From the Record Shelves #79

Somebody Stole My Gal

Decca Ace of Clubs ACL 1102

The Spanish-American pianist Fred Elizalde played an important part as a jazz pioneer in England in the 1920s. As a student at Cambridge he organized a band and after having a certain success with this he decided to become a professional musician. In 1927, he was given an offer to take a jazz band or rather a hot dance orchestra into London’s Savoy Hotel.

I suppose that the budget for this was substantial because he went over to New York to hire some of the members of the California Ramblers. This was a very good idea because even if there were several talented jazz men in England they had much to learn from musicians like bass sax wizard Adrian Rollini, cornet player Chelsea Quealey and Bobby Davis who played alto sax and clarinet. (Later Elizalde sent for more Americans.)

We can hear that the central role that was given to those musicians did them good. They seem very well at ease and appear in the context as more brilliant than ever. What strikes me on this performance with six men is their control over the dynamics when they as an effect make sudden changes in volume. You don’t hear that very often on recordings at the time. In the last chorus the Americans play some well executed breaks and the one by Rollini by far takes the prize. What a sound and what an energy, and he even in his playful mood has the time to finish the tune with a few bars of his hot fountain pen!

He plays the same instrument in the first chorus, and you also hear him in a passage playing goofus behind Bobby Davis’ alto solo. The recording was made in 1928.