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Russo and Fio Rito’s Oriole Orchestra

February 15, 2010

Russo and Fio Rito’s Oriole Orchestra
Then I’ll Be Happy

Recorded in 1926

Why is it worthwhile to pick up old records by the box from junk shops? The answer is here: because you never know when you might find a perfect gem, and it’s worth sorting through the glass doorknobs to find a diamond.

Ted Fio Rito was an accordion and piano player who joined Dan Russo’s band and rapidly became the star. He took over the band and continued to work productively for years afterward.

From his later work, you might expect this to be undistinguished popular dance music. But this record was made during that marvelous period of a year or two in the middle 1920s when even the most ordinary popular bands attempted polyphonic jazz, and the last chorus of this performance is as glorious as anything ever put on record in the genre that modern historians call “hot dance.” The whole performance balances sweet and hot perfectly, and it would be hard to imagine how a single note could be improved. The Victor sound, a few months after electrical recording began, shines through the surface noise, giving us a very good idea of what a band like this sounded like in a live performance.

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From → Hot Dance

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