Life and work
Irving Mills was initially pop singer and then realized - the end of the 1910s - his chance in the rapidly growing music business. He first worked as a sales representative for music, then as a song promoter ( "song plugger ") for the Broadway producer Lew Leslie; he traveled about and looked for clubs and dance halls and tried to accommodate the pieces of Leslie. With his brother Jack in 1919, he founded the company " Mills Music".
Irving and Jack Mills discovered a number of important songwriter, Sammy Fain, Harry Barris, Gene Austin, Hoagy Carmichael, Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. They also promoted the careers of jazz and entertainment greats such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman, Will Hudson, Raymond Scott and many others. In the early 1920s, the Mills Brothers benefited from the Blue Boom by the success of Mamie Smith's title "Crazy Blues". They bought countless Blue compositions, which brought him into the black show business.
In the 1920s, Irving Mills operated as a singer of popular songs; with its formation Irving Mills Hotsy Totsy and his gang, he worked with jazz musicians as sidemen as Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Arnold Brill Hardt, Arthur debris, Pee Wee Russell and Manny Klein. Fats Waller with " Is not Misbehavin ' " (1929) and Hoagy Carmichael's " Stardust " (1930 ) he also had two hits in the top 30 charts.
Like other music publishers it went Mills about that of his songs purchased records were recorded in order to utilize them more effectively. For this purpose, however, Mills needed orchestra; for cost reasons he was looking for a black orchestra. One night in the fall of 1926 came Mills in a small club in Manhattan's West 49th Street between 7th Avenue and Broadway, the "Kentucky Club". The owner had hired a band from Washington, DC, the former "The Washingtonians ". Mills heard the band, now Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra called themselves. The next day he took them under contract, and immediately took on a large number of plates with them. Duke benefited from Mills, because he needed a white manager in the then obscure show business to be successful.
The connection with Mills gave Ellington's career a huge delay; the other hand, Mills was in the better position. So he could put his own name to the Ellington compositions, and earn again on them. This Mills until today a co-author of countless Ellington title without being initial proposals Author: "Mood Indigo", "Solitude ", " It Do not Mean a Thing ( If It Is not Got That Swing) " " Sophisticated Lady ," " Black and Tan Fantasy" and many others. Mills was so involved in the royalties and improved at the same time his ASCAP category.
He urged Ellington to compose too, was involved in texts and had a certain talent to change the music for the successful record release. Mills said: " Whatever they did, I have thinned it His music was always so hard he überarrangierte ... Most of the pieces I've simplified.. " He cared for the contract between the orchestra and the Cotton Club and sent them in 1932 on their first tour of England. Shortly before his big European tour in 1939 ended the business relationship with Ellington Irving Mills.
Mills was one of the first that took up the black and white musicians together. Mills also discovered Blanche Calloway and her brother Cab Calloway. He also took the Ellington orchestra and its musicians as a kind of "shadow band". Furthermore, he took his own pieces of " Mills Blue Rhythm Band " on. Calloway appeared with the band on the " Cotton Club " where she popularized the song " Minnie the Moocher ", which had Mills wrote with Calloway and Clarence Gaskill.
In order to more shots with his contract musicians to import, Mills invented the process of " tape in the tape, " by having "small groups" - formed from musicians of the big band - recorded disks. Mills started this in 1928 with members of the band by Ben Pollack, which he had to record for different labels, while Pollack himself had an exclusive contract with Victor ). This method used later to Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and other band leader.
In 1936 he founded - together with Herbert Yates ( the company " Consolidated Film " was one ), the record label " Master" and " Variety", which were later bought by Brunswick and Vocalion. Irving Mills, the two companies had planned as a budget label, to market the " small group " recordings; The plates of the "Variety label " cost 35 cents or 3 for a dollar, the "master " label plates were sold for 75 cents. From December 1936 to September 1937 was a series of shots (40 items in the master and 170 Variety). Master's most successful artists were Duke Ellington, Raymond Scott, Casper Reardon and Adrian Rollini. "Variety" s catalog included the recordings of Cab Calloway, Red Nichols, as well as the " small group " recordings by musicians from the Ellington band like Barney Bigard, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart and Johnny Hodges, also of Noble Sissle, Frankie Newton, The Three Peppers, Chu Berry, Billy Kyle, and many other musicians of that jazz and popular music scene in and around New York. The end of 1937 the two labels were at the end. Although Mills attempted to market the plates in Europe, but did not succeed. After the collapse of the label "master" plates " Brunswick ", taken from "Variety" of " Vocalion " the (and later published by Columbia) were.
Through his recording activities Mills was the head of the "American Recording Company ," which is now part of Columbia Records. He also produced a feature film, Stormy Weather (1943 ), appeared in the jazz greats like Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Zutty Singleton and legendary dancers such as the "Nicholas Brothers" and Bill " Bojangles " Robinson. When ASCAP total of 291 music tracks are copyrighted by Mills, including classics like Mood Indigo; alone this composition is registered with 107 covers.
He earned his place in the history of jazz in particular by his business skills to make jazz popular, particularly for his contribution to the promotion of black artists.