Bernard Ette Orchestra, Berlin, 1926
  © Birgit Lotz Verlag
[ click to enlarge ]
In the accompanying photo of Danzi and the Bernard Etté Orchestra, the viewer is provided with a brief glimpse of Etté’s group during their performance at the Hotel Esplanade in 1926 Berlin. When recalling his time with them, Danzi stated “It was in the fall of 1925 that Howard McFarlane had introduced me to Bernard Etté, who signed me up for a six-month tour of one-night stands throughout Germany. We left Berlin on December 25, 1925.”

He explained that “Bernard Etté’s Jazz Symphonians had their first session in Essen, a real smoky town like Pittsburgh. At this time, Etté was Germany’s most popular bandleader. He was called the Paul Whiteman of Germany. I recall that New Year’s Eve, when Bernard was relaxing at the bar with some guests, I stood up and led the band with the banjo. Our chief arranger was the then-famous Theo Mackeben. Apart from Etté, who was leader and violinist, the band had Maxl Schmidt (violin); Howard McFarlane (trumpet); Paul Hartman, who had been with me when we went with Dajos) Béla on tour (trombone); Billy Williams (alto saxophone, clarinet); Heinz Schmidt (piano); Miguel Hernandez, also on Béla’s tour, on bandoneon; Luggi Stampfl (drums); and Mike Danzi (banjo).”

Recalling those early months throughout Germany, Danzi stated “I rode in Etté’s 1926 Packard touring car from town-to-town in the Rhineland, the countryside was beautiful and unforgettable. Every two weeks, Etté went to Berlin to record for Vox. Billy Williams was an insurance agent who got stranded in Paris, and had taught himself to play the saxophone. His previous experience was the boy scout bugle! He had a natural, good tone, which Etté liked when he heard Williams in Paris in 1924, and hired him for sixty marks a day. A vast improvement on his Paris earnings, sixteen marks a day! Billy saved his money and left Berlin in 1932 with one hundred and thirty thousand marks, about thirty two thousand dollars then.
  Mike Danzi [1925]
Alex Hyde
Eric Borchard
Bernard Ette
Dajos Bela
The Virginians
Telefunken Label
Mike Danzi [1935]
Scala Theater
Otto Sachsenhauser
Mike Danzi [1956]

  Fahrbach-Ehmki Band, Berlin, 1927
  © Birgit Lotz Verlag
[ click to enlarge ]
Seen here with the 1927 band of Professor Fahrbach-Ehmki, the following account by Danzi explains how he and Howard McFarlane were contacted to join the group, shortly after returning from Stockholm, with the Dajos Béla Orchestra, where they had performed for the King and Queen of Sweden. “We left Sweden on June 14, and were in Berlin the same day. It had been a good break from the routine.”

“The next day, almost before we had unpacked, Mac and I got a call from Professor Fahrbach-Ehmki to join his band for the opening of a newly constructed cabaret, the lovely Villa d’Este, on Hardenbergstrasse, a few streets from the Barberina. As usual, the leader played violin; Professor G. Mattheisl (piano); Mac (trumpet); Rudolf Friedmann (alto saxophone, clarinet); Tommy Phillips (drums, vocal); and me (banjo). There was a sickly Russian second violinist who got only seven marks a day. Ehmki, very grudgingly, paid us top salaries. The two professors looked like twins when they walked down the street with their black suits, black Homburg hats, and umbrellas, with a semi-military stride. You could take them for funeral parlor directors.”

He went on to explain “It was a good concert orchestra, but for the Villa d’Este he needed a good dance element. The afternoon crowd was young, dancers and a continuous flow of tourists. After a fortnight, Mattheisl decided his vacation could not be overlooked; Hans Bund applied, but I suggested Harry Revel, who had the required America-style rhythm, which would enhance the orchestra, and get the interest of the dancing public. Revel was hired, much to the consternation of Hans Bund, who later tried to downgrade my reputation in Berlin but, twelve years later, in 1939, became a trusted friend. Of course, Harry Revel went on to England eventually, then came back to Berlin in 1929, and then went to New York where, after 1932, he was to become world famous.”

  Dajos Bela Orchestra, Berlin, 1929
  © Birgit Lotz Verlag
[ click to enlarge ]
As the first photo of the exhibition where Danzi can be seen performing within a larger group, the accompanying, 1929 image of Jewish bandleader and violinist Dajos Béla’s orchestra provides the viewer with yet another window onto the period of Michael Danzi’s career where he and numerous, other, American artists had become some of the most in-demand musicians of the Berlin music and entertainment industries.

When describing that period of his life in Berlin, Danzi explained “I recorded with many bands, Billy Bartholomew, Dajos Béla,  Marek Weber, Fred Bird, Paul Godwin, Mario Elki, Efim Schachsmeister, Barnabas von Géczy, Otto Dobrindt, and Robert Gaden come to mind. I also worked with the Wiere Brothers, getting their act together. They were only twelve to fourteen years old in 1928; we all lived at the Friedrichstrasse Hof, as did Dick Stauf and the famous Tiller Girls. Sam Wooding’s negro band lived there too. The place jumped with all the activities in the three rehearsal halls, the spacious restaurant, modern bar, and living quarters. It was a cosmopolitan meeting place for theatrical and band people.”

“When I was not recording for discs at Homocord, I started recording for films. The soundtrack was not on the film, but on a separate disc, and it was this tone film work which kept me very busy from the beginning of 1929. Paul Godwin had the contracts from the Werner Richard Heymann film people at Neubabelsberg, ‘Melodien des Herzens,’ Universum Film UFA, music Werner Richard Heymann, orchestra Paul Godwin. This was completely sound-linked; a one hundred percent talkie (‘Tonfilm’), and starred Willy Fritsch. We did some Hungarian melodies by Paul Abraham. Dick Stauf joined me working for Godwin on eight film dates, at one hundred and twenty marks per date. We played only when needed, about fifteen minutes each session. Most of the time we were being paid to sit in the cafeteria, eating and drinking. In and eight-hour period, we put in seventy-five minutes; five spells of no more than fifteen minutes each. Some job!”

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