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Friday, November 5, 2010

Under many different's Harry Reser!! tenor banjo extraordinaire!!

Harry Reser

Harry F. Reser (January 17, 1896 – September 27, 1965) was an American banjo player and bandleader. Born in Piqua, Ohio, Reser was best known as the leader of The Clicquot Club Eskimos.
Reser was regarded by some as the best banjoist of the 1920s. He played with midwestern dance bands, relocating to Buffalo, New York in 1920. Arriving in Manhattan the following year, he became an in-demand session musician during the early 1920s.

In 1925, he found fame as the director for NBC's Clicquot Club Eskimo Orchestra, continuing with that weekly half-hour until 1935. At the same time, he also led other bands using pseudonyms. "Harry Reser and His Six Jumping Jacks," with vocals by Tom Stacks, were the zany forerunners to comedy bands like Spike Jones and His City Slickers.

Reser and his band introduced on record, the standard "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" in 1934.

Harry Reser played "Tiger Rag" and "You Hit the Spot" in the Vitaphone musical short Harry Reser and His Eskimos (1936).

Reser remained active in music for the rest of his life, leading TV studio orchestras and playing with Broadway theatre orchestras. In 1960 he appeared with Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Buster Keaton in "A 70th Birthday Salute to Paul Whiteman" on TV's The Revlon Revue. He wrote several instructional books for the banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

In 1965 Reser died of a heart attack in the orchestra pit of the Broadway stage version of Fiddler on the Roof just prior to a performance. He was inducted into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame, a museum in Oklahoma, in 1999.

From :

As a very young man, Reser played banjo in various bands in Ohio (his home state) and in the midwest. In 1920, he was living and working in Buffalo, NY. But, in 1921, Gus Haenschen, musical director for Brunswick Recording Company - recognizing his talent - brought him to New York City where he recorded for for that company, and also became a popular 'sessons' man with other bands and recording companies.  The December 1924 issue of 'Dominant Orchestra Monthly' (Page 67) credits Walter Haenschen for making "banjoist Harry Reser, of Dayton, Ohio", a recording artist: "His marvelous ability on the family of plectrum instruments attracted the attention of Mr. Gus Henschen [sic], recording manager of the Brunswick Phonograph Company, and Mr. Henschen brought Mr. Reser east to record for this company."

In 1922, Brunswick released a number of recordings of Reser playing solo banjo. All through the 1920s, Harry Reser's Jazz Pilots (and other names) were very popular and cut many records. Here's a couple of sound files of the Jazz Pilots playing their versions of The Monkey Doodle Oooo, (The tune was written for the Marx Brothers film 'The Cocoanuts'. I think it was composed by Kalmar and Ruby), and I've Never Seen A Straight Banana, (words and music: Edward Platt) both songs with Tom Stacks (their drummer) doing the vocalizing. ("Banana is from an Okeh Electric record number 40771, and both tunes were digitally re-engineered by Mr. Verne Buland.) The typical make up of the Jazz Pilots would include 3 or 4 banjos plus drums; a Brass Bass; Sax and Cornet. Personnel changed from time time, as did the group's instrumental makeup.

Up to then, Reser simply had one of the so called "studio" orchestras; -bands that just worked in the radio stations and recording studios for a sponsor, or to back up a singer. (Some other 'studio' orchestras of the era that won some fame on Radio Shows include; Harry Horlick and his A&P Gypsies; and Sam Lanin & his Ipana Troubadors.)

But Reser's big break came in 1925 when he found a sponsor in the form of the 'Clicquot Club' brand of soda-pop beverages, for their half hour NBC Radio Show. The band achieved national fame while broadcasting as "Harry Reser's Clicquot Club Eskimos". A group from within the "Eskimos" was also quite popular. The band's drummer - diminutive Tom Stacks (they say he weighed 100 pounds 'soaking wet'), often recorded with some of the "Eskimos" under the name of "Tom Stacks and His Jumping Jacks". Stacks handled most of the vocalizing for both bands - the Eskimos and the Jumping Jacks. Happily, Harry's music sold quite a lot of Clicquot Club Soda, and the brand kept his orchestra on the air until 1935.

There is still another interesting facet to Harry's career. All during the 1920s and 1930s, Harry recorded under a multitude of different band names. At the time, many other orchestras were also heard under differing names. This was usually to circumvent 'exclusivity' clauses in recording contracts (but there were other reasons as well). But Harry may have used more names than any other band (perhaps due to Gus Haenschen's/Carl Fenton's influence.) Here's one not shown on the list below. It's Harry Reser and a few of the Flit Killers, -thats Harry seated on the left, others are unidentified. They were heard on a popular radio program sponsored by a 'Bug Killer' with the "Flit" brand name. Here is a list of 51 band names that Reser used (that may still be missing a few):

TheBlue Jays, The Harry Reser Trio, The Blue Kittens,  Harry F. Reser's Novelty Trio,
The Bluebirds, Harry Reser's Banjo Boys, The Bostonians, Harry Reser's String Orchestra,
The Campus Boys,  Harry Reser's Syncopators,  Casino Dance Orchestra, Rio Trio,
Century Serenaders, Rounders,  Clicquot Club Eskimos,  Roving Romeos, The
Club Royal Orchestra, The Royale Trio, The Four Minstrels, The Seven Little Polar Bears,
Frank Harrison's Banjo Orch., The Seven Rag Pickers, Phil Hughes and His High Hatters, The Seven Wild Men, The Jazz Pilots, The Six Hayseeds,  Jimmy Johnston's Rebels, The Six Jumping Jacks, The Midnight Ramblers, Tom Stacks and The Jumping Jacks, The
Monarch Orchestra, Tom Stacks and his Minute Men, The Night Club Orchestra, The Ten Freshmen, The Okeh Syncopators, The Tickle Toe Ten, Earl Oliver's Jazz Babies, The Tuxedo Orchestra, The Park Lane Orchestra, The University Boys, The Parlophone Syncopators, The Varsity Four, The Plantation Players, The Victorian Syncopators, The Red Hotters, The     Volunteer Firemen, Harry Reser and His Eskimos, Bill Wirges and his Orchestra, Harry Reser's Cliquot Club Eskimos, The Goodrich Zippers AND Harry Reser and His Orchestra....whew!! that's a lotta bands!!

Here's a few tunes....FUN STUFF!!

Heebie Jeebies
Cliquot -as Harry Reser's Chicquot Club Eskimos
The Lunatic's Lullaby -as The Seven Wild Men
She's The Sweetheart Of Six Other Guys -as Harry Reser & his Six Jumping Jacks
Cat and dog -as The Harry Reser Banjo Crackerjax
Easy goin'
Kitten on the keys
Sugar blues
Little white lies -as Harry Reser's Chicquot Club Eskimos
At sundown -as Harry Reser's Chicquot Club Eskimos
By The Light Of The Stars
Chinnin' and Chattin' With May -as Frank Auburn & his Orchestra
Crazy Joe
Frosted chocolate
I Love The College Girls -as Harry Reser & His Six Jumping Jacks
I'm just wild about Animal Crackers -as The Seven Wild Men
(I Scream - You Scream - We All Scream For) Ice Cream -as Harry Reser & his Six Jumping Jacks
Oh, Look at That Baby
Send back my honeymoon
She's got it -as Harry Reser & His Six Jumping Jacks
When I take My Sugar To Tea -as Harry Reser's Radio Band
Black bottom -as Denza Dance Band
Blue River -as Denza Dance Band
Give me the Charleston *****(I included this track, as I've seen it appear several places as being by Harry Reser as the Denza Dance Band.....I, however, have a 78 of this same track on Columbia #412-D- as "Give Us the Charleston" by The Clover Gardens Orchestra, under the direction of W.C. Polla.)*****
Just a memory -as Denza Dance Band
Let's grow old together -as Denza Dance Band
Oh boy, what a girl -as Denza Dance Band
Speech -as Denza Dance Band
Ukelele lady -as Denza Dance Band
Blinky Moon Bay  -Harry Reser as Earl Oliver Orch, V=Al Bernard
It's A Good Thing That Cows Don't Fly -as Earl Oliver's Jazz Babies
Thanks For The Buggy Ride -as Earl Oliver's Jazz Babies
 The Village Blacksmith Owns The Village Now -as Earl Oliver's Jazz Babies V tom Stacks
You're Just a Great Big Baby Doll -as George Brooks Orch, V=Tom Stacks
 Lo-Do-De-O -as the Six Jumping Jacks
 I Don't Care -as The Victorian Syncopators
Calling -w/ Bill Wirgles (piano)
Collette -w/ Bill Wirgles (piano)
Snowflakes -w/ Bill Wirgles (piano)
Lonesome and sorry -as The Clicquot Club Eskimos
My Sunday Girl -H R & His Clicquot Club Eskimos
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?  -H R & His Eskimos
Get 'Em in a Rumble Seat  -H R& His Six Jumping Jacks

Hooray For The Irish! -H R& His Six Jumping Jacks
Our Bungalow of Dreams
That's Her Now
When the Morning Glories Wake up in the Morning
 Wait till Tomorrow Night -Harry Reser Orch. v= Al Bernard
Collegiate Sam  -Harry  Reser Orch v=Tom Stacks
Oh You Have No Idea -Harry  Reser Orch v=Tom Stacks
The Coat and the Pants Do All The Work  -Harry  Reser Orch v=Tom Stacks
What'll You Do -Midnight Ramblers (Harry Reser ) (v: Tom Stacks)
Out of nowhere -as Harry Reser's Radio Band
Rio Rita -as Harry Reser's Rounders
Charleston Ball
Henrys Made a Lady Out of Lizzie
It's unanimous now
Oh, Baby
The village Blacksmith (2)
 I Got a Code in My Doze -as Harry Reser's Syncopaters
It Ain't No Fault Of Mine -as Harry Reser's Syncopaters
 When the Robert E Lee comes to town -as Harry Reser's Syncopaters
Collette -as Earl Oliver & His Orchestra  (v: Arthur Fields)
Ever since the movies learned to talk -H R Orch v=Irving Kaufman
Where The Sweet Forget-Me-Nots Remember -as Victor King & His Conqueror Orchestra v: Irving Kaufman
Here Comes The Showboat
Highways Are Happy Ways -as Earl Randolph's Orchestra v: Tom Stacks
Make My Cot Where The Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows -as Midnight Ramblers  v: Tom Stacks
I faw down an' go boom! -as Jerome Conrad and his Orchestra
Olaf (You ought-a hear Olaf laff) as Jerome Conrad and his Orchestra
Shimmy -Vic Meyers Orch, w/ Harry Reser
Sad -Vic Meyers Orch, w/ Harry Reser
What A Girl! What A Night!


  1. Wow, fabulous. A very big thank you for this one.

  2. Geesh. I did that list....then found even more music that I I may have to revisit Harry. Maybe a little list to come? :) Glad you liked it.

  3. Shoot, i missed out. Any chance of a re-upload. The MF link died. I'm at Thanks so much. I love your blog!

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