Friday, December 21, 2012

Sousaphones roar into the 20s

As far as I can tell, the 1920s represent the heyday of the Sousaphone. Virtually every major instrument company offered one by this time, and they were showing up everywhere - in concert bands (Sousa had 5 or 6 Sousaphones in his band for many of those years), marching bands, dance bands, community bands, and even the jazz bands that began to blossom during that decade. For example (and click on their name to hear what they sounded like back then):

The Carroll Dickerson Band at Chicago's Sunset Cafe in 1922

The Wolverines in 1924, with Bix Beiderbecke on cornet

The Erskine Tate Orchestra in 1925, with Louis Armstrong (4th from left)

Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra in 1926 (I think)

Conn remained the "world's largest manufacturer" of band instruments at the beginning of that decade, and here are the Sousaphones they offered in 1921:

All Conn images courtesy of Mark Overton at
If you read the fine print at the bottom of these pages, you'll notice that Conn also offered a four valve version of their Sousaphone Grand (including a "Jumbo" in both three and four valve), as well as four valve "Giant," four valve "Monster," and three or four valve "Jumbo" versions of their upright bell horns. Take your pick!

And with the 1920s I began to see something I hadn't encountered before in my research - women playing the Sousaphone. But I'll save that for my next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment