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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments contains a photograph of a splendid-looking saxophone septet (vol. 3, p. 316). The ensemble consists of a bass saxophone, a baritone, two tenors, two altos and a soprano. The musicians are standing and dressed in white suits. The caption simply says that they are the Weintraubs in 1933. It does not say where the picture was taken.

I am sorry I don't have a scanned picture. One of the SOTW contributors uses the picture as an avatar, but I haven't been able to find it again.

The dictionary editors obviously used the photograph to illustrate part of the saxophone range. The Weintraubs per se seem to have been of little interest to them.

I have searched for them in all sorts of publications as well as the internet, but I have drawn a blank. I find references to the Weintraub Syncopators, a German jazz band of the 1920s. Maybe there is a connection, but if so, I have seen no evidence for it.

Does anyone know what and where the Weintraubs played?
 

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According to Wiki the Weintraub Syncopators were at their peak in 1928, so it could be the same sextet. I have several books on jazz, its history and leading lights and the Weintraubs don't get a mention anywhere, but that's no surprise really. Literally hundreds if not thousands of jazz soloists, ensembles, bands, orchestras, you name it, sprang up around the world between the World Wars very few of which got a mention anywhere let alone survived and even some of the biggest names of their day, Lew Stone for instance, get just a few words in the history books. So whoever the Weintraubs were it looks as though they had their '15 minutes of fame' in their day and then went the way of countless others.
 

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I'm not surprised there isn't much mention of these guys in the histories. Pre-WW2 pop music is a vast field that respectable scholars tend to shy away from.

Die Weintraubs (their German name) and Weintraub's Syncopators were the same outfit - more of a touring show band than a jazz band, as sometimes their technique was kinda creaky.

Their big thing was doubling lots of instruments, which gave them variety despite only being 7 or 8 strong. They very probably did all-sax numbers as it was a common thing in variety theater then.

Stefan Weintraub, the leader, played drums. They also had a couple of pianist/arrangers of note - Franz Waxman and Friedrich Holländer, both of whom ended up Hollywood film conductors.

They traveled extensively in Europe and even Japan, where they made their last record in 1936. Most of their recording was for Electrola in Germany.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you very much for these responses. I think that is one problem solved. What is amazing, though, is the degree of versatility people needed in those days.
 

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The versatility was needed mostly in smaller bands. Lawrence Welk's was one - years before the TV days and the big band. They too were 6-7-8 musicians and everybody had to double and triple (except Welk of course - he just stayed strapped to his squeezebox).


Weintraub's with Friedrich Holländer on piano. Note the trombonist's two saxes, clarinet, accordion and uke, and the banjoist's trumpet, guitar, violin and uke. Try to find anyone who doubles brass and woodwinds today - or violin and anything.


Weintraub's in 1934 aboard a liner in New York harbor. They'd been tossed out of Germany, but couldn't work in the US due to union rules - so they called the newsreels. The six saxes are on the stand, and the newsreel clip featured a vocal trio and brass quartet!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
These guys were amazing. It gives one an idea of what the competition must have been like in those days, both in Europe and the USA. Thank you very much for troubling to post the clip in particular. This exercise has definitely been worth my while.
 
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