Berl Olswanger returns for a second installment of timeless archival recordings on Big Round Records, with BERL OLSWANGER AT PEPPER RECORDS, a collection of tunes recorded during the late-50’s golden era of the Memphis record business. Olswanger hit the state-of-the-art studios at Pepper Records to record 10 songs by William “Pat” Best, Floyd Huddleston, Olswanger himself, and more.


Olswanger’s appeal went beyond his technical chops. The pianist seamlessly commanded his own orchestra while collaborating with others, blending genres into a cosmopolitan sound that rightfully earned him the nickname “Mr. Music of Memphis.”


When Berl joined Pepper Records in the 1950s as its music director, the partners included songwriter Floyd Huddleston, who went on to write for Hollywood, and John Pepper, the former co-owner of WDIA, the first radio station in the United States programmed by and for African Americans. Pepper Records put a substantial financial investment in securing its future. The studio was remodeled to accommodate elaborate recording equipment, including stereophonic recording facilities, and Olswanger and the partners actively searched for new entertainers, with frequent auditions. Pepper Records became the recording home not just for Olswanger and his orchestra, but for several nascent rock-and-roll artists.


Throughout this time period, Berl Olswanger also had his own television show in Memphis at WMCT. He continued to compose and became a successful entrepreneur who opened stores that combined music studio, piano store, and music school where his unique chord method system was taught. Berl published his Berl Olswanger Piano Course in 1956, and distributed it nationally through Music Dealers Service.


Twenty-five years later, when Berl Olswanger died, he left behind an unforgettable legacy as “Mr. Music of Memphis.”


Release Date: March 26, 2021

Catalog #: BR8967

Format: Digital




Big Round Records is dedicated to presenting world-class musicians doing what they do best: smash the walls of genre and create groundbreaking new sounds while keeping one foot firmly rooted in tradition. Overdriven bassoons, orchestra-backed swing groups, blues-inflected Zydeco, outlandish arrangements of Disney songs, and modern-protest tunes is just a small slice of what you'll hear on our releases, which feature some of today's most forward-thinking and respected artists such as John Hall (Orleans), Steve Gadd, Andy Jaffe, Eddie Gomez, Tony Oxley, Charlie Barnett, Richard Stoltzman, Tony Clef, Mika Yoshida, and many more. Out of the box? With Big Round, there is no box.

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