Red Nichols and His Five Pennies


One of the most exciting jazz film shorts of the late 1920s

Cornetist Red Nichols was one of the busiest jazz musicians of 1925-32, recording hundreds of titles in a variety of settings.

His best-known group was the Five Pennies which featured the cool-toned and technically skilled cornetist (who was influenced by Bix Beiderbecke but had his own style) playing his brand of hot jazz and often featuring major up-and-coming musicians.

This wonderful short has Nichols leading a version of the Five Pennies that matches his cornet with trombonist Herb Taylor (who had recently replaced Miff Mole), clarinetist Pee Wee Russell (who looks a lot like a young Benny Goodman), pianist Irving Brodsky, Eddie Condon on banjo, lute and surprisingly effective vocals, and drummer George Beebe, with trumpeters Tommy Thune and John Egan added on “Whispering.”

The entertaining and swinging program has the group performing “Ida,” “Whispering,” “Nobody’s Sweetheart Now,” “Who Cares” and “China Boy.”

This is well worth seeing several times.

-Scott Yanow

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