Anton Lada

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Drummer and bandleader Anton Lada's 1918 recordings with the Louisiana Five were among the very first commercial releases of music considered to be jazz. Lada had also drummed in an early version of the…
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Drummer and bandleader Anton Lada's 1918 recordings with the Louisiana Five were among the very first commercial releases of music considered to be jazz. Lada had also drummed in an early version of the Original Dixieland Jass Band, nearly four years before it became the first combo in jazz recording history with an early 1917 side. Alcide "Yellow" Nunez, clarinetist and composer, was also involved in both groups as well as further music business history, this time involving a dispute over the songwriting credits for a blues. The two players formed the Louisiana Five with the addition of pianist Joe Cawley, trombonist Charlie Panelli, and banjoist Karl Berger, no relation to the German vibraphonist and pianist. Besides drumming, Lada toiled as manager of the band. The group recorded for labels including Emerson, Columbia, and Edison. Final sessions for the Louisiana Five took place in 1920, by which time titles such as "Weary Blues" may have indicated fatigue with the project.

Lada's Louisiana Orchestra began recording in 1922, again with the drummer in the management hot seat. Sometimes the state of Louisiana was dropped from the band's name, probably not a bad idea for a bandleader who was born in Chicago and died in Santa Monica. Subsequently, the Sunset label did not agree, promoting the ensemble as Anton Lada's Louisiana Lads. As many as 14 players may have been in this band, under whatever name, including interesting use of oboe, xylophone, and euphonium. A half dozen of these instrumentalists have never been identified, while some players such as banjoist and bassist Macy Drucker either didn't really exist or weren't in this particular group. According to discographers, Lada's final recordings were made in the mid-'20s; however, his popular groups continued performing live. In 1941 Lada relocated to Hollywood, scoring motion pictures and developing into a Raymond Scott type, a process unfortunately cut short by the grim reaper when Lada was only in his early fifties. This artist co-wrote jazz and ragtime numbers with pianist Spencer Williams, notably "Arkansas Blues" and "Barcelona."