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Arthur Gibbs & His Gang - Charleston 1923
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Wed Mar 01 2017, 14:39pm Print View

Joined: Sun Sep 04 2011, 14:54pm
Location: Köln
Posts: 1826
The pianist and bandleader Arthur Gibbs is most likely best remembered for recording the very first version of the (in) famous „Charleston“ in October 1923. He is also the composer of the 1920s hit “Runnin´Wild”.


“Arthur Gibbs and his Gang” not only recorded “The Charleston”, but was also one of the first Afro-American Bands with the Victor label, as the company started in 1923 to enter the “Race Records” market.


25 December 1895, Savannah, Georgia, USA - 17 March 1956, New York City, New York, USA

Arthur Gibbs Orchestra 1923

Gibbs attended High School in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Educated at the piano, he came to New York around 1913. It is likely, that he got involved in the Clef Club organization with its famous founder and leader James Reese Europe. In March 1917 he is one of the first times mentioned in newspapers, playing “educated” music in public.

According to his Draft Card (May 1917) he worked at "Tom Healy´s" as a musician.

Tom Healy´s

Healy's Balconnades in Manhattan, a place Variety dubbed "the all-night resort of New York's better class" for dinning and dancing.

Arthur Gibbs served World War I served in the Allied Expeditionary Force. In the late 1930s he also worked in a veteran organization in New York.

After WWI Gibbs returned to New York. In May 1922 a little article mentioned a new "Clef Club Band" now playing in the "Castle Inn" on upper Broadway.

In December 1922 the leader of the orchestra is mentioned - he just finished his most famous composition: Runnin´wild...

Gibbs never recorded his own song - but almost every other orchestra of the time made a hit out of it...

December 1922


Arthur Gibbs had only three known recording sessions: two with his "Gang" in April and October 1923 (composed, as we now know, from musicians of the late Clef Club after Jim Europes dead in 1919) and one as piano acc. in July 1923


Arthur Gibbs and his Gang

Arthur Gibbs, p, dir.: Maceo Edwards, Russell Smith or Gilbert Paris, t / James Reevy, tb / John "Jazz" Williams, cl / Percy Green, Ramon Hernandez, cl, sax / Cordy Williams, vln / Leroy Vanderveer, bj / Henry "Bass" Edwards, bb / Jerome Burke, dr (According to Happy Caldwell, the drummer Burke was the half-brother of Arthur Gibbs)

New York, April 24, 1923
  • Louisville Lou (27849-4/Vic 19070-A)

  • Beale Street Mama (27850-3/Vic 19070-B)

October 10, 1923
  • Charleston (29729-2/Vic 19065-B)
    Introducing "Open Your Heart"

  • Old Fashioned Love (29730-3/Vic 19065-A)

Ham Tree Harrington

comedian with piano by Arthur Gibbs
New York, July 3, 1923
  • I´m gone, dat´s all (Brunswick 2465)

  • Voo-doo (Brunswick 2465)


The “Harlem Orchestra”, led by Gilbert Anderson, was also a Clef Club organization.

It is not known, when Gibbs left the “Castle Inn”. Also unknown, if Gibbs participated in the Show “Runnin´Wild” which made the Charleston by James P. Johnson famous.

In late 1923 and early 1924 he played with his Band at the “Plantation Cabaret” at Broadway.

Besides the work with his Jazz Band, Gibbs still participated in events associated with the Harlem Renaissance; here in a Dance Exhibition by the Ethiopian Art Theatre Link - Hier klicken.

In summer and late 1925 Gibbs toured with the show “Lucky Sambo” also including Gertrude Saunders of former “Shuffle Along” (1921) fame. He later (1926) was replaced by Jimmy Vaughan and his Orchestra in the show.

In Fall 1926 Gibbs played in the orchestra of ROY REYNOLDS in the “Strand Roof” in New York. Shortly afterwards (November 1926) he had again an orchestra by his own, playing in the “Seven-Eleven”: Arthur Gibbs: p & dir: Leonard Davis, tp / George Washington, tb / Eugene Johnson, Robert Sands, Eugene Mikell, cl, sax / Paul Burnette, bj / Billy Taylor, bb / Sam Hodges, dr

The Engament lasted till April or May 1927. Saxophonist Happy Caldwell, who came to the band around this time, remembered a recording session for Victor – nothing is known about that…

Arthur Gibbs & his Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom

Sam Hodges (drums), George Washington (trombone), Leonard Davis (trumpet), Billy Taylor (tuba), Edgar Sampson (alto sax), Happy Caldwell (tenor sax), Gene Michael (alto sax), Arthur Gibbs (piano) and Paul Bernet (banjo)

Gibbs played in the famous Savoy Ballroom in Harlem till January 1928, afterwards he went with his band in the Arcadia Ballroom. Sadly, it seems, this fine band was never recorded...

December 1928 saw also a "Battle of Bands" with the bands of Gibbs, Duke Ellington, Charlie Johnson and Lloyd Scott.

After the Arcadian, Gibbs took his orchestra into the Fish Club.

Arthur Gibbs went eventually in 1929 & 1930 to Europe. It is said, he played with Eddie South in London and maybe Budapest. I couldn’t find anything in old ship manifest or European newspapers to prove that. Anywhere out with info’s? The Depression hit also Gibbs. It is said, he played in the 1930s and 40s piano in Night clubs in New York.

The last glimpse I found, is from 1939. Gibbs worked in the post (office) of the veteran organization “American Legion” and participated with one of their monthly dance program.

Arhur Gibbs died on 17 March 1956 in New York City.

[ Edited Wed Mar 01 2017, 15:48pm ]
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Thu Mar 02 2017, 09:52am

Joined: Sun Sep 04 2011, 14:54pm
Location: Köln
Posts: 1826
According to K.B. Rau with his site “The Harlem Fuss”, the Savoy Band by Gibbs may have made a record in 1927 – but as “Fowler´s Favorites”, as Lem Fowler had an recording contract but no band by his own at the time of recording:

New York, July 5, 1927
Leonard Davis, cnt; George Washington, tbn; Eugene Mikell, clt, alt; Happy Caldwell, ten, sop; Lem Fowler, pno, voc; Paul Burnett, bjo; Billy Taylor, bbs; Sammy Hodges, dms.
144627-1 Percolatin´ Blues Col 14230-D
144628-3 Hot Stuff Col 14230-D

This also would fit to the statement by saxophonist Happy Caldwell, that he recorded with the band. The whole story here as an pdf: Link - Hier klicken
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Fri Mar 08 2019, 00:02am
Joined: Wed May 13 2015, 11:27am
Location: Heidelberg
Posts: 10
Hallo Grammophonteam,

wunderbarer Artikel, sehr gut recherchiert - Gratulation, & danke !!!

Hier noch zwei Ergänzungen:

1. Bild: "Orchestra World", November 1928, p.13
2. Bild: "Orchestra World", April 1927, p.08


[ Edited Fri Mar 08 2019, 11:20am ]
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