Odd sax [9]

Adrian Rollini, along with ex-Ramblers Chelsea Quealey (trumpet) and Bobby Davis (reeds), set off for London to join Fred Elizalde’s orchestra at the Savoy Hotel, opening right at the end of 1927. They became instant stars. Their first recording session was on 15/1/28: here’s Sugar, swinging along nicely.


Federico “Fred” Elizalde was a Philippines-born Spaniard from a wealthy family; at seven he entered the Madrid Royal Conservatory, then studied in London and went on to study at Stanford, leading the Stanford University Band at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles when he was only sixteen. His parents were keen to break his interest in popular music, so withdrew him from Stanford and sent him to Cambridge – but there he formed a new band. He left Cambridge after a year and soon had a berth at the Savoy; he decided to go for jazzier music, hence his recruitment of three top Americans. The band was voted best popular dance orchestra in Melody Maker in 1928. Here’s their fine Crazy Rhythm from 1929.

In February 1929 Rollini made a short visit back to New York, taking a chance to record a lovely jazz version of the charming waltz Alice Blue Gown, with Red Nichols, Glen Miller and Jimmy Dorsey.


He returned to London with reinforcements – his kid brother Arthur (tenor sax), and Fud Livingston and Max Farley (reeds). The orchestra was now very big, so that the afternoon tea-dance sessions could be split, one day featuring half the band led by Rollini, and the next the other half led by Davis. They also recorded by splitting off a smaller “hot unit”: here’s an excellent Nobody’s Sweetheart Now recorded by 9 (or 10?) men on 12/4/29.


Then in October came the Wall Street Crash; Fred’s assets were frozen. The Rollini brothers caught a boat home: or more accurately a “giant luxury liner” Hell, they were stars.

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1 comment for “Odd sax [9]

  1. January 20, 2013 at 21:10

    Excellent as usual. If you search Amazon for “Fred Elizalde” there is a cover pic of the band – 18 members as far as I can see. Imagine taking afternoon tea at the Savoy when those guys were playing.

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