Having been immersed in the ongoing reissue of archive material from the Modern catalogue for the last few years, it’s time for me to take a short break from Bihari-land and have a rummage through the many tapes and actetates that Ace acquired when we bought the catalogues of John Dolphin from his widow, Ruth, a few years ago.
There are several reasons why we have not really given this repertoire our full attention since acquiring it. The need to find clean disc dubs to replace missing tapes, and to determine which of the several takes on some session reels was the actual master, being just two good ones. It has been a lengthy process, but we have finally filled in enough gaps to begin a comprehensive programme of reissues from the many labels that John Grattan Dolphin ran out of his round-the-clock record shop at the corner of Vernon and Central in downtown Los Angeles.
“ON WITH THE JIVE” is the first of what we hope will be several volumes of Dolphin productions, and it comes to you in “from master tape” quality that almost puts you in the room with the musicians, such is the clarity of sound. It focuses on sessions that Dolphin cut for release on his Recorded In Hollywood label – although many of the sessions were left in the can for decades, until Billy Vera (this set’s sleeve note writer) first dug through the crates to use some of the tracks on Dolphin-related compilations made for Specialty many years back. Ace’s purchase of the Dolphin masters has given us access to many more tapes than Billy was able to find. Where I’ve included tracks that Billy used on earlier compilations, I’ve selected different takes to give the long time fan the best possible value for money.
In the words of Max Miller, it’s “all good stuff, lady” (and gent…). Dolphin’s most famous instore DJ, Huggy Boy, introduces a programme that’s chock-full of stellar West Coast R&B talent, from esse Belvin, Marvin Phillips, Scat Man Crothers to the unfairly obscure Little Esther soundalike Maggie Jacquet (no relation to Russell and Illinois as far as we know), all backed up by a swingingly tight little combo under the direction of ever-present Dolphin session leader, Red Callender. If cool Rhythm & Blues from the West Coast is your thing, you will find that it don’t get any better than this! Watch out for an upcoming Ace CD that features the complete Dolphin, Modern and Downey recordings of one of its star turns, the great Harry “Little” Caesar.
By Tony Rounce