Black & White Records

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For other subjects titled "Black & White", see Black and white (disambiguation).

Black & White Record Co. (aka Black & White Recording Company) was an American record company and label active in recording blues and jazz artists from 1943 to 1949. Its founder, Les Schriber, Sr., derived its name to reflect the races of its recording artists.[1]



Black & White Records was founded in 1943 by Les Schriber, Sr. (1901–1965),[2] and was located at 2117 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. The company initially issued recordings by Art Hodes and Cliff Jackson.

Sale to Paul & Lillian Reiner

In 1945, Paul Reiner (6 December 1905 Hungary – 1 February 1982 Los Angeles) and wife, Lillian (née Drosd; 28 April 1908, Massachusetts – 4 September 1982 Los Angeles),[3] purchased the company, moved it to Los Angeles, and hired Ralph Bass to be a recording director. Soon after that, Schriber went to work for Swan Records, but left Swan sometime around October 1946.[4]

Ralph Bass

As recording director, Bass was a talent scout and producer. He oversaw two of the most important records in the early evolution of rock and roll: Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker (1946) and a rare, early crossover pop hit, Open the Door, Richard by Jack McVea (1947). In 1948, Bass left B&W to launch Bop Records.[5]

1946 officers

Black & White Recording Company
4910 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood 27, California
  • Paul Reiner, president
  • Lillian Reiner, vice president
  • Samuel Maidman, treasurer
  • Larry Newton, sales manager

Acquisition of Comet Records

Comet Records, owned by Les Schriber, Sr., was sold to Black & White Records not long after their third recording session (the one with Red Norvo and Charlie Parker).

Merger of catalogs & distribution agreement

On August 11, 1947, B&W Records and Jewel Records (not to be confused with Je–Wel) entered a distribution agreement that also gave B&W an option to acquire Jewel. Reiner retained his post as president of B&W while Ben Pollack, Jewel's president, entered as general manager of B&W's west coast operations, overseeing the artist and rep department. Reiner moved his headquarters east and centered his operations on Chicago to strengthen the label's Midwestern distribution. The catalogs of B&W and Jewel were merged as a result of the deal. Pollack brought 10 unreleased masters as well as Martha Davis and Marion Morgan. Pollack also had a contract with Boyd Raeburn stipulating that the orchestra could record for a major label, but Jewel held an exclusive on all independent releases. The deal also raised emphasis on and increased the number of "race" releases.[6]
The first recording of "Open the Door, Richard" by tenor saxist Jack McVea was recorded on this label. Lena Horne recorded for this label in 1946 and 1947. Although they were novices in the business and were not specializing in rhythm and blues, they made a significant contribution to R&B, largely through the efforts of record producer Ralph Bass who, during his tenure there, recorded Roosevelt Sykes and T-Bone Walker.[7]

Loss of Larry Newton

In March of 1949, Newton left B&W as sales manager to become general manager of Peak Records. Moe Ashe replaced him as sales manager at B&W.[8] Around that same time in 1949, Newton, while operating Derby launched Central Records (with Lee Magid), and Treat Records in New York City; worked with Impulse! Records, became president of ABC-Paramount Records in 1965, ran Crossover Records (founded in 1973 by Ray Charles).

Sale of the masters

On October 8, 1949, after shutting down B&W Records, Paul Reiner offered several hundred masters for sale – some released and some not. He appointed Al Katz (Katzenberger) to negotiate all sales on his behalf. The sale was offered in units, ordered by artists. Katz gave first right of refusal to the artists.[9]
Paul Reiner had sold the masters from the Art Tatum, Cyril Nathaniel Haynes (piano), and Red Norvo/Charlie Parker sessions to Dial Records owner, Ross Russell, closing the deal in June 21, 1949, via telephone.[10]
Capitol Records bought all the Black & White masters of T-Bone Walker in 1949 and gave the titles new matrix numbers. Capitol then issued 16 tracks on 8 individual 78rpm shellac disks (10 previously unreleased masters and 6 reissued masters) in 1949 thru 1950. Capitol also put out a 10" long-playing release consisting of 8 of these 16 tracks in 1953, titled T-Bone Walker: Classics In Jazz (Capitol #H-370).

Other addresses

Les Schriber[11]
Black & White Recording Company
157 Belmont Blvd.
Elmont, Long Island


Black & White was one of the first companies to issue 12-inch 78 rpm discs in unbreakable material.[12]

Federal court case over "covering"

In 1950, Supreme Records, Incorporated – a small label owned by Al Patrick (Albert T. Patrick; 1910–1973), who was African American[13] – lost a case in United States District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division, against Decca Records, Inc., a large record label.
  • In 1948, Supreme recorded in Los Angeles and released A Little Bird Told Me, written by Harvey Oliver Brooks (1899–1968), sang by Paula Watson (1927–2003), who is African American, accompanied by guitarist Mitchell "Tiny" Webb, and others. Her version enjoyed a fourteen-week run on Billboard's R&B Charts in 1948 and 1949, reaching number 2 on the R&B charts and number 6 on the pop charts.
  • In 1948, Decca Records, recorded in New York and released a cover version, sang by Evelyn Knight (1917–2007), who is Caucasian. Knight copied Watson's singing, precisely – to the degree that it fooled musical experts brought into court as witnesses. Knight was accompanied by a band that included Walter Page on bass, the Stardusters (vocal group), and Johnny Parker (vocal and hand-clapping).
Supreme claimed that Decca had stolen aspects of its original recording, including its arrangement, texture, and vocal style. Race was not an issue in the case, but the case served as a notorious example of white performers covering the work of black artists in the 1950s.
The Court ruled in favor of the defense – upholding a ruling that musical arrangements are not copyrightable property – individual interpretations or arrangements of a given style could not be protested under the law.[14] This case opened the door for cover versions.
Black & White Record Distributors, Inc., had been one of the two original plaintiffs, but withdrew on a motion by the defendant, leaving Supreme as the sole plaintiff.[15] Black & White participated in the case because it had been the manufacturer and distributor of Supreme's line.
Separately from the "Little Bird" case, Supreme had sued Black & White, contending that B&W had no right to turn over its line to two Canadian firms, Monogram and Dominion, who had been pressing and distributing in Canada. On April 2, 1949, Supreme & B&W settled their dispute, out of court.[16]
Supreme was soon entirely out of business, and by December of 1949, Paula Watson was working for Decca.[17]

List of artists on Black & White[edit]

Maggie Hathaway & Her Bluesmen personnel

  • Ramon LaRue, piano
  • Teddy Bunn (AKA Theodore Leroy Bunn), guitar
  • Julius Gilmore, bass
  • Samuel E. Joshua, drums

Hip Chicks personnel (all female band)

  • Marjorie Hyams (vibraphone)
  • L'Ana Hyams (tenor sax; née Alleman; 1912–1997), bandleader married to Marjorie's brother and jazz pianist Mark Hyams (1914–2007), who was formerly married to jazz guitarist Jimmy Webster (1908–1978).
  • Jean Starr (trumpet)
  • Vicki Zimmer (piano)
  • Marian Gange (guitar)
  • Cecilia Zirl (bass)
  • Rose Gottesman (drums) special guest:

Ralph Bass' Junior Jazz At The Auditorium were recordings of jam sessions held by Ralph Bass in Compton, California, at teenage functions with name jazz musicians brought in as guests.[20] The first live recording session was August 26, 1946, and included Howard McGhee (tp), Les Robinson (as), Jack McVea (ts), Lucky Thompson (ts), Jimmy Bunn (p), Irving Ashby (g), Red Callender (b), and Jackie Mills (d). Also participating were Slim Gaillard, Les Paul, Nick Fatool, and Ivy Anderson. Bass hosted these sessions, in part, to help fight juvenile delinquency.[21]

Producers, staff, engineers & other employees[edit]

  • Ralph Bass (1911–1997), producer
  • Bruce Altman, formerly of A.R.A. (American Recording Artists) Records
  • John Blackburn
  • Mack Green, manager (replaced position vacated by John Blackburn, February 1949)[22]


Black & White Records had a publishing subsidiary, "Paul Reiner Publishing Company."[22]

See also[edit]


General references

Inline citations

  1. ^ William Franklin Lee III, PhD (1929 – 2011), American Big Bands, pg. 307, Hal Leonard Corporation (2005) ISBN 0-634-08054-7; ISBN 978-0-634-08054-8
  2. ^ Lester Wilmot Wilbert Schriber, Sr.
  3. ^ Edward Komara (editor), Encyclopedia of the Blues, pg. 84, Vol 1 A–J Index, Routledge (2006) ISBN 0-415-92699-8; ISBN 978-0-415-92699-7; ISBN 0-415-92700-5; ISBN 978-0-415-92700-0; ISBN 0-415-92701-3; ISBN 978-0-415-92701-7
  4. ^ Music – As Written: New York Billboard Magazine, pg. 34, October 12, 1946
  5. ^ Nick Talevski, Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries, pg. 22, Omnibus Press (2006) OCLC 64555765 and 475289448 ISBN 978-1-84609-091-2 ISBN 1846090911
  6. ^ Distrib Link: B&W to Jewel, Billboard Magazine, pg 19, August 16, 1949
  7. ^ Shaw, Arnold (1978). Honkers and Shouters. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. pp. 226–228. ISBN 0-02-061740-2. 
  8. ^ Supreme files 16G Action vs. Black k& White, Billboard Magazine, pg. 23, March 19, 1949
  9. ^ B&W Records Masters on Sale Block, Billboard Magazine, pg 19, October 15, 1949
  10. ^ Edward M. Komara (born 1966), The Dial Recordings of Charlie Parker: A Discography, pg. 62, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT (1998) ISBN 0-313-29168-3
  11. ^ Geoffrey A. Wheeler (born 1936), Groovers of Note: Les Schriber and the Black & White Label, IAJRC Journal, Vol. 42, No. 1, pps 52-53 (March 2009) OCLC 2161808, 474100198 and 474081390 LCCN 75-645650
  12. ^ Howard Rye, Black & White, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed. edited by Barry Kernfeld (2002) OCLC 48420867 ISBN 1-56159-284-6 ISBN 9781561592845
  13. ^ Albin J. Zak III, I Don't Sound Like Nobody: Remaking Music in 1950s America, pg. 143, University of Michigan Press (2010) OCLC 770500176 ISBN 978-0-472-11637-9 ISBN 0472116371 ISBN 978-0-472-02454-4 ISBN 047202454X
  14. ^ Annie Janeiro Randall, Dusty, Queen of the Postmods, Oxford University Press (2009) OCLC 308582637 ISBN 978-0-19-971630-2 ISBN 0199716307
  15. ^ Supreme Records & Black & White Record Distributors vs. Decca Records (1950)
  16. ^ Supreme, B&W Bury Hatchet Out of Court, Billboard Magazine, April 9, 1949, pg. 19
  17. ^ Arwulf Arwulf (born Theodore Grenier; 1957), Paula Watson, allmusic, Rovi Corporation
  18. ^ Black & White 78 rpm #29 A (BW 33)/29 B (BW 36)
  19. ^ Born Eugene Charles Schroeder, 5 Feb 1915 Madison; died 16 Feb 1975 Madison
  20. ^ Black & White Signs Phil Moore and T-Bone, Billboard Magazine, September 14, 1946, pg. 17
  21. ^ B&W's Bass Battles Juve Delinquency, Billboard Magazine, August 24, 1946, pg. 21
  22. ^ a b Green to Manage B&W Diskery, Billboard Magazine, page 20, February 26, 1949