The Seven Hot Air Men - Phil Napoleon (trumpet); Carl Loffler (trombone); Pete Pumiglio (clarinet and alto saxophone); Chauncey Gray (piano); Tommy Felline (guitar); Ward Lay (string bass); Stan King (drums) - were a studio group which recorded a handful of sides in 1929 and 1930. The band may have performed on radio, which would explain its name, but its members were all experienced and capable musicians who had worked in well-known bands of the time and continued to perform and record into the 1930s and beyond. The discographer Brian Rust described them as "a small 'hot' unit derived principally from the California Ramblers of the time" (in the sleevenotes to the LP New York Jazz 1927-30, VJM VLP 41, 1976) and their recordings demonstrate how musicians whose primary source of income during the Depression years came from work with popular dance bands, such as the Ramblers, liked to get together to play jazz in a less formal setting. In his notes to the album mentioned above, Rust calls their records "virtually indestructible jazz standards, given a definitive treatment by some of the finest artists of the time who were given apparently complete freedom of expression".
The best known member of the Seven Hot Air Men was trumpeter Phil Napoleon (1901-1990), who made his name with the Original Memphis Five, a pioneering white jazz band who made some best-selling records in the 1920s. He also played in various combinations alongside the likes of Red Nichols and Miff Mole. His 1920s groups sometimes had misleading names; the Original Memphis Five were not from Memphis, the California Ramblers (with whom he occasionally played) came from Ohio, while the New Englanders, a studio group formed to back the singer Annette Hanshaw, included no-one (apart from Napoleon himself, who was born in Boston) from New England. Another of his bands, Ladd's Black Aces (actually a pseudonym for the Original Memphis Five} was all-white and featured Jimmy Durante, later to achieve fame in films as a singer and comedian, on piano. (Napoleon used his surname to good effect by leading a band called Napoleon's Emperors and, in the 1950s, opening a club in Florida called Napoleon's Retreat). By the end of the decade he was concentrating on studio work, then briefly led a band of his own during the big band era before returning to the studios. He re-emerged with a revived Original Memphis Five in the post-World War Two Dixieland revival and led various bands thereafter, working regularly into the 1980s.
Links to Peel
One of the Seven Hot Air Men sides, 'Gotta Feelin' For You', became a Peel favourite, was played on his show as a Pig's Big 78 and appeared on the Trikont Records compilation, The Pig's Big 78s: A Beginner's Guide. The flipside of the original Columbia 78, "Low Down Rhythm", also received two plays in the same slot. (Both songs on the disc were performed - by Joan Crawford and Jane Purcell respectively - in the film The Hollywood Revue of 1929.)
An LP by Ladd's Black Aces appears in the John Peel Record Collection.
Other Shows Played
(It is not currently known when 'Gotta Feelin' For You' was played by Peel on his show. Please add further information if known.)
- 19 June 2002: Low Down Rhythm (Columbia) Pig's Big 78
- 08 January 2003: Low Down Rhythm (Columbia) Pig's Big 78