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Columbias 1923-1931 (The Complete Set)

The Original Memphis Five

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Album Review

The Original Memphis Five may have been geographically challenged (they weren't from Memphis, or North or South Carolina, either, even though they also recorded as the Carolina Cotton Pickers, but were actually based in New Orleans) but they certainly didn't entertain idleness, recording over 400 sides between forming in 1917 and disbanding in 1931. Led by the trumpet of Phil Napoleon and featuring at various times Miff Mole or Charles Panelli on trombone and Jimmy Lytell on clarinet, and sometimes the trombone and clarinet brother duo of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, the Original Memphis Five were a clear, melodic, and swinging ensemble, and the group's best tracks are as joyous as the arrival of warm spring weather. This set collects all of their Columbia sides from between 1923 and 1931, including "Walk, Jenny, Walk!," two versions of the group's signature "St. Louis Gal" (one done early and one done late in their Columbia stay, making it easy to hear the rapid advancements in the recording technology of the day just by comparing the two), "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'," "How Come You Do Me Like You Do," and the sparkling "Throw Down Blues." Obviously there is a lot more to the story (like some 375 tracks more), but this collection will give listeners a pretty good idea of what Napoleon and Company brought to the table.

Biography

Formed: 1917

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s

Founded in 1917 by trumpeter Phil Napoleon and pianist Frank Signorelli, this excellent New Orleans jazz quintet made a ton of records between 1921-1931, including many under different names (such as Ladd's Black Aces and Carolina Cotton Pickers). Napoleon, trombonist Miff Mole (who in 1922 was succeeded by Charles Panelli), clarinetist Jimmy Lytell, Signorelli, and drummer Jack Roth were regular fixtures in the early days; starting in 1926 the personnel changed fairly frequently with cornetist Red...
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Columbias 1923-1931 (The Complete Set), The Original Memphis Five
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