This old photograph was taken on July 2, in 1923, when my great-great-uncle from the Russian line of the Leicht family, the famous archeologist and adventurer Prof. Brewsk Litovsk, was proudly posing at an antique Inca artifact, he and his native Peruvian helpers had dug up in the deep jungle near Machu Picchu.

Now, why am I posting this subject, unrelated to jazz? — Well, Professor Litovsk was an early jazz fan who spent one third of his life in the pulsating Berlin of the roaring 1920’s, which was the world capital then.

When he travelled ’round the globe he always took his favorite shellacks with him, carefully wrapped in padded leather cases, and played them after work on his precious little portable gramophone.

One of these shellacks has survived, and it’s a great pleasure for me to play it here now for you: The Jazz Band, as performed by The Original Piccadilly Four, waxed in Berlin on February 12, in 1921.

This song was one of his favorites, because it reminded him of the most valuable, the rarest treasure he ever had dug up in his whole life:

Katja Valentina Grischenko, my great-great-aunt from St. Petersburg. She was a beautiful woman, a prima ballerina, almost twenty years younger than Brewsk, and a passionate amateur photographer.

She also shared my great-great-uncle’s love for Ragtime and Charleston.

When they met for the very first time at a dance at the Ballhaus Berlin, the band played “My Baby’s Arms”, and they fell head over ears in love a minute later.

Although I have no memories of them (they moved from Berlin to St. Petersburg, right before World War II), I still treasure their photographs, and the old shellack, which I only play for my closest friends.

Now what happened to the Litovsk’s, my dear, but oh so distant relatives? I can’t tell you exactly, but I know they both lived happily ever after.

As a P.S. I am posting one of the bands my great-great-uncle has seen performing in person when he was sailing ’round the world:

The Atlantic Dance Orchestra from 1923 with Keep It Under Your Hat.

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