From the Record Shelves #58

I’ve Lost My Heart in Dixieland

LP EMI music for pleasure MFP 1106

A group of musicians from New Orleans were destined to have their names written into the history of jazz. Original Dixieland Jazz Band first assembled in Chicago, conquered New York next and after making records went overseas to London for a nine-week engagement. By this time in 1919 their pianist Henry Ragas had died and his replacement J.Russell Robinson had to go back soon because his wife was taken ill. The English ragtime player Billy Jones now got the job and fitted well into the quintet. Before that their original trombone player had been drafted into the army and was replaced by another musician from New Orleans, Emile Christian.

The five pioneers made new records for British Columbia with superior sound compared to the American ones and with about half a minute longer playing time.

Though effects and wild playing meant a lot to their success I prefer when they play less frenetic and in this number from January 1920 their playing is delicate within the defined roles of their respective instruments in the “dixieland” idiom.

Nick La Rocca plays a sparse cornet lead with plenty of room for Larry Shields flowing clarinet lines. You can understand that the former’s clear tone inspired Bix Beiderbecke at the time. In the middle they play at low volume as an effect where the playing in a bucket makes the trombone sound almost like a bass clarinet. Throughout the LP it’s a pleasure to listen to Tony Sbarbaro’s drumming.

Strangely the composer of the tune is marked “anonymous”, at least at the time of the LP release forty years after the recording session.