New Orleans Rhythm Kings: That's A Plenty
New Orleans Rhythm Kings
The Chronological New Orleans Rhythm Kings, 1922-1923 (Classics 1129)
Composed by Bert Williams & Henry Creamer.
Recorded: Richmond, Indiana, March 12, 1923
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
There is some confusion on the authorship of the song "That's A-Plenty". ASCAP lists the composers as above, but they also list a 1914 song written by Lew Pollack (who, we can assume, was not the same person as the drummer Ben Pollack, as Ben was only 11 years old in 1914). Tom Lord lists a 1914 recording of the song by something called "Prince's Band/Orchestra". Since I don't have a copy of that recording handy, I can only guess that it is not the same song as the traditional jazz classic heard in the present recording by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Certainly, the NORK version was the first well-known version of the song. Recorded acoustically for the technologically-challenged Gennett label, the balance favors Leon Ropollo's clarinet, with Paul Mares doing his best to assert the lead with his cornet. George Brunies' trombone isn't too far back, but Mel Stitzel's piano and Ben Pollack's drums are mushed together in the background. Most of the recording is taken up with renditions of the theme, but Mares gets a solo spot about two-thirds of the way through. His rhythmic feel and tone are rather pugnacious, but the solo has exquisite form and contour (especially in light of its recording date--a month before Louis Armstrong's recording debut). The band emphasizes the backbeat throughout and even if their manner is obvious and forced, they knew the general direction that the music would take in later years.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe