Encyclopedia of Disc Music Boxes 1881 - 1920
       A History,
          Catalog Raisonné,
                and Appreciation.
                          By Q. David Bowers
                                     An AMICA-International Publication

Q. David Bowers has collected, studied, and enjoyed automatic musical instruments, beginning in 1960. In the intervening years he has written several books on the subject, including A Guide Book of Automatic Musical Instruments (1966), Put Another Nickel In (1968), Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments (1971), and Treasures of Mechanical Music (co-authored with Arthur A. Reblitz, 1981). He has contributed many articles to the journals of the Musical Box Society International and AMICA (Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association), and is one of just four recipients of the Musical Box Society International’s Lifetime Service Award. The author, whose main business over the years has been as a dealer in rare coins, has traveled extensively through America and Europe seeking information relating to automatic musical instruments.


by Roswell J. Parker

 Zez Confrey was born in Illinois in 1895, and died in Lakeside, New Jersey on November 22, 1972. He was christened Edward Elzear, but took on the name of "Zez" after he became a star piano player. For many years, during his retirement, he enjoyed living at Lakeside with his wife, Wilma. Previous to that he lived in Garden City, New York.


Zez was an author, composer and extremely talented pianist. His style of playing could be recognized easily, and he had a special knack of transforming "arab" tunes into the style of the twenties. He composed about 100 songs, some of the best known being "Kitten on the Keys," ''Stumbling,'' "Dizzy Fingers'' and "Dumb-bell." Many of his tunes were recorded on records, and many on player piano rolls, some of which he teamed up with Max Kortlander and Victor Arden to make. "Stumbling" on a piano roll has appeared with all three artists, as well as a solo by Zez himself, and both versions have the same QRS roll number:


The Zez Confrey orchestra of about ten pieces was a well-known band that performed around the country and also made records. These can still be found in shops featuring nostalgia.

Babe Ruth and Zez were personal friends; some time in the thirties they both starred in a movie, "HOME RUN ON THE KEYS." Zez also was a close friend of Paul Whiteman, George Gershwin and Adam Carroll.

In the twenties the Mills Music Company published a piano course entitled "ZEZ CONFREY'S MODERN COURSE IN

NOVELTY PIANO PLAYING.'' This achieved great success, and this publication can today be found in Zez collections all over the country.

Zez Confrey is survived by a widow and two sons still living in the eastern United States. He was a fine musician, and his works will be sought after for many years to come.


Confrey, Zez (3 April 1895 - 22 November 1971)

Zez Confrey was born Edward Elzear Confrey in Peru, Illinois. He studied at Chicago Musical College, worked in 1915 for the Chicago branch of the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Company, and began cutting piano rolls for the QRS Company in Chicago while in the U.S. Navy during the first world war. He made over a hundred QRS rolls. Later in New York he cut more piano rolls, including Ampico reproducing piano rolls in 1924, and began making records.



©2016 AMICA International
Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors' Association,
a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Page last Updated: Saturday, August 19, 2017 11:45 AM

 Visitors & their Locations on this page since 10/5/14
 Flag Counter

All third-party materials have been used with the assumed owner's permission, however if you claim copyright on materials here and you wish them removed please contact the Website Manager on the Contact page. If I don't know you I'll ask you to supply proof of ownership (a notarized copyright registration certificate will be your best bet).  If your claim is valid and verified then the materials will be removed immediately.

All information on this Site is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and without any warranty whatsoever, expressor limited.  In no event will the AMICA, its officers, committee members, members, employees or agents be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information on this Site or for any damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from the use of any of the contractors listed on this Site, including for any consequential, special or similar damages.