The relatively rare Style J Solo Orchestrion is often considered to be one of the most visually beautiful coin-in-the-slot pianos ever conceived and built, partly because it enjoys a spectacular set of art glass panels, which are set into an artistic and well crafted case. The piano in this instrument, #8846, probably manufactured in the year 1913, was made by Edmund Gram Piano Company, of Milwaukee. This piano manufacturer was an early supplier of pianos to the company. This model J keyboard orchestrion, currently in the collection of Mark Yaffe, Florida, is one of two such specimens once owned by Charles (and Sue) Bovey.
The better known of the two Bovey collection Style J orchestrions stood by the front door of the Bale of Hay Saloon, Virginia City, Montana, and had a Deagon Una-Fon sitting on top of it. The other J, originally from the Butte Piano Company, in Butte, Montana, is the one used for this recording. It was also in the Bale of Hay Saloon, but was later moved to the Nevada City Music Hall in Nevada City. During the time the Bovey's son, Ford Bovey, had control over the Bovey Restorations he took this particular SXXXXXX J (along with a few other things) to his home near Flathead Lake. Upon his death his estate was auctioned and the auction included this Style J orchestrion. Most of the Bovey collection still remains in Virginia City and Nevada City, which is now owned by the state of Montana. However, quite a few instruments in the collection were forever lost when the Bale of Hay Saloon suffered a major fire years ago.
Restoration of interior mechanical components for this prized Style J orchestrion were completed in July, 2003, by Reblitz Restorations, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado. The cabinetry was restored and refinished by John and Steven Gonzales, Pico Rivera, California. Playing the wide Style H music roll, which are essentially QRS Music Roll Company arrangements adapted to the styles H and J orchestrions, the instrumentation of the Style J Solo Orchestrion consists of the following: Piano, with mandolin attachment; 68 pipes (one rank of 34 wooden violin pipes and one rank of 34 wooden open flute pipes); and trapwork consisting of a triangle and castanets. The two pipe ranks have solo capability due to an automatic register control that can turn the piano treble range on or off.
The high quality original digital direct to CD-ROM source recordings were made in April of 2004 by Art Reblitz. Motor buzz and pump noise typical for large orchestrions was minimal, due to the superb restoration by Reblitz Restorations, Inc. Thus, during the preparation of the CD mastering data these extraneous noises were easily eliminated using precisely tuned noise reduction technology, and it was done without interfering with the musical qualities one little bit. This then gives the listener the opportunity to enjoy SXXXXXX J music without the usual distracting pump thumping and other mechanical noises usually present, thereby revealing tonal delicacies and expressive accents in the music that might otherwise be masked and unrecognizable.
Good recordings of Style J orchestrions seem to be rarer than the instruments themselves, which probably makes these two volumes of Style J music the most extensive and comprehensive collection ever assembled. The musical selections consist of popular fox trots, one-steps, waltzes and a few marches, with the rolls ranging in date from circa 1912 up through late 1926. The selections are grouped and placed on each CD in chronological order according to the year in which the music roll was released. This gives the listener an opportunity to hear and compare the progressive evolvement of musical and melodic tastes over time, as well as how the music roll arrangers improved their skills, too. For anyone who enjoys the sound of American "nickelodeon" music these two CD's will undoubtedly be a treasured addition to their automatic music collection.
3.Sit Down, Sit Down, Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat
4.I'm Crazy About a Ragtime Minstrel Band
6.Delia, Are You Listenin'?
7.The Minstrel March
8.I'm Afraid I'm Beginning to Love You
9.The Wiggle-a-Wee Dance
10.I'm Going Back to
11.Sailing Away on the Henry Clay, One-Step
12.Sousa's Great Band March
13.Never Forget to Write Home, Jass One-Step
14.China Dreams, Jass Fox Trot
15.My Lady Fair, Waltz
16.That Funny Fox Trot, Glide
17.My Sweet Egyptian Rose, One-Step
18.Chicken Walk, Fox Trot
19.Send Me Away with a Smile, One-Step
21.Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me, One-Step
22."Gimme" a Little Kiss, Will Ya? Huh?, Fox Trot
23.Yes, We Have No Bananas, Fox Trot
24.Yes Sir, That's My Baby –
25.Down Yonder, One-Step
26.Barney Google, Fox Trot
27.Sweet Georgia Brown, Fox Trot
28.Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, Fox Trot
29.Who's Sorry Now, Waltz
30.Swingin' Down the Lane, Fox Trot
1.I'll Think of You
2.Uncle Sammy March
3.There's a Little Blue Star in the Window and it Means All the World to Me
4.My Dream Girl, Syncopated Waltz
5. So Long Sal, One-Step
6.Can't Yo Heah Me Callin' Caroline?
7.They Want It Again, Fox Trot
8.My Little Ramblin' Rose, Ballad
9. Want a Daddy Like You, Fox Trot
10.When You're Lonesome for Someone Who's Lonesome for You
11.Yearning, Fox Trot
12.Because of You, Fox Trot
13.When the One You Love Loves You, Waltz
14.Bagdad, Fox Trot
15.Indian Love Call, Fox Trot
17.Rose Marie, Fox Trot
18.Swanee Butterfly, One-Step
19.Charleston, Fox Trot
20.I'll See You in My Dreams
21.Jolly Coppersmith, March
22.unknown -- Fox Trot
23.Freckles, Fox Trot
24.Baby Blue Eyes, Fox Trot
25.Tomorrow, Fox Trot
26.Blue Danube Blues, Fox Trot
27.Carolina in the Morning, Fox Trot
28. Nellie Kelly, Waltz
29. Way Down South in New Orleans
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