Paul Specht (March 24, 1895 – April 11, 1954) was an American dance bandleader popular in the 1920s.
Paul Levi Specht entered the world, in 1895, in a place with the depressed name of Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania. We don't know much about his early years. When he again surfaced, the year was 1915, and he was the violin-playing leader of a small band he had formed to fill an engagement at the Fowler Hotel, in Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University. Here, he was heard by a group of influential writers who helped publicize him and boost his fledgling career.
By 1916, Specht's travels had brought him to Detroit, Michigan, where he formed a six-piece band. Within the year, this group's success had allowed it to grow to twelve players. Throughout his career, he made telling use of his very special skill at finding, hearing and employing the best musicians available. In hiring Frank Guarente, for example, he was employing a man who claimed to have played with and exchanged ideas with King Oliver and Freddy Keppard. You can hear it in his playing!
Specht was a man of "firsts." He claimed -- and it is widely believed -- that his band was the first to broadcast dance music over radio. This event took place on September 14, 1920, over WWJ Detroit. It is thought that the music played was more likely to have been "dance" rather than "jazz." Specht soon became a regular broadcaster, either leading his own band or sending in contracted units under the Specht moniker.
Paul Specht had seen the success that Art Hickman had achieved in contracting a number of separate bands to play under his name (frequently, ten or more in a given evening), as well as "Art Hickman's Orchestra." Paul Whiteman was quick to follow suit. By 1922, Specht, who himself had had considerable experience doing booking in a number of cities, including Detroit and Philadelphia, met up with show business entrepreneur, Gus Edwards, who brought him to New York. Soon, he was playing in residency in that city's Hotel Almanac, in the ballroom with full orchestra.
Paul Specht, next, signed a contract with Columbia Records and, on June 24, 1922, did his first session for that company. A few days later, on June 29, two sides were issued as by "Specht's Jazz Outfit," which was a six-piece band similar to "The Georgians" (minus the banjo player). It marked another first for Specht, the first of its genre to be known as the "band within a band" format, a device much used by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, the California Ramblers and many others, thereafter.
Specht was early to garner band employment aboard posh transatlantic ocean liners, then, upon putting ashore, playing pre-commitments on the continent. In this manner, he took one of his bands to London, in 1923, where it took up residency at Lyon's Corner House. So well received was Specht, in that venue, that he was invited to play at the swank Kit-Cat Club, for the 1925 season.
In 1926, his duties, at home, prevailed over the temptation to return to London, just then. However, a Specht unit did get to go to the Kit-Cat Club, in the leader's stead, for the 1926 season. This unit was billed as "Paul Specht's Canadian Orchestra," under the direction of Orville Johnson.
As 1930 rolled around, Paul Specht found himself more popular than ever. His booking agency, Consolidated Booking, had proven very lucrative. At one time, the agency had in its employment both Harl Smith and Don Redman. By 1930, his output of published phonograph records numbered well over one hundred issues, and since his introduction to radio in 1920, he had kept busy broadcasting on a regular basis. He and his band performed in a Hollywood sound film, "Love At First Sight" (Chesterfield 1930).
As a radio bandleader in 1932, his band and the Three X Sisters harmony trio collaborated on ABC radio airwaves for several different musical formats. He continued to be popular into the 1930s, and led bands into the 1940s, during which time he developed arthritis which hampered his musical abilities.
He lived in Greenwich Village late in his life and did arranging work for radio and television. He died in 1954 at the age of 59 in New York City. (Info edited from Collateralworks.com & Wikipedia)