Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

Coon, Carleton

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Object Type: 

Advertising artwork for El Torreon opening, Dec. 15, 1927. The advertisement reads, "Dance Premier Opening Tonight! With the Original Coon Sanders Victor Recording Orchestra also Phil Baxter Directing El Torreon Orchestra. Ladies-50¢, Gentlemen-75¢. Doors Open 8pm." The El Torreon Ballroom was located at the southeast corner of 31st Street and Gillham Road (now Gillham Plaza). Source: Cliff Haliburton.

Object Type: 
Sheet Music

Sheet music cover for Hi-Diddle-Diddle, a novelty fox trot song with ukulele accompaniment. Written by Carleton A. Coon, Coon-Sanders Orchestra, and Hal Keidel. Source: Cliff Haliburton.

Chuck Haddix
University of Missouri – Kansas City

Jazz was born in New Orleans, moved to Chicago in the early 1920s, and came of age in New York and Kansas City during the 1930s and 1940s. Geographically isolated from the other cradles of jazz, Kansas City bred a distinctive hard swinging style of jazz, distinguished by driving rhythm sections and a spirited call and response interplay between the instrumental soloists and the brass and reed sections. As Bennie Moten, George E. Lee, and other African American bandleaders based at 18th and Vine pioneered a new style of jazz, a number of white bands in downtown Kansas City were performing a style of hot jazz modeled after nationally popular white bands. Ironically, while Kansas City would gain renown for its great African American bands that barnstormed across country, it was a white dance band, the Coon-Sanders Nighthawk Orchestra, which first established Kansas City’s national reputation as a jazz center.