red hot jazz jazzbanner

Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band

By 1917 Earl Fuller led a society dance band at the popular Rector’s Restaurant in New York City called Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra. Their records released on Victor, Columbia, Emerson and Edison sold well from 1918 to 1920. Fuller ensembles helped popularize dance band trends of that period.

Click Here To OrderFor several of his earliest sessions Fuller led a small jazz ensemble dubbed on record labels Earl Fuller’s Famous Jazz Band, which was probably formed at the suggestion of Victor executives eager to duplicate the success of the first disc of the Original Dixieland Jass Band, made in late February of 1917. Because of various grievances, the Original Dixieland Jass Band severed ties with Victor for a year after making its first record, instead cutting titles for Columbia and the new Aeolian- Vocalion label. Fuller’s hastily assembled jazz group filled the void, enabling Victor later in 1917 to meet a sudden demand for jazz music.

Earl Fuller’s Famous Jazz Band included Walter Kahn on cornet, Harry Raderman on trombone, Ted Lewis on clarinet, and John Lucas on drums. This was the nucleus of the dance orchestra later led by Ted Lewis. Before Fuller’s first session, Lewis had been playing with Arthur Stone’s Syncopated Orchestra. In the early 1920s, the popular Ted Lewis orchestra consisted of these four musicians in addition to cornetist David Klein, trombonist Frank Lhotak, tuba player Harry Barth, and pianist Frank Ross. This is reported on page 21 of the October 1923 issue of Musical Truth, which was the trade journal for the maker of Conn instruments.

Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz BandPhotographs on sheet music suggest Fuller played piano on these dates though Ernie Cutting may have been the pianist on records (as on other jazz records of the period, piano on Fuller discs is the least audible of the instruments). It was one of the first bands to imitate the Original Dixieland Jass Band though the Frisco Jazz Band made an Edison recording on May 10, 1917, a little earlier than Fuller’s jazz ensemble.

Slippery Hank” and “Yah-De-Dah,” cut during the group’s first session on June 4, 1917, were issued on Victor 18321 in September 1917. These jazz performances are notably loud, and the musicians use instruments for comic effects. Victor’s September 1917 supplement states, “A terrific wail from the trombone starts ‘Slippery Hank‘ (F.H. Losey) on his glide, and the rest of the Jazz Band noises are in kind. And if you think these are all the noises available for a Jazz Band, turn the record over and listen to ‘Yah-De-Dah‘ (Mel. B. Kaufman). The sounds as of a dog in his dying anguish are from Ted Lewis‘ clarinet. Notice the two little chords at the end of each number. This is how you know for certain that a Jazz Band is playing.” Ending records with these “two little chords” had been introduced by the Original Dixieland Jass Band.

His jazz discs sold well, especially “The Old Grey Mare” backed with “Beale Street Blues” (Victor 18369), and, on Victor 18394, “Coon Band Contest” (a rag composed by trombonist Arthur Pryor and recorded by banjoist Vess L. Ossman as well as Sousa’s Band as early as 1900) backed with “Li’l Liza Jane,” written by Countess Ada de Lachau and arranged by J.L. Burbeck.

Historian and critic Gunther Schuller expresses mixed feelings about the band in Early Jazz (Oxford University Press, 1968), writing on page 184, “The band’s ricky-tick rhythms and cornetist Walter Kahn are very hard to take today. Moreover, its performances are structurally monotonous in their exact repetitions. Nevertheless, the band had a crude sort of excitement…” The now- forgotten discs helped define and popularize a new music, jazz, influencing young people who would later, in the 1920s, make important recordings.

In 1918 Earl Fuller’s Famous Jazz Band recorded for Edison several numbers with titles that refer to the new music, including “Jazzbo Jazz” and “Jazzin’ Around.” The August 1918 issue of Edison Amberola Monthly characterizes “Jazbo Jazz One-Step” on Blue Amberol 3554 as “a real, red- hot jazz dance of the most ultra modern variety,” and this may be the first time that a jazz record is promoted as “hot.” The jacket for Diamond Disc 50541, featuring Fuller’s own composition “Jazz de Luxe,” states that the band “was organized just at the time the jazz music became popular in New York, and through its playing of jazz music in Rector’s Restaurant, New York City, Earl Fuller’s Band became famous.” Promotional literature for the same number on Blue Amberol 3610 states, “Until you have heard one of Earl Fuller’s ‘symphonies in rhythm’ you are a novice in the art of appreciating Jazz.”

From the book “Popular American Recording Pioneers 1895 -1925.” By Tim Gracyk. If you would like to order a copy click here for details.

Thanks to Al Simmons and Dominic Combe for their help with the recording on this page.

Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
Beale Street Blues
(W.C. Handy)
8-13-1917 New York, New York Victor
Coon Band Contest
(Arthur Pryor)
9-10-1917 New York, New York Victor
I’m Sorry I Made You Cry
(N.J. Clesi)
6-4-1918 New York, New York Edison
Jazzbo Jazz
(Earl Fuller)
3-1918 New York, New York Emerson
Jazzbo Jazz One-Step
(Earl Fuller)
6-4-1918 New York, New York Edison
Jazz de Luxe
(Earl Fuller)
3-1918 New York, New York Emerson
Jazz de Luxe
(Earl Fuller)
6-13-1918 New York, New York Edison
Jazzin’ Around
(Earl Fuller)
6-13-1918 New York, New York Edison Blue
Amberol 3572
(Ernest Cutting)
12-1919 New York, New York Arto
(Lou Gold)
12-1919 New York, New York Arto
Li’l Liza Jane
(Countess Ada de Lachau / arranged by J.L. Burbeck)
9-10-1917 New York, New York Victor
Old Grey Mare
(arranged by Frank Panella)
8-13-1917 New York, New York Victor
Slippery Hank
(F.H. Losey)
6-4-1917 New York, New York Victor
(Mel B. Kaufman)
6-4-1917 New York, New York Victor

Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band

Artist Instrument
Earl Fuller Piano
Walter Kahn Cornet
Ted Lewis Clarinet
John Lucas Drums
Harry Raderman Trombone was a pioneering website during the "Information wants to be Free" era of the 1990s. In that spirit we are recovering the lost data from the now defunct site and sharing it with you.
Most of the music in the archive is in the form of MP3s hosted on or the French servers of where this music is all in the public domain.
Files unavailable from those sources we host ourselves. They were made from original 78 RPM records in the hands of private collectors in the 1990s who contributed to the original They were hosted as .ra files originally and we have converted them into the more modern MP3 format. They are of inferior quality to what is available commercially and are intended for reference purposes only. In some cases a Real Audio (.ra) file from will download. Don't be scared! Those files will play in many music programs, but not Windows Media Player.

Syncopated Times Radio

New Trad Jazz & Swing releases, interviews, live concerts, and a full roster of radio hosts.


Or look at our Subscription Options.