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Red Nichols - Both Sides of the Five Pennies - Their 51 Finest - 1926-30 and 1956-61
rec. New York 1926-30 (CD 1), Los Angeles 1956-1961 (CD2)
Full contents list at end of review
RETROSPECTIVE RTS 4227 [77:48 + 79:06] 

Cornet player, composer and jazz bandleader Red Nichols (1905-1965) may have been overshadowed by the giant personalities of Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke yet he remains notable for his superb cornet playing and as one of the renowned ‘white’ bandleaders. Over a long career his name has been inextricably associated with his backing band The Five Pennies; a number not to be taken literally as in reality there were usually eight or nine players. His profile was greatly boosted by impetus gained from the 1959 Paramount biopic The Five Pennies starring Danny Kaye with Red himself playing the music dubbed onto Danny Kaye’s on-screen trumpet.
 
Presented almost entirely in chronological order of performance this pleasing double set presents fifty-one of Nichols’ best known hits. From the early years we have well the known Washboard Blues (1926), Bugle Call Rag (1927), Riverboat Shuffle (1927), Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider (1927), Nobody’s Sweetheart (1928), Sweet Georgia Brown (1930), China Boy (1930), I Got Rhythm (1930) and Corrine Corrina (1930). From the later years of a revitalised career we have Louisiana (1956), Buddy’s Habits (1958), Battle Hymn of the Republic (1959), The Five Pennies (1959), Margie (1959) and What Is There To Say (1961). Perhaps the character of these tracks is rather formulaic but this is mighty fine Jazz nevertheless.
 
The first disc comprises twenty-six items recorded in New York mainly on the Brunswick label between 1926/30. This was the early period and the beginnings of Nichols’s extremely prolific round of recordings with The Five Pennies. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘vintage years’ owing to the elevated standard of the jazz playing. On occasion he recorded sessions using pseudonyms including some of those contained here: Red & Miff’s Stompers and The Charleston Chasers. Over this period a number of famous names recorded as members of The Five Pennies including trombonist Glenn Miller, clarinettist Benny Goodman, drummer Gene Krupa, trombonist Jack Teagarden and clarinettist Jimmy Dorsey.
 
There are so many highlights with Nichols’s slick, often creamy-toned cornet/trumpet impressive throughout. I especially enjoyed the hot playing on the rendition of China Boy. It just fizzes along with a superb solo from Benny Goodman. A strongly cornet-led I Got Rhythm from Gershwin’s musical Girl Crazy is exciting with an stylish vocal from Dick Robertson. 

The second disc has twenty-five tracks which were recorded in Los Angeles and issued on a number of Capital LPs. They cover the period 1956-61. It states in the booklet notes that all the tracks here are being reissued for the first time on CD. Nichols is heard collaborating here with a number of renowned musicians many of whom were old friends including saxophonist Heinie Beau, trumpeter Manny Klein, saxophonist Joe Rushton, pianist Bobby Hammack, mellophonist Jackie Coon and drummer Rollie Culver.
 
I was struck by the excellent teamwork in the bubbly and catchy Louisiana. Underpinned by rock-steady accompaniment from the low saxes. Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider features Nichols pumping out some splendid cornet work and there’s a fine guitar solo from George Van Eps. I also thoroughly enjoyed Eccentric particularly for its striking and wonderfully harmonised trumpet trio.  

In 1956 Red Nichols had been the subject of the popular American television show This is Your Life which propelled him back into the spotlight. A rush of interest in his life prompted by the making of the Paramount film The Five Pennies served further buoy to up his reputation and increase his status.  

The booklet is a mine of useful information including items such as Billboard chart positions. The essay by Digby Fairweather is as authoritative as I would expect from this jazzman and eloquent broadcaster. Compiled by producer Ray Crick and Digby Fairweather the final audio restoration and re-mastering has been carried out by Alan Bunting and is to a quite remarkable standard. The early transfers from 1926-30 have come out to a quality I would never have thought achievable given their eighty plus years. Inevitably there is a slight hardness but virtually no distortion or over-fierceness. No problem at all with the later 1956-61 recordings that by comparison radiate a noticeable warmth.
 
This double set treats us to fifty-one excellent tracks - and no reservations.
 
Michael Cookson

see also review by Tony Augarde


Full contents list 
CD 1 (Recorded New York: 1926-30)
1 Washboard Blues
2 That’s No Bargain
3 Buddy’s Habits
4 Boneyard Shuffle
5 Alabama Stomp (Red & Miff’s Stompers)
6 Hurricane (Red & Miff’s Stompers)
7 Davenport Blues (Red & Miff’s Stompers)
8 Bugle Call Rag
9 Delirium (The Charleston Chasers)
10 Cornfed
11 Five Pennies
12 Mean Dog Blues
13 Riverboat Shuffle
14 Eccentric
15 Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider
16 Feelin’ No Pain
17 Nobody’s Sweetheart
18 Panama
19 Imagination
20 Original Dixieland One-Step
21 I Never Knew
22 Sweet Georgia Brown
23 China Boy
24 Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble
25 I Got Rhythm (Orchestra; With Dick Robertson)
26 Corrine Corrina (With Wingy Manone)
 
Tracks 1-4
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet & alto sax
Arthur Schutt, piano
Eddie Lang, guitar
Vic Berton, drums
 
Tracks 5-6
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet & alto sax
Arthur Schutt, piano
Eddie Lang, guitar
Tony Colucci, banjo
 
Vic Berton, drums
 
Track 8
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet & alto sax
Joe Venuti, violin
Arthur Schutt, piano
Eddie Lang, guitar
Vic Berton, drums
 
Track 9
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet & alto sax
Arthur Schutt, piano
Dick McDonough, banjo
Joe Tarto, tuba
Vic Berton, drums & harpophone
 
Tracks 10-12
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet & alto sax
Adrian Rollini, bass sax
Arthur Schutt, piano
Eddie Lang, guitar
Vic Berton, drums
 
Tracks 13-16
Red Nichols, cornet
Leo McConville & Mannie Klein, cornets
Miff Mole, trombone
Pee Pee Russell, clarinet
Fud Livingstone, tenor sax,
Adrian Rollini, bass sax + goofus
Lennie Hayton, piano
Dick McDonough, guitar
Vic Berton, drums & harpophone
 
Tracks 17-16
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Dudley Fosdick, mellophone
Pee Pee Russell & Fud Livingstone, clarinets & tenor saxes
Lennie Hayton, piano & celeste
Carl Kress, guitar
Vic Berton, drums
 
Track 18
Red Nichols, cornet
Miff Mole, trombone
Jimmy Dorsey & Fud Livingstone, clarinets & alto saxes
Arthur Schutt, piano
Carl Kress, guitar
Vic Berton, drums
 
Tracks 19-20
Red Nichols, cornet
Leo McConville & Mannie Klein, trumpets
Miff Mole, trombone
Dudley Fosdick, mellophone
Fud Livingstone, clarinet & tenor sax
Arthur Schutt, piano
Carl Kress, guitar
Art Miller, double bass
Chauncey Morehouse, drums & vibraphone
 
Track 21
Red Nichols, cornet
Mannie Klein, trumpet
Miff Mole, trombone
Dudley Fosdick, mellophone
Benny Goodman, clarinet & alto sax
Arthur Schutt, piano
Carl Kress, guitar
Chauncey Morehouse, drums
 
Tracks 22-24
Red Nichols, cornet
Ruby Weinstein, Charlie Teagarden, trumpets
Jack Teagarden, Glenn Miller, trombones
Benny Goodman, clarinet
Sid Stoneburn, alto sax
Babe Russell, tenor sax
Joe Sullivan, piano
Teg Brown, banjo
Art Miller, double bass
Gene Krupa, drums
 
Track 25
Red Nichols, cornet
Ruby Weinstein, Charlie Teagarden, trumpets
Glenn Miller, trombone
Benny Goodman, clarinet
Sid Stoneburn, alto sax
Larry Binyon, tenor sax, flute
Ed Bergman, Ed Selinsky, violins
Jack Russin, piano
Teg Brown, banjo
Gene Krupa, drums
Dick Robertson, vocals
 
Track 26
Red Nichols, cornet
Wingy Manone, trumpet & vocal
Ruby Weinstein, Charlie Teagarden, trumpets
Glenn Miller, trombone
Benny Goodman, clarinet & baritone sax
Babe Russin, tenor sax
Art Miller, double bass
 
CD 2 (Recorded Los Angeles 1956-1961)
1 Louisiana
2 Mood Indigo
3 Peg O’ My Heart
4 Marchin’ With The Saints
5 Mama’s Gone, Goodbye
6 Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider
7 Farewell Blues
8 Blues At Midnight
9 Buddy’s Habits
10 Japanese Sandman
11 Mississippi Mud
12 Delta Roll
13 Dixie
14 Avalon
15 Davenport Blues
16 Tea For Two
17 Washboard Blues
18 Eccentric
19 Battle Hymn Of The Republic
20 Lullaby In Ragtime
21 Indiana
22 The Five Pennies
23 Margie
24 What Is There To Say?
25 Moonlight Bay  
Tracks 1-8
Red Nichols, cornet
King Jackson, Abe Lincoln, Moe Scheider, trombones
Heinie Beau, Bill Wood, clarinets & alto sax
Wayne Songer, alto sax
Joe Rushton, bass sax
Bobby Hannack, Allen Stephenson, pianos
George van Eps, guitar
Jack Ryan, double-bass
Rollie Culver, drums
 
Track 9-17
Red Nichols, cornet
Jack Coon, mellophone
Moe Scheider, trombone
Wayne Songer, clarinet, alto & baritone sax
Bill Wood, clarinet
Heinie Beau, clarinet & tenor sax
Jerry Kasper, Joe Rushton, bass saxophones
Bobby Hammack, Bobby van Eps, pianos
Allen Reuss, guitar
Morty Corb, double-bass
Jack Sperling, Rollie Culver, drums
Ralph Hansel, vibraphone, timpani, bells 
Tracks 18-23
Red Nichols, cornet
Manny Klein, trumpet & cornet
Bobbie Goodrich, trumpet
Moe Schneider, Pete Beilman, trombones
Jackie Coon, mellophone
Bill Wood, clarinet
Wayne Songer, clarinet, alto & baritone sax
Heinie Beau, clarinet, baritone sax & arranger
Joe Rushton, bass saxophone
Bobby Hammack, piano
Allen Reuss, guitar
Morty Corb, double-bass
Rollie Culver, drums
Ralph Hansel, vibraphone, timpani, bells & chimes 
Tracks 24-25
Red Nichols, cornet
Robbie Robertson, trombone
Bill Wood, clarinet
Joe Rushton, bass saxophone
Bobby Hammack, piano
Rollie Culver, drums  


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