Here is a very good illustration, apparently made by adding drawings to a photograph, of Paul Whiteman’s band at the beginning of their career. Whiteman was already building a reputation; soon he would be King of Jazz, with the power to make George Gershwin write a Rhapsody in Blue even when he didn’t want to.

By the late 1920s, Whiteman’s band would grow to a monstrous thirty-piece organization, but here it is a typical 1920 hotel dance band of nine musicians.

Or is it ten? What inexplicable mystery have we uncovered here? Are we face to face with the supernatural?

Take a close look at the photograph. There is one extra character on the bandstand. Have you spotted him yet? Take a look between the legs of the second reed man:

Paul Whiteman, 1920, detail

Do we need any more excuse to hear a jazz record from a century ago? No, we do not.


  1. RepubAnon says:

    Looks like a cool cat to me…

  2. Dr. Boli says:

    It appears to be an instrument stand. A good reed man in 1920 would have been expected to play all the reeds, and to be able to switch instruments in the space of a few bars. The stand seems to be holding an oboe and a clarinet, with the middle space just right for receiving the saxophone.

    The reed man is probably Charles Dornberger, or Flipside Charlie, later a popular bandleader and Victor recording artist whose band’s recordings were almost always on the B side of a recording by a more famous band.

  3. Drizzz says:

    I think it is an andiron from Betty Boop’s fireplace, originally a set of two. Before Paul tried to “make a lady out of Jazz” he tried it with Betty, she threw the andiron at him and he grabbed it on the way out.

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