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The Booze Brothers' New Project

We are excited about bringing you some classic, seldom heard examples of New Orleans Jazz in Real Audio!  Jake has scoured the town and found tons of great stuff.

We will present the songs one cut at a time, because Jake feels like he has to write about them, so you can appreciate them the way we do.

So, before we get started, you'd better load the latest free player from Real Audio, if you don't have one already. 



The   Story

Way back before any of you were born, there was a guy named Sid Frey. He thought records should sound better than they did, so he set about to experiment and discover ways of making a record sound more like a live performance. He founded a company called Audio Fidelity records, and in November, 1957, he produced the world's first stereo phonograph record. 

There was another catch, though. The records produced by his company were thick and heavy, and he paid relentless attention to detail. He positioned the musicians around the microphones as if they were in concert, and he created a "Curtain of Sound" that actually enveloped the listener. His recording techniques and resulting sound won't sound spectacular on the Internet, even using Real Audio, but the records (after 30 years) if played today contain no scratches and actually rival CD quality.

Audio Fidelity is gone. We suppose the price of quality was too much for the company to bear. Jake would sell his soul for the studio recordings, and if there is a God, someone will release these recordings on CD. Until that happens, we will attempt to present some of these premier recordings for you. Please realize that the quality is nada compared to the originals, but this talent is too good to keep hidden.

If the copyright police are listening, show me who has the tapes, and we'll arrange a deal; otherwise, be grateful that Jake and Elwood thought enough of you to bring them forth.

Prologue :

OK, we mean no offense to the current band of this name, but they purchased the name from the original founders. The group we are discussing was founded around 1947 by the  Assunto  family - Frank on trumpet, his brother Freddie on trombone, and their dad "Papa Jac" on banjo, all from New Orleans. They were successful on radio and internationally - their trademark was a tight playing style, Frankie's sweet vocals and inventive trumpet work, and an overall enthusiasm for playing the tunes that reflects in their work. Jake's alter-ego got the opportunity to drink heavily with Frankie before his death, and came away will one Helluva hangover and this autograph.
Great site for the purists : 

Session One:

In 1960, the inevitable happened. Louis Armstrong - at the height of his powers - and the Dukes of Dixieland  got together  for an historic recording session. At New York's Webster Hall, Sid Frey got the folks together, and the world stood still. Mutual accolades followed:

Louis: "They're home boys,' he pointed to them at one point. "Whenever we're playing in the same town, I go and sit in. We have a ball."

Frankie: "I always thought I'd be afraid to play with him, but he's the easiest person in the world to work with. As soon as he comes into the room and says 'Hello', everything changes. He can relax you more than anyone I have ever known."

Personnel: Louis Armstrong - Trumpet
Frank Assunto - Trumpet
Fred Assunto - Trombone
Jac Assunto - Banjo and Trombone
Jerry Fuller - Clarinet
Owen Mahoney - Drums
Richard Matteson - Tuba and Helicon
Stanley Mendelsohn - Piano
Selection One: The Bourbon Street Parade shows how much fun these guys had together. Taking an old march like this (by drummer Paul Barbarin), and turning it into a vocal sparring match between Louis and Frankie. Frankie sounds so smooth that Louis urges "One more, Gate", so he can scat behind Frankie's lead on a repeat vocal. We can only imagine the two of them taking the parade down the street - children dancing on the sidelines, and more than a couple of drinks waiting at journey's end. 

Listen to Bourbon Street Parade (Real Audio)

Selection Two: "Louis' trumpet playing on Avalon is superb. There is his perfectly organized solo (during which Frankie Assunto watched him, as if in a trance, with a dazed smile on his face)." The tuba (actually a helicon) solo by Rich Matteson is unbelievable! And Louis - belying his age - takes the final rideout up an octave - something he learned in Chicago while on a break from playing. It seems that everyone else was ignoring the second band, but Louis listened to their trumpet player, who rode the final chorus up an octave. Louis started doing it, and it became one of his trademarks.

Listen to Avalon (Real Audio)

Selection Three: When Jake was in New Orleans, he requested this tune via the ubiquitous cocktail napkin. Frankie unfolded the napkin, read the request, and smiled. He said, "Who wants this tune? Who requested 'New Orleans'?" Jake stood, and Frankie said, "Nobody knows that Hoagie Carmicheal wrote this - but you requested 'Hoagy Carmichael's New Orleans'. You're either real old or real smart..."

Jake prefers the "real smart" option...

Listen to  New Orleans (Real Audio)

Selection Four: The Shiek of Araby is a great tune. It starts with Louis charming the snake, continues with a nice verse or two, then breaks into a nice, cool shuffle which blows into a full-fledged "bite my ass" roundout. "Everybody kicks some butt in this one.

Listen to  The Shiek of Araby (Real Audio)

Selection Five: My oh my!! That's A Plenty is one of the old standards, but by the time Louis and the Dukes get through tearing it up, it looks like a ragged sheet blowing in the wind. Listen to that great old-style "everybody grab a piece" rideout.

Listen to  That's A Plenty (Real Audio)

Selection Six:
Just A Closer Walk With Thee is a classic spiritual - but the implications in New Orleans are grave. The classic New Orleans funeral is something to behold. The lodge members and the jazz band - walking solemnly behind the deceased - playing hymns such as this. Stay tuned - we will have a depiction of a *real* New Orleans funeral in music here later. For now, enjoy the wonderful rendition of this hymn.

Listen to Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Real Audio - 4:22)

Selection Seven:
Wolverine Blues is a forgettable tune - until Frankie and Louis get ahold of it. First off, their partnership is undeniable - they start in unison and continue to feed off each other throughout the piece. I *like* the way they interact - too bad there wasn't another chance. Freddie is making his mark on the trombone - as we amble during the beginning. Louis' punctuation of Jerry Fuller's clarinet solo is a hint of things to come - Louis' solo sets the stage for a lovely pairing with Frankie - "I Ain't Got anything but love, baby..." How they read each other's minds is awesome!

Nuff said...

Listen to Wolverine Blues (Real Audio - 4:37)

"The old man is too much," Frankie Assunto shook his head after the session. Louis was     listening to a playback, smiling.

"Sounds like an old marching band," Frankie said to him.

"Yes, indeed," Louis laughed. "And they've all got their caps on!"

Miscellaneous Jazz, MIDI's and wanderings


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