I recently took a chance and spent five bucks on a 78 by the "Superior Jazz Band" on the early Bell label. According to the Rust discography, "Virginia Blues" and "Georgia" were recorded on April 18, 1922, but "Georgia" was rejected and remade on May 2. They were issued on three related labels, Arto, Bell (#P-144), and Globe. The instrumentation is the same as the OM5; Rust didn't know who the five musicians were, but noted that Ed Kirkeby directed the session. Kirkeby is best known as the manager of the California Ramblers and (later) Fats Waller, but also "managed first dates for the Original Memphis Five," according to John Chilton's Who's Who of Jazz. The first known record by the OM5 was Bell P-140, recorded some time in April, 1922; it was also issued under a pseudonym: The Original Dixieland Jazz Band!
Which brings us to my record. I figured it was probably something pretty corny until I put it on the turntable today. My thoughts went like this:
1. "Wow - this is pretty good."
2. "That sounds like Phil Napoleon on trumpet."
3. "Is that Jimmy Lytell on clarinet?"
4. "Damn! I think this is the Original Memphis Five!"
I compared the playing to that on the earliest OM5 record I had, from June, 1922 - it sure sounds like the same band. "Georgia" (by Walter Donaldson - the Hoagy Carmichael song hadn't been written yet) is excellent throughout. "Virginia Blues" starts well, but gets bogged down when it turns into a medley of "Southern" songs. The trombonist is a little stiff, but I don't know who else it could be except Miff Mole. He and Napoleon loosened up quite a bit on the band's 1923 recordings, but they both were slightly stiff on the 1922 records I've heard by them.
I know this post is kind of esoteric, but I wanted this information (or at least informed speculation) to be on the web somewhere. I couldn't find anything in print or on the web linking this record to the Original Memphis Five.
Edited by jeffcrom, 03 April 2012 - 10:42 PM.