundtracks was not always Jewish music – but always also a product of Jewish history and experience.”

We do not know which recorded gems are included in this European exhibit but the Judaic Collection/Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries in Boca Raton FL hopes you will enjoy the following authentic recordings from the early 20th century.

Molly Picon – Abi Gesind    
Simon Paskal – Aheim Aheim    
Al Jolson – Angel Child   
Arthur Pryors Band – At a Hebrew Wedding

M Kanewsky – Auf’n Pripetchok

Andrews Sisters – Bei Mir Bist du Shon  (snippet)

Benny Bell – Celebration Freylach

FAU Sound Archives Rescues Vintage Kiddie Records Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

By , January 27, 2014 1:40 pm

By Fire Ant, New Times Palm Beach

The entrance to the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU is guarded by the remnants of hi-fi history. Walnut-paneled gramophones from the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties line one wall. On shelves across the way, postwar portable sound systems and reel-to-reel tape decks compete for shelf space with 78 rpm and 45 rpm records from historic labels long gone – Decca (now owned by Vivendi), RCA Victor and Okeh (now owned by Sony).

Now in its third year, the archive is dedicated to the preservation and digitization of vintage audio — music as recorded on vinyl and, before that, shellac discs, which degrade over time as needles bounce through grooves. One of the few institutions of its kind — with more than 100,000 items in its collections of jazz, Judaica and the 78 rpm records that predated the long-playing album — the archive has become an invaluable resource for musicologists and historians from around the world.

The archive’s latest addition is a trove of 786 vintage kiddie records from the collection of “Kiddie Rekord King” Peter Muldavin, perhaps the world’s leading expert on early children’s recordings. A Manhattan resident, Muldavin had the records stored in his mother-in-law’s Long Island garage when Hurricane Sandy struck two years ago. The storm surge left many of the discs mud-stained and warped, while the waterlogged record sleeves and artwork became mildewed and moldy.

With very little commercial value left for Muldavin, he reached out to the RSA. “To collectors the quality of everything counts — the packaging, the labels,” RSA director Dr. Maxine Schackman told us. “We welcomed his donation with open arms. For us, the cultural value was still there.”

Still, in addition to audio digitization, the colorful packaging that was so much a part of the kiddie records’ appeal is also being repaired and restored (to the extent possible), then digitally scanned. About one-third of the Muldavin donation has been digitized so far, the sound cleaned of crackles and hisses in the process, distilled to the nostalgic essence of what seems (and sounds) like a more innocent time.

The kiddie records database should be complete early this year. Because of copyright issues, though, access to the sound files will be restricted. Academics and other researchers will be able to listen over the Internet through a password-protected website or, by appointment, at one of the archive’s listening stations.

Dr. Schackman hopes to make song samples from the kiddie records available to the general public, as has been done with earlier RSA donations. The idea, she says, is “to make the forgetten music unforgettable.”

By Fire Ant — an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting — covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

Original Source: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/countygrind/2014/01/fau_sound_archives_rescues_vin.php

 

Sophie Tucker: Last of the Red-Hot Mamas

By , September 16, 2013 10:00 am

 

Known as the Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Sophie Tucker had a career that began in vaudeville, embraced the new jazz age of the 1920’s and lasted well into the 1960s.

Widely known for her bawdy humor (which may seem tame by today’s standards) and her big personality, she never lost touch with her Jewish roots.

Sophie Tucker ‘s original Decca rendition of My Yiddishe Momme, recorded in 1928, featured an English version on Side A and a Yiddish version on Side B.  Among the recordings she made on the Mercury label beginning in the 1950s was this rendition of My Mother’s Sabbath Candles, also in both English and Yiddish versions.

Sophie Tucker quotes

I couldn’t make [Momme] understand that it wasn’t a career that I was after. It was just that I wanted a life that didn’t mean spending most of it at the cookstove and the kitchen sink. (Some of the Days, 1945)

Everyone knew the theater was to be closed down, and a landmark in show business would be gone. That feeling got into the acts. The whole place, even the performers, stank of decay. I seemed to smell it. It challenged me. I was determined to give the audience the idea: why brood over yesterday? We have tomorrow. As I sang I could feel the atmosphere change. The gloom began to lift, the spirit which formerly filled the Palace and which made it famous among vaudeville houses the world over came back. That’s what an entertainer can do. (Concerning the November 19, 1932 closing of the Palace theater in NYC, i.e. the end of vaudeville.)

Selected items from our collection of Sophie Tucker recordings.

Sophie Tucker’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Autographed inside flap from copy of Tucker’s autobiography

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Boca Magazine highlights FAU Sound Archives Collection

By , June 28, 2013 2:49 pm

In a small room on the fifth floor of FAU’s Wimberly Library, zippered bags clutch dozens of record sleeves of vintage children’s music, relics from another time. There’s Bongo, a circus bear unicycling on a tightrope and voiced by Dinah Shore. There’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” whose record sleeve depicts just that. There’s the Three Billy Goats Gruff, Pinocchio, Little Toot and Humpty Dumpty. One album cover, featuring Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, includes a pencil-written note in the margin: “To: Dick Hertz. Birthday, Jan. 20, 1951. From: Mommy.”

These forgotten treasures are currently the domain FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives (RSA), which began in 2009 as an extension of its popular Judaica Sound Archives; nowadays, the institution restores and digitizes lost and important music of all kinds. These recently obtained children’s record sleeves, their once-vibrant cover art damaged by flood and mold from Hurricane Sandy, are mostly second copies from the vast collection of Peter Muldavin, the world’s foremost expert on vintage children’s records. When his Long Island storage facility suffered storm damage, he donated its contents – 786 records – to the RSA, whose passionate archivist, Ben Roth, is a friend. Some of the 78 rpm records date back to the 1920s, bearing price tags of a quarter a piece.

The restoration business, on Roth and company’s end, is a long and painstaking one. They are still in the process of entering all the data, with plans to release some of their results through their website starting in January. Roth showed me a bit of the RSA’s fascinating restorative process, some of whose accoutrements look like something out the old Mousetrap game. First, the records are dipped, like strawberries in chocolate, in a motorized tank devised for cleaning jewelry, in which ultrasonic waves eliminate the ingrained dirt. Then they are positioned in front of an industrial hair dryer haphazardly duct-taped into position on a metal stand – an appropriately primitive way of cleaning these analog goodies.

As for the damaged, crackly sound of the records, that can be polished by more modern means – Sony’s Sound Forge computer software. The sleeves have been photographed and inventoried for digital restorations, but unfortunately the originals in the zipper bags will be discarded – their damage is too severe.

If you make an appointment, you may be able to listen to some of these recordings in the RSA’s headquarters, while admiring the collection’s vintage turntables, including an entirely hand-cranked 1911 Victrola and a 1924 credenza model that Roth says “cost more than a car” at the time of its manufacture.

Link to original blog post: http://www.bocamag.com/blog/2013/06/28/record-time/

Molly Picon

By , May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

Defying expectations, changing the rules, and making us laugh.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries honors the work and life of Molly Picon. Compiling 58 of her earliest songs produced on 78 rpm records and four of her LP albums produced later in her career, the JSA invites you to revisit the talents of a truly great Jewish female icon.

Who was Molly Picon?

She was an actress, singer, and comedian whose career spanned over 70 years. Debuting in the Yiddish Theater at the age of 6 she emerged as a respected American actress, performing in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) with Frank Sinatra, and having starring roles on Broadway in Milk & Honey (1961) and  film, Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

Molly Picon’s career followed Yiddish culture from the shtetl into mainstream America. Small and very youthful-looking she often had to fight to be taken seriously. She wore male clothing as a disguise through most of her breakout performance in Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936) and many of her other early roles, including the well-known “Yankele.” In today’s world she might be considered to be a voice for women’s rights.

Click here for Molly’s LP albums.

Click here for Molly’s 78 rpm recordings.

Click here to see film clip of a very young Molly Picon singing the title song from Yid’l Mit’n Fidl.

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