National Jukebox Features Early KC Jazz Recordings

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The Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra.

The National Jukebox from the Library of Congress is a treasure. This site features our most historic and priceless recordings, for free. You can’t download, but you can stream to your heart’s content.

Of interest to Kansas City music fans are a series of recordings made by the Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra, the first KC act to be recorded.

According to Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop − a History by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, Coon-Sanders debuted in 1920 as a novelty act. In 1921, they recorded four sides for Columbia, becoming the first band to record in Kansas City. In 1922, their performances at the Muehleback Hotel in downtown Kansas City were among the first in the country to be broadcast on the radio.

The band moved to Chicago in 1924 and became that town’s most popular band. According to Driggs and Haddix, they even played cards with gangster Al Capone, who was the band’s biggest fan.

The Coon-Sanders songs in the National Jukebox were recorded in Chicago in 1924 for the Victor label.


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