Adrian Rollini: Beatin' The Dog


Beatin' The Dog


Joe Venuti & His Blue Four


Tap Room Swing (Living Era AJA5424)

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Adrian Rollini (bass sax), Joe Venuti (violin), Eddie Lang (guitar),

Arthur Schutt (piano)


Composed by Joe Venuti


Recorded: New York, June 28, 1927


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

This track is one of a series of classic recordings of what can best be described as chamber jazz led by Joe Venuti for the OKeh label under the group names Blue Four and Blue Five. The Blue Five sides feature the above instrumentation plus Jimmy Dorsey on alto sax, clarinet and trumpet (!).

Venuti is so well remembered for his legendary practical jokes that it is easy to forget what a great soloist he was at a time when jazz soloing as we know it was still in its relative infancy. His playing swings furiously in the Armstrong manner while incorporating several devices, such as double-stops, that are idiomatic to the violin.

Adrian Rollini remains one of the music's most interesting and enigmatic figures. A childhood piano prodigy and virtuoso xylophonist, he began playing the bass sax without instruction, prior wind-playing experience, or stylistic role models. The bass sax was primarily used as an alternative to tuba or string bass in rhythm sections back then, and Rollini had no predecessors as a bass sax soloist. He was a pioneer as a jazz soloist, period, regardless of instrument, and was acknowledged as an influence by Harry Carney, Coleman Hawkins and Budd Johnson among others. Here he turns in a fiercely swinging solo, displaying a huge cavernous tone and flawless technique. His rhythm section playing was more flexible and contrapuntal than that of most of his contemporaries on any of the bass instruments, making him, in a way, a sort of Scott LaFaro of early jazz. As if all this didn't make Rollini interesting enough, he devoted the latter part of his career mainly to the vibraphone, developing an intricate four-mallet style that preceded Gary Burton by a good 35 years.

Eddie Lang doesn't solo here, but his rhythm work is solid and energetic. Schutt is fine when audible, although his piano sounds like it was placed in an adjoining room with the door closed. All in all, a superb example of hot chamber music.

Reviewer: Kenny Berger

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