Click on the link here for Audio Player – The Nightmare – Alphonso Trent’s Orchestra – December 5, 1928
Taking a mini-break from Rock this weekend and diving into some 20’s Hot Jazz, via Alphonso Trent’s Orchestra in a 1928 recording The Nightmare.
Although probably not well known today, in the 1920s Trent was responsible for a number of firsts. His orchestra was the first African-American ensemble to be booked 18 straight months as house band at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas Texas. Trent’s band was also the first African-American ensemble to be broadcast regularly in the 1920s and then coast to coast as radio gained prominence.
After a number of unfortunate situations, The Alphonso Trent Orchestra called it a day, but he led a number of smaller bands, including one which featured the legendary Charlie Christian on guitar.
After World War 2, Alphonso Trent eased out of the regular grind of heading up a band, but kept his hand in it up until his death in 1959.
Tonight’s track, The Nightmare showcases the band as several cuts above what was happening on the Dance Band circuit in the 1920s. Alphonso Trent was an innovator, but his band was considered a Regional outfit, since he stayed primarily in the Southwest and only performed once in New York City and other major metropolitan areas. Since it was during the Great Depression, bands were having a hard time working – and the idea of getting steady paying gigs locally made more sense than trying their hand at cities who weren’t familiar with them and running the risk of starving on the road.
For whatever reason, Alphonso Trent has gone largely unrecognized and overlooked. Call it bad timing and taking the cautious approach as the culprit in not getting greater recognition. A great band nonetheless, and tonight’s track proves that point.