Monday, March 28, 2016

At this time in 1899, and other things

At around this time back in 1899, Fred Hylands and Len Spencer were beginning to start their publishing firm, the one that I talk about so often. In fact, it was on March 24th of 1899 that the announcement of Hylands' new venture into publishing was made to the Easton's. It was at one of those lavish Waldorf gatherings that came up occasionally when Easton felt contented with how all of the branches and artists of Columbia were doing. In fact, the announcement of this was made in this section from The Phonoscope: 
(there are many spelling mistakes here...)
They even said that it was May 24th, but this was listed in the march 1899 issue of The Phonoscope, so this would have to be March 24th. 

You know that Hylands strutted out to that piano and introduced himself with great confidence, and dressed better than most of the other performers there, especially before Master Easton and his wife. Anyhow, it is not at all stated in this that the publishing firm was announced, but one thing is for sure, that Hylands told everyone there about it of course.Whether it be him announcing it before he played, or just casually telling everyone later, he certainly got the word out. Well, Harry Yeager is listed as the director, so really there's no way that the firm formation was left unspoken of throughout the evening. On the page just before that section just above, there was actually a little note of General News that stated this: 
Yep, that pretty much says it. I don't think I need to explain it more(have I proved myself enough?). Since Hylands was clearly so proud of his new publishing firm, we can certainly assume that he announced the formation of it at that gathering at the Waldorf. So I would bet that within the dates of March 23-28th, Hylands and Spencer created that beautiful footer that we know very well:
That was also in the March, 1899 issue of The Phonoscope. I'm starting to think that Hylands and Spencer beginning this whole thing was a very big deal among the Columbia staff, since it was advertised to often in March and April issues of The Phonoscope.  Really get a chance to check out that March 1899 issue, you can see it here:
The entire Hylands Spencer and Yeager ad on the third-to-last page is really funny to read in its entirety! 

Now to change subject, I was listening to a few cylinders by Billy Golden yesterday afternoon and found some interesting information along the way. We know of Billy Golden's specialties very well, from "Turkey in the Straw" to "Yaller Gal". He was also known for a song titled "Uncle Jefferson", which as I am guessing dates from around 1894-95, as he was known to have been singing the song for Berliner since 1895. But, like most of Billy Golden's songs, he could have been singing them since 1875, and with this fact, many of their origins are almost impossible to track in a direct line of lineage. Anyhow, the take of "Uncle Jefferson" I have here is one that I have discussed before, due to the amount of questions that surround the piano accompaniment on it. Now, for a long time, my friend Ryan and I thought that it was one of the earliest cylinders with Hylands on piano, because of the light syncopation and the trills everywhere. Since it was recorded in early 1897(probably January-March), it cannot be Hylands on piano, regardless of the circumstances of when he first began to work at Columbia. I had thought it might have been recorded in May-July of 1897 at the latest, to allow for Hylands to more likely be on the piano, but this is not possible. I listened very closely to the playing, and found that the imitated syncopation is very jagged and "dotted" if you will. It sounded much like Fred Gaisberg when he tried to play Rag-Time, though it's obviously not Gaisberg. If I'm saying all of this, who is the pianist? Well, the only logical option would have to be Edward Issler. Here is that cylinder;
The main reason I think it's Issler is because of how steady the rhythm is. It's not a mess like Gaisberg's playing, the left hand is very steady and straight, much like Issler's on all of those Issler's Orchestra cylinders. It made so much more sense after I made that observation, it had to be Issler. Like I said in my Issler post last week, he wasn't at all part of the "Rag-Time" movement, though it's clear he tried his hand at it at some point, like when he accompanied Billy Golden. Just for a comparison with Gaisberg's Rag-Time, here's him playing "All Coons Look Alike to Me"  behind George J. Gaskin in 1896.
Gaisberg's "rag" playing was very stiff, though you can tell he's trying(he does actually play some genuine syncopation a little on the disc just above! listen for it at 1:26-27!). Gaisberg was even more stiff than Frank P. Banta(though Banta was pretty loose somewhat!).

It's very funny to just fast forward only a little over a year to about June of 1898, and you get cylinders like this one here, contrasting immensely from the 1897 recording of "Uncle Jefferson". The announcer and singer are both the same as on the last one, but the piano is really what makes the cylinder of so much contrast. From Issler to Hylands, it made some difference indeed. 

One thing that I just noticed while writing this, Banta seemed to have loosened up his Rag-Time a little bit from 1897 to 1903. Hmm, I just listened to Golden's 1897 Edison cylinder of "Turkey in the Straw", listening closely to the piano accompaniment(where you can hear many deep bass notes!), then I listened to Golden's 1903 rendition of the same thing, also with Banta. They are very much the same, though they are also very different, Banta's playing sequence is pretty much identical on both of them. Though, if your ears are good enough, you may have noticed that the main difference lies in the intro that he plays. The into on the 1897 take has a much more stiff feel to it, even in the section after Golden's laugh at the beginning, the entire take has sprinkles of that stiffness as well. However, the 1903 take has a little more of a looseness to it, in a very odd way, it seems Hylands-esque(if you know what I mean by that). He's still a little stiff, but it's a little more Ragged than the 1897 recording, though he does play it faster, as appertaining to mindfulness of time they need for the cylinder fully. 

Though of course, the Columbia end of the "Turkey in the Straw" takes differ more than any of Banta's variations on those two Edison cylinders. I cannot stress enough how historically important Golden's 1898 Columbia of "Turkey in the Straw" is, compared to many of the other takes of the tune he did. 
-Well, it's the "hottest"(if you will) of all the take he did of it
-It's classic Golden, with him doing everything he was known for
-the pianist is OBVIOUSLY Fred Hylands, no arguments--PERIOD.
-this specific cylinder was listed in The Phonoscope that very month that they did the page with all the short biographies of the studio stars, (including FRED HYLANDS):

-if you need a place to start when wanting to understand Hylands' playing style, start with this very cylinder, and use it for a comparison with other Columbia's
-Hylands plays wildly Ragged on the take, showing off as much as he possibly can without tripping over himself(which he doesn't amazingly!)

-It's a fantastic example of what Rag-Time sounded like before 1897. Why? Wasn't it recorded in 1898? Yes, that be true, but the thing about it is that it is actually coming from a Rag-Time pianist who had been playing syncopated music since 1890, and a stage dancer who had been a popular minstrel performer since 1875. So really, you are hearing a recording from 1898, but sounds and stylings from 1895-96(maybe earlier!).
-It's exhibition work at its finest. Why? well, that's because Golden performed this very tune at many Columbia exhibitions in 1898 and 1899, with the same pianist, Hylands 

Enough talk, here's that cylinder:
The 1903 take of the same thing is also listed here, and you can do some comparing between those two, though Hylands didn't change much like Banta did, so they're pretty much identical in many ways. 

I hope you enjoyed this! 

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