Click to enlarge photograph

Delaware River Bridge connecting Philadelphia, Pa. and Camden, N.J.
showing the R.C.A. Victor plant.

Jelly Roll Morton and members of his orchestra would have had just a short drive of about 5 miles from the Attucks Hotel (then located at 801 S. 15th Street at the intersection of Catharine Street, Philadelphia, Pa.) to the R.C.A. studios in Camden, N.J. to carry out a contracted recording assignment. The route would have taken them across the Delaware River via the Delaware River Bridge (formally the Benjamin Franklin Bridge).

Band member Harry Prather recalls that Jelly Roll Morton and members of his orchestra stayed at the Attucks Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa., while waiting for a recording session to come up. [MJL 64] “Nick” Rodriguez also remembers that, “. . . we were going to make some records and we stayed in Philadelphia and rode over to Camden — that’s an RCA plant.” [J 91]

On the first day of recording, in Studio #1 (possibly Studio #2), Jelly Roll Morton recorded 4 piano solos during the afternoon of Monday 8th July 1929. Recording sessions involving the orchestra took place in Studio #1 (possibly Studio #2) on 9th, 10th and 12th July.

Note: See also the excellent in-depth article titled: Victor’s Church Studio, Camden (1918—1935): Lost and Found? by Ben Kragting Jr. and Harry Coster.

The identity of the two trumpet players of this newly-formed orchestra remained unresolved for many years. However, due to research by Theo Zwicky and Al Vollmer, positive identification of the orchestra members can now be confirmed as: Walter Briscoe (tp); Boyd Rosser (tp); Charlie Irvis (tb); George Baquet (cl); Walter Thomas, Paul Barnes (as); Joe Thomas (ts); Jelly Roll Morton (p); Barney Alexander (bj); Harry Prather (tu) and William Laws (d). [N 204-205] The extra pianist, Nick “Rod” Rodriguez, should not be forgotten; even though he does not play on the issued records, he did participate in the rehearsals.

Victor was taken over by R.C.A. in January 1929. By 1936, all recording in Camden ceased because the Delaware River Bridge trains began operations and the deep-ground vibrations wrought havoc with the recordings.

Curteich-Chicago “C.T. Art-Colortone” linen-texture aerial post card  :  Peter C. Brown, Schuylkill Valley Post Cards

courtesy of Millie Gaddini

2008 Monrovia Sound Studio

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