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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Retrieval RTR 79003

I Wish I Could Shimmy like My Sister Kate
2. Chicago
3. Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
4. Nothing But
5. Loose Feet
6. Aggravatin’ Papa
7. You Tell Her – I Stutter
8. You’ve Got to See Mama Ev’ry Night
9. Farewell Blues
10. Snakes Hips
11. Old King Tut
12. Barney Google
13. Henpecked Blues
14. Long Lost Mama
15. Land of Cotton Blues
16. Mama Loves Papa
17. Mama Goes Where Papa Goes
18. Somebody’s Wrong
19. I’m Sitting Pretty in a Pretty Little City
20. Learn to Do the Strut
21. Home Town Blues
22. You May Be Fast but Your Mama’s Gonna Slow You Down
23. Shake Your Feet
24. Old Fashioned Love
Frank Guarente – Trumpet, director
Ray Stilwell – Trombone (tracks 1-4)
Russ Morgan – Trombone (tracks 5-14)
Archie Jones – Trombone (tracks 15-24)
Johnny O'Donnell - Clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax
Frank Smith - Clarinet, soprano sax (tracks 11-18)
Dick Johnson - Clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax (tracks 19-24)
Harold "Red" Salier – Soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax (tracks 3-7)
Arthur Schutt – Piano
Russell Deppe – Banjo
Joe Tarto – Bass (tracks 1-12)
Chauncey Morehouse – Drums (tracks 6, 7, 13-24)

The Georgians can claim that they were one of the first "bands within a band", as they were an offshoot of the Phil Specht Orchestra. From 1922, Phil’s band played at New York’s Hotel Alamac, but some of the musicians also played as the Georgians in the hotel’s night club, the Congo Room. They were led by trumpeter Frank Guarente, who was born in Italy but whose family settled in New Orleans in 1914. There Gaurente took lessons from King Oliver and later toured with various bands. Thus he was well experienced when he started work with Phil Specht in 1921 and he led the Georgians with expertise and aplomb. The Georgians also had the asset that their chief arranger was pianist Arthur Schutt, who is well known for his work with the likes of Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols.

This generous collection illustrates the imagination that Arthur Schutt brought to his arrangements for the Georgians, often making the band sound larger than it was and using unusual instruments like the bass clarinet. Arthur supplies a firm foundation, leading a rhythm section underpinned by the sturdy banjo of Russell Deppe and the sterling drumming of Chauncey Morehouse (who even gets to do a solo on drum brushes in Land of Cotton Blues). The harmonising sections behind soloists and the call-and-response towards the end of I’m Sitting Pretty in a Pretty Little City became familiar devices in later arrangements by such people as Don Redman. These tracks show the advances, especially in arranging, that had been made in the five years since the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s recordings of 1917.

Frank Guarente is the outstanding soloist but these recordings also contain fine solos from such musicians as Johnny O’Donnell and the other reedmen. The recording quality is what you might expect from the 1920s but you can hear the instruments with remarkable clarity. The excellent audio restoration was done by the late lamented John R. T. Davies, the master magician (and musician) who improved the sound quality of many classic recordings like this. Incidentally, this compilation was originally put together in 1996 but the album is now available from Retrieval through New Note Distribution.

We can hope that this disc will make jazz fans more aware of a pioneering band which in some ways was ahead of its time.

Tony Augarde



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