1923: Triangle Club Jazz Band
Princetoniana Museum use only.
The Princeton Triangle Club’s golden age was in the roaring twenties. Vaudeville as a public entertainment was at its peak. In the 1920’s, commercial radio was in its infancy. Movies were silent until 1929. Television would not be introduced to the public until after World War II. At that time in the Roaring 20’s, Triangle, with its campy male kick-line and variety format, was at the center of the public taste in entertainment.
The members of the Triangle pit orchestra that wrote many of the show’s numbers formed a separate band in 1923 to be known as the Princeton Triangle Jazz Band to perform the songs from the shows on tours and for dance parties.
The Triangle Club Jazz Band embraced the Dixieland Jazz style that emerged from New Orleans around 1910. The Triangle Club Jazz band was influenced by a Bix Biderbecke, a self-taught cornet player from Davenport Iowa. Members of the Triangle Club Jazz Band were the same age as Bix Biderbecke and knew him personally. Biderbecke had agreed to sit in on a Columbia recording session but on the day of the recording was too intoxicated to perform. Biderbecke died of alcoholism related causes in 1931, not long before the last Columbia recording.
The Dixieland sound is created by a solo instrument playing the melody and the other instruments simultaneously improvise around the melody. This style creates a lively polyphonic spontaneous performance. Dixieland is the signature sound of the Gatsby Era. Dixieland gave way in the depression to the Swing Era with much larger touring stage bands, tightly arranged charts with more scripted and less improvisational solos. With Vaudeville out of fashion, the Swing Era commencing, and the Depression, the Triangle Club Jazz band ceased recording in 1932.
Clem Wells - Trumpet Bill Priestley ’29 – Cornet, Tenor Guitar (deceased 1979)
Frank Orvis ’25 – Clarinet, Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Accordion (deceased 1951) Larry Braman ’26 – Tuba (deceased 1930)
Avery Sherry ’27 – Also Sax, Clarinet (deceased 1992) Dick Turner - Trumpet
Kinney Ellis – Alto Sax Bill Thomas ’27 – Alto Sax (deceased 1993)
Dave Danforth ’26 – Violin (deceased 1991) Tom Wood ’27 – Alto Sax (deceased 1974)
Herb Sanford ’27 – Piano (deceased 1983) Jim Rogers ’27 – Bass Sax (deceased 1955)
Ed Botsford ’25 – Banjo (deceased 1982) Don Mills ’27 – Drums (deceased 1983)
Kirk Gilmore ’26 – Drums (deceased 1973) Brainerd Kremer ’29 – Alto Sax,Clarinet (deceased 1963)
Arnold Tietig ‘26 – Violin (deceased 1973) Philip Nash ’29 – Tenor Sax (deceased 1988)
J.D. Evans ’27 – Banjo (deceased 1979) Jack Howe ’30 – Tenor Sax (deceased 1992)
Theron Green ’29 – Trombone (deceased 1972) Deford Swann ’29 – Piano (deceased 1934)
Randy Hall – Alto Sax Doug MacNamara ’27 – Banjo (deceased 1976)
Bill Green ’25 – Piano (deceased 1972) Palmer Lathrop ’31 (deceased 1953)
John Berkshire ’28 – Tenor Sax (deceased 1926) Bob Bole ’28 – Drums (deceased 1970)
Edwin "Squirrel" Ashcroft ’29 - Accordion
Clip from "I'll Build an Igloo for You."
The Princeton Triangle Club Jazz Band recorded 78 RPM records between 1924 and 1932 at the Columbia Studio in New York City. The songs were arrangements of music written for the Triangle Club theatrical productions with some exceptions. The 78 RPM records were issued under the "Personal Record" label by the Columbia Phonograph Company, Inc. of NY. Eleven 78 RPM records were eventually published.