Before Coleman Hawkins, Sidney Bechet, Frank Trumbauer, Jimmy Dorsey, and Adrian Rollini made their first recordings, there was Loren McMurray (1897-1922). A technically skilled alto-saxophonist and clarinetist who occasionally played tenor, baritone, and soprano and was practicing to also master the bass clarinet, McMurray made a strong impression for a short time. Unfortunately his tragic death at age 25 from an infection cut short his life and he has been largely forgotten ever since.
Archeophone has compiled a two-CD set containing 49 of McMurray’s best recordings plus a selection by the Eddie Elkins band on which the group plays without the then-stricken saxophonist. The accompanying 80-page booklet is filled with rare information about McMurray but it has a few faults that are rather surprising for the Archeophone label. No credits are given anywhere for the lengthy liner notes. Colin Hancock put together the notes which are based on a lengthy article by Mark Berresford originally for Vintage Jazz Mart. Also missing is a listing of the personnel. While each of the performances is discussed and some of the other soloists and lead voices are sometimes mentioned, it is hit and miss. It is true that some of the personnel is probably lost to history, but considering that the cast occasionally includes trumpeter Phil Napoleon (always impressive whenever he appears), pianist Jimmy D