From the Record Shelves #204


LP The Old Masters TOM 47

The Jean Goldkette Orchestra is known mostly for the classic recordings it made when Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer were featured jazz soloists in 1926-27.

How did the band sound prior to that? In January -26 they already had a strong line-up as is shown in this number where we hear solos from Bill Rank on trombone, Joe Venuti on violin and Don Murray on clarinet. We can also enjoy another significant feature of the band, the wonderful sound from the trumpet team of Fred Farrar and Ray Lodwig.

But above all, this is bass player Steve Brown’s record. He is listed in the personnel of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings but can’t be heard on their acoustic recordings. Thanks to the pioneer work of the recording engineers at Victor we can hear him here, playing both with a bow and slapping. Steve, born in New Orleans in 1890, went with his trombone playing brother Tom to Chicago already in 1915. Then after playing with NORK and Goldkette he followed the path of Bix and Tram to Paul Whiteman’s big orchestra where he also played an important part, among other things as accompanying several solo passages of Bix with his swinging “slap” style.

After the 1920s he withdrew from the limelight and settled in Detroit where he freelanced but only did a couple of recording sessions in 1950. He is also heard to good advantage on Them There Eyes, the last record that Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys did, in Hollywood with Gus Arnheim’s Orchestra in 1930.