King Oliver

Complete Victors, Vol. 1

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The U.K.'s Frog label presents in two volumes the complete issued Victor recordings of Louis Armstrong's mentor King Oliver, including the alternate takes. This first disc contains 22 sides recorded between January 26 and December 30, 1929 at seven different sessions that took place in New York at Liederkranz Hall and a studio on 46th Street, as well as in Chicago, not far from where he made his first recordings back in 1923. By 1929, Joe Oliver's pyorrhea had begun to compromise his ability to blow his horn; cornet and trumpet solos were now carried by Louis Metcalf and Dave Nelson (who was Oliver's nephew). Oliver also began to lean on others to shoulder the burden of leading larger ensembles; his bandmasters were Luis Russell, Loran L. Watson and later Carroll Dickerson. The Victor recordings of King Oliver combined vestigial influences from New Orleans and Chicago with the prevailing jazz and dance band styles in New York City. Tracks one through ten document five titles done twice by an ensemble that included fine players like trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, drummer Paul Barbarin and reedmen Charlie Holmes and Teddy Hill. Fats Pichon is the vocalist heard on "I've Got That Thing." The Chicago session, which took place on February 25, 1929, featured clarinetist Omer Simeon and a cornetist believed to have been the great Punch Miller. The session of November 6, 1929 included two superb musicians in the lineup: pianist James P. Johnson and alto saxophonist Hilton Jefferson. This first volume of the complete Victor recordings of King Oliver closes with two versions of "Everybody Does It in Hawaii," a marvelous feature for steel guitarist Roy Smeck.

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