Irving Kaufman: “Mr. Jazz Himself”

“Mr. Jazz” — a pretty grandiose claim, eh? Though practically everyone made it in vaudeville days. This ad for a Columbia release is from 1922, pretty late in Kaufman’s career, when he was the farthest thing from cutting edge.

Irving Kaufman (Isidore Kaufman, 1890-1976), was the son of Russian immigrants, born and raised in Syracuse. He first performed in vaudeville with his brothers Jack and Philip as the Kaufman Brothers. From 1913 through 1919 he was part of the prestigious Avon Comedy Four with Smith and Dale. But he also started recording for all the major record labels at around the same time, using a variety of aliases. His singing style was actually pre-jazz, but he often sang with bands that could make that stylistic claim, such as those of Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, and the Dorsey Brothers. By 1950 he had retired, apart from one nostalgia album made just before he died. To hear him at his peak, we recommend Archeophone Records’ Irving Kaufman Anthology: The Last Recording Pioneer. 

To learn more about vaudeville, where Irving Kaufman got his start, please consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,