Saturday, January 13, 2007

More on Ahmet Ertegun and Jubilee Gospel

As I promised when I last posted, I contacted friend-of-the-blog Bob Marovich with my question about Jubilee, a gospel label founded in part by the late Ahmet Ertegun. Here's what he said:

"Here is what it says in the liner notes of the Jubilee Gospel reissue CD, written by Opal Louis Nations: 'In 1946, [Jubilee Records co-founder Jerry] Blaine started up the Cosnat Distributing Corporation with a $6,000 loan from his brother Ben. Cosnat handled a host of small, independent labels, including National. Some time during this period, Herb Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun started a label called Jubilee, with the firm intention of issuing Afro-American gospel music - as the name of the label would suggest. Jubilee put out a pair of singles by the Two Gospel Keys (Emma Daniels, vocals and guitar and Mother Sally Jones, vocal and tambourine) as well as two by the great Sister Ernestine Washington, and Blaine distributed these through Cosnat. The records sold poorly, and the rights were sold to Moses Asch of Folkways Records. Blaine bought Jubilee from Abramson in 1947, and his first releases were extremely good sellers....'"

'Nations goes on to report that those good sellers were Kermit Schafer's famous "Bloopers" LPs and the Orioles' "It's Too Soon to Know." The latter was the proverbial shot heard 'round the world that launched the vocal group craze, which later morphed into what we know as the doo-wop sound.

'According to Hayes/Laughton, the Ernestine Washington platters were recorded in NYC on either January 2 or 4, 1946 with Bunk Johnson's Jazz Band, and are:

Jubilee 2501: Does Jesus care?/The Lord will make a way somehow
Jubilee 2502: Where could I go but to the Lord/God's amazing grace

The discography goes on to say, however, that the Jubilee records were never issued. They were issued on the Disc label instead after the purchase of the matrices by Mo Asch.

'The Two Gospel Keys 78s were also recorded in 1946, but again, Hayes/Laughton says the records were never issued on Jubilee but rather on Disc after the matrices were purchased by Asch. They would have been:

Jubilee 2503: You've got to move/This world is not my home
Jubilee 2504: I want my crown/We're gonna have a good time'"

(By the way, the Hayes/Laughton reference Bob makes is to an item on my wish list:
Gospel Records, 1943-1969: A Black Music Discography (Paperback) by Cedric J. Hayes, Robert Laughton. If you check the price, you'll know why it's on my wish list. )

Bob's knowledge on these matters is why I'm always happy to give him a shout-out (OK, that and the fact that he links to me!). He's the host of Gospel Memories on Chicago's WLUW (88.7 FM, or listen online).

Here's a Washington Post article with more info on Ertegun and his love for jazz. It also mentions Washington's historic U Street, where I recently spent time following another deep, abiding interest of mine: Good Cake. Mmmm.

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