From the Record Shelves #161

Snakes Hips


In the 1970s, three volumes came out on LP presenting the recordings of the Georgians. At the time, very few knew about this group that recorded in New York from 1922 and on. Of course, they had nothing to do with the state that gave them their name. It was common at the time to have names like that, and California Ramblers and Original Memphis five are other examples.

The trumpet player Frank Guarente hand-picked some men to join Paul Specht’s orchestra early in 1921 and the seven piece Georgians became a band within the bigger dance orchestra, appearing in the middle of their evening’s work to play some jazz music.

Guarente was born around 1890 near Avellino, in the province of Campania, Italy, and arrived in Philadelphia in 1910 with a classical training on cornet. When he was playing with a symphony orchestra that toured the southern states before the first World War, he stayed in New Orleans, fascinated by the music there. He met and swapped lessons with King Oliver. His good use of the mute was a result of this.

The jazz that they played is partly collective improvisation with breaks and partly arranged by their pianist Arthur Schutt. In this number from March 1923 their star trumpet player is given space to show his control and firmly leads the band in ensemble playing.