From the Record Shelves #27

Bass Ale Blues

LP Treasury of Jazz No 81 RCA Victor 430.744

We listen to the New York based five-piece group Original Memphis Five (that had nothing to do with the latter mentioned town) develop from 1923 until December 1926. In the early recordings we hear mostly tightly arranged ensemble playing with busy piano from Frank Signorelli and cymbal work by drummer Jack Roth. When we come to the beginning of the LP’s second side the year is 1925, and we hear suddenly electric recordings. The difference is striking of course. Now we hear better the sound of the instruments and the separation between them more clearly.

At this stage the development has gone towards more solo work and more varied arrangements by Signorelli. The frontline consists of clarinet player Jimmy Lytell (born James Sarrapede and the cousin of Signorelli) and the band leader Phil Napoleon (born Filippo Napoli) on cornet, and on this track doubling on bass tuba, while Miff Mole is their trombone player. The tune is composed by members of the band, and it features one of their trademarks, the sudden doubling of tempo in parts.