Scrap Iron Jazz Band | Mark Berresford RARE RECORDS | Mark Berresford

Scrap Iron Jazz Band

Scrap Iron Jazz Band

We're grateful to our VJM partner Russ Shor for this previously-unpublished photo of the Scrap Iron Jazzerinos, taken in France in late 1918 or early 1919. This pioneering group consisted of American doughboys serving at the Base 21 Hospital of the Washington University School of Medicine in Rouen, France. Originally from St. Louis, the hospital team were based at Rouen's Champs des Courses race track from June 1917 to the end of the war. The band was formed from medical staff to boost the morale of both patients and staff, and when hostilities ceased in November 1918, they continued to perform, playing at many YMCA centres in France and Belgium, as well as at the Versailles Peace Conference and at  the Casino de Paris. They made some crude, but exciting sides for both Pathe in early 1919 and for The Gramophone Company in June 1919 in Paris, and stayed in Europe until at least 1921. The postcard was presented to "Major Pearman" (can anyone trace his regiment?)  and the names and instruments ascribed are as follows (L-R):- Albert S. Angellotta, trombone; Syl C. Horn, banjo and violin; Edwin F. Dakin, violin; W. Russell Hauslaib, C-Melody saxophone; Clayton s. Thirkell, piano;  Arshav K. Nushan, drums; Clarence W. Koch, trumpet. As author Mark Miller pointed out in his book "Some Hustling This! Taking Jazz To the World, 1914-1929 (Toronto: The Mercury Press, 2005) most, if not all the band members possessed a university education, either at Washington University, St. Louis, or Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and that they had been seconded to the British Army since mid-1917. The 3 balls are presumably a reference to a pawnbroker (the "Scrap Iron" reference). A number of researchers have laboured over the meaning of " Dot's Vee" on the bass drum (in the French HMV catalogue photo it looks like "Doy's Vee" but it is clear that it is not) and I would propose that it is "Mock German" for "That's We" or "That's Us."  A very useful history with photos of the Base 21 Hospital can be found at http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/gh21/ww1/index.htm