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New Orleans Rhythm Kings

The New Orleans Rhythm Kings were one of the most influential jazz bands of the early/mid 1920s. The band was a combination of New Orleans and Chicago musicians most famous for their residency in Chicago, where they helped shape Chicago Style Jazz and influenced many younger musicians.

Members of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings - Collective personell, 1919 - 1925

The New Orleans contingent: The Chicago Contingent: The New Orleans Rhythm Kings (or NORK as they were nicknamed) were formed among a nucleus of musicians who were childhood friends in New Orleans. They were first called "The New Orleans Rhythm Kings" while touring the midwest with singer Bee Palmer in the late 1910s. In the early 1920s they established themselves in Chicago, where they became one of the most popular bands in the city, the center of jazz at the time. They recorded a series of records for Gennett Records in 1922 and 1923. On two of these sessions, they were joined by pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton.

Despite being one of the best regarded bands in Chicago, their hot New Orleans style was not to everyone's liking. The club management pushed the band heavily to go to the more arranged nationally popular style of dance band "jazz" typified by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Unable to find regular work at a club that would leave them to do what they did best, the band broke up. George Brunies snapped up a lucrative offer from the nationally famous Ted Lewis Band. Mares and Roppolo headed east together to try their luck in New York City.

Mares, Roppolo, and Martin reformed the band back in New Orleans, where they made more recordings for Okeh and Victor in early 1925.

Various former members of the original New Orleans Rhythm Kings revived the band's name at various times from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Compositions and arrangements by the New Orlenans Rhythm Kings continue to be played by "Traditional Jazz" or "Dixieland" bands all over the world today; some of their famous contributions to the repertory include Milenburg Joys, Farewell Blues, and Tin Roof Blues.