A fine if now forgotten dixieland band, the Riverboat Five played no-nonsense New Orleans jazz during the second half of the 1950's. Founded and led by clarinetist Ed Reed, the original group consisted of cornetist Ted Butterman, trombonist Wray Thomas, pianist Keller Merck, banjoist Dargan Fitch, tuba player Ed Tedder (who doubled on tenor), and drummer Jim Lunsford. Originally based in Atlanta, the band developed their group sound while playing for three years in Atlanta at a garage that was converted into a nightclub. After working in the Southwest, they.gained some fame in Las Vegas where they were signed to play eight weeks a year for the Dunes Hotel during 1957-61. The Riverboat Five (which was always a septet) also caught on well enough in New York to become a popular attraction at Bourbon Street. They recorded six Lps for Mercury during 1958-61 (none of which have been reissued on CD). While the first three were cut in Chicago with the group's original lineup the fourth and fifth were made in Los Angeles with such notable names as tenorsaxophonist Eddie Miller, guitarist Nappy Lamare, either Ray Bauduc or Nick Fatool on drums, trombonist Bob Havens and trumpeter Dick Cathcart. The group's final effort was cut with an expanded lineup live in New Orleans in 1961. Throughout their career, the Riverboat Five mostly stuck to dixieland warhorses (with occasional exceptions) but Hall's arrangements and the musicians' general enthusiasm made their renditions sound fresh and lively.
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