Tags: jazz | records | rca | victor

103 Years Ago Today, First Jazz Records Recorded

103 Years Ago Today, First Jazz Records Recorded
A stained glass window featuring the famous Recording Corporation of America (RCA) logo at the exhibition "Ray Dolby Gateway to American Culture" at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 26 February 2020 08:45 AM

February 26, 2020: On February 26, 1917 — 103 years ago today — the Original Dixieland Jass Band entered the studio to record a pair of tunes for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Just a couple of weeks later, the "Dixie Jazz Band One Step" and "Livery Stable Blues" were released as flip sides on a 78 RPM record.[1]

The five-piece band "had just taken up residence at Reisenweber’s Café, a swanky eatery on 8th Avenue, near Columbus Circle — coincidentally, now the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, New York.[2] Later that year, they changed the spelling in the name from "Jass" to "Jazz." You can hear Livery Stable Blues on YouTube.

While the band is little remembered, the Camden, New Jersey-based Victor Talking Machine Company would go on to have a huge impact on the recording industry. HistoricCamdenCounty.com states that in 1896, "29-year-old machinist Eldridge Johnson invented the spring mechanism that made recorded music a commercially viable possibility. By 1900 he was manufacturing recorded music on the flat disks we would come to know as 'records.'"[3]

The company quickly became an industry leader but faced challenges when another new technology emerged: radio. Some thought with music on the radio there would be no need for people to buy records. In 1929, Johnson sold the company to the radio industry giant RCA (Radio Corporation of America). One key innovation resulting from the merger was that RCA began marketing radios and phonographs in the same unit. You could then hear a song on the radio, buy the record, and play it when you wanted.[4]

The new firm eventually created the RCA Victor record label.[4]

Today, you can buy original Victor Talking Machine Company phonographs on e-Bay.[5]

Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen's Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author. Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day is published by Ballotpedia weekdays at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author. Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," "In Search of Self-Governance," and "The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt." Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.

Footnotes:

  1. On This Day, "Events in Music in 1917," accessed February 25, 2020
  2. Smithsonian Magazine, "The First Jazz Recording Was Made by a Group of White Guys?" February 24, 2017
  3. HistoricCamdenCounty.com, "A Photo History of RCA's Golden Years in Camden," March 2009
  4. Engineering and Technology History Wiki, "Victor Talking Machine Company," accessed February 25, 2020
  5. Ebay, "Victor Talking Machine," accessed February 25, 2020

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While the band is little remembered, the Camden, New Jersey-based Victor Talking Machine Company would go on to have a huge impact on the recording industry.
jazz, records, rca, victor
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2020-45-26
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 08:45 AM
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