Varsity Eight

During a 15-year stretch beginning in 1921, a certain hot jazz and dance band with constantly changing personnel made hundreds of 78-rpm phonograph recordings for numerous labels using quite a selection of colorful names. Most of the group's output was released under the heading of the California Ramblers; additional monikers included the Golden Gate Orchestra, the Five Birmingham Babies, the Vagabonds, the Goofus Five, the University Six, and the Varsity Eight, which was the name under which their records appeared on the Cameo label during the years 1923-1931. The anchor of this and most of the related ensembles was bass saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Rollini. Other important participants were trumpeters Red Nichols and Chelsea Quealey, trombonists Tommy Dorsey and Abe Lincoln, sax and clarinet ace Jimmy Dorsey, pianist and arranger Irving Brodsky, and drummer Stan King. The Varsity Eight cranked out more than 100 recordings during this eight-year period; their material ranged from dyed-in-the-wool collegiate novelties ("Why Do They All Pick on Freshie" and the "Fraternity Blues") through trendy period pieces ("Ain't She Sweet?" and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby") and hot dance staples ("Charleston," "Static Strut") to more or less authentic early jazz standards like "Copenhagen," "Milenberg Joys," "Farewell Blues," and "Arkansas Blues." By 1930, manager and vocalist Wallace T. "Ed" Kirkeby was dominating the Varsity Eight to an unprecedented degree. Most of their members also played in a Kirkeby-led ensemble that recorded for OKeh under the name of the Ted Wallace Orchestra from 1927-1935. In 2000, Timeless Historical released a compact disc collection containing 25 Varsity Eight recordings dating from the years 1923-1926. ~ arwulf arwulf

Top Songs

Latest Release

Latest Release