Vocalion 2796 – Joseph Robechaux and his New Orleans Rhythm Boys – 1933

Joseph Robichaux (spelled on the label with an “e”), 1900-1965, was a New Orleans jazz pianist noted for playing with fellow luminaries such as Oscar “Papa” Celestin, and Lee Collins.  First recording as a pianist for blues singer Christina Gray in 1929 in New Orleans, Robichaux organized the New Orleans Rhythm Boys in 1931.  After being “discovered” by a talent scout, the band traveled to New York to record with the American Record Corporation in their studios at 35 West 43rd Street.  In five sessions over five consecutive days, Robichaux and his New Orleans Rhythm Boys recorded twenty-four hot jazz sides, of which twenty-two were issued, ten Vocalions and one budget release with vocalist Chick Bullock fronting the band.

Robichaux’ Rhythm Boys were an excellent band and featured virtuosic musicianship, exemplified by the percussion work of Ward Crosby, who began each recording with a signature rhythmic “tap tap tap” that lent to the group’s unique sound.  After these sessions, Robichaux and his band would record again with Decca in 1936, but no records were issued.  Although the band continued to perform until 1939, and he performed on numerous recordings as a sideman, the 1933 sessions yielded Robichaux’ only commercially released records as bandleader.

Vocalion 2796 was recorded on August 22, 1933 in New York City, at the New Orleans Rhythm Boys’ first of their five consecutive recording sessions for the American Record Corporation.  The band features Robichaux on piano, Eugene Ware on trumpet, Alfred Guishard on clarinet and alto sax, Gene Porter on clarinet and tenor sax, Walter Williams on guitar, and Ward Crosby on drums.

On the first side, Robichaux’ boys play “Saturday Night Fish Fry Drag”, of no relation to the almost identically named Louis Jordan hit of 1949, with two unknown band members doing the vocals at the beginning.

Saturday Night Fish Fry Drag, recorded August 22, 1933 by Joseph Robechaux and his New Orleans Rhythm Boys.

Saturday Night Fish Fry Drag, recorded August 22, 1933 by Joseph Robechaux and his New Orleans Rhythm Boys.

The hot jazz instrumental “Foot Scuffle” seems to be one of the less commonly reissued sides from Robichaux’ 1933 sessions, although I can’t imagine why, it’s a great number, and appears to have been the preferred side of this record’s original owner.

Foot Scuffle, recorded August 22, 1933 by Joseph Robechaux and his New Orleans Rhythm Boys.

Foot Scuffle, recorded August 22, 1933 by Joseph Robechaux and his New Orleans Rhythm Boys.

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