32 - Black Swan Records - The Record Label that Recorded Fletcher Henderson’s “Chime Blues”

by John Tennison — History of Boogie Woogie

Black Swan Records was the first back-owned record label.  The label was founded by Harry Pace, who was from Georgia.  Before moving to New York to start his record label, Pace had run a music publishing company in Memphis with W. C. Handy.  Fletcher Henderson had worked as a pianist and demonstrator for Handy and Pace’s publishing company.  Thus, Henderson’s exposure to the published African American music of the day would have almost certainly brought Henderson into contact with Artie Matthews’ 1915 sheet music for “The Weary Blues” and with George W. Thomas Jr.‘s 1916 sheet music for “New Orleans Hop Scop Blues.”  This experience would have exposed Fletcher Henderson to the use of the Boogie Woogie broken-octave walking bass line approximately 8 years before Henderson recorded his “Chime Blues” circa March, 1923 on Swan Records.  Thus, the distribution of sheet music to Memphis, Chicago, and New York is a plausible explanation for how Fletcher Henderson came to use such a bass figure in his “Chime Blues.”

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© 2004-2009 John Tennison — All Rights Reserved

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