The New Orleans Rhythm Kings were one of the most influential jazz bands of the early-to-mid 1920s. The band was a combination of New Orleans and Chicago musicians who helped shape Chicago Jazz and influenced many younger musicians. The band in its earliest stages was the brainchild of drummer Mike “Ragbaby” Stevens. Albert “Abbie” Brunies and his younger brother and trombonist George Brunies were initially hesitant but suggested the idea to friend, trumpet player Paul Mares, who immediately lunged for the opportunity. George Brunies picked up his trombone and set off to join Mares in Chicago, playing gigs and going to afterhours clubs with Paul Mares. They met some of their future band mates, drummer Frank Snyder, pianist Elmer Schoebel, and saxophonist Jack Pettis. The name “New Orleans Rhythm Kings” did not initially refer to this group, but rather to a group under the direction of a vaudeville performer by the name of Bee Palmer. Though Palmer’s group did not last, one of the musicians from the group, clarinetist Leon Roppolo, did. Within several months of Palmer’s group breaking up, Roppolo found himself playing on riverboats in Chicago with Elmer Schoebel, Jack Pettis, Frank Snyder, George Brunies, banjoist Louis Black and (possibly) Paul Mares. Mares found the group an engagement at a club called the Friars Inn, owned by Mike Fritzel. Bassist Arnold Loyocano joined forces with the growing band and thus began the group’s engagement at the Friar’s Inn that lasted 17 months beginning in 1921. During this time the group performed under the name The Friar’s Society Orchestra. While at the Friar's Inn, the group attracted the interest not only of fans, but of other musicians. Cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, who had been sent to school in Chicago by his parents in the hopes of removing any jazz influences, regularly attended New Orleans Rhythm Kings shows. He was often allowed to perform with the band. The group recorded a series for Gennett in 1922 and 1923. On two of these sessions, they were joined by pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton. After their engagement at the Friar’s Inn ended, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings were largely scattered and disorganized. Though they would reform periodically, with significant member turnover (Roppolo and Mares were more or less the two ringleaders and constants of the group), to make recordings, the group never played all together again. They all went their separate ways: Paul Mares continued to play music, releasing a record in 1935 and ran the “P&M New Orleans Barbeque” with his wife in the late 1930s. Leon Roppolo was (and always had been) mentally unstable and spent the last years of his life in and out of institutions until his early death in 1945, though he managed to keep playing music as best he could. Most of the other members of the orchestra also kept successful musical careers after the group dissolved. This awesome record was made in 1925.