Cylinder of the Month

See also the  Cylinders of the Month Archive.

A very early banjo & song recording, from 1891-1893, Saving Them All for Mary by Al Reeves.

Saving Them All for Mary

Company New Jersey Phonograph Company (?)
Cylinder # Unknown
Category Topical song with banjo
Title Saving Them All for Mary
Performed by Al Reeves
Circa 1891-1893
Announcement "The topical song called 'Saving Them All for Mary' as sung by Al Reeves, the banjoist-comedian."

Al Reeves was a popular banjo-comedian of the 1890s whose blackface stage act, named "Al Reeves' Famous Big Company", was typically adorned with beautiful women (likely absent from this recording session . . .).

[Al] Reeves, "The World's Greatest Banjoist and Comedian", as he billed himself, [. . .] was not a particularly good banjo player, but his "big finishes" brought prolonged applause.   As it faded, he would exclaim, "Give me credit, boys."
    Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life. Herbert G. Goldman, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

With the stray string pluck prior to the announcement, various 'thunks', and forward sound to the banjo, this master recording packs a lot of personality.   As with most early master cylinder recordings, this is best heard through headphones.

This recording was made on a so-called "cuff"-length cylinder.   One-half inch shorter than standard-sized cylinders, cuff-length cylinders were common in the early 1890's.   See the June 1999 Cylinder of the Month for another example of a cuff-length cylinder recording.

Many thanks to David Sager for his assistance with this cylinder of the month.

To hear Saving Them All for Mary   —

For help playing these sounds, click here.

Interested in hearing a few other wax cylinder recordings featuring the banjo?

Key Title Category Performed by Circa
06/2000 Dixie Medley Banjo solo Fred Van Epps 1908
01/2009 Fun in a Barber Shop Banjo Vess L. Ossman 1908
09/2001 In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree (Medley) Banjo solo G. W. Kennedy 1906
04/2007 Make a Fuss Over Me Banjo trio Ossman Banjo Trio 1905
01/2016 The Mosquito Parade Banjo duet Vess L. Ossman & Bill Farmer 1901
01/2011 Ragtime Medley Banjo solo Vess L. Ossman 1900
07/1997 Stars and Stripes Forever March Banjo solo Ruby Brooks 1902
10/2009 Whistling Rufus Banjo solo Vess L. Ossman 1899

— This cylinder of the month is from the collection of  The Library of Congress —


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

Home Early recorded sounds & wax cylinders Cylinder music shop An Edison commemorative
2nd page Note to early recordings collectors Cylinder of the month Links to related topics
What's new Tinfoil resource center Cylinders of the month archive Donate to

Copyright (C) (P) 1996-2024 Glenn Sage, Portland, Oregon.  All Rights Reserved.  Contacting