The Kansas City Six first came to prominence as the rhythm section for the widely popular Count Basie Orchestra, with members including trumpet player Wilbur “Buck Clayton” Dorsey and guitarist Freddie Green. Today’s track comes from a 1938 78 rpm release by the group, which most notably featured trombonist Eddie Durham on electric guitar—one of the first ever recordings of the instrument. Durham is often cited as the first electric guitarist on record, having notably influenced pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian, yet in reality this recording came fifteen days after George Barnes’s “Sweetheart Land” and “It’s A Low-Down Dirty Shame,” which were really the first. Still, getting there second couldn’t be all that bad.
“Pagin’ the Devil” and the work of the Six are generally highly regarded these days, so their recordings (and recordings by the group’s constituent members) should be relatively easy to track down. If you’re looking for today’s track, your best bet would be the Kansas City Sessions compilation put out by the group’s clarinet/saxophone player Lester Young, which includes “Pagin’ the Devil” and several other tracks he recorded with the group.