Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Absence of Hylands and Amazing new Discoveries

Fred Hylands is an unfortunately forgotten studio genius. 

I learned from my friend Vincent Johnson that Hylands is absent from the Tantalizing Tingles  book about acoustic era piano solos and some studio pianists. This was very frustrating to me, and to many of my friends who know of Hylands' playing very well. As Ryan Wishner told me, this book was written and published after the destruction of the Columbia ledgers, so it is not surprising that Hylands was missed in that sense, but it's problematic that not a single note of information mentions that Hylands was a studio pianist anywhere. All the other studio pianists are mentioned, even George Schweinfest, of all the studio pianists. How Hylands would have been horribly cross with that. He would absolutely hate that he is completely forgotten by those many collectors who unknowingly have hundreds of his records, in piles of Columbia's and some Zon-O-Phone's.
 This book seems to be helpful in only an interest of later collectors, not those who are anxiously awaiting the ledgers that list the pianist. It is very frustrating to me, and from all that I have heard as of now, I am not wanting the book as much as I thought when I was first told of it last weekend. 

Now, this evening, I have been digging around on Tim Brooks' fantastic website for the first time, and have found and treasure trove of information, from info on Tom Clark to a picture of John Yorke Atlee! 
Here's Atlee to begin:
Sorry it's not very big, or great in quality either. Regardless, it's still the most popular whistler of the 1890's recording business. Now I knew right away that this was Atlee, even if I hadn't seen a clear picture of him, why? Well, because Fred Gaisberg described Atlee as being a man who had long flowing whiskers. And what'd'ya know, there are those whiskers! The description fit the face immediately. Thanks Gaisberg! Will certainly get to drawing him so you can all get a better picture of him later to-night, he's got some of the most magnificent whiskers since Chester Arthur! 

To move on the the next item of information I picked up was a little bio on Tom Clark. It's about time... Anyway, this is what it says on Clark:
Wow! He lived a long time! Why didn't Walsh try to find him? Sad...
Anyway, there was no way I would have guessed that Clark was English, and it's somewhat surprising really, and really interesting. That would mean that Clark could be categorized with J. W. Myers in the foreign section of the earliest recording stars, which is great! 

Now since I'm the Hylands freak, some of you might be wondering if Hylands was listed in this directory of 1890's Columbia artists where I found all of this new information. Guess what, he was! It's a miracle! However! This is all that was written on him:
Oh, yes, of course, the absence of mentioning him in frequent catalogs, that's why there's close to nothing here. As we know, there would be a lot more information there if this directory was written now(this was compiled not long after the Columbia ledgers were destroyed). Not even a guess of birth and death dates are given! All of the most popular Columbia stars have those listed. Seriously, Tom Clark has his dates given, and those must have been painstakingly hard to find, more so than Hylands'. We're going on scraps of information for anything about Hylands... 
There are sections on Issler, Schweinfest, and Gaisberg, and the only one that states the studio pianist term is under Gaisberg's section. Though, keeping with the sometimes boring tradition of only staying with fully written evidence, it is only stated that Gaisberg was "known to have begun his career as a piano accompanist for Columbia in Washington in the early 1890's". There's nothing about how he was worked till he dropped with Atlee, working as an occasional pianist at Columbia after beginning at Berliner in 1892(they state 1893 in the directory, though that wouldn't exactly work chronologically). The record I had in my last post by Gaisberg proves that the 1893 date for him beginning at Berliner cannot be right, as the solo he made of "The Honeymoon March" was recorded in 1892, not 1893. 

There are many recording artists listed in this directory that would not be elsewhere listed, such as Hylands, David C. Bangs, Tom Clark, George Graham, and many more obscurities that we now have the privilege of hearing word of from The Phonoscope. You can see this full directory in this link here:
There's so much more to learn from this! Much more than I have listed here. 
In fact, this short directory might have been where most older collectors have heard of Fred Hylands. Though, of course, the article used the incorrect "Frederic" spelling that was used in The Phonoscope , though as we know, no one bothered to try to go out and search around for information on him back in 1978 and 79. 
All that known about this mysterious so-called "pianist" was what was said in the July, 1898 issue of The Phonoscope
That was all that was known for decades folks. No delving of into the mystery that surrounded him happened until now. Of course, if someone bothered to learn more about Hylands earlier, they certainly would have been surprised to know that he was in a publishing firm with Steve Porter, Roger Harding, and later Len Spencer, and that he was later bitter about working for Columbia, after working eight years for them. 

Anyhow, to close off, here's a great record I just got to hear a few days ago by Denny and Hylands:
It's Hylands showing off all of his folk-Ragtime tricks, and his anxious style behind Will F. Denny, who can barely be heard. Hylands is louder than Denny, period. 

H ope you enjoyed this! 

No comments:

Post a Comment