The University Six


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The University Six were a small group comprised of members of the California Ramblers, a popular big band that only seems to have existed in the recording studios. The star of the University Six was usually Adrian Rollini, who was the greatest bass saxophonist of all time, an easy position for him to have since the instrument was otherwise largely extinct by the early '30s. This double CD starts off with four numbers from the Little Ramblers, selections that feature Rollini on a toy saxophone called a goofus that can make some odd sounds along with more conventional tones. The selections have a novelty feel to them despite including some worthwhile moments from trumpeter Bill Moore. The remainder of the reissue has all of the University Six recordings dating from September 18, 1925, to September 22, 1926. There would be 22 later selections, but those have Spencer Clark on bass sax. Rollini is on all but two of the 44 numbers on this set and, even on the selections where he does not solo, he is heard constantly pushing the ensembles and soloists. His bass sax substitutes for an absent string bass, so he is heard constantly throughout these performances. Of the other players, trombonist Abe Lincoln, trumpeter Chelsea Quealey, and especially altoist/clarinetist Bobby Davis fare quite well, although Rollini usually gets the honors. The music is very much of the period, with plenty of throwaway vocals (often by Arthur Fields), and it strikes a balance between commercial dance music and the jazz mainstream of the period.

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