At the HI-FI Jazz Band Ball: The DIXIELAND RHYTHM KINGS
Bob Hodes (cnt) Charlie Sonnanstine (tb) Joe Darensbourg (cl) Robin Wetterau (p) Jack Vastine (bj) Gene Mayl (tu and leader)
Dayton, Ohio; December 28 & 30, 1953
1. Maple Leaf Rag (4:49) (Scott Joplin)
2. Trouble in Mind (3:04) (Richard M. Jones)
3. Buddy's Habits (3:33) (Straight Nelson)
4. Skid-Dat-De-Dat (4:23) (Louis Armstrong)
5. Panama (5:25) (William Tyers)
1. Chattanooga Stomp (4:35) (Joe “King” Oliver)
2. Wabash Blues (4:26) (Ringle – Meinken)
3. High Society (4:54) (traditional)
4. Careless Love Blues (3:59) (traditional)
5. I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly (3:09) (C. & S. Williams)
Few sounds in the world are as happy, as rousing, as foot-tapping as the spirited music of a driving young Dixieland band under a full head of steam. And there are few, if any, such bands in existence today that can get up a head of steam to match that of the six-man express train known as the DIXIELAND RHYTHM KINGS. When you add to this the rich power and brilliance of superb High Fidelity recording, the picture is so complete that the expression "having a ball" might just as well have been invented to fit this occasion.
On this LP, the happy-go-lucky young crew led by tuba man Gene Mayl bounds and pounds through ten fine old jazz tunes. The rather startling fact is that just about all the material they play is at least slightly older than the musicians. For some of these selections - such as the ragtime classic, Maple Leaf, and those early New Orleans standards, High Society and Panama - reach back to the very beginning of the century, and the youngest tunes here belong to great bands of Chicago in the 1920s: King Oliver's Chattanooga Stomp; and Skid-Dat-De-Dat, recorded in '26 by Louis Armstrong's celebrated Hot Five. But the average age of the performers is someplace in the mid-twenties!
This particular combination of youth and age works out very well indeed, resulting in the combination of youthful vigor and respect for jazz traditions that make up the unique "D.R.K." style to be heard here. For if there is one thing above all that these young jazzmen are quite serious about, it is their attitude towards the early jazz that is their inheritance. They live and breathe this music, feel its power and spirit. But - most improtantly - they regard it is music that is still fresh, alive, and susceptible to change, not as a repertoire of musty period pieces. (Note that, unlike many young groups whose versions of old tunes remain limited to the three-minutes duration of the old records they leaned them from, the D.R.K. 'stretches out' at greater length on most of these selections.) Such an attitude enables the D.R.K. to appeal alike to students of early jazz, to the very many people who recall Dixieland as they good-time music of their youth, and to the very many others who are in their you right now and who find in this sort of jazz a color, sparkle and excitement that no other music can equal.
The band has been in continuous existence since the mid-1940s, which is a longevity record for any jazz group to envy. Gene Mayl organized the group and has been its guiding spirit since the start; tailgate trombonist Charlie Sonnanstine was with him then and has remained a key member of the band most of the time ever since. Although there have been inevitable, many personnel changes through the years, the line-up has consistently included musicians who shared their musical tastes: high-spirited young traditionalists like Robin Wetterau, a superior ragtime pianist who at this writing (early 1958) is still very firmly a part of the band; and Bob Hodes, who has moved on to the West Coast and played there with stars like Bob Helm and Don Ewell.
The D.R.K. has built a loyal and far-flung following through appearances from New York to California, but has of late been concentrating on home grounds: the Mid-West, using Dayton, Ohio, the city in which the group was first formed, as its base of operations.
The earlier jazz giants from whim the Dixieland Rhythm Kings and many other young traditionalists have drawn their inspiration are also well represented on Riverside, in the unique "Jazz Archives Series" of superbly reprocessed 12-inch LP reissues of great early recordings. Such albums include –
Young LOUIS ARMSTRONG (12-101)
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: 1923 – with King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (RLP 12-122)
BIX BEIDERBECKE and the Wolverines (RLP 12-123)
JOHNNY DODDS: New Orleans Clarinet (RLP 12-104)
MUGGSY SPANIER: Chicago Jazz RLP 12-107)
JAMES P. JOHNSON: Rare Solos (RLP 12-105)
JELLY ROLL MORTON: Classic Solos (RLP 12-111)
Young FATS WALLER (RLP 12-103)
Great blues singers: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Chippie Hill, Ida Cox, etc. (RLP 12-121)
NEW ORLEANS LEGENDS: Kid Ory, Bunk Johnson, Kid Rena (RLP 12-119)
JELLY ROLL MORTON: The Library of Congress Recordings – a series of 12 albums
(available singly) (RLPs 9001 to 9012)
HISTORY OF CLASSIC JAZZ: 60 complete selections by the great figures of traditional jazz;
plus 20,000-word essay by Charles Edward Smith; discography (SPD-11)
The same Dixieland Rhythm Kings personnel can also be heard on –
DIXIELAND in HI-FI (RLP 12-210)
Several other twelve-inch LPs in the Riverside “Contemporary Series” offer outstanding recent examples of jazz in a Dixieland or New Orleans vein, including –
JOE SULLIVAN: New Solos by an Old Master (RLP 12-202)
Ragtime!: TONY PARENTI’S Ragtime Band and Ragpickers Trio (RLP 12-205)
GEORGE LEWIS Quartet and Band (RLP 12-207)
Jazz at Vespers: GEORGE LEWIS and his Ragtime Band (RLP 12-230)
WILD BILL DAVISON: Sweet and Hot (RLP 12-211)
RALPH SUTTON: piano in the classic jazz tradition (RLP 12-212)
San Francisco Style: LU WATTERS and BOB HELM; with Turk Murphy, Bob Scobey, Wally Rose, Everett Farey (RLP 12-123)
CONRAD JANIS: Dixieland Jam Session; with Bob Wilbur, Ralph Sutton (RLP 12-215)
Creole Reeds: SIDNEY BECHET and ALBERT NICHOLAS (RLP 12-216)
New Orleans Contrasts: PAUL BARBARINE and SHARKEY BONANO (RLP 12-217)
Gin Bottle Jazz: CARL HALEN’s Gin Bottle Seven (RLP 12-231)
Whoopee Maker’s Jazz: CARL HALEN’s Gin Bottle Seven (RLP 12-261)
Dance Off Both Your Shoes in HI-FI: The RED ONION JAZZ BAND (RLP 12-260)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve).
Notes by Peter Drew
Cover by Paul Weller (photography) and Paul Bacon (design)
Engineer: Dave Jones.
Issued by arrangement with Empirical Records
(This material has previously been issued on 10-inch LP by Empirical, but appears here for the first time in 12-inch form.)
High fidelity components in cover photo courtesy of Stuart Bernbach, Centre Camera & Hi-Fi
(1367 Sixth Ave., New York City).
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
553 West 51st Street New York 19. N.Y.