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Crazy Words Crazy Tunes

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Album Review

The Golden Gate Orchestra was none other than the geographically challenged California Ramblers (who were actually based in Ohio and never did so much as a single documented gig in California) doing a bit of moonlighting. The band, whatever its name of the day, generally centered around the considerable talents of bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini and featured at one time or another Red Nichols, Stan King and the Dorsey Brothers, among others. They recorded numerous sides between 1925 and 1929 under various group names for the Edison Company (yes, the energy giant, which in the '20s had its fingers in a lot of pies, including the nascent recording business, although none of the tracks presented here was ever officially issued). The California Ramblers/Golden Gate Orchestra were about as hot as a dance band full of white jazz musicians ever got in those heady days of hip flasks, raccoon coats and the Charleston, and a quick listen to the early versions of "Ain't She Sweet" and "When the Red Red Robin" that are included here reveals a smooth, limber and confident ensemble unafraid to break out and just roll. If it all sounds a bit quaint and even a little alien in the 21st century, it was cutting edge back in the day, and Rollini in particular was undeniably in a class of his own. The transfers sound clear, warm and intimate, and kudos to Document Records for giving these rare recordings a renewed chance to shine.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active:

The Golden Gate Orchestra was a dance band that used elements of jazz, à la Paul Whiteman, and recorded for Edison during the mid-'20s. They specialized in popular music of the period, doing highly danceable renditions of tunes such as "The Charleston," "Manhattan," and "Hallelujah," and aimed their records primarily at white audiences. The latter fact has always made them suspect as a true jazz ensemble in the minds of many scholars, but that output also made them important in helping to popularize...
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Crazy Words Crazy Tunes, The Golden Gate Orchestra
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