Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Making of ... the Quest

A bunch of Hit of the Week - Durium records ( source: eBay)
This summer the fourth 2-cd set completed the series "The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings"; all Hit of the Week cardboard records, released the US between 1930 and 1932 were reissued by Archeophone Records. The crowning glory for the Hit of the Week-Durium project. But first all 200 records had to be documented - about the making of such a Hit of the Week - Durium discography and the four 2cd record set, I love to publish some blogs entitled The Making of ...... In some previous blogs I wrote about the birth and the growth of the discography. Today the Quest for lost information.
A Dancing label, in fact a French Hit of the Week release: Somewhere in old Wyoming ( QUAND NOUS SOMMES ENSEMBLE) - ORCHESTRA HIT OF THE WEEK aous la direction de Bert Hirsch. REcorded in New York City, August 1930 and released as Dancing 1101 in France ca 1930-1931 (Collection Hans Koert)
It is good that the consequences of such a project are incalculable, otherwise you might not start. It is a challenge to make a discography, which can be learned only by doing it and it is sheer drudgery. And mind that it will never be "complete" of "definitive", as "new" lost cardboard 78-rpm records will turn up ......... and need a place in the lists.
If you start a discography it should be great if the original ledgers are still available. It is a pity that the Durium ledgers were lost after the firm was broken, so you'll have to search for the original sources, the cardboard 78-rpm records. In my collection almost all 200 Hit of the Week records can be found, i just meed one or two copies to be completed ...., but I never started to get a complete European collection of Durium records.
Jean-Christophe Averty (photo courtesy: Salon des invités - Jacques Languirand)
Thanks to some dedicated record collectors of these European cardboard records, like Tom Valle from Norway, who helped me to list the Scandinavian releases and the so-called Veckans skiva, the discography could grow. Of course it is important to study original catalogues, newspapers from that period and other discographies to get your list complete. One of those discographies is Brian Rusts' The American Dance Band discography 1917-1942. You should know that in the 1990s the American Dance Band Discography was long out of print. nowadays I do have a copy of both books, but in the 1990s I had to travel two times a year by train from Zeeland where I lived to The Hague, where the library had a copy of the book.

The Mrs. Kunz letter (1983) ( Thanks to Jean-Christophe Averty) (click on the photo to enlarge)
I love to share with you a special story about how information reached me ........... I received a letter by mr. Jean-Christophe Averty, who was a well known French radio and tv-producer, who had his own radio programs and who was an expert in jazz and record collecting. He is fascinated by the cardboard Sefono records, the French label name for the US Hit of the Weeks. Later his name will appear again in this blog as the host of radio programs like Jazz for the Happy Few.
The autograph of Jean-Christophe Averty ( Hans Koert archive)
Jean-Christophe had heard about my discography and shared the story of Mrs. Kunz, who wrote him a letter in 1983. She explained in the letter that her father was a Parisian taxi driver in the post war period and once he had an US passenger in his car who wanted a taxi to bring him to the airport. Later that night Mrs. Kunz father, the taxi driver, found a bag in his car, with a few dozen cardboard 78-rpm records, which must have been lost by man he had brought to the airport. No name or address inside, so her father kept the records and forgot all about it. When her father had died, Mrs. Kunz found the records and she wrote Jean-Christophe and asked him the value of these records. She had added a list with the records: Hit of the Weeks, Sefono's, Dancings, Do-Re-Mi, ABC's and that kind of stuff.

Part of the letter of Jean-Christophe Averty (Hans Koert collection)
All these records are Durium records, so Jean-Christophe had studied the list and was anxious to see the titles of the records, as half of it was even unknown to him ........ Jean-Christophe told me that he wanted to ask the lady to sell him the records for a fair price, but when she contacted Jean-Christophe again, some weeks later, she told him that she had found an antique shop that had given her a fair price for these records: FF 300. Jean-Christophe was disappointed of course, but kept the letter and the list ........... We don't know what happened with the pile of cardboard records - maybe the man of the antique shop sold it to someone or threw the old unplayable (Durium records are always bended, but still playable !) records in the wastepaperbasket years later ........ Fact is that half of the records listed have never appear in any record collection as far as known - they seem to be lost fore-ever. Of course the info of the list has found its place in the Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies.

I found a fragment of an animation dedicated to Jean-Christophe Averty. Enjoy it:
Deze bijdrage wordt ook in het Nederlands geplaatst als The Making Of ... de zoektocht naar informatie op de Keep Swingingblog.
Hans Koert


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks!

November 02, 2011  

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