In 1924, Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle wrote a stage show named ‘The Chocolate Dandies’. The show was unfortunately ultimately a flop because it failed to fit the stereotypical ‘fast dancing and negroid humor’. The name, however, lived on and was used by a number of different jazz ensembles from the late 1920s to 1940.
Don Redman, one of the first great jazz arrangers, was also a reed player and vocalist, appearing with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra until 1927, when he moved onto McKinney’s Cotton Pickers as well as working with Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five. In 1928, Redman brought together a small group of players to record with Okeh under the name The Chocolate Dandies. My 78rpm record is a pressing by Parlophone Records, headed at that time by Oscar Preuss.
Parlophone established a master leasing arrangement with Okeh and issued the Rhythm Style Series which included the two fabulous 78rpm numbers included here. Cherry was written by Don Redman himself and the vocals may be by him. Four or Five Times, written by Hellman & Gay, have what sounds like a quartet of voices including interjections in a woman’s voice. Note that on one side, the billing is The Big Chocolate Dandies and the other side The Little Chocolate Dandies!
In 1950, Oscar Preuss of Parlophone Records hired a young man named George Martin and five years later, Martin succeeded Preuss. The rest, as they say, is recording history.