The Life and Music of a Jazz Rambler
The first and definitive biography of the great bass saxophone jazz man
Adrian Rollini (1903–1956), an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, played the bass saxophone, piano, vibraphone, and an array of other instruments. He even introduced some, such as the harmonica-like cuesnophone, called Goofus, never before wielded in jazz. Adrian Rollini: The Life and Music of a Jazz Rambler draws on oral history, countless vintage articles, and family archives to trace Rollini’s life, from his family’s arrival in the US to his development and career as a musician and to his retirement and death.
A child prodigy, Rollini was playing the piano in public at the age of five. At sixteen in New York he was recording pianola rolls when his peers recognized his talent and asked him to play xylophone and piano in a new band, the California Ramblers. When he decided to play a relatively new instrument, the bass saxophone, the Ramblers made their mark on jazz forever. Rollini became the man who gave this instrument its place. Yet he did not limit himself to playing bass parts—he became the California Ramblers’ major soloist and created the studio and public sound of the band.
In 1927 Rollini led a new band that included such jazz greats as Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer. During the Depression years, he was back in New York playing with several bands including his own New California Ramblers. In the 1940s, Rollini purchased a property on Key Largo. He rarely performed again for the public but hosted rollicking jam sessions at his fishing lodge with some of the best nationally known and local players. After a car wreck and an unfortunate hospitalization, Rollini passed away at age fifty-three.