THE ROARING TWENTIES and All That Jazz
Featuring TOMMY and JIMMY DORSEY, RED NICHOLS
Jazz Archives #100(12”)
As originally played by The California Ramblers. Probable personnel includes Red Nichols (tp) Bill Moore (tp) Tommy Dorsey (tb) Jimmy Dorsey, Arnold Brillhardt, Freddie Cusick, Bobby Davis (reeds) Adrian Rollini (bass sax) Irving Brodsky (p) Tommy Fellini (bj) Stan King (drs) W. T. (Ed) Kirkeby (leader) New York; 1924-26
Sidewalk Blues (Jelly Roll Morton) (4:09)
Clementine (from New Orleans) (Creamer – Warren) (4:07)
Up and at ‘Em (Pettis –Goering) (4:02)
Stockholm Strut (Pettis – Goering) (4:32)
Third Rail (Vern de Mars) (3:44)
When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo (Spier – Coslow – Fain) (3:24)
I Ain’t Got Nobody (Graham – Williams) (3:21)
A Garden in Sweden (Bayes – Norwood) (4:17)
Low Down (Trent – DeRose) (3:24)
Oh, Mabel (Kahn – FioRita) (3:21)
Glad Rag Doll (Yellern – Daugherty – Ager) (3:03)
The world has grown a great deal older since the days and nights when flappers looked and dressed something like a John Held, Jr., illustration. It has been a very long time since young men carried hip flasks, and since a great many people danced their feet off in time to music such as you’ll hear on this album.
But for those who still remember the era of sheiks and flappers – and even for those who only know at secondhand, from books or movies or old photographs, about such things as racoon coats, yellow slickers and riding in a Stutz Bearcat – there is a wonderful nostalgia associated with that time. Those “Roaring twenties” were supposed to be pretty wicked time, with their bootleg gin and their petting parties and all those fast girls with bobbed hair and Cupid’s-bow lips. But in retrospect it was a far less tense and nerve-jangling time than our own. Its music had a happy-go-lucky quality that fitted its period perfectly and that can still do a magical job of bringing that period back to life.
This album is no mere recreation of that fascinating chapter in American life: like a similar Riverside LP (Jazz of the Roaring Twenties), it is the Twenties. Here are songs of that era as played by one of its top dance bands, recorded then and revived now in all their original zest and spirit (plus a considerably enhanced sound, by means of modern recording techniques).
The California Ramblers were also responsible for the music to be heard on the “Jazz of the Roaring Twenties” LP. But there is one different in emphasis between the two albums to be noted. That first album was basically a collection of some of the more celebrated, now-standard popular dance tunes of the day – as played by a dance band that also happened to include some outstanding young jazz musicians. Here, however, the shoe is on the other foot. Jelly Roll Morton’s Sidewalk Blues which gets things off to a rousing start, can serve as a sort of keynote. For these numbers have largely been selected to indicate how this band performed on occasion when playing hot was a primary consideration. These very often also turned out to e occasions when two young brothers named Dorsey (rather recently arrived from Scranton, Pa.) were very much in evidence. While none of the other tunes on the LP have achieved anything like the jazz immortality of the Morton blues, there are some – like Stockholm Stomp and Third Rail – that would certainly appear to have been intended to allow the musicians to blow off some of the stream accumulated during the playing of quantities of nearly ‘straight’ dance material.
The late Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, both separately and together, ran through quite a gamut in their more-than-three decades of musical activity, which adds a good deal of fascination to this glimpse of their early styles. Jimmy’s clarinet, perhaps surprisingly, seems instantly recognizable here, though he was hardly playing in this loose-limbed way in his last years. Tommy’s tones, on the other hand, are far guttier than the legato style with which he won his later fame as “The Sentimental Gentleman.” Also quite noticeable here is the brilliant, Bix Beiderbecke-inspired horn of Red Nichols; and then there’s the fluid bass sax of the late Adrian Tollini, which was actually the core around which this band’s style and sound was built.
The spirit of the group would seem to have come from just such young musicians as these: caught up in the excitement of being young, of living in the rip-roaring ‘20s, and of being rapidly on the rise towards the top of the musical world. It was music such as this that gave the “jazz Age” its name. And the California Ramblers were among the most important of the jazz-impregnated dance bands of that age. Neither Californians nor ramblers, they played for a number of years at the Ramblers’ Inn, their celebrated roadhouse just outside New York City; and they made an almost uncountable quantity of records, for various companies and under a variety of names. (The exact personnel of the band at all times during the span of years covered by these recordings has never been completely compiled to the full satisfaction of those who concern themselves with such matters. But Wallace T. “Ed” Kirkeby – who organized and led the group and directed all its recording sessions – was able to dig into his memory to provide and authoritative reconstruction of the basic lineup, which is listed above.)
Riverside’s previous album of such music, also featuring the Dorseys and Nichols, is –
Jazz of the Roaring Twenties (RLP 801)
Including: Charleston – Manhattan – Five Foot Two – Eyes of Blue – Crazy Words, Crazy Tune – Collegiate – Miss Annabelle Lee – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – The Flapper Wife – Cheatin’ on Me – Sweet Man – Everything Is Hotsy Totsy Now – Keep Smiling At Trouble
The Riverside “Jazz Archives” series also features outstanding early groups in such notable albums as -
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (RLP 157/158 – a two-LP set)
Bix Beiderbecke and The Wolverines (RLP 123)
“N.O.R.K.”: The New Orleans Rhythm Kings – with Jelly Roll Morton (RLP 102)
Tin Roof Blues: New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Vol. 2 (RLP 146)
Louis Armstrong with King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (RLP 122)
The Birth of Big Band Jazz: Fletcher Henderson / Duke Ellington (RLP 129)
(The slight surface noise audible on this LP is due to the limitations of early recording processes; it has not been entirely removed in order to preserve highest fidelity possible and to give more faithful reproduction of original qualities.)
Album design: KEN DEARDOFF
Cover Illustration from “HELD’S ANGELS” by JOHN HELD, JR., courtesy of T. Y. Crowell Co.
RIVERSDIE RECORDS are produced by BILL GARUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York City 36, New York