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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Crotchet

Adrian Rollini

‘Tap Room Swing’

Living Era CD AJA 5424

 

1

Cornfed

14

Hey, Young Fella!

2

Feelin’ No Pain

15

Vibraphonia

3

After You’ve Gone

16

Savage Serenade

4

Beatin’ The Dog

17

It Had To Be You

5

A Mug Of Ale

18

Sugar

6

Honolulu Blues

19

Davenport Blues

7

Lucky Little Devil

20

Bouncin’ In Rhythm

8

At The Jazz Band Ball

21

Tap Room Swing

9

Jazz Me Blues

22

Swing Low

10

Dixie

23

Bill

11

Arkansas Blues

24

You’re A Sweetheart

12

Nobody’s Sweetheart

25

Small Fry

13

My Melancholy Baby

   

 

Now and again a jazz name from the past suddenly reappears and because of its relative obscurity catches us by surprise. Adrian Rollini is one such musician – in his case the earlier acknowledged talent may well have been overshadowed by the fact that he was a multi-instrumentalist. Two novelty instruments, the ‘Hot Fountain Pen,’ a type of penny- whistle, and the ‘Goofus’ which is best described as a mouth-blown accordion were both his invention. On this selection of recordings we are treated mainly to performances on Rollini’s most notable instruments – the bass saxophone and vibraphone but the Joe Venuti and His Blue Four recordings of ‘Beatin’ The Dog’ and ‘A Mug Of Ale’ feature Rollini on bass saxophone, the ‘goofus’ and ‘hot fountain pen.’ On ‘Hey, Young Fella!’ and ‘Vibraphonia’ we find Rollini playing vibraphone with Venuti’s Blue Five.

‘Tap Room Swing’ has Rollini playing with other well established names of the 1920s and 30s including Red Nichols, Miff Mole, Bix Beiderbecke and also with his own orchestra. As a bass saxophone player he was a sought after session musician and studio man. As Vic Bellerby points out Richard M. Sudhalter comments on Rollini’s work with The California Ramblers saying, "what made the Ramblers band extraordinary was the presence of the astonishing multi-instrumentalist Adrian Rollini, who turned the otherwise bass saxophone into a solo instrument of flexibility, power, and, where needed, delicacy." One of his most well known performances included here is on ‘My Melancholy Baby’ with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1928.

From 1935 until his retirement in 1955 Rollini concentrated solely on playing the vibraphone. The 1938 Adrian Rollini Quintet recordings of ‘You’re A Sweetheart’ and ‘Small Fry’ feature Bobby Hackett on cornet and Buddy Rich on drums. This is a surprisingly good CD and will be popular with anyone interested in the jazz of that period. Rollini was a fine musician respected by many of the saxophone ‘stars’ of his day but sadly his ‘novelty music’ may well have been the main reason why little is heard of him today.

Jack Ashby



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