There were two distinctly different ensembles that recorded under the name of the Little Ramblers. One was an often racially integrated swing band that came out with about 20 sides on Victor's Bluebird subsidiary during the mid-'30s. The original Little Ramblers, and the subject of a Timeless CD compilation released in 1997, were a hot jazz and dance band that recorded for Columbia during the mid-'20s, while making scads of records for numerous other labels under various names, the most famous being the California Ramblers. The folks at Timeless eliminated the Little Ramblers' first four recordings, beginning the chronology with the session of September 18, 1924. "Deep Blue Sea Blues" was based upon the melody "Asleep in the Deep," an elegy for drowned sailors published in 1897. Beginning with "Those Panama Mamas," Adrian Rollini added the bass saxophone to his arsenal of uncommon instruments; the two preceding titles have him using the kazoo and the goofus, a sort of rubber-necked melodica shaped like a saxophone. Several players are worthy of special mention: trumpeters Red Nichols and Chelsea Quealey; trombonists Tommy Dorsey and Abe Lincoln; pianist Irving Brodsky; and drummer Stan King, a fine percussionist who also played the kazoo. Vocals are attributed to Billy Jones (that's him being silly on "Don't Bring Lulu"); Arthur Hall ("In Your Green Hat"); Arthur Fields ("I Wonder What's Become of Joe?"); and Ed Kirkeby ("And Then I Forget"), an enterprising individual who managed the California Ramblers and their affiliated bands and exerted a powerful influence upon their style and repertoire. It was Rollini who revived the Little Ramblers as a swing band in the mid-'30s; by then Kirkeby was poised and ready to become Fats Waller's manager.
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