The California Ramblers

Decades: 1990s 2000s


Between 1921 and 1937 entrepreneur and sometime singer Ed Kirkeby regularly formed a band for a series of recording sessions, usually to accompany his own undistinguished singing. Kirkeby’s choice of musicians was felicitous and the Ramblers used some of the best white players of the 20s and early 30s. Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey played with the band, as did Miff Mole, Adrian Rollini, Stan King and Red Nichols. Although the music of the band is clearly rooted in the jazz of the time, the arrangements they used show the band to have been forward-thinking and to have had great collective skill and dexterity. They made numerous records, switching from label to label, and usually changing their name as they did so, the most common of the alternative names being the Golden Gate Orchestra. Smaller groups from the same stable included the Goofus Five and the Varsity Eight. Despite the vocals by Kirkeby, who is best known in jazz circles for his management of Fats...

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