Charlie Kunz – Old Time Music Hall Songs (1958)

FrontCover1Charles Leonard Kunz (August 18, 1896 – March 16, 1958) was an American-born British musician popular during the British dance band era, and who became a pianist.

Kunz was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States, the only son of Margaret T. (Wehr) and Leonard Kunz, a master baker who played the French horn. He made his debut aged six and made his first appearance as a prodigy aged seven. During World War I he led his own resident band, while working in a munitions factory.

He came to the United Kingdom in 1922 as a pianist in a small dance band. He was to remain there until his death from a heart attack in 1958. He is buried in Streatham Vale Charlie Kunz01Cemetery. He was such a distinctive and popular pianist that he abandoned his orchestra to concentrate on his piano playing, both at music hall venues and on the BBC. Two of Britain’s most famous female vocalists were with his orchestra in the 1930s: Vera Lynn and Welsh songstress Dorothy Squires. His best known crooner was George Barclay.

Kunz was the pianist in a dance band which was led by the drummer, Ed Krick. The band came to London in 1922 to play a residency in the London Trocadero. The band returned without Kunz to Pennsylvania after a successful run at the ‘Troc’ and, until 1998, still got together for sessions for retirement homes, renamed as ‘The B Flats’.

His debut as a soloist came in 1934 at the Holborn Empire, London followed by countless Charlie Kunz02variety theatres in Britain and the Continent, after playing in hotels, restaurants and ballrooms. The same year saw the beginning of what was to become a continuous output of solo records of “Charlie Kunz Medleys”. His signature tune was “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie”, and his closing theme was “Pink Elephants”.

He became the highest paid pianist in the world, earning up to £1,000 a week. His piano transcriptions sold widely in the teaching of piano-playing. Kunz’s playing style was a relaxed flowing interpretation of popular melodies played with subtle soft and loud accents, which he called “melody and rhythm with expression”.

He was married three times:

1) Amanda Dysher (died) (one son Joseph)
2) Eva Dorothy “Nin” Lloyd, a fashion model (1923–1939) (two sons Peter and Gerald) In 1939 he was living with Eva in Elmer Road, Chichester Area.
3) Pat Sparkes (1942–1958)
He is buried in Streatham Park Cemetery in London.

Charlie Kunz04

This album was released shortly after his death. It was the farewell to a great pianist of the music hall era…. listen to the master of ragtime and honky tonk piano !

Listen and enjoy !


Charlie Kunz (piano)

Alternate frontcover from France:


01. Medley 1: (8.01)
01.1. Let The Great Big World Keep Turning
01.2. Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me A Bow-Wow
01.3. The Galloping Major
01.4. I’m Shy, Mary Ellen
01.5. Katie Connor
01.6. Get Out And Get Under
01.7.If Should Plant A Tiny Seed Of Love
01.8. The Army Of Today’s All Right
01.9. Ship Ahoy

02. Medley 2: (7.22)
02.1. In The Twi-twi-twilight
02.2. She’s A Lassie From Lancashire
02.3. The Lily Of Laguna
02.4. You Made Me Love You
02.5. Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay
02.6. I’ll Be Your Sweetheart
02.7. Brighton
02.8. For Months And Months And Monhs
02.9- Goodby, Dolly Gray

03. Medley 3: (8.00)
03.1. On The Good Ship
03.2. Wait Till The Clouds Roll By
03.3. Darling Mabel
03.4. The Ship I Love
03.5. Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy
03.6. I Was A Good Little Girl Till I Met You
03.7. I The Good Old Summer Time
03.8. Oh ! Oh ! Antonio
03.9. Flanagan

04. Medley 4: (8.26)
04.1. Following In Father’s Footsteps
04.2. After The Ball
04.3. Two Little Girls In Blue
04.4. I Used To Sigh For The Silvery Moon
04.5. Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly
04.6. P.C. 49
04.7. Three O’Clock In The Morning
04.8. Are We To Part Like This
04.9. Waiting For Robert E. Lee



Charlie Kunz03

Chris Barber – Elite Syncopations (1960)

OriginalFrontCover1In his notes on the back of the LP cover, Chris Barber wrote: “Ragtime is a musical idiom that was popular between 1890 and 1920 (having no connotation whatsoever with a bandleader named Alexander!). It had a very great influence on jazz development but has been sadly neglected in recent years…. We had the honour of visiting New Orleans to give a concert in 1959, and we were fortunate to find a collection of original Ragtime sheet music at Bill Russell’s little shop in the French Quarter, thus enabling us at last to prepare and record some authentic Ragtime-style jazz. All the numbers on this LP except Georgia Cakewalk and St. George’s Rag come from this collection…. The descriptions of the tunes, the illustration and the panel underneath the title all taken from the original Stark Publishing Co. sheet music, as is the cover of Elite Syncopations”.

Right from their outset in 1954 — and before that if you want to count the embryo bands that led to the formation of Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and that band’s evolution into Chris Barber’s Jazz Band — Chris and the band (but mainly Chris himself, I think) were innovators. Not only did they anticipate various trends but in many cases they set the trend by inventing it in the first place!


The first of the two best-known examples began with the band’s skiffle group, the recording and release of Rock Island Line, the enormous influence of Lonnie Donegan, and the explosion of skiffle as both a commercial form of music and an amateur craze in the late-1950s. The second was the band’s practice of inviting to Britain some of the most illustrious and influential names on the North American blues and gospel scenes: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Muddy Waters with Otis Spann — all in the space of less than twelve months in 1957 and 1958. Several others followed, and together with the Barber Band they helped to foster the emergence of a vibrant British blues and rock scene.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, another mini-craze emerged in the pop music world: ragtime. This happened largely because of the use of the ragtime tune The Entertainer as the theme song in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford hit movie, The Sting. I think it’s fair to say that few patrons and fans were aware that the song had not been written for the movie but had been around for about 70 years!


I doubt that Chris would claim any part in stimulating this third trend, but there is no doubt that, once again, he and his band were “ahead of the curve”, not only by including rags in their repertoire since the Colyer days but also by recording, in 1960, a 12-inch LP, Elite Syncopations, devoted entirely to ragtime music. The story of how the music was discovered is told briefly by Chris in the quote from the original LP cover at the top of this page, and you can listen to a short sound clip of Chris introducing one of the tunes, The Peach, on a radio programme.

For the most part, the LP featured the standard six-piece line-up of the band as it was at the time, but even within the album itself there was innovation: three of the tunes consisted of a multi-tracked Barber trombone accompanied by just the rhythm section. (by


Chris Barber (trombone)
Graham Burbidge (drums)
Pat Halcox (trumpet)
Eddie Smith (banjo)
Dick Smith (bass)
Monty Sunshine (clarinet)

French front + backcover


01. Swipsy Cakewalk (Joplin/Marshall) 3.40
02. Bohemia Rag (Lamb) 2.45
03. Elite Syncopation (Joplin) 4.19
04. Cole Smoak (St. John) 4.38
05. St George’s Rag (Barber) 4.15
06. The Peach (Marshall) 3.15
07. The Favorite (Joplin) 4.02
08. Reindeer Rag (Lamb) 4.22
09. The Entertainer (Joplin) 3.51
10. Georgia Cakewalk (Mills) 4.20
11. Thriller Rag (Auferheide) 3.01
12. Whistlin’ Rufus (Mills) 3.01
13. Tuxedo Rag (Celestine) 2.18
14. Bugle Call Rag (Basie) 4.18



More from Chris Barber:


Chris Barbers Jazzband – Maryland, My Maryland + 2 (1955)

FrontCover1Donald Christopher ‘Chris’ Barber (born 17 April 1930) is a British jazz musician, best known as a bandleader and trombonist. As well as scoring a UK top twenty trad jazz hit, he helped the careers of many musicians, notably the blues singer Ottilie Patterson, who was at one time his wife, and vocalist/banjoist Lonnie Donegan, whose appearances with Barber triggered the skiffle craze of the mid-1950s and who had his first transatlantic hit, “Rock Island Line”, while with Chris Barber’s band. His providing an audience for Donegan and, later, Alexis Korner makes Barber a significant figure in the British rhythm and blues and “beat boom” of the 1960s.

Barber was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, the son of a statistician father and headmistress mother. He was educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School, Malvern, Worcestershire, to the age of 15, then St Paul’s School in London and the Guildhall School of Music.

Barber and Monty Sunshine (clarinet) formed a band in 1953, calling it Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen to capitalise on their trumpeter’s recent escapades in New Orleans: the group also included Donegan, Jim Bray (bass), Ron Bowden (drums) and Barber on trombone. The band played Dixieland jazz, and later ragtime, swing, blues and R&B. Pat Halcox took over on trumpet in 1954 when Colyer moved on after musical differences and the band became “The Chris Barber Band”. (by wikipedia)

And this is one of his early singles and the music sounds pretty good and this single is fun, fun, and fun only !


Chris Barber (trombone, vocals)
Jim Bray (bass)
Ron Bowden (drums)
Lonnie Donegan (banjo)
Pat Halcox (trumpet, vocals)
Monty Sunshine (clarinet)


01. Maryland, My Maryland (Traditional) 3.36
02. St. George’s Rag (Barber) 3.51
03. Wabash Blues (Ringle/Meinken) 6.04



Joshua Rifkin – Piano Rags By Scott Joplin (1970)

FrontCover1Scott Joplin: Piano Rags is a 1970 ragtime piano album, consisting of compositions by Scott Joplin played by Joshua Rifkin, on the Nonesuch Records label. The original album’s cover states the name as Piano Rags by Scott Joplin, as contrasting the album’s spine. The record is considered to have been the first to reintroduce the music of pianist and composer Joplin in the early 1970s. It was Nonesuch Records’ first million-selling album.

Rifkin provides a brief history of ragtime music, a biographical sketch of Joplin, and musical analysis of his compositions. He notes, “The awakening of interest in black culture and history during the last decade has not yet resurrected Joplin and his contemporaries, who remain barely known beyond a growing coterie of ragtime devotees. Yet it offers a perfect opportunity to discover the beauties of his music and accord him the honor that he deserves.”

ScottJoplinThe album was released in November 1970 and sold 100,000 copies in its first year and eventually became Nonesuch’s first million-selling record. Record stores found themselves for the first time putting ragtime in the classical music section. The album was nominated in 1971 for two Grammy Award categories: Best Album Notes and Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra). The Billboard “Best-Selling Classical LPs” chart for 28 September 1974 has the record at #5, with the follow-up “Volume 2” at #4, and a combined set of both volumes at #3. Separately both volumes had been on the chart for 64 weeks. In 1979 Alan Rich in the New York Magazine wrote that by giving artists like Rifkin the opportunity to put Joplin’s music on record Nonesuch Records “created, almost alone, the Scott Joplin revival.”

In January 1971, Harold C. Schonberg, music critic at The New York Times, having just heard the album, wrote a featured Sunday edition article entitled “Scholars, Get Busy on Scott Joplin!” Schonberg’s call to action has been described as the catalyst for classical music scholars, the sort of people Joplin had battled all his life, to conclude that Joplin was a genius.(by wikipedia)

JoshuaRifkinThe many faces of Joshua Rifkin

Joshua Rifkin (piano)

01. Maple Leaf Rag 3.13
02. The Entertainer 4.58
03. The Ragtime Dance 3.13
04. Gladiolus Rag 4.24
05. Fig Leaf Rag 4.36
06. Scott Joplin’s New Rag 3.07
07. Euphoric Sounds 3.53
08. Magnetic Rag 5.11

All compositions by Scott Joplin


NonesuchLabelsThe original Nonesuch labels

Various Artists – A New Orleans Jazz Festival 1949 – 1952 (1974)

FrontCover1This ia a very rare album from 1974 with traditonal jazz & dixie music … recorded live.

The highlights are tracks 9–11 where you hear not less than 5 Bigbands playing (mostly) simultaneously. The event was called “Gene Norman & Frank Bull Dixieland Jubilee Concert”. Later in the 50ies Gene Norman & Frank Bull startet a record label called “Dixieland Jubilee”.
When I hear historical recordings like this, I always try to compare them to something in our time. In 1950 Jazz was as old as Techno is today, about 25 years. So for the visitors this event must have been similar to the LoveParades of today.


George Lewis And His Ragtime Band (Artisan Hall, New Orleans, December 14, 1952):
01. At A Georgia Camp Meeting (Mills) 3.43
02. Chimes Blues (Oliver) 5.03
03. Burgundy Street Blues  (Lewis) 5.20

Kid Ory’s Creole Band (Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, October 7, 1949):
04. Tiger Rag (LaRocca) 3.39
05. Savoy Blues (Ory) 2.54
06. Twelth Street Rag (Bowman) 3.35
07. Eh! La Bas (Traditional) 3.05

The Massed Jazz Bands (Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, October 7, 1949):
08. High Society (Steele) 2.57
09. Who’s Sorry Now (Kalmar/Snyder/Ruby) 2.10
10. Muskrat Ramble (Ory) 2.43
11. South Rampart Street Parade (Ory) 2.48
Kid Ory’s Creole BandKid Ory’s Creole Band