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New Orleans Rhythm Kings

The New Orleans Rhythm Kings (NORK) were the finest jazz group to be on record in 1922, and the white band has served as proof that, even that early, African-Americans were not the only ones who could play jazz with individuality and integrity. The key members of the group (leader/cornetist Paul Mares, trombonist George Brunis, and clarinetist Leon Roppolo) were childhood friends from New Orleans. In 1922, they started a 17-month residency at the Friar's Inn Nightclub in Chicago and in August they made their first recordings. Although Mares (unlike Nick LaRocca of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band) was modest about his own playing, saying that he was very influenced by King Oliver, he actually sounded quite a bit different and had a voice of his own. Roppolo was the first significant soloist on record, while Brunis would have a long career playing Dixieland. The changing rhythm sections sometimes included the first great jazz bassist Steve Brown (although largely inaudible on his early session), drummer Ben Pollack (a future bandleader), and, on a pair of memorable sessions in 1923, pianist Jelly Roll Morton. Among the future standards introduced by the NORK were "Farewell Blues," "Panama," "That's a Plenty," and "Tin Roof Blues"; the latter included a famous Brunis trombone solo. The band broke up in 1924 when Mares and Roppolo returned to New Orleans. With Santo Pecora on trombone they regrouped for a fine session on January 1925, but Roppolo was already suffering from mental problems; the group's final date two months later was without Roppolo, who would soon be institutionalized for the remainder of his life. Mares came back for one further session in 1935 but seemed happy in retirement, leaving the legacy of the NORK to history. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The History Of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Vol. 1 1921-1949

Disc 1

1. When The Saints Go Marching In

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Tiger Rag

4. A Handful Of Riffs

5. Perdido Street Blues

8. Sweet Mumtaz

10. Root Hog Or Die

12. Big Noise From Winnetka

13. Dear Old Southland

14. Sous Les Palmiers

16. King Porter Stomp

17. Besame Mucho

18. Mo Pas Lemme Ca

20. Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing

21. Eh La Bas

22. Blanche Touquatoux

25. The Saints

Disc 2

1. St James Infirmary

2. Didn't He Ramble

3. James Alley Blues

4. Crazy Cryin' Blues

5. New Orleans Joys

6. Old New Orleans Blues

7. Mama Cookie

8. Black Snake Blues

9. I'm Not Rough

10. Funny Feathers

11. Louisiana Bound

12. Bread And Water Blues

13. Allons A Lafayette

14. Keep A Knockin'

16. Cabbage Greens No. 1

19. New Low Down Dog

20. I'm Cuttin' Out

21. Sidney's Blues

22. Just As Soon As I Go Home

23. Hackberry Hop

24. Trouble In Mind

25. Junker Blues

26. Box Car Shorty And Peter Blue

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