King Oliver and his Orchestra: Sweet Like This


Sweet Like This


King Oliver and his Orchestra


King Oliver and his Orchestra 1929-1930 (JSP Records)

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Joe 'King' Oliver (trumpet),

Dave Nelson (trumpet), Jimmy Archey (trombone), Bobby Holmes (clarinet), Glyn Paque (alto sax), possibly Charles Frazier (tenor sax), Don Frye (piano), Arthur Taylor (banjo), Clinton Walker (tuba), Edmund Jones (drums)


Composed by Joseph Oliver & Dave Nelson


Recorded: New York, October 8, 1929


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

Recorded at the threshold of the Great Depression and the 1930s, this melancholy tune seems to presage King Oliver's demise (he would die destitute in Savannah in 1938) and mourn the passing of the New Orleans "big noise." The comfortable, laid-back pulse foreshadows the piano-bass-drum ballad swing of the 1950s and onward. Its layout features four successive horn solos—alto, trombone, open trumpet (Nelson), and muted trumpet (an expressive Oliver). Yet the piece overall is a "sweet" arrangement, and that's where American music was going.

The next year, Oliver would take his band on the road, where it would essentially stay until the end of his life, stranded, broke, run out of town, continually falling apart. The King was losing his teeth, so when audiences requested that he play his recorded solos, he had to turn them down. Yet the band always appeared dressed to the nines. Joe's sidemen reported that he never missed a gig and could still play with great range and power. In the end, he wrote to his beloved sister Victoria, "I'm still out of work…. But I've got a lot to thank God for. Because I eat and sleep…. Look like every time one door close, the Good Lord open another…."

Reviewer: Peter Gerler

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