1920s was an era of flappers, speakeasies and bathtub
gin-a time perhaps best characterized not by a sight,
but rather by a sound…the sound of jazz. At a time when
early American recording companies first experimented
with recordings of brass bands and popular Tin Pan Alley
acts, there was a small studio in Richmond, Indiana,
that did what few other studios of the early '20s were
willing to do at the time-allow African-American artists
traveling from the Mississippi Delta region to the nightclubs
in Chicago to sign their first recording contracts.
In turn, Richmond's tiny Gennett Recording Studio played
host to some of the biggest names in early jazz history
and produced some of the earliest known jazz recordings,
known at the time as "race records."
Armstrong, Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, Joe "King"
Oliver, Bix Biederbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Tommy Dorsey-many
of these top names in jazz were often considered by
other studio executives as too "radical" for the mainstream
marketplace in the 1920s and early '30s. But each found
a home at the Gennett Studios in Indiana. Later, Gennett
also introduced the raw sound of Mississippi Delta blues
with artists like Charlie Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson,
as well as a type of music known in its day as "hillbilly,"
later to be known as country-western music, with a popular
cowboy singer named Gene Autry.
of these musicians traveled through Indiana, they stopped
in Indianapolis for performances at the popular nightspots
along Indiana Avenue in the heart of the city's African-American
district. As a result, "the Avenue" was a source of
social and civic pride among blacks in Indianapolis,
with names like Ellington, Calloway, Armstrong, and
many other popular regional acts that glistened from
the marquees every weekend.
It is in this
spirit that the soundtrack to "For Gold &
Glory" was created. The music is a tribute to
the sounds once heard at the Gennett Studios in Richmond
and along Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis during the
1920s, when the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes auto racing
spectacular was in its heyday. The music helps capture
the specific time, date, and location of a sound that
grew to become the birth of recorded jazz in America.
As you enjoy each of the samples provided here, take
time to read the history of the music that inspired
each selection and discover the process by which the
sights and the sounds were preserved to create a more
historically authentic production.