Dr. Frederick B. Exner was a Seattle-based radiologist who had lectured on medical ethics and economics at the UW Medical School. In addition, he loved jazz and was a dedicated record collector.

Exner was known to invite local jazz players into his home where they could rehearse, and in 1944 he formed his own namesake record company in order to issue discs by some of his favorite bands.

Exner launched the label with recordings by the John Wittwer Trio featuring the famed jazz clarinetist, Joe Darensbourg -- who soon informed him that he knew Edward "Kid" Ory, trombone legend and one of the fathers of jazz. Ory was still alive and in Los Angeles, where in 1945 Exner sent Darensbourg and Wittwer to help on some sessions with Ory. The liner notes by Howard Rye for the Kid Ory: The Complete Sunshine, Exner, Decca Recordings 1922-45 CD reveal that Ory: "has the distinction of having led the first African-American band from New Orleans to make it on to record, surprisingly enough on the West Coast, where he had moved in 1919." 

In his autobiography Telling It Like It Is, Darensbourg relates the difficulties he had in clearing the session with the Los Angeles colored local of the AFM, difficulties which, reading between the lines, may not have been unconnected with Joe having been a member at various times of both the white and the colored locals! Exner himself came down from Seattle to C. P. McGregor's studio for the session."
[NOTE: it seems likely that the Kid Ory songs issued on Linden Records #124 may have been Dr. Exner's first attempt to get something released by that band. The Stamper codes on each side begin with an "EX." Exner may have just decided to form his own label after dealing with Linden, which was perhaps Seattle's first well-established label.]

Source: NW Musicarchives

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