The New Orleans Owls, Part One

Jeff Barnhart: Hal, this month we’re listening to and discussing the music of a really hot, and polished, band from New Orleans. The New Orleans Owls recorded 23 sides between 1925 and 1927 for Columbia (five were rejected and never released); they were the first band to record by the electrical system operating from a mobile recording van. Such technology enabled engineers to capture sounds from locales far and wide, saving the expense of carting bands that were often uninterested in leaving their local gigs to the label’s studio to make a few sides. The Owls were operating from 1922-29; their primary residency was at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, although they would replace Abbie Brunies’ Halfway House Orch. (covered in the November, 2022 issue of TST) at the establishment with the same name in the late 1920s. Only a small number of bands recorded in New Orleans during those years, so these sides are precious:
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Hal Smith is an Arkansas-based drummer and writer. He leads the New Orleans Night Owls and the
Mortonia Seven and works with a variety of jazz and swing bands. Visit him online at
halsmithmusic.com

Jeff Barnhart is an internationally renowned pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, recording artist, ASCAP composer, educator and entertainer. Visit him online at www.jeffbarnhart.com. Email: [email protected]

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