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Wail of the Winds

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Album Review

Red Nichols & His Orchestra recorded ten obscure titles for Varsity in 1937 and then extensively for Bluebird in 1939, with four songs for Okeh in 1940. The Bluebird and Okeh dates have been reissued in full on this CD and it is quite a mixed bag. Many of the songs are saddled with Bill Darnell's vocals and some are just straight dance music rather than jazz. The only notable musicians in Nichols' outfit were pianist/arranger Billy Maxted and (in 1940) clarinetist Heinie Beau. However, there are some fine performances along the way, including Nichols' "The King Kong," "Davenport Blues," a swinging version of Henry Busse's "Hot Lips," "Poor Butterfly," "Overnight Hop," and Nichols' theme of the period, "Wail of the Winds." There is also a small-group session by the Five Pennies, although only "My Melancholy Baby" is a standout. But overall, the Red Nichols band was overshadowed by the many other more original jazz orchestras and they did not survive 1940.


Born: 08 May 1905 in Ogden, UT

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Overrated in Europe in the early '30s when his records (but not those of his black contemporaries) were widely available and then later underrated and often unfairly called a Bix imitator, Red Nichols was actually one of the finest cornetists to emerge from the '20s. An expert improviser whose emotional depth did not reach as deep as Bix or Louis Armstrong, Nichols was in many ways a hustler, participating in as many recording sessions (often under pseudonyms) as any other horn player of the era,...
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