Oliver Naylor

Oliver Naylor recorded 19 selections with his Seven Aces during 1924-25, excellent examples of high-quality white jazz that was influenced by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. The performances are pretty much forgotten today but a 1997 Retrieval CD has all of the music (plus two numbers from the related band Pinkie's Birmingham Five) and shows that Naylor had a frequently exciting group. Naylor formed his first band in 1923, a similar outfit to the one that would record. The group's big break happened in early 1924 when they were offered a spot at New York's Roseland Ballroom and made their first recordings. It later played at the Knickerbocker Grill, returned to Roseland and (with some additional members) in 1925 went on tour as Oliver Naylor's Orchestra. After recording a few numbers that year, an argument over royalties resulted in the band being dropped by Victor; their only other recordings were a pair of waltzes cut in 1929 for Okeh. The band remained active throughout the 1920's, playing throughout the East Coast without really making it big. Best-known among the later sidemen was pianist Bob Zurke who filled in for Naylor (who mostly stuck to directing the band). Although there would be no further recordings, Naylor kept his band together into 1939 when he broke up the group. Later on he managed a theatre for seven years and worked with WBRC-TV (1948-60) as assistant general manager. ~ Scott Yanow

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