Jazz Oracle's double-disc survey of Adrian Rollini's recording activity during the years 1929-1934 will surprise and satisfy anyone with an established or latent appetite for pop vocals from the period in question. What makes it work so well is the participation of great jazz musicians like Bunny Berigan, Pee Wee Russell, and Benny Goodman. A skilled multi-instrumentalist, Rollini recorded extensively as sideman, accompanist, and leader. His bass saxophone crops up all over this set, in harmony with master musicians like the Dorsey Brothers, Joe Venuti, and Eddie Lang. The first nine titles find Rollini sitting in with six ensembles that embodied the popular music of this era. "You'll Recognize My Baby" is sung by "The Singing Boys" (Smith Ballew, Cyril Pitts, and Tom Muir) backed by their Novelty Orchestra, and "The Moon Is Low" by crooner Jack Miller with His New Englanders. There are four numbers tossed off by Tom Clines & His Music with vocals by Jack Carney, and reedman Elmer Feldkamp sings "When the Morning Rolls Around" with Freddy Martin's orchestra. The hottest selections from this portion of the anthology are a pair of instrumentals: Joe Tarto's "Black Horse" as played by George Posnak's orchestra, and a wonderful interpretation of Irving Berlin's "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" by Ben Selvin's dance band.
Beginning with the tenth track and throughout the entire second disc, Jazz Oracle concentrates on Rollini the bandleader and recordings issued under his name in 1933 and 1934. Here again, the commercial formula called for sweet vocals, supported by an orchestra stocked with seasoned players who knew how to swing. Rollini juggles the bass sax with goofus, celeste, xylophone, and the mellow vibraphone, an instrument which he helped to popularize. The lineup of crooners and warblers is amazing. Dick Robertson sings "Hustlin' and Bustlin' for Baby"; Howard Phillips delivers Harold Arlen's "Happy as the Day Is Long," and Irene Beasley negotiates "Mississippi Basin" by Reginald Foresythe and Andy Razaf. For those who crave historic trivia, a detailed discographical index reveals Clay Bryson as the vocalist on "Savage Serenade" and Jane Vance as the interpreter of "Sittin' on a Log (Pettin' My Dog)." Once again, the presence of jazz musicians like Bud Freeman, Artie Shaw, and Charlie Barnet adds ballast to the fluff, and some players even burst into song themselves, as drummer Herb Weil takes on the Busby Berkeley-affiliated "By a Waterfall," and Red McKenzie of the Mound City Blue Blowers tackles "I've Gotta Get Up and Go to Work." The famous Chick Bullock made several appearances, as did Joey Nash, best known in his day as a well-dressed appendage of Richard Himber's Ritz-Carlton Hotel Orchestra. Finally, Ella Logan recorded "I Wish I Were Twins" with a group called Adrian's Ramblers (including trumpeter Max Kaminsky and guitarist Carl Kress), twelve days before the song was definitively interpreted by Fats Waller & His Rhythm. There are numerous Adrian Rollini collections on the market; Jazz Oracle's offering probably has more pop vocals per square inch than any other.