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Frisco Jass Band

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The Frisco “Jass” Band was formed in early 1917 by Rudy Wiedoeft soon after he arrived in New York City. According to the July 1917 issue of Edison Amberola Monthly, the band “is now playing engagements at Montmartre, New York’s famous midnight cafe, the Winter Garden and the leading summer resorts near New York.” Presumably the word Frisco was chosen to reflect that the musicians were from California. The band had no connection with Edison xylophone artist and vaudevillian Lou Chiha Frisco.

At its first session—on May 10, 1917—the Frisco “Jass” Band cut “Canary Cottage” and “Johnson’s “Jass” Blues.” In 1916-1917 Wiedoeft had played in the pit for Oliver Morosco’s production of Canary Cottage as the touring show headed for the East Coast (it finally opened in New York City in the Morosco Theatre on February 5, 1917). “Canary Cottage”—a medley of the show’s popular songs, written by Earl Carroll—was an obvious choice for the band’s first session. Announcing its August release, Edison promotional literature characterized it as “a rattling One-Step melody from the tunes of the musical show ‘Canary Cottage,’ played in typical ‘Jass Band’ style.” No cornet was featured, which was unusual for a “jass” ensemble at this time.

“Johnson ‘Jass’ Blues” was issued first on Blue Amberol 3254 in September 1917, then a few months later on Diamond Disc 50470.

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