Article on the Goofus Five

Article on the Goofus Five

Nick Dellow
Nick Dellow

February 18th, 2007, 11:16 am #1

The following review of the Goofus Five’s recordings appeared in the February 1927 issue of The Gramophone, published in the UK. As with the Melody Maker adverts for Parlophone discussed here a few years ago, there is mention of Frank Trumbauer (as Trumba!!) and also Miff Mole, though as far as we know neither were members of The Goofus Five at any stage (even as subs). And although Red Nichols did play on one or two sessions, it is of course Chelsea Quealey who plays the trumpet on most of the sides.

Note the early use of jazz terminology – especially hot breaks, which here translates to “hot brakes”! I wonder when the word “hot” was introduced into the jazz vernacular. In the early days of the Melody Maker (1926), a solo was often described as “dirty” and that the musician knew how to play “dirt”. That was quickly superseded by “hot”,. but did this follow a similar trend in America? There are plenty of song titles in the 1920s with the word “hot” in them, but the word usually refers to the virility and/or sensual qualities of a young man or women (e.g. Red Hot Henry Brown, Red Hot Mama) rather than a good jazz solo!! “Red Hot” by the Mound City Blue Blowers must surely refer to the music though!

Anyway, the article is still fascinating, despite its inaccuracies. Here it is:-


THE GOOFUS FIVE

A casual remark in last month’s Dance Notes – that the Goofus Five are “the best of recording dance bands, for dancing purposes anyhow” – is a tardy recognition of the merits of this remarkable combination.

The first of their Parlophone records was issued in March, 1925, and the twelfth of the series is issued this month, Crazy Quilt and Sadie Green (the Vamp of New Orleans), on Parlo. E5716 (2s.6d.).

Dance fans have secured every one of the series, realising that what the Parlophone catalogue calls “really mean strutting numbers as featured by the hottest of all dance combinations” are in a class by themselves.

Adrian Rollini, the leader, who plays the bass saxophone, doubles on nine different instruments outside the saxophone family, and is the most famous bass saxophone player in the world; just as the celebrated Trumba (sic), the solo saxophone player, is unrivalled throughout the world in “hot” modern saxophone playing, and Miff Mole, the trombone player, is undeniably supreme in his own sphere. But “Red Nicholls,” (sic) the trumpet player, is the star of the band, for it is he who created the new style of trumpet playing copied by every band in the world.

The “Goofus” style is almost inimitable because it involves a very rare virtuosity in the players. It is the control over their instruments – and breathing control, too – which make possible their conjuring tricks, such as the “hot brakes” (sic) which they invented (when the band stops and a soloist performs a sort of cadenza). But it is not merely this virtuosity which endears them to the connoisseurs; it is the almost incredibly subtle rhythmic urge, which has to be felt to be imagined.

This may sound nonsensical praise, but it will be endorsed by the best judges. The proof of the playing may not lie entirely in the salaries; but it is significant that each player commands a fabulous price, and Red Nicholls signed a contract over a year ago to join a New York band at a salary of, roughly, £200 a week.


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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 18th, 2007, 3:30 pm #2

Thanks, Nick, for taking the time to transcribe the review. Some of the records of the Goofus Five were released, according to Rust, on the more expensive purple Parlophone R series as The Goofus Washboards. Here is an example, from the magnificent Mike Thomas website (http://www.mgthomas.co.uk/DanceBands/) of one the labels.



Your question about the origin and usage of the word "hot" is very stimulating. Here is an answer from
Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 18 FEB 2007), <[url=http://www.grovemusic.com&gt]http://www.grovemusic.com&gt[/url];

Hot (i).

In jazz parlance, the term is used to suggest the qualities of excitement, passion, and intensity; it has been applied to tune titles, bands, individual musicians, and aspects of performance. It was used in the USA in the 1920s in order to distinguish jazz from other genres, and later to differentiate “real” jazz from the “sweet” music played by the more commercial dance bands.

Tune titles making use of the adjective first occurred in the ragtime era, well-known examples being Theodore Metz’s A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight (1886) and Paul Pratt’s Hot House Rag (1914); several in the early jazz period included the word, notably Hot and Anxious, Hotter than that, and Hot Lips. The last named denotes hot trumpet or trombone playing (the style of the trumpeter Oran Page led to his being nicknamed “Hot Lips”), and similar titles referring to the playing of other instruments may be found, such as Hot Piano, Hot Mallets, and Hot Sax.

The term was used relatively vaguely to describe all types of band – from dixieland sextets to large dance orchestras whose repertories occasionally included jazz-oriented pieces or solos. Notable groups that referred to themselves as “hot” were Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, and the Quintette du Hot club de France, an ensemble that was supported by the growing movement in France of clubs of enthusiasts devoted to “hot jazz.”

The term “hot jazz” was used by such pioneer promoters of early jazz as Hugues Panassié (in Le jazz hot, 1934) and Charles Delaunay (in Hot Discography, 1936), and is generally confined to music of the early and swing periods and the continuation of styles emanating from that time. From the late 1940s it has sometimes been used to distinguish traditional jazz from more modern styles. (The concept has remained current, however, and found its antithesis in the schools of “cool” jazz in the late 1940s and the 1950s). Hot solos were generally performed at considerable speed and were characterized by a frenetic quality, an urgent sense of rhythm, agitated syncopation, eager anticipations of the beat, and an earthy or “dirty” tone. Such solos were played in some instances over whole or successive choruses, but orchestrated jazz frequently gained impetus from hot breaks or licks of as little as one or two bars. Examples of these may be found in Louis Armstrong’s 50 Hot Choruses for Cornet and 125 Jazz Breaks for Cornet (both Chicago in 1927).


ERIC THACKER
© Oxford University Press 2007

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 18th, 2007, 4:47 pm #3

The following review of the Goofus Five’s recordings appeared in the February 1927 issue of The Gramophone, published in the UK. As with the Melody Maker adverts for Parlophone discussed here a few years ago, there is mention of Frank Trumbauer (as Trumba!!) and also Miff Mole, though as far as we know neither were members of The Goofus Five at any stage (even as subs). And although Red Nichols did play on one or two sessions, it is of course Chelsea Quealey who plays the trumpet on most of the sides.

Note the early use of jazz terminology – especially hot breaks, which here translates to “hot brakes”! I wonder when the word “hot” was introduced into the jazz vernacular. In the early days of the Melody Maker (1926), a solo was often described as “dirty” and that the musician knew how to play “dirt”. That was quickly superseded by “hot”,. but did this follow a similar trend in America? There are plenty of song titles in the 1920s with the word “hot” in them, but the word usually refers to the virility and/or sensual qualities of a young man or women (e.g. Red Hot Henry Brown, Red Hot Mama) rather than a good jazz solo!! “Red Hot” by the Mound City Blue Blowers must surely refer to the music though!

Anyway, the article is still fascinating, despite its inaccuracies. Here it is:-


THE GOOFUS FIVE

A casual remark in last month’s Dance Notes – that the Goofus Five are “the best of recording dance bands, for dancing purposes anyhow” – is a tardy recognition of the merits of this remarkable combination.

The first of their Parlophone records was issued in March, 1925, and the twelfth of the series is issued this month, Crazy Quilt and Sadie Green (the Vamp of New Orleans), on Parlo. E5716 (2s.6d.).

Dance fans have secured every one of the series, realising that what the Parlophone catalogue calls “really mean strutting numbers as featured by the hottest of all dance combinations” are in a class by themselves.

Adrian Rollini, the leader, who plays the bass saxophone, doubles on nine different instruments outside the saxophone family, and is the most famous bass saxophone player in the world; just as the celebrated Trumba (sic), the solo saxophone player, is unrivalled throughout the world in “hot” modern saxophone playing, and Miff Mole, the trombone player, is undeniably supreme in his own sphere. But “Red Nicholls,” (sic) the trumpet player, is the star of the band, for it is he who created the new style of trumpet playing copied by every band in the world.

The “Goofus” style is almost inimitable because it involves a very rare virtuosity in the players. It is the control over their instruments – and breathing control, too – which make possible their conjuring tricks, such as the “hot brakes” (sic) which they invented (when the band stops and a soloist performs a sort of cadenza). But it is not merely this virtuosity which endears them to the connoisseurs; it is the almost incredibly subtle rhythmic urge, which has to be felt to be imagined.

This may sound nonsensical praise, but it will be endorsed by the best judges. The proof of the playing may not lie entirely in the salaries; but it is significant that each player commands a fabulous price, and Red Nicholls signed a contract over a year ago to join a New York band at a salary of, roughly, £200 a week.

Nick kindly sends some images of the Goofus





and comments on the instument as follows.

Who used the goofus apart from Rollini. For a start, Don Redman played a Goofus on some Fletcher Henderson sides in the Summer and Fall of 1924, according to Rust. In England, the pianist George Scott-Wood used a Goofus when he was a member of the Five Omega Collegians, which recorded four sides for Edison Bell Winner in 1928 (they are hot and fantastically rare - I have never seen either record, but I know collectors here who have a copy of one or the other). I think there must be other musicians who played the Goofus, but did they record? Worth asking others via the forum I think.

The real name of the instrument was the "Couesnophone" and it was made by Couesnon et Cie of 94 Rue d'Angouleme, Paris, who also made other woodwind and brass instruments, including saxophones. I think the company closed years ago (or maybe it was taken over by Selmer?). Sidney Bechet played a Couesnon soprano saxophone occasionally in the 1950s.

The Couesnophone was patented in 1924, so Couesnon managed to get it out and onto the international market very quickly, given the fact that Rollini was playing it the same year (the earliest recording with Rollini on Goofus was, I think, the first Little Ramblers session of July 3, 1924). There is an interesting webpage on the Cousenophone patent at:

http://www.patmissin.com/history/couesnophone.html

Evidently, the instrument did not sell well as very few examples have survived. I think the main problem, sales wise, was that the Couesnophone was marketed as a "toy saxophone" but it was too complicated for a mere child's toy, yet would hardly have been regarded as a legitimate instrument either. It was something of a musical freak, and only someone with Rollini's skills could make it sound credible - or perhaps "incredible!! I'm sure that Rollini renamed it the Goofus - that would be typical of his humour - in fact I think Arthur Rollini said so in his autobiography.

It would be interesting (and a fun competition) to find how many other musicians played it - and also the very last (78) recording to feature it. My money is on Rube Bloom and his Bayou Boys' version of "Mysterious Mose" from April 1930. It features Rollini playing it of course.

John R.T. Davies once owned a Goofus, but apparently he could never get it to play in tune, even with itself!


Here is an ad for the goofus with a mention of Rollini.



Here is the sheet music for a song titled "Goofus."



Here is a link to an article about the great Adrian Rollini.

http://www.jazzprofessional.com/report/ ... ollini.htm

Norman Field had a good page on Rollini and the goofus, but I cannot find it.

Albert
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Frank van Nus
Frank van Nus

February 18th, 2007, 5:05 pm #4

Couesnon is still in business, and still independent: http://www.pgm-couesnon.com/a_index.htm

They used to make top quality flugelhorns which are highly sought after - I suppose they still might produce them!

Frank
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Vince Giordano
Vince Giordano

February 18th, 2007, 7:06 pm #5

Nick kindly sends some images of the Goofus





and comments on the instument as follows.

Who used the goofus apart from Rollini. For a start, Don Redman played a Goofus on some Fletcher Henderson sides in the Summer and Fall of 1924, according to Rust. In England, the pianist George Scott-Wood used a Goofus when he was a member of the Five Omega Collegians, which recorded four sides for Edison Bell Winner in 1928 (they are hot and fantastically rare - I have never seen either record, but I know collectors here who have a copy of one or the other). I think there must be other musicians who played the Goofus, but did they record? Worth asking others via the forum I think.

The real name of the instrument was the "Couesnophone" and it was made by Couesnon et Cie of 94 Rue d'Angouleme, Paris, who also made other woodwind and brass instruments, including saxophones. I think the company closed years ago (or maybe it was taken over by Selmer?). Sidney Bechet played a Couesnon soprano saxophone occasionally in the 1950s.

The Couesnophone was patented in 1924, so Couesnon managed to get it out and onto the international market very quickly, given the fact that Rollini was playing it the same year (the earliest recording with Rollini on Goofus was, I think, the first Little Ramblers session of July 3, 1924). There is an interesting webpage on the Cousenophone patent at:

http://www.patmissin.com/history/couesnophone.html

Evidently, the instrument did not sell well as very few examples have survived. I think the main problem, sales wise, was that the Couesnophone was marketed as a "toy saxophone" but it was too complicated for a mere child's toy, yet would hardly have been regarded as a legitimate instrument either. It was something of a musical freak, and only someone with Rollini's skills could make it sound credible - or perhaps "incredible!! I'm sure that Rollini renamed it the Goofus - that would be typical of his humour - in fact I think Arthur Rollini said so in his autobiography.

It would be interesting (and a fun competition) to find how many other musicians played it - and also the very last (78) recording to feature it. My money is on Rube Bloom and his Bayou Boys' version of "Mysterious Mose" from April 1930. It features Rollini playing it of course.

John R.T. Davies once owned a Goofus, but apparently he could never get it to play in tune, even with itself!


Here is an ad for the goofus with a mention of Rollini.



Here is the sheet music for a song titled "Goofus."



Here is a link to an article about the great Adrian Rollini.

http://www.jazzprofessional.com/report/ ... ollini.htm

Norman Field had a good page on Rollini and the goofus, but I cannot find it.

Albert
That's a wonderful post on the Goofus !
I have a few of them; they are a bit cumbersome to play and don't have much volume. Rollini [and the others] must have been right "up there" on the microphone!
The melodica is an instrument based on the same idea as the Goofus but much easier to play and hear !
Another recording that features the Goofus is Harmonica Harry recorded by Ted Weems on Victor 22238 [12/2/29]
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 18th, 2007, 8:07 pm #6

The following review of the Goofus Five’s recordings appeared in the February 1927 issue of The Gramophone, published in the UK. As with the Melody Maker adverts for Parlophone discussed here a few years ago, there is mention of Frank Trumbauer (as Trumba!!) and also Miff Mole, though as far as we know neither were members of The Goofus Five at any stage (even as subs). And although Red Nichols did play on one or two sessions, it is of course Chelsea Quealey who plays the trumpet on most of the sides.

Note the early use of jazz terminology – especially hot breaks, which here translates to “hot brakes”! I wonder when the word “hot” was introduced into the jazz vernacular. In the early days of the Melody Maker (1926), a solo was often described as “dirty” and that the musician knew how to play “dirt”. That was quickly superseded by “hot”,. but did this follow a similar trend in America? There are plenty of song titles in the 1920s with the word “hot” in them, but the word usually refers to the virility and/or sensual qualities of a young man or women (e.g. Red Hot Henry Brown, Red Hot Mama) rather than a good jazz solo!! “Red Hot” by the Mound City Blue Blowers must surely refer to the music though!

Anyway, the article is still fascinating, despite its inaccuracies. Here it is:-


THE GOOFUS FIVE

A casual remark in last month’s Dance Notes – that the Goofus Five are “the best of recording dance bands, for dancing purposes anyhow” – is a tardy recognition of the merits of this remarkable combination.

The first of their Parlophone records was issued in March, 1925, and the twelfth of the series is issued this month, Crazy Quilt and Sadie Green (the Vamp of New Orleans), on Parlo. E5716 (2s.6d.).

Dance fans have secured every one of the series, realising that what the Parlophone catalogue calls “really mean strutting numbers as featured by the hottest of all dance combinations” are in a class by themselves.

Adrian Rollini, the leader, who plays the bass saxophone, doubles on nine different instruments outside the saxophone family, and is the most famous bass saxophone player in the world; just as the celebrated Trumba (sic), the solo saxophone player, is unrivalled throughout the world in “hot” modern saxophone playing, and Miff Mole, the trombone player, is undeniably supreme in his own sphere. But “Red Nicholls,” (sic) the trumpet player, is the star of the band, for it is he who created the new style of trumpet playing copied by every band in the world.

The “Goofus” style is almost inimitable because it involves a very rare virtuosity in the players. It is the control over their instruments – and breathing control, too – which make possible their conjuring tricks, such as the “hot brakes” (sic) which they invented (when the band stops and a soloist performs a sort of cadenza). But it is not merely this virtuosity which endears them to the connoisseurs; it is the almost incredibly subtle rhythmic urge, which has to be felt to be imagined.

This may sound nonsensical praise, but it will be endorsed by the best judges. The proof of the playing may not lie entirely in the salaries; but it is significant that each player commands a fabulous price, and Red Nicholls signed a contract over a year ago to join a New York band at a salary of, roughly, £200 a week.

From
http://www.normanfield.com/bixlabellings.htm

"Borneo" by Frank Trumbauer and His Orchestra was released in England on Parlophone as The Goofus Five and Their Orchestra.

400603-B BORNEO R203 (1928) Small purple.
THE GOOFUS FIVE AND THEIR ORCHESTRA
(Reverse: MAMA'S GONE YOUNG, The Goofus Five And Their Orchestra.)

But this is 1928 and the review in Melody Maker is from 1927. So this cannot be the explanation for the review mentioning Tram as the saxophonist in the recording.

You can listen to the two recordings reviewed by the Melody Maker, courtesy of the red hot jazz archive.

http://redhotjazz.com/Songs/goofusfive/crazyquilt.ram

http://redhotjazz.com/Songs/goofusfive/sadiegreen.ram

The saxophonist (Bobby Davis?) has an important role in these two recordings. Maybe that is the reason why the reviewer mentions Trumbauer since Tram was the most famous sax player at this time? Great recordings with a lot of bounce. Too bad Rollini does not solo in these.

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 18th, 2007, 8:42 pm #7



Not the Goofus Five. This is Frank Trumbauer and His Orchesta.

Albert

PS From Wikipedia
Parlophone is a record label, founded in Germany 1896 by the Carl Lindstrom Company. The &#8356; trademark is not the British pound sign, but a German L, for Lindstrom.
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Derek McCarty
Derek McCarty

February 19th, 2007, 12:39 am #8

From
http://www.normanfield.com/bixlabellings.htm

"Borneo" by Frank Trumbauer and His Orchestra was released in England on Parlophone as The Goofus Five and Their Orchestra.

400603-B BORNEO R203 (1928) Small purple.
THE GOOFUS FIVE AND THEIR ORCHESTRA
(Reverse: MAMA'S GONE YOUNG, The Goofus Five And Their Orchestra.)

But this is 1928 and the review in Melody Maker is from 1927. So this cannot be the explanation for the review mentioning Tram as the saxophonist in the recording.

You can listen to the two recordings reviewed by the Melody Maker, courtesy of the red hot jazz archive.

http://redhotjazz.com/Songs/goofusfive/crazyquilt.ram

http://redhotjazz.com/Songs/goofusfive/sadiegreen.ram

The saxophonist (Bobby Davis?) has an important role in these two recordings. Maybe that is the reason why the reviewer mentions Trumbauer since Tram was the most famous sax player at this time? Great recordings with a lot of bounce. Too bad Rollini does not solo in these.

Albert
Bobby Davis, saxophonist is mentioned in this posting.

Does anyone know what happened to Bobby Davis after he left the Fred Elizalde band in England in late 1929 or early 1930 ?

Did he continue his musical career back in the U.S.A.?
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 19th, 2007, 1:53 am #9

http://www.lordisco.com/musicians/D3.html

Bobby Davis recorded 280 titles between 1923 and 1931. When he came back from England, I believe in 1930, he recorded again with the California Ramblers in 1930 and 1921.

There is a biography in answers.com I don't know how reliable it is.

http://www.answers.com/topic/bobby-davis-jazz-artist

One of Illinois' most legendary musicians, Bobby Davis was a brilliant multi-instrumentalist who appeared on hundreds of recording sessions between the late '20s and the early '50s. He was one of the early exponents of the soprano saxophone, but even more important was his dedication to racial integration. He left his hometown for Chicago out of a fascination with black music, and once he became established in the Windy City Davis performed regularly in so-called "black and tan" venues where the races were allowed to mingle. In his later years, Davis' superb memory was of great use to discographers and other music researchers trying to find out long-forgotten details about gigs, bands and recording sessions--long forgotten, that is, by everyone but Bobby Davis.

One of very few jazzmen adept at both brass and reed instruments, Davis learned a great deal from music teacher Reverend A. Bremicker. The original inspiration for the character of The Music Man, Bremicker taught Davis for several years beginning in 1921. Davis's mother also had connections in the professional music world. Her brother was Van Bibber, co-leader of a series of American Legion bands between the '30s and '50s. Davis went well beyond such anonymous gigs in his own career, performing with the likes of Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong. He also was a natural choice for the busy world of dance bands, appearing without credit on many recordings on which even the identification of the leader is suspect. Up until sometime in the '50s Davis apparently had a large collection of memorabilia connected to his career, all of which was lost when a van he had hired to move these treasures fell off a bridge into a river. It might be said that this was the best example ever of someone's career being sunk, but that gag is of little consolation to dissapointed musicologists. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide



There was a short thread in the forum brought up by Crimson.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... 160513888/

He provided the following quote,

It is sad to note the tragic coincidence that Messrs. Quealey, Davis, Farley, Livingstone and Adrian Rollini met violent deaths within the three decades following their return to the States all, with the exception of Rollini, in car crashes.

I responded that Quealey had died of heart trouble and Livingston from chronic alcoholism. I had no information on Davis and Farley.

If I have a chance tomorrow, I will look him up in ancestry.com in the local library.

Albert
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Chris Barry
Chris Barry

February 19th, 2007, 5:11 am #10

Sudhalter's "Lost Chords" refers to Chelsea Quealey and Bobby Davis as childhood friends, and indeed the 1920 US Census of Hartford, CT lists the Quealey and Davis families a few doors apart. Davis was born in New Hampshire, so I think the Answers.com bio refers to another Bobby Davis. Chilton's entry on Chelsea Quealey says Bobby Davis died in 1949. No location noted. From my own recent digging, I've learned Davis married a woman in Britain and after their arrival in the states in 1930, they made NYC home base at least part of the time, though I have just a little on Bobby's work activities. They apparently had no children. Davis' widow remarried and died in England in 1987. More later as able!
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