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Five Birmingham Babies: Copenhagen

May 29, 2010

Adrian Rollini with bass saxophone.

Five Birmingham Babies

Recorded in 1924

“Copenhagen” was a big hit for the Wolverines: although they didn’t originate the number, they made it a hit, and every band played it because the Wolverines had been so successful with it. Here we have a version by a small group of musicians from the famous California Ramblers. We’ve heard the Five Birmingham Babies once before, playing “Deep Sea Blues,” which is the flip side of this record.

Bix Beiderbecke, the Wolverines’ star player, was already becoming a sensation among jazz musicians. On this record, the cornet player duplicates Bix’s recorded solo note for note—the earliest recorded Bix imitation I know of.

Aside from the cornet solo, though, this record could hardly be more different from the Wolverines’ version. That’s largely because of the unique and instantly recognizable bounce that Adrian Rollini gives to the rhythm section.  A few other bands used the bass sax in place of a tuba or string bass, but no one else could make that leviathan of the reed family dance the way Adrian Rollini could.

This is one of those cheap reddish-brown “Perfect” records, whose surface tended not to hold up as well as the more expensive records from other labels. But the recorded sound itself is very good, about as good as acoustical recording can ever be. I’ve preferred to leave in more of the surface noise rather than lose too much of the original sound.


From → Jazz

  1. Javier Soria permalink

    Well, if you know, the trumpeter who imitated Bix´s solo on this record was an African-American called Bill Moore. I´v heard about him that he was an example of studio musician, because he didn´t gig with white regular working jazz groups. In 1925, he left the group to join Ben Bernie´s Roosevelt Hotel Orchestra & finally, he joined the band of Bert Bown, and worked also with radio bands.

  2. Javier Soria permalink

    There’s also many versions and they sound like the Wolverines’s version, except Fletcher Henderson’s version with Louis Armstrong.

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