Personnel: Billy Jones (vocals); Ray Kitchingman (banjo); Jimmy Lytell (clarinet); Charles Panelli (bass clarinet); Phil Napoleon (trumpet); Miff Mole (trombone); Frank Signorelli (piano); Jack Roth (drums).
Liner Note Author: Mark Berresford.
Recording information: New York, NY (05/25/1923-11/24/1931).
Photographer: Mark Berresford.
The Original Memphis Five may have been geographically challenged (they weren't from Memphis, or North or South Carolina, either, even though they also recorded as the Carolina Cotton Pickers, but were actually based in New Orleans) but they certainly didn't entertain idleness, recording over 400 sides between forming in 1917 and disbanding in 1931. Led by the trumpet of Phil Napoleon and featuring at various times Miff Mole or Charles Panelli on trombone and Jimmy Lytell on clarinet, and sometimes the trombone and clarinet brother duo of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, the Original Memphis Five were a clear, melodic, and swinging ensemble, and the group's best tracks are as joyous as the arrival of warm spring weather. This set collects all of their Columbia sides from between 1923 and 1931, including "Walk, Jenny, Walk!," two versions of the group's signature "St. Louis Gal" (one done early and one done late in their Columbia stay, making it easy to hear the rapid advancements in the recording technology of the day just by comparing the two), "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'," "How Come You Do Me Like You Do," and the sparkling "Throw Down Blues." Obviously there is a lot more to the story (like some 375 tracks more), but this collection will give listeners a pretty good idea of what Napoleon and Company brought to the table. ~ Steve Leggett