Adrian Rollini — Child prodigy, versatile musician

Thanks to bsgs for the You Tube

That was the California Ramblers with Crazy Words Crazy Tune recorded March 10, 1927. Adrian Rollini played a bass saxophone with the California Ramblers and other groups during the 1920’s. Much of jazz music in that period was what the musicians called “two beat” or written in 2/4 th’s time. That was because New Orleans based Jazz had its origins in marching band music. Tubas or Sousaphones which were brass  bass instruments were commonly used for rhythm and bass tones. The bass saxophone was of course a woodwind instrument. It was not used in marching bands —well—because it was a huge monstrosity as you can see in the pictures. As Jazz moved toward 4/4 time, the string bass replaced both horn bass instruments  in the 1930’s.

Adrian Rollini was one of only two musicians who can still be heard prominently playing the bass sax on 1920’s era records such as the above. Rollini was a child prodigy on piano  and master of numerous other instruments. Partially because the bass sax was losing favor, also because it was a monster to handle, and because Rollini developed asthma which limited his wind, Rollini abandoned the Bass Sax in the mid 1930’s. He tried playing a Goofus, more properly known as a Cousenophone. While the instrument had novelty, it sounded as the Wikipedia page says, like a cross between an accordion and a harmonica. In other words, the Goofus was aptly nicknamed and really did not fit in well with the sounds of Jazz as it was evolving. Rollini switched to vibraphone and had more success with that instrument after the mid 1930’s Below is a film short from the 1940’s playing with his trio. Adrian Rollini had a long career in music but at 52 a comparitively short life and tragic end. Here he is with his trio on Girl with the Light Blue Hair, written by Raymond Scott. The Trio consisted of Adrian Rollini, vibes and bells; Allen Hanlon Guitar, George Hnida, string bass. This was a film short from Tom Faber’s collection. The film was made in 1948.

About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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