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Original Dixieland Jazz Band "Clarinet Marmalade Blues" (Victor 18513) HISTORIC DISC 1918

Original Dixieland Jazz Band

Uploader: Tim Gracyk

Duration: 02:48

Date: 2014-09-08T04:54:35Z

Original Dixieland Jazz Band plays "Clarinet Marmalade Blues" on Victor 18513, recorded on July 17, 1918.

This is among the most influential recordings in history. Countless jazz musicians have tackled this.

The musicians are Nick LaRocca, cornet; Eddie Edwards, trombone; Larry Shields, clarinet; Henry Ragas, piano; Tony Sbarbaro, drums.

With legal problems of 1917 finally resolved, the band returned to Victor in the spring of 1918. The ODJB had made recordings in 1917 for Columbia as well as for a small new company, Aeolian Vocalion.

The band members would have naturally been eager to record again for the nation's most prestigious record company, and Victor executives undoubtedly looked forward to issuing more hit records.

The five ODJB records issued by Victor in 1918 and early 1919 sold well. Sales would have been greater had not wartime shortages limited the production of records at this time.

All ten titles issued from the 1918 sessions were original compositions. Most became jazz standards. Whereas composer credits on the Victor disc in 1917 were given to the ensemble as a collaborative unit (though LaRocca alone was given credit for "Barnyard Blues" on Aeolian Vocalion 1205), individuals were assigned credit in 1918, LaRocca and Shields taking the lion's share. The two share credit for "At the Jazz Band Ball," "Ostrich Walk," and "Fidgety Feet." Shields and Ragas share credit for "Clarinet Marmalade." LaRocca is credited for "Skeleton Jangle" and "Tiger Rag."

LaRocca, Shields, and Ragas are credited for "Lazy Daddy." Other members are credited for remaining numbers: Edwards for "Sensation," Ragas for "Bluin' the Blues," and Sbarbaro for "Mourin' Blues."

Turns may have been taken when some composer credits had been assigned. In a letter dated October 11, 1952, Edwards reminded Shields, who lived at 6075 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, of the unusual manner in which composer credit had been assigned in 1918: "If memory serves, you will recall that the names of the numbers were decided at a rehearsal in the 400 Club Room, Reisenweber's, by drawing out of a hat but neither Spargo's [Sbarbaro] nor my name had been drawn. Nick said (as he was in charge of the drawing) that my name should go on Sensation and the one other number that had been forgotten, Mournin [sic] Blues, I suggested that Spargo's name appear on it." Edwards must have earned far more in royalities for "Sensation Rag," covered often by jazz bands (usually as "Sensation"), than Sbarbaro. Of the 1918 recordings, "Mourin' Blues" was probably least popular.

When Edwards was drafted in late July 1918, New Orleans musician Emile Christian was hired as a temporary replacement. After a hiatus from Reisenweber's, on September 7 the band was again featured for a couple of weeks at the 400 Club Room (9:00 PM nightly), this time with Bert Kelly's Jazz Band as a second band. The next change in personnel was a result of the influenza of late 1918: pianist Harry Ragas was a flu victim, dying on February 18, 1919 (he was survived by a wife, Bertha).

A telegram sent at 9:29 AM on February 20 from LaRocca to Edwards, who was stationed at Campupton, New York, states, "RAGAS PASSED AWAY FEB 18/19 WE ARE MAKING UP A COLLECTION FOR A FLORAL DESIGN TO BE MADE IN NEW ORLEANS AND SENT TO HIS HOME 1018 ST CLAUDE WITH OUR BAND NAME ON IT..." Composer-pianist J. Russel Robinson joined. Raised in Indianapolis, he was the first ODJB member not from New Orleans (Sidney Lancefield was the group's pianist too briefly in 1919 to count as a member).

The band traveled to London in March 1919, staying for a year and a half. Brian Rust writes in My Kind of Jazz (Elm Tree Books, 1990), "Just as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band was the first band to introduce jazz, at least under that name, to the United States, so it was also the first to bring real jazz to Europe when it arrived in Liverpool on April 1, 1919, to appear in London as an added attraction to the revue Joy Bells at the Hippodrome."

Quickly removed from Joy Bells, allegedly because star attraction George Robey was jealous of applause given the ODJB during its London debut on April 7, the band opened at the Palladium on April 12; weeks later opened at the Martan Club; two months later opened at Rector's; and then opened at the Palais de Danse.

J. Russel Robinson reported in an interview for the August 1947 issue of The Record Changer, "[W]e played for contract at the Martan Club which was located at 6 and 8 Old Bond Street...but our contract wasn't renewed. The rest of the fellows decided to go and play at the Palais de Dance at Hammersmith, but I thought this was the wrong sort of move and left."

For several months, beginning in October, English pianist Billy Jones was a band member.

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