The Original Cornell Syncopators • Collegiate

As a collector of 78 RPM records for a quarter century, I have learned to flip through bins with a certain precision, making split second judgments about what deserves a closer look, choosing what goes into the maybe pile or what gets flipped past. My tastes are my own, but I have found pausing on labels like Cameo and Perfect gets me in the ballpark. I’ve also found that oddball jazz referencing band names should go straight to the buy pile. A lot of these turn out to be, as Wikipedia puts it, “the moderately jazz-influenced peppy dance band style called ‘Collegiate Hot’ that to many people exemplifies the music of the ‘Roaring Twenties.’” So when I heard about Collegiate by the Original Cornell Syncopators, my ears perked up. The Original Cornell Syncopators were started by then Cornell Freshman Colin Hancock in 2016 to celebrate the centennial of the ODJB’s first recordings. They soon discovered that they had predecessors at the school. The Cornell Collegians were the first college band to be recorded, in 1923, aided by their proximity to New York City, the hub of recording at the time. The Collegians, as they were named on the Victor label, featured local trombonist Spiegle Willcox, and performed in New York as Whiteman’s Collegians after being spotted by the King of Jazz at a gig in Syracuse. That initial research, and a conversation in Italy about an obscure
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