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Jazz Oracle: Portal to Antiquity

By Published: October 8, 2010
James Christie on trumpet marks the beginning of the Gennett period for the Original Indiana Five. Christie played trumpet on the very first Gennett session. "Everything is Hotsy Totsy Now" is a very up-tempo ditty that is chocked full of Charleston rhythms. The cut of "Seminola" is quite interesting in that it comes off having lots of energy while maintaining a Native American vibe to it (after all they are the Indiana Five), which is a rarity for the day. "Sweet Georgia Brown" is a tour de force for clarinetist Vitalo.

Standout tracks: Bees Knees, Sweet Lovin' Mama, Two Time Dan, Mean Mean Mama, Tin Roof Blues, Hot-Hot-Hottentot, Everything is Hotsy Totsy Now, Seminola.

Joe Robichaux

Joe Robichaux & his New Orleans Rhythm Boys (1933) / Christina Gray (1929)

The really great thing about the liner notes to Joe Robichaux 1929-1933 is that Jazz Oracle gives a concise history of the different musical ethnicities of New Orleans (white, black, creole) and how Robichaux's uncle (John) played a part in the early development of the creation of jazz (even beating Buddy Bolden in a band showdown at Lincoln Park in 1906). John was a violinist who had terrific sight-reading abilities and even kept up with popular songs of the day by ordering them from New York City. He also played bass drum in the Excelsior Brass Band. Unfortunately John never recorded because he felt recorded music was "canned music." When he died in 1939, he left 350 compositions and a reputation as one of the city's greatest musicians. His two nephews, Joe and John, were left to carry on the family tradition and legacy.

Robichaux was interested in music, particularly the piano, by the age of 10. He went on to receive formal training in music theory and piano at the New Orleans University. Steve Lewis (from A.J. Piron's Orchestra) became his mentor and teacher. Prior to 1917-18, Joe was playing piano with Punch Miller and Oscar "Papa" Celestin among others, which wasn't bad training for a teenage pianist. Robichaux's father was living in Chicago at the time and he decided to go and try his luck out there for a little bit. Robichaux went at a time when there was a mass exodus of jazz musicians leaving New Orleans for Chicago, and while he was in Chicago, he heard all the greats of the day: King Oliver (at the time with Lil Hardin and Johnny Dodds), Freddie Keppard
Freddie Keppard
Freddie Keppard
1890 - 1933
and Fess Williams
Fess Williams

In 1924, Robichaux returned to New Orleans from Chicago (because Chicago became too cold for him in the winter) and, after befriending Bunk Johnson, started playing with trumpeter Lee Collins. Joe was part of the Astoria Gardens Grand Opening (four sides recorded by Victor Records), which became the first sides recorded by a mixed New Orleans group featuring Sidney Arodin on clarinet.

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