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Review by Scott Yanow: Hot Dance Bands from Okeh 193-1931


The Okeh label was one of the most important record companies in jazz of the 1920s. Starting with its Mamie Smith performances of 1920 (including a huge hit with “Crazy Blues”) and accelerating in 1923, Okeh would eventually become best known for recording Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Seven during 1925-27 and his Savoy Ballroom Ball in 1928. Ironically by then the company was no longer independent, having been sold to Columbia in Nov. 1926. Nevertheless there were many hot recordings made for Okeh into the early years of the Depression.
Retrieval’s two-CD set has no less than 48 Okeh performances, many by obscure but excellent hot dance bands. This twofer brings together many sessions that eluded other reissue programs, often by jazz groups who only recorded a handful of numbers.
Featured are Ace Brigode’s Ten Virginians (and his Fourteen Virginians), Harold Leonard’s Red Jackets, the Arkansas Travelers, Frankie Quartell’s Melody Boys, the Melody Shieiks, the Scranton Sirens Orchestra, Emerson Gill’s Castle Of Paris Orchestra, the Foor-Robinson Carolina Club Orchestra, Mickey Guy’s Rose Tree Café Orchestra, Vincent Lopez, the Palledo Orchestra of St. Louis, Jack Glassner’s Colonial Inn Orchestra, Mike Markel, Sol S. Wagner, the Goofus Five, Irwin Abrams, Arnold Frank’s Boger’s Café Orchestra, Ted Wallace, Gus Arnheim, Milt Shaw’s Detroiters, the Jazz Pilots, Cornell’s Orchestra, Ben Selvin, Sam Lanin’s Famous Players and Singers, and Fred Rich. While most of the sidemen are not famous (and sometimes their identity is completely lost to history), Miff Mole, Frank Trumbauer, Rube Bloom, Red Nichols, Harry Reser, Eddie Lang, Adrian Rollini, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey all make appearances.
Many of these recordings were formerly rare, making this well-conceived reissue of particularly strong interest.
Scott Yanow

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