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The Georgians

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The first small group to be drawn out of a big band and exist interdependently was the Virginians, which included members of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the early '20s. The second one was the Georgians, musicians who were part of Paul Specht's commercial big band. Based at the Hotel Alamac, each night when the main ballroom closed and the regular job was over, the Georgians performed for dancers at the Alamac's nightclub, the Congo Room. The septet had a talented and versatile trumpet soloist in Frank Guarente, advanced and surprisingly swinging arrangements by pianist Arthur Schutt, two fine reed players among the four horns (which at one point included trombonist Russ Morgan), and a top drummer in Chauncey Morehouse. Starting in December 1922, the Georgians recorded an excellent series of sides (the first 24 of which have been reissued on a Retrieval CD) that lasted into 1924. The Georgians were a hit when they visited England with Specht in 1923. The group broke up in 1924, but Guarante organized a New Georgians band and toured Europe from 1924-1927, recording six titles (under the trumpeter's name) in 1926. Back in the U.S., the name of the Georgians was used for a few unrelated studio recording groups from 1924-1929, including two titles that featured Red Nichols in 1925. British trumpeter Nat Gonella used the Georgians name in the 1930s because of the popularity of his version of "Georgia on My Mind."

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