Hello, Lately, I've been seeing references to some of the Pathe discs
which were allegedly played by QRS artists, such as Max Kortlander and
At our museum of mechanical musical instruments (The Musical Wonder
House), I used to feature vertically-cut Pathe discs, especially as
a co-host at the evening Candlelight Concerts in the '60s and '70s.
There, we played a couple of 14" turntable (up to 100 rpm) external
horn Pathe gramophones, plus an Actuelle (with the paper horn) and
sundry other hill-and-dale machines. Among the recordings I recall
playing extensively was Kangaroo Hop on Pathe, and this was paired-up
with the QRS music roll version on my H. F. Miller player upright,
later in the evenings musicale.
Unfortunately, I never asked Max about his audio recordings, and should
have, during the 3 years I commuted between our Georgetown DC shop and
the Bronx player roll plant. However, I have known musical box, organ
and Pianola roll arrangers from the "old days", and can often tell when
an arranger/composer seems to be the main thrust of a musician over
that of being a keyboard pianist. I have always wondered if Messrs.
Kortlander and Wendling _really_ played those elusive hill-and-dale
The Orthophonic Victor line, years later, featured many famous
orchestras, such as Ted Weems, George Olsen and Paul Whiteman, but
the snappy Fox Trots of the late '20s always "sound pretty much the
same" to me, as if the Brothers Shilkret (Nat and Jack) plus some
Victor staff musicians were the major part of the studio ensemble.
(Jazz violinist Joe Venuti usually seemed to pop in, un-credited,
on many of these dance recordings, also.) Victor even faked the Paul
Whiteman Concert Orchestra on the Orthophonic record of Gershwin's
Rhapsody in Blue; this was really Nat Shilkret's Victor ensemble,
and later record labels corrected this fraudulent claim!
Since many Ampico reproducing rolls were produced by arrangements with
the "Arranger For" famous pianists, such as Vincent Lopez and Lee Sims,
and Milne's standardized methods override anything one expects from
Duo-Art rolls bearing the names of Duchin, Baker, Geo. Gershwin and Art
Gilliham, I "wonder" if some staff pianist of the Ernest L. Stevens or
Frank Banta type might not have filled-in for these music roll people
When I worked at Imperial Industrial (QRS), it was very common to
use an old "played by Kortlander" QRS label from the existing stock,
for a brand-new, truncated arrangement by J. L. Cook (right down to
the same serial number!) and then typeset "Kortlander" for modern
labels once the original supply had been depleted. Such labeling gives
the impression that Kortlander, Arden and others were still making
rolls in the post-Korean War years, which wasn't true.
Movie film clips of certain dance bands, featuring famous pianists,
which appeared on Victor Orthophonic records, appear to be quite
different in many cases, as if other musicians were involved in the
tandem 78 recording projects. Arden and Ohman, together and
separately, sparkle in audio arpeggios that don't show up in the
commercial rolls bearing their names.
Perhaps this is one of those mysteries we'll never know ... and
I missed the opportunity to ask Max about this directly.
Again, Max came across as an arranger and a composer more than a
pianist during my '50s correspondence with him and the early '60s
working conditions at the Bronx factory.
MMD readers might like to know that Frank Himpsl provided me with
the score for Brass Knuckles (an Artcraft 88-Note Word Roll). A copy
of the unusual number was taken home by co-composer William Albright,
who appeared with me in one of the Arcady Music Festival concerts --
in Bar Harbor, ME at the College of the Atlantic. Mr. Albright, to my
knowledge, has no player-piano, but his friends do.
Regards from Maine,
Douglas Henderson, Artcraft Music Rolls
PO Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578