California Ramblers

Rare Vertical Jazz 1926-1928

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Here's a precious compilation of hot jazz from the mid-'20s, reissued by the Historical record label. Averaging four minutes in duration, the Edison Diamond Disc with its closely packed hill-and-dale or "vertical" grooves held an extra 60 to 90 seconds of recorded music, allowing the musicians to take longer solos. By today's standards the difference is negligible, but in 1926 and 1927 this was a big deal. Certain white jazz bands from Manhattan rose to the occasion and few made better use of the four-minute Edison record than Red & Miff's Stompers. Cornet ace Loring "Red" Nichols and trombone stalwart Miff Mole are heard performing in a state of near perfection with reedman Jimmy Dorsey, pianist Arthur Schutt, and percussion wizard Vic Berton. The four sides this band realized on November 10, 1926, are quite possibly the best that Nichols ever waxed, and belong among the very best jazz recordings of the 1920s. One side by Phil Napoleon's band with Joe Tarto on tuba and six by the California Ramblers bolstered by bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini are thoroughly delightful. Nevertheless, Red & Miff's Stompers steal the show by rendering perfectly paced hot jazz with the inspired precision of chamber music.