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Gennett Records

Gennett (pronounced with a soft G) was a United States based Record label which flourished in the 1920s.

Gennett records was founded in Richmond, Indiana by the Starr Piano Company, and released its first records in October of 1917. The early issues were vertical cut in the analogue disc record grooves, but they switched to the more usual lateral cut method in April of 1919.

The Starr Company also produced Gennett brand home phonographs, but these did not seem to have been sold in great numbers outside of the area around Indiana.

Gennett set up recording studios in New York City and in the grounds of the piano factory in Richmond Indiana. The sides recorded in New York are generally of about typical audio fidelity for the time, and some of them may have been recorded at studios leased from other New York record companies. The sides recorded in Richmond are decidedly below average in audio fidelity, and sometimes have a crude sound and show problems of inconsistent speed of the turntable while the master was being recorded, problems which the major labels had solved some 20 years earlier.

Gennett label is best remembered to day for the wealth of early jazz talent recorded on the label, including sessions by Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, "King" Joe Oliver's band with young Louis Armstrong, Hoagy Carmichael, The Original New Orleans Jazz Band, and many others. Gennett also recorded early blues artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Patton, and Big Bill Broonzy, and early country music performers such as Vernon Dalhart, Ernest Stoneman, and Gene Autry.

Gennett began recordings using the electric microphone process in February of 1927. In 1928 and early 1929 some of its New York recordings were recorded by RCA, producing high fidelity for the time, but Gennett's ties to RCA were severed when RCA bought the Victor Record Company.

The Gennett Company was hit severely by the start of the Great Depression in 1930, and massively cut back on record recording and production until it was halted all together in 1934. At this time the only product Gennett Records produced was a series of recorded sound effects for use by radio stations. In 1935 the Starr Piano Company sold Gennett to Decca Records. Decca was mostly interested in some recordings from Gennett's back catalogue.

See also: List of record labels

Further Reading

"Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy - Gennett Studios and the Birth of Recorded Jazz" by Rick Kennedy, Indiana University Press, 1994