Here, as stated in the title, is an introductory taste of classic jazz recorded during the years 1922-1925 and 1934-1935 by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, a group that played a crucial role in the early development of the art of making jazz records. Key participants were cornetist Paul Mares, trombonist George Brunies, clarinetist Leon Roppolo, saxophonist Jack Pettis, and pianist Elmer Schoebel, who directed the ensemble from the piano until being replaced, in 1923, by Mel Stitzel. Other important members were drummer Ben Pollack, trombonist Santo Pecora, and New Orleans pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton, whose July 1923 collaborations with this group constituted the first racially mixed jazz recordings ever made for a nationally distributed label. By the mid-'30s the personnel had changed dramatically to include trumpeter Wingy Manone, clarinetist Eddie Miller, drummer Gene Krupa, and chortling vocalist Red McKenzie. Jelly Roll Morton is heard on "Clarinet Marmalade," "Mr. Jelly Lord," and "London Blues." A pity they didn't squeeze in the fourth Morton/NORK title, "Milenberg Joys." This is an excellent way to meet and get to know the NORK. The sound quality is quite good. Other historical reissue labels (Milestone and Challenge) have done a good job of presenting this group's recordings on compact disc; two volumes on Classics are occasionally marred by excessively scratchy surface noise. The 48-track Complete Set on Challenge Records is by far the best bet; if all you want is a little taste from the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, why then here it is, an introduction, as stated.
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