Alex Jackson's Plantation Orch. - When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo, 1927





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Uploaded on Jan 4, 2010

Alex Jackson & His Plantation Orchestra - When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo, Champion 1927

NOTE: Alex Jackson's Plantation Orchestra was a black "territory band" popular in 1920/30s. Territory bands were dance bands that crisscrossed specific regions of the United States from the 1920s through the 1960s. The bands typically had 8 to 12 musicians: two altos, one tenor (who often doubled on other woodwinds and sometimes violin), two trumpets, trombone, banjo or guitar, piano, string bass and drums, and played one-nighters, 6 or 7 nights a week at venues like hotel ballrooms, dance halls, social clubs and the like. Territory bands helped disseminate popular music — which included swing, jazz, sweet dance music — bringing it to remote gin mills and dance halls that were otherwise ignored by genuine recording stars like Ellington and Armstrong.

Although most territory bands — whether black, white, integrated, male, female — were of high quality, they rarely recorded and were often considered minor league to the national touring bands. Moreover, they were confined to specific regions or states, even parts of a state. Ambitious and hopeful young musicians saw territory bands as a training ground for the major big bands. Therefore, the alumni of territory band musicians who matriculated to fame within the industry reads like list of "who's who" in music: Walter Page, Sunny Clapp, Andy Kirk, Willard Robison, Alphonso Trent, Bennie Moten, Jimmie Lunceford and dozens others.

The home 'territories' were loosely defined, as Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West Coast, Southwest and Northwest. In addition, some state-groupings became common. One such group was usually referred to as MINK — Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Another group was VSA — Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama. The Southwest proved especially fertile for territory bands. Texas, with its relatively large population, offered the greatest opportunity with developed markets for dance music in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Amarillo, and other cities. One such band was that of Alphonso Trent. In 1924, according to Variety, there were more than 900 dance bands, representing steady work for 7,200 musicians. There were 68 Whiteman orchestras across the country, playing music from the Whiteman library, eleven in New York alone. In the 1920s, territory bands commonly traveled by car (station wagon), followed by an equipment truck. Later, beginning in the mid 1930s, territory bands commonly traveled in sleeper buses. Everyday life of such travelling female territory band of 1920s has been depicted in Billy Wilder's immortal film comedy "Some Like It Hot".

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