The Moaninest Moan of Them All: The Jazz Saxophone of Loren McMurray, 1920-1922
Various Artists

Loren McMurray Moaninest Moan
January 30, 2023 hennessey
Various Artists: The Moaninest Moan of Them All: The Jazz Saxophone of Loren McMurray, 1920-1922

2023 Grammy Nominee: Best Historical Album
Like Icarus flying dangerously close to the sun, Loren McMurray was an all-too-bright flame in the nascent field of jazz recordings. Dead at only 25, and having made records for just two years, “Mac” was a genuine musical pioneer. His trailblazing sides offered many listeners their first real taste of jazz saxophone, and his signature performance style revolutionized dance music. Today, his recordings provide an unparalleled glimpse into the saxophone’s transformation from just-another-voice in the band to a signature sound of jazz. Featuring 2 CDs with 50 selections and an 80-page booklet by Grammy-nominated authors Colin Hancock and Mark Berresford, The Moaninest Moan presents the story and sounds of Loren McMurray, from his early days of making music in Kansas to his final sides recorded in New York. List price: $32.99


  • Catalogue number: ARCH 6012
  • UPC: 860003210079
  • Original release date: July 14, 2023
  • Running length: 2 CDs / 50 tracks / 152 minutes
  • Notes & packaging: Deluxe digipak with an 80-page full-color booklet
  • Tracks recorded: 1920-1922
  • In Archeophone’s Jazz, Dance & Blues series
  • Awards: 66th GRAMMY Nominee, Best Historical Album
Tracks and Sound SamplesDescriptionAdditional ImagesReviewsVideosFrom Our Blog
Tracklist: CD 1
1. Don’t Take Away Those Blues Eddie Kuhn’s Dance Specialists 1920
2. Rose of Bagdad Eddie Kuhn’s Dance Specialists 1920
3. Fair One Eddie Kuhn’s Dance Specialists 1920
4. Fair One Eddie Kuhn and His Orchestra, Kansas City, Mo. 1920
5. Persia Eddie Kuhn and His Orchestra, Kansas City, Mo. 1920
6. You’re Just Like a Rose Eddie Kuhn and His Orchestra, Kansas City, Mo. 1920
7. Right or Wrong Markels’ Orchestra 1921
8. April Showers Markels’ Orchestra 1921
9. Muscle Shoals Blues Harry Raderman’s Jazz Orchestra 1921
10. How Many Times (intro Mamma Whip! Mamma Spank!) Harry Raderman’s Jazz Orchestra 1921
11. I’ve Got My Habits On Bailey’s Lucky Seven 1921
12. Gypsy Rose Markels’ Orchestra 1921
13. Virginia Blues Markels’ Orchestra 1922
14. Arkansas Blues Lanin’s Southern Serenaders 1921
15. Eddie Leonard Blues Lanin’s Southern Serenaders 1922
16. High Brown Blues Markels’ Orchestra 1922
17. High Brown Blues Bar Harbor Society Orchestra 1922
18. Georgia Bar Harbor Society Orchestra 1922
19. Georgia Moulin Rouge Orchestra 1922
20. Poor Little Me Bailey’s Lucky Seven 1922
21. Doo-Dah Blues Markels’ Orchestra 1922
22. Lonesome Mama Blues The Virginians 1922
23. Lonesome Mamma Blues Markels’ Orchestra 1922
24. Lonesome Mama Blues Original Memphis Five 1922
25. Just Because You’re You, That’s Why I Love You Eddie Elkins’ Orchestra 1922


Tracklist: CD 2
1. Just Because You’re You, That’s Why I Love You McMurray’s California Thumpers 1922
2. Haunting Blues McMurray’s California Thumpers 1922
3. Blue (I) McMurray’s California Thumpers 1922
4. Blue (II) McMurray’s California Thumpers 1922
5. Oogie-Oogie Wa-Wa (I) McMurray’s California Thumpers 1922
6. Oogie-Oogie Wa-Wa (II) McMurray’s California Thumpers 1922
7. Say It While Dancing Eddie Elkins’ Orchestra 1922
8. Dancing Fool Bailey’s Lucky Seven 1922
9. Struttin’ at the Strutters’ Ball Markels’ Orchestra 1922
10. My Honey’s Loving Arms Jazz-Bo’s Carolina Serenaders 1922
11. Deedle-Deedle-Dum Original Memphis Five 1922
12. Nobody Lied (When They Said that I Cried Over You) The Virginians 1922
13. Nobody Lied Markels’ Orchestra 1922
14. Truly Knickerbocker Orchestra 1922
15. Hot Lips Eddie Davis Orchestra 1922
16. Those Longing For You Blues Bailey’s Lucky Seven 1922
17. The Sneak Markels’ Orchestra 1922
18. Are You Playing Fair Eddie Elkins’ Orchestra 1922
19. Homesick Bailey’s Lucky Seven featuring Cliff Edwards (“Ukulele Ike”) 1922
20. Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town) Markels’ Orchestra 1922
21. Burning Sands Harry Raderman’s Orchestra 1922
22. I’m Just Wild About Harry Lanin’s Southern Serenaders 1922
23. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate The Virginians 1922
24. I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise Markels’ Orchestra 1922
25. Who Cares? Eddie Elkins’ Orchestra 1922

The story of saxophonist Loren McMurray is conspicuously absent from standard jazz histories. Kansas born, “Mac” helped pioneer the “Wild West” Kansas City-style of jazz in the early 1920s before striking out for New York, where he quickly became the most in-demand saxophonist and session man for society orchestras and hot combos alike. Over a remarkably prolific span of only two years Mac waxed hundreds of sides with numerous bands on a variety of record labels. His mastery of melody, counterpoint, creative improvisations, and slap-tongue technique put him in a class all his own, praised by admirers and revered by his competitors. Indeed, years after his tragically abrupt death at age 25, his style was still being studied and imitated by his peers. Jazz history is missing a chapter that gets us from the polite saxophone sounds of the 1910s to the genre-shaping work of Tram and Hawk, and later luminaries like Coltrane, Rollins, and Parker. Loren McMurray is that chapter.

The Moaninest Moan of Them All includes 49 superbly remastered tracks on two CDs of McMurray with the top groups of 1920-22: the Original Memphis Five, Lanin’s Southern Serenaders, Bailey’s Lucky Seven, the Virginians, and the orchestras of Mike Markels, Harry Raderman, Eddie Elkins, and Ben Selvin—plus his first recordings with Eddie Kuhn’s orchestras and his own band, McMurray’s California Thumpers. (A 50th track was a tribute to Mac made by his friends during his final days.) The enclosed 80-page booklet presents original research into the biography of this overlooked innovator and detailed musical analysis of his transformative work.

The Moaninest Moan of Them All: The Jazz Saxophone of Loren McMurray, 1920-1922

“At this late date, anyone claiming a place for an obscure musician alongside the giants of his instrument has a burden of proof. The people behind this album, including Meagan Hennessey, Mark Berresford, Colin Hancock, digital restorer Richard Martin, and Archeophone Records, have met that burden. This release is well-conceived, wonderfully researched, beautifully and effectively laid out, informative to the layperson, ear-opening, and immensely enjoyable to the listener. I want to create a rating scale just to give it a ten out of ten for what a historical album released in 2023 can be. If producing a CD is an art, The Moaninest Moan is a Michelangelo. It’s perfection. A balance of form and function.”
Joe Bebco, The Syncopated Times [read review ]

“Even in listening to the first tracks here, billed as “Eddie Kuhn’s Dance Specialists,” one is not struck by the primitiveness of either the music or the recording process. Although these are acoustically recorded, the tracks have been well restored by engineer Richard Martin. . . McMurray is impossible to miss; he uses some of the vocabulary of earlier novelty-oriented saxophone forebears like Rudy Weidoft and the Six Brown Brothers, but he is playing in what is unmistakably a genuine jazz idiom. His playing is bubbly, he blows rings all around whatever melody is at the center, but he has that very strong drive that was already a part of jazz well before musicians discovered 4/4 swingtime. He is prominent on every track, whether leading the entire reed section (and sometimes the band itself) or improvising a solo . . . Messrs. Hancock and Berresford make the case that “Mac” influenced the entire development of the saxophonist’s art, from Frank Trumbauer and Coleman Hawkins to Lester Young and even later modernists like Sonny Rollins — as well as everyone that they, in turn, influenced. Loren McMurray’s moment in the big time and his recording career lasted little more than two years, but this essential set leaves no doubt that he was a contender.”
Will Friedwald, The New York Sun [read review ]


A Love Letter to the 1920 Eddie Kuhn Records

Guest blog by Colin Hancock The Moaninest Moan of Them All represents many firsts. It’s the first CD devoted to Loren McMurray, pioneer of jazz saxophone. It’s the first in-depth look at the saxophone’s transition into a major voice in jazz and American popular music. It’s the first time many early sides by the orchestras … Continue reading A Love Letter to the 1920 Eddie Kuhn Records
posted: June 7, 2023

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