Personalities | New Orleans Rhythm Kings | Early Years | Jazz & Blues
(Instrumental group, 1922–25)
The New Orleans Rhythm Kings (NORK) were one of the major white groups in early New Orleans jazz; after a run at Chicago’s Friar’s Club in 1922, they recorded with Paul Mares (trumpet), George Brunis (trombone), Leon Roppolo (clarinet), Jack Pettis (alto sax), Elmer Schoebel (piano), Lew Black (banjo), Steve Brown (bass) and Frank Snyder (drums). Mares was a skilful, Joe ‘King’ Oliver-esque lead, Roppolo a highly gifted clarinetist, Schoebel a fine arranger and composer, and Brown a top-flight bassist. Sometime associates were drummer (and future bandleader) Ben Pollack, pianist Mel Stitzel and others.
The NORK’s sound was different from the Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB), with slow blues and relaxed, mid-tempo tunes that swung. They emulated King Oliver’s style, and recorded some of his music (‘Sweet Lovin’ Man’), some from the ODJB book (‘Tiger Rag’) and some basic New Orleans material (‘Maple Leaf Rag’). They also recorded standards still played: ‘She’s Cryin’ For Me’ and ‘Angry’. In 1923 the NORK made history, playing with Jelly Roll Morton on piano to create the first interracial band recording session on sides that included ‘Sobbin’ Blues’.
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