As Bechet was to the soprano sax, and “Tram” (Frankie Trumbauer) to the c-melody sax, Adrian Rollini was to the bass sax: the only master. His rise started with the California Ramblers. To see the difference he made to the rhythm section of that fine dance band, just compare the next two tracks.
In April of ’22, they recorded a pleasing version of the pretty melody My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms.
But with AR’s cheerful burbling driving them along, their July ’24 recording of Charley My Boy is sprightlier stuff.
Rollini had been recruited in April ’22 as a player of piano and xylophone; he brought a bass saxophone home one day and in two or three weeks had taught himself to play it well enough to replace a departing tuba player in the rhythm section. (The string bass didn’t shine with the amplifying and recording equipment of the day.) By ’23 he was taking solos and by ’25 and ’26 they could play as a hot jazz band with Rollini prominent: consider their April ’26 recording of Shake That Thing.
What had changed? That question is looked at on Friday.