Original Memphis Five

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Original Memphis Five
Also known asLadd's Black Aces
The Cotton Pickers
Years active1917 (1917)–1990 (1990)
Past membersPhil Napoleon
Frank Signorelli
Jimmy Lytell
Miff Mole
Jimmy Durante
Tommy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey

The Original Memphis Five was an early jazz quintet founded in 1917 by trumpeter Phil Napoleon and pianist Frank Signorelli. Jimmy Lytell was a member from 1922 to 1925. The group made many recordings between 1921 and 1931, sometimes under different names, including Ladd's Black Aces[1] and The Cotton Pickers. Richard Cook and Brian Morton, writing for The Penguin Guide to Jazz, refer to the group as "one of the key small groups of the '20s".[2]

The group formed around 1917.[1] The name Original Memphis Five was first used in 1920, and applied to various small groups of white musicians throughout the decade.[1] The Ladd's Black Aces name was used from 1921 until 1924.[1] Cook and Morton identify Jimmy Lytell and Miff Mole as standout musicians in the group.[1] Jimmy Durante played piano with Ladd's Black Aces, while both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey were members of the Original Memphis Five.[1] Occasional vocalists were Anna Meyers, Annette Hanshaw and Vernon Dalhart (as George White).

Both Red Nichols and Miff Mole later led their own groups named Original Memphis Five.[1] Phil Napoleon, however, would continue using the group name until 1990.[1] An example of two of their recordings for Columbia was "Mobile Blues" and "How Come You Do Me Like You Do" on Columbia # 260-D in 1924.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Morton, Brian; Richard Cook (2010) [1992]. The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (10th ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-14-104831-4.
  2. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2008) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (9th ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 1066–1067. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0.

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