Joseph "Joe" Robichaux led what is believed to have been the only New Orleans-based jazz band that managed to make more than a handful of recordings during the difficult days of the Great Depression. Robichaux was born on March 8, 1900, in New Orleans, studied music at New Orleans University, and developed his skills as a jazz musician in the company of Armand Piron's pianist, Steve Lewis. By the time he recorded the 24 tracks heard on this exciting compilation, Robichaux had worked with the Black Eagle Band, recorded with trumpeter Lee Collins, and served as accompanist for blues vocalist Christina Gray. The early '30s were tough years for Afro-American music and for authentic, undiluted jazz in particular. How fortunate for listeners that this six-piece swing band from Louisiana made it into a New York recording studio on five consecutive days near the end of August 1933 and waxed no less than 22 hot titles and two alternate takes. Rather than sounding like your typical Crescent City jazz ensemble, this little group boils over in a style comparable to what Jabbo Smith and Luis Russell were dishing out during the mid- to late '20s. Trumpeter Eugene Ware, known to have worked with cornetist Sidney Desvignes, patterned his own style after Louis Armstrong. He interacted wonderfully with reedmen Alfred Guichard and Gene Porter. Robichaux handled the piano like Earl Hines while Walter Williams generated an amiable friction using the tenor guitar. Nearly every tune is counted off with foot stamping by drummer Ward "Bucket" Crosby; this effect apparently drove the recording engineers up a wall. Crosby played the hell out of his drums and can be heard on "King Kong Stomp" happily hammering away on the vibraphone, which was still considered an innovative gadget in 1933. The last two titles have harmless vocals by Chick Bullock and in no way detract from the magnificence of this very satisfying package of rare treats. Anyone who loves hot jazz and early swing will want to obtain a copy and have it on hand at all times.
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