From the Record Shelves #115

High Society

LP Folkways Records FA 2671

I have an extensive double CD with the Six and Seven-Eight String Band, but today I play the LP that that was my first encounter with this classic New Orleans group.

When you read the line-up of the band you see Edmond Souchon M.D or Dr. Of course it’s good to have a doctor in a band especially when you grow older, but why his profession always has to be pointed out while the others have none such title is a bit strange. On top of this he is called “Doc” and what is more important about him in this context is that he played guitar and had a chance to hear the great New Orleans musicians like Joe Oliver, Sidney Bechet, Zue Robertson and others around 1910, when they played for dancing at Tulane University.

The other members of the band had similar experiences and thus William Kleppinger who plays mandolin also got inspiration from the same source and started to imitate clarinetist Johnny Dodds.

It’s quite unusual to hear a tune like High Society played on string instruments complete with the famous clarinet solo.

The practice to introduce one tune in the middle of another one, like here a piece of Maryland, is not uncommon in the beginning of the 1920s. It happens for instance on records by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

The Six and Seven-Eight String Band played on an amateur basis from 1913 and was not known outside New Orleans. This recording from 1949 was privately issued and besides Souchon and Kleppinger we hear Bernie Shield on steel guitar and Frank “Red” Mackie on bass.