New Orleans Rhythm Kings
(2009 INDUCTEE) THE NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM KINGS MADE THEIR RECORDING DEBUT AT GENNETT’S RICHMOND STUDIO IN 1922. THEIR WORK INFLUENCED FAMOUS JAZZ MUSICIANS SUCH AS BIX BEIDERBECKE, BENNY GOODMAN, AND JIMMY MCPARTLAND.
DEDICATED TO FLORENCE DINGLEY GENNETT (WIFE OF HARRY GENNETT, JR.) BY DAUGHTERS STEPHANIE GENNETT BEACH AND LINDA GENNETT IRMSCHER
The New Orleans Rhythm Kings was a jazz band whose founding members were natives of the Crescent City. However, when they first recorded at the Richmond Gennett studio in August of 1922, their band was neither named the New Orleans Rhythm Kings nor located in New Orleans. The group that arrived in Richmond that summer to record eight songs included Paul Mares on cornet, George Burnies on trombone, and Leon Rappolo on clarinet. The band also included pianist Elmer Schoebel, Jack Pettis on saxophone, Lou Black on banjo, Steve Brown on string bass, and drummer Frank Snyder. They called themselves the Friars Society Orchestra, named after the club in Chicago where they played. In 1922, problems developed between the club and the musicians. Schoebel, Brown, and Snyder left the band and later recorded for Gennett with the Original Memphis Melody Boys. When the band returned to the Richmond studio in March, 1923, they had changed their name to New Orleans Rhythm Kings, with Mel Stitzel on piano and Ben Pollack on drums. This smaller group again recorded eight different songs, including “Tin Roof Blues” and “Wolverine Blues”. They recorded eight more songs at their last recording session with Gennett in July, 1923, in Richmond. The final recording session is perhaps their most significant due to the presence of pianist Jelly Roll Morton on several of the sides, including “Clarinet Marmalade” and “Milenberg Joys.” After this session, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings broke up. Their influence on later musicians, such as Bix Beiderbecke and Benny Goodman is their lasting legacy.
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