The National Recording Registry, KC Edition: Part 3

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To mark the release of this year’s additions to the National Recording Registry, we’re going to feature registry recordings with ties to Kansas City.

The National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress honors and preserves recordings of significant cultural, musical and historical value. The registry contains 17 recordings that has ties to Kansas City.

Part 1 contains recordings added in 2002-2004.

Part 2 contains recordings added in 2005-2007.

Mary Lou Williams

Night Life, Mary Lou Williams. Kansas City’s jazz scene featured two exceptional female pianists: Julia Lee and Mary Lou Williams. At the time of this recording in 1930, Williams was the pianist, composer and arranger for Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy, the top band in KC and the midwest. This astonishing recording is further notable by the fact that she was only 20 years old.

Uncle Sam Blues, Hot Lips Page with Eddie Condon’s Jazz Band. Oran “Hot Lips” Page grew up in Dallas. He joined the Bennie Moten Orchestra, KC’s best dance band, in 1931. He also played in Count Basie’s and Artie Shaw’s orchestras. This 1944 session was released on V-Disc, which was a label the federal government set up to distribute for free to the military and were not released to the general public.

Jazz at the Philharmonic, Various Artists. Jazz producer Norman Grantz conducted a series of concerts and recordings under this name for nearly 40 years. The first Jazz at the Philharmonic concert was held in Los Angeles on July 2, 1944, and it is this recording that was added to the registry. The concert featured top jazz artists of the day in wide range of styles, and includes a performance by Charlie Parker on alto sax.

The Boswell Sisters

It’s the Girl, the Boswell Sisters with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. The Boswell Sisters were a popular singing group in the 1930s with ties to Kansas City. Connee and Martha were born in Kansas City, and Helvetia was born in Alabama. They got their start in New Orleans but achieved national prominence after they moved to New York in the 1930s and sang on national radio broadcasts. Connee continued with a solo career after the sisters’ popularity faded and is credited with being an influence on Ella Fitzgerald.


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