Jazz Oracle

Jazz Oracle Catalogue
Jazz Oracle How to Order
Jazz Oracle Team
Jazz Oracle Links
Jazz Oracle Help Wanted

John R.T. Davies - President Emeritus

Email us
Email us


Classic Jazz Society of Toronto
The Classic Jazz Society of Toronto was formed by Colin Bray, co-owner of Jazz Oracle, and others, in late 1993 to bring back the original form of jazz to Toronto. They organise six or more events every year which are currently held at the Estonian House Hall, 958 Broadview Ave., Toronto.

Bands that have played at their events include - Clint Baker's New Orleans Jazz Band (San Francisco, USA), The Black Diamond Five (San Francisco, USA), Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band (Hungary), Boilermaker Jazz Band (Pittsburgh, USA), Boston Brahmin's (Boston, USA), Brahmin Bellhops (Boston, USA), Cakewalkin' Jazz Band (Cleveland, USA), Club Django (Toronto, Canada), Neville Dickie's Rhythmakers (UK), Doctor Jazz Company (Germany), The Eagle Jazz Band (Cleveland, USA), Gold Washboard Band (Poland), Marty Grosz and his Orphan Newsboys (NYC, USA), The Grande Bouche Swingtette (Toronto, Canada), Dave Greer's Classic Jazz Stompers (Dayton, USA), Hot Antic Jazz Band (France), Jacobi's Bottomland Orch. (Germany), Phil Mason's New Orleans Allstars (UK), Gene Mayl's Dixie Rhythm Kings (Dayton, USA), New Black Eagle Jazz Band (Boston, USA), Paul and his Gang (Sweden), Rialto Rhythm Revellers (Ottawa, Canada), Savannah Jazz Band (UK), South Frisco Jazz Band (LA, USA).

Guests have included: Bill Bissonnette (Conn., USA), Jacques Gauthe (New Orleans, USA), Carol Leigh (USA), Jimmy Mazzy (USA), Ken Sims (UK), Gregg Stafford (New Orleans, USA), Terry Waldo (NYC, USA), Tex Wyndham (USA).
For more information call Colin Robinson (416) 777-9235
or call/ write to the President (Colin Bray) on (416) 698-0336
25 Queensgrove Rd., Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1N 3A9


Canadian Collectors' Conference
This annual three day conference is devoted to Ragtime, Vintage Jazz, Blues and Canadiana as recorded on 78 rpm records. It is now in it's 31st year and is held in Toronto in late April. The second day, held on a Saturday, consists of short discographical presentations in the morning followed by three longer presentations by internationally acclaimed experts in their field. Previous presenters have included John R.T. Davies, Lawrence Gushee, Rick Kennedy and Mike Montgomery. This year's congress will take place on April 26 and 27, 2003.

Formal Presentations

Mark Berresford (Nottingham,UK): Ted Lewis - The Early Years
We all know Ted Lewis as ‘The High Hatted Tragedian of Jazz,’ an image carefully nurtured through a career that lasted 8 decades. But what do we know of how he came to be one of America’s favourite entertainers, and of the events in his early life that shaped his subsequent career? Mark Berresford will present a talk on the ups and downs of Ted’s early years, from childhood in Circleville, Ohio, through his barnstorming days in medicine shows, vaudeville and burlesque, to his early triumphs with his own band. On the way we’ll meet Oscar Hammerstein, Florenz Ziegfeld, Larry Shields, Bert Williams, Shelton Brooks, W.C. Fields and Stuff Smith’s father, along with many more personalities whose paths Ted crossed on the way to fame.

Biographical Sketch:
Mark has been collecting vintage jazz and personality records for over 30 years and has specialized in the ragtime and early jazz period, c. 1896 - 1923. He regularly writes on the subject, both for CD liner notes and in magazines, notably in VJM’s Jazz & Blues Mart, which he has co-edited for 11 years. As well as writing and lecturing on early jazz (he was a guest speaker at the 1999 CCC), Mark runs his own business selling vintage jazz and blues 78s and LPs from his home in Nottingham, England.

Mike Montgomery (Detroit, MI): Searching for Lost Piano Rolls - a 52-year Odyssey
This presentation will cover the piano roll industry’s place and importance in the popular music business of the early 1900s, and highlight some of the musical treasures found and rescued from total obscurity during a lifetime of collecting. Everyone knows that Morton, Gershwin, Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson and Fats Waller made piano rolls, but less widely known are the roll performances by more obscure artists like Mandy Randolph, James “Slap” White, Everett Robbins, J. Turner Layton, Steve Lewis, Richard M. Jones, Cow Cow Davenport, Alex Hill, Billy Hegamin and Vee Lawnhurst, among others.

Biographical Sketch:
Mike is 69 and is married with 3 children. He began collecting piano rolls in 1951, and is today a recognized expert in the field of jazz, blues and ragtime rolls. He has produced 25 LP and CD reissues for the Biograph label, and has written liner notes for the Austrian Document CD series. Mike has given lectures at the CCC, the Sonneck Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and at a 1981 event at the Hollywood Bowl accompanying Sippie Wallace. A pianist, he has recorded with the Boll Weevil Jass Band on LPs and CDs. Retired since 1989 from Michigan Bell, he answers lots of questions and enjoys lots of naps!

Dick Raichelson (Memphis, TN): The Marsh Recording Labs: Makers of Autograph Records
This discussion of Orlando J. Marsh, a pioneer recording engineer and owner of Autograph Records, will include discussion of: (1) Marsh’s background; (2) Marsh’s role in Chicago recording history; and (3) the Marsh family of labels and matrix series.

Biographical Sketch:
Dick moved to Memphis from his native Syracuse, NY in 1979 to teach anthropology at the University of Memphis. He is a founding member of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, for which he served as President during the 1970s. He is currently Discographical Editor of the IAJRC Journal, as well as the Association’s Monograph Editor. With an objective to shed light on previously-unknown musicians and orchestras, he produced nearly 20 well-researched albums of rare early jazz on his label, Arcadia Records. He has continued to write and give presentations about musicians and record labels, and his in-depth article on the life and times of Orlando J. Marsh will soon be published in 78 Quarterly. Dick is currently writing a formal history of Beale Street.

For more information contact Gene Miller (416) 231-4055 or at jazcol@rogers.com

Toronto jazz events


    Frog Records
    Frog has a very fine catalogue of jazz from the classic era (1920s - 30s). All transfers are by John R.T. Davies. Note: Frog CDs can now be ordered from us for the same cost as Jazz Oracle CDs.

    Jazz Crusade Records
    Jazz Crusade Records - run by long time record producer, author, drummer and trombonist Bill Bissonnette, this is one of the few labels worldwide that is recording present day musicians playing in the original New Orleans style. The label also includes recordings from an earlier period by Wilbur De Paris, Kid Thomas, Big Jim Robinson, George Lewis etc.

    Timeless Records
    Another company producing excellent CDs of jazz from the 20s and 30s. Many of the CDs feature transfers by John R.T. Davies. Note: Timeless CDs can now be ordered from us for the same cost as Jazz Oracle CDs.

    Vintage Jazz Mart
    The world's number one magazine for buying rare jazz and blues 78 rpm and microgroove records. Also includes articles on the minutae of jazz record collecting. nts page at www.classicjazztoronto.com

    Canadian Antique Phonograph Society (CAPS)
    This friendly society is based in Toronto and meets once a month. The meeting consists of a talk or presentation followed by an auction where all things to do with recorded sound are sold - phonographs, gramophones, records, cylinders, literature etc.
    The society have just released their first CD to celebrate their 30th anniversary - "Dance Bands From Canada 1922-30". The 28 page full colour booklet includes extensive notes by Jazz Oracle co-owner Colin Bray and many unissued photographs. Highly recommended. To buy this CD see the CAPS webpage at http://www.CAPSnews.org

Jazz Oracle help wanted
One of our challenges is that we tend to have more projects in mind than we can reasonably complete without help from other interested collectors and researchers. In addition, we are happy to entertain suggestions of projects that could be undertaken, particularly if the person making the suggestion is willing to take a lead role in programming, sourcing original recordings, and writing high quality liner notes. Recognition for contributions are given in the CD liner, and complimentary copies of CDs are available to contributors.

Things we need help with at present are:
Project & Help Sought
  • Gilbert Watson Orch. on any of the following Canadian labels - Apex, Starr-Gennett, Microphone and Lucky Strike

  • Millard Thomas on Ajax

  • Theodore West on Ajax

If you'd like to help, please contact us at

We are always interested in purchasing collections of 78 RPM jazz, hot dance, and blues records. Please contact us by email at

Jazz Oracle