On the road from Texas to Brighton for the love of jazz

On the road from Texas to Brighton for the love of jazz

Kurt (right) and Eugene with his trumpet, gift from father, Louis, @1945 5/17/16

Up from Spring, Texas — after a 1000 mile drive in his diesel Nissan box truck that doubles as his home on the road — and fresh from the 50th Annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections conference in Bloomington, Indiana, Kurt Nauck made a pit stop in Brighton.nauck

32 years in the vintage record business — Nauck’s Vintage Records at 78rpm.com, the largest of its kind in the world, — Kurt was here to admire and purchase some of my father’s 78 rpm jazz collection ranging from 1920 -19 50.

For 25 years, Eugene has bought books, catalogues, discographies, record sleeves and even records from Kurt. And now the favor was being returned.


Eugene Kramer (first row, last, rear) Commodore Music Shop at 136 East 42 Street, NYC with Louis Armstrong (1947) from “The NY Times asks for help with a Jackie Robinson mystery. Well, Eugene Kramer was there. (Almost)”

In his quest for rare 78 rpm and rare phonograph records, Kurt has been all over the world from Buenos Aires to Vienna to Portland, Oregon to Portand, Maine, scouring museums, sound archives, radio stations, libraries, private homes, closets, basements, barns and chicken coops.

As for life on the road, one cardinal rule: no vinyl. According to Kurt, he breaks out in hives anytime he walks into a room with 45s or LP. Actually, Kurt thinks sometime in his youth he was injected with a steel Victrola needle.

Over dinner, Kurt shared images and sounds from his Conference presentation in celebration of the 50th anniversary. Kurt wowed the Conference — and us — with his carefully chosen selections, for instance, historical records dating back to 1890s, technological oddities, topical recordings dealings with atom bombs, flying saucers, taxes — and good music.

Below are four examples including music clips.Diaz Wax

One of the rarest commercially issued cylinders to appear in the Edison catalog was President Porfirio Diaz’s letter to Thomas Edison, recorded in August of 1909. Edison had written to Diaz asking him to make a recording or two, and this was the result.

But for sheer bizarrity, I don’t think anything can hold a match to the RCA Victor Talking Ashtray! Ashtray 2Honestly, this has to be the most useless product ever conceived by corporate Canada. Every time I tried to play the record, the tonearm kept knocking my cigarette across the room. About all I wound up with was a severe case of cue burn. I have no date for this recording, but the opening music was taken directly from American Victor’s 33rpm long-playing demo “Join the Victor Artist Party” which was recorded on July 30, 1931.

The Nauck collection consists of many different types of recordings by many different artists in many different genres. Atom BombFor instance, I tend to like records which are topical in nature, such as nuclear energy.

Five TrumpetsThere were many great atomic records, and “Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb” is surely one of the best. You are listening to it performed in both the finest white and black gospel traditions: the Sunshine Boys Quartet kicked us off and the Five Trumpets will take us home.

The Great War officially ended on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. The following year one of the most amazing records ever made was issued to celebrate our victory. Aesthetically it was light years ahead of its time. Imagine, if you will, a 10” vertically recorded acoustic march. Pretty unremarkable, except for the fact that it looks like this! VocA AlliesAeolian Vocalion 22004 is pressed in the colors of the flags of our Allies, thereby complementing a medley of their national anthems! The counterpart to this recording is the even more stunning Aeolian Vocalion 12000 done up in the colors of Old Glory and featuring American patriotic songs.

Soon, you can see and hear the entire presentation on the ARSC website.

felix the cat new

One of few recording artists who had own special label, Paul Whiteman was known as the King of Jazz. Includes Bix Beiderbecke. Interesting use of comic book character (Felix the Cat)


From the Battlefields of France By General John J. Pershing Recorded April 1918 “Three thousand miles from home, an American army is fighting for you. Everything you hold worthwhile is at stake. Only the hardest blows can win against the enemy we are fighting. Invoking the spirit of our forefathers, the army asks your unflinching support, to the end that the high ideals for which America stands may endure upon the earth.”

Over the years, many of you have enjoyed Eugene’s jazz salons in his study on Sunday night. From Eugene’s ample collection Kurt identified two noteworthy pieces. (Hear the Pershing recording from April 1918)  

Don’t worry, there are plenty left for those Sunday soirées.

NY Times asks for help with “A Jackie Robinson Mystery.” Well, Eugene Kramer was there. (Almost)


In search of “Progressive Rock” in the mid-70s at Brighton High School with the University of Rochester’s John Covach

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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