[Dixielandjazz] New Orleans Jazz Bands
marekboym at gmail.com
Wed May 9 14:44:54 PDT 2012
Albert Haim's word.
Mind you, he mentions "anecdotal" and "my speculation."
On May 9, 2012, at 4:20 PM, Marek Boym wrote: (polite snip)
The Memphis 5 tried, (referring to sounding like ODJB)
but did not suceed - it created a different style (which reminds me of
the West Coast revival and the British revival, which is like it
If Memphis 5 created a different style, what should we call it?
Wasn't it you who oppesed pigeon holing? But if I need to answer,
I've seen it referred to, together with Red Nichols (no Siscilian
connections, I am afraid), as "the New York style."
The truth - I don't care. It's hot (despite Messrs. Rust and Harris'
opinion) and driving, and that's all I need to know.
I often say that I was lucky to have heard Nichols and Napoleon befroe
reading the Rust and Harris' book where they put them down, and having
read the book before first hearing the ODJB, which other critics put
down. In those days, when I was a young and unexperienced teenager
fan (perhaps more - I got that book soetime in the early 1960's from
my girl friend, my wife since 1965, whom I started courting in
On 10 May 2012 00:16, Stephen G Barbone <barbonestreet at earthlink.net> wrote:
> On May 9, 2012, at 4:20 PM, Marek Boym wrote: <polite snip>
> I have never heard of the OM5 issuing records under the ODJB name, but
> I am prepared (against my better judgement?) to take you word for it.
> Dear Marek:
> No need to take my word for it. Below is what Albert Haim wrote about the
> OM5/ODJB record and the affiliation between Phil Napoleon, who had moved to
> New Orleans as a young man, and Nick LaRocca.
> Take (or not) Haim's word and his sources,.
> Steve Barbone
> First, some documentation of what you told us. From
> “Their first record was actually released as an Original Dixieland Jazz Band
> record with the blessing of Nick La Rocca.”
> Second, to supplement what Gilbert told us, from the ODJB discography in
> “NOTE: Some copies of Arto 9140 by the Original Memphis Five have been
> reported anecdotally to be labeled as by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.”
> There is a slight difference in the language used by Mainspringpress and by
> Rust. As Gilbert told us, Rust writes, “Some copies of Arto 9140 reportedly
> were issued as by ORIGINAL DIXIELAND JAZZ BAND.” The one-word difference may
> be crucial: “anecdotally.” Does this mean that there is no documentation, no
> image of an Arto 9140 that credits the ODJB? Sometimes anecdotes are
> accurate, at other times they are part of a mythology. In addition, there is
> the word “Some” qualifying the phrase “copies of Arto 9140.” Is it
> possible/reasonable that the same record on the same label had some copies
> issued as the “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” and other copies issued as the
> “Original Memphis Five”? I would be viewing this as mythology were it not
> for an important piece of information in a footnote in the monumental tome
> "Lost Chords" by Richard Sudhalter. Here is the relevant section of the
> “Bob Hilbert, “Long Live the Emperor! Memories of Phil Napoleon,” IAJRC
> Journal, winter 1992, pp. 1-10. In April 1922 a band billed as the “Original
> Dixieland Jazz Band” recorded two titles for the obscure Arto label with
> Napoleon leading an entirely Memphis Five personnel. They are among the
> rarest of early collector’s items.”
> My speculation, in view of what Hilbert tells us, is that, indeed, the April
> 1922 recording of “Gypsy Blues” and “My Honey’s Loving Arms” was released on
> Bell P-140 as by the Original Memphis Five and on Arto 9140 (all issues) as
> by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
> In mild support of my speculation, I point out that there is reliable
> information that the beginning of the OM5 had strong ties to the ODJB.
> First, as Gilbert told us, Phil Napoleon ran away from home in 1913 when he
> was twelve years old and ended up in New Orleans. Maybe he met Nick LaRocca
> at that time. What is certain is that when the ODJB played in New York’s
> Reisenweber’s Restaurant, Napoleon (and also Miff Mole) was absorbing and
> metabolizing the new music. In the late 1910s, Phil Napoleon (born Filippo
> Napoli) with another Italian-American musician, Frank Signorelli (who made
> several recordings with Bix and His Gang and with Bix and Tram in 1927)
> founded a band called “The Memphis Five” –later, the Original Memphis Five-
> (in tribute to W. C. Handy, who had a popular society band in Memphis).
> I now complete the footnote above.
> The association [between the ODJB and the OM5 also had something of a social
> dimension.: Napoleon, Signorelli, and ODJB members LaRocca, Edwards, Larry
> Shields, and Sbarbaro were among twenty-five persons arrested for disorderly
> conduct at a May 15, 1921 party celebrating the return of the Dixielanders
> from abroad.
> More information from “Lost Chords” about the ties between the ODJB and the
> At first the group’s personnel and fortunes were closely intertwined with
> those of the ODJB. New Orleans multi-instrumentalist Emile Christian, who
> substituted for “Daddy” Edwards on trombone on the band’s 1919 British tour,
> worked single jobs with Napoleon. Signorelli, on the other hand, sat in for
> J. Russell Robinson with the Dixielanders. On at least one occasion in 1922,
> Napoleon himself filled in for Nick LaRocca. In later years, ODJB drummer
> Tony Sbarbaro (or Spargo, as he came to be called) was a regular member of
> various Napoleon-led bands.
> To document what Ray wrote, also from “Lost Chords.”
> ”If we played the ODJB tunes, people would say we were copying them,”
> Napoleon told the host of a Florida radio station. “So we were smart enough
> to go into the dime store and learn the new popular tues, like ‘Last Night
> on the Back Porch’ and ‘Down Among the Sheltering Palms.’
> In a telephone conversation with the author, he [Napoleon] let slip a
> tantalizing hint about how things were between his band and LaRoccca’s in
> those early New York days. “We carved up the territory, he said. We agreed
> that those guys would play their own stuff, their originals and the jazzier
> novelties, , and we’d concentrate on the pop tunes. That way we’d never be
> in direct competition with each other.” It brings a smile, this image of two
> Sicilian-Americans leader-cornetists, meeting like Mafia dons to decide
> spheres of influence, lines of musical demarcation , in the interests of
> peaceful coexistence.”
> In summary: in view of the friendly relationships between LaRocca and
> Napoleon, it is plausible that the first recording of the OM5 in April 1922
> produced, on different labels, one record under their own name and one under
> the ODJB. But we need documentation. Unearthing a copy of Arto 9140 would be
> crucial, of course. Also, I wonder if there is additional information in
> Hilbert’s article in the IAJRC Journal, winter 1992.
> Finally, according to Sudhalter, the first recording by Phil Napoleon and
> the OM5 was in 1921.
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