B.A. Rolfe as soloist?

B.A. Rolfe as soloist?

John Coffin
John Coffin

February 4th, 2018, 5:01 am #1

Long ago, I read in one of Armstrong's biographies that his own use of the very high range of the trumpet was, partially, inspired by hearing B.A. Rolfe.

Now, as everyone here knows, Rolfe's reputation in the late 20s seems to have centered on his leading of the radio orchestra that bore his name for the Lucky Strike radio show..with Paul Whiteman's Old Gold radio show pushed as a rival.

Searching around for Rolfe performances, I keep finding dance orchestra music with no trace of Rolfe's playing. I assume that he was more interested in managing/directing an orchestra, as he had also put music aside to enter in to film production earlier.

Does anyone have, or have links for, any recordings of Rolfe's cornet or trumpet playing. Especially any high-note specialties that might have caught Louis' attention?
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John Coffin
John Coffin

February 4th, 2018, 5:20 am #2

Undated, no discographical information. An odd solo, more squeal than altissimo. Sort of Herbert L. Clarke trying to be 'hot.'

https://archive.org/details/edba-5189
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Scott Philbrick
Scott Philbrick

February 4th, 2018, 2:59 pm #3

Long ago, I read in one of Armstrong's biographies that his own use of the very high range of the trumpet was, partially, inspired by hearing B.A. Rolfe.

Now, as everyone here knows, Rolfe's reputation in the late 20s seems to have centered on his leading of the radio orchestra that bore his name for the Lucky Strike radio show..with Paul Whiteman's Old Gold radio show pushed as a rival.

Searching around for Rolfe performances, I keep finding dance orchestra music with no trace of Rolfe's playing. I assume that he was more interested in managing/directing an orchestra, as he had also put music aside to enter in to film production earlier.

Does anyone have, or have links for, any recordings of Rolfe's cornet or trumpet playing. Especially any high-note specialties that might have caught Louis' attention?
B.A. Rolfe was known as a "high note specialist" and would play solos that usually included a "flutter tongue" technique that he worked out to go up to concert D and Eb. Edison "What Good is Good Morning" #51,750L contains a fine example.

In the early 1940's, my trumpet teacher, Frank Graf, was the cornet soloist with Herbert A. Clarke's Long Beach Municipal Band which B.A. Rolfe conducted as Clarke had retired by then. According to Frank both Rolfe and Clarke could still "play up a storm" and B.A. could still hit the high notes. Frank stated that playing under Rolfe was his greatest musical experience and B.A. was a "fine gentleman".

Scott
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John Coffin
John Coffin

February 4th, 2018, 5:01 pm #4

I've just seen a few references to 'tongue controlled embouchure' as a technique for altissimo playing. Sort of tucking the tongue-tip against the lower lip. I'd never heard of such a thing before.

In all the time I played, 'flutter tongue' seemed to mean a rough growl effect, made by trilling an 'r' against the hard palate. Did Graf explain in any detail what he meant by flutter?
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James E. Parten
James E. Parten

February 4th, 2018, 5:41 pm #5

Long ago, I read in one of Armstrong's biographies that his own use of the very high range of the trumpet was, partially, inspired by hearing B.A. Rolfe.

Now, as everyone here knows, Rolfe's reputation in the late 20s seems to have centered on his leading of the radio orchestra that bore his name for the Lucky Strike radio show..with Paul Whiteman's Old Gold radio show pushed as a rival.

Searching around for Rolfe performances, I keep finding dance orchestra music with no trace of Rolfe's playing. I assume that he was more interested in managing/directing an orchestra, as he had also put music aside to enter in to film production earlier.

Does anyone have, or have links for, any recordings of Rolfe's cornet or trumpet playing. Especially any high-note specialties that might have caught Louis' attention?
Two of the best places to hear B. A.Rolfe's high-regiser cornet work--perhaps the product of a soprano cornet--are Vincent Lopez' recording of "What'll I Do?" on OKeh, and Ro;fe's own version of"What Does It Matter?" (on Edison).
Brad Kay has the latter in his collection somewhere,and if he can make it available, one can hear it and judge for one's self.
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Scott Philbrick
Scott Philbrick

February 4th, 2018, 6:02 pm #6

I've just seen a few references to 'tongue controlled embouchure' as a technique for altissimo playing. Sort of tucking the tongue-tip against the lower lip. I'd never heard of such a thing before.

In all the time I played, 'flutter tongue' seemed to mean a rough growl effect, made by trilling an 'r' against the hard palate. Did Graf explain in any detail what he meant by flutter?
The way I learned "flutter tongue" was to quickly as possible flick the tip of the tongue behind the lips which briefly stops the airflow but is much less percussive than double or tripple tonguing. I'm not sure anyone uses it today but it was one of effects enjoyed by the early cornet titans.

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

February 4th, 2018, 7:34 pm #7

Long ago, I read in one of Armstrong's biographies that his own use of the very high range of the trumpet was, partially, inspired by hearing B.A. Rolfe.

Now, as everyone here knows, Rolfe's reputation in the late 20s seems to have centered on his leading of the radio orchestra that bore his name for the Lucky Strike radio show..with Paul Whiteman's Old Gold radio show pushed as a rival.

Searching around for Rolfe performances, I keep finding dance orchestra music with no trace of Rolfe's playing. I assume that he was more interested in managing/directing an orchestra, as he had also put music aside to enter in to film production earlier.

Does anyone have, or have links for, any recordings of Rolfe's cornet or trumpet playing. Especially any high-note specialties that might have caught Louis' attention?
Radio Program # 17. (loaded on 07/29/00)

Battle of the Bands: B. A. Rolfe (Can't Help Lovin' That Man, Mean to Me, You Took Advantage of Me) vs Paul Whiteman (Lovable, After You've Gone, You Took Advantage of Me). Johnny Marvin sings Half a Moon and Crazy Rhythm. Johnny Marvin. Scott Black's Hot Horns play That Certain Party.

Click here for download bixography.com/wbixmp3/wbix17.mp3

Click here to stream http://bixography.com/wbixmp3/wbix17.m3u

Albert
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John Coffin
John Coffin

February 4th, 2018, 9:03 pm #8

The way I learned "flutter tongue" was to quickly as possible flick the tip of the tongue behind the lips which briefly stops the airflow but is much less percussive than double or tripple tonguing. I'm not sure anyone uses it today but it was one of effects enjoyed by the early cornet titans.

Scott
When I first learned, I did ALL my tonguing between the teeth, onto the lips. I've seen this described as 'English tonguing' someplace or other.

It gave me a very clean attack and release. But, ironically, I think it helped keep me from developing my high range. Keeping my teeth so far apart made for a very spacious mouth. Good for a big tone, but limiting my ability to use the tongue arch to slur or play high.
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John Coffin
John Coffin

February 4th, 2018, 9:19 pm #9

Two of the best places to hear B. A.Rolfe's high-regiser cornet work--perhaps the product of a soprano cornet--are Vincent Lopez' recording of "What'll I Do?" on OKeh, and Ro;fe's own version of"What Does It Matter?" (on Edison).
Brad Kay has the latter in his collection somewhere,and if he can make it available, one can hear it and judge for one's self.
Thanks, I manged to find the Lopez recording. Though not the Rolfe Edison...

The range is a matter of technique. Even a piccolo trumpet wouldn't have that odd, peanut-whistle sound. Its an impressive feat, but the tone produced is diminished to a squeak by the means employed.

Looking around earlier today. I found some posts about historical Cornet/Trumpet technique. It was Armstrong's sustaining his full tone and volume all the way up that made him stand out. The reference mentioned this around the famous 'cutting session' between Armstrong and Jabbo Smith. Smith could play as high as Armstrong, but his tone (like almost everyone's) shrank the higher he went.

Armstrong, Roy Eldredge, Bunny Berrigan, all jump to mind as examples of sustaining the full breadth and depth of sound all the way up.
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Mark Gabrish Conlan
Mark Gabrish Conlan

February 10th, 2018, 5:53 am #10

Quote from Louis Armstrong in Richard Hadlock's "Jazz Masters of the Twenties," pages 16-17: While he was playing with Fletcher Henderson at Roseland in 1924 "Victor Lopez came in there as guest one time. B. A. Rolfe was with him, and he would play a tune called 'Shadowland' an octave higher than it was written. I observed that, and it inspired me to make 'When You're Smiling.'" Ironically, in the same quote Armstrong criticized trumpeters who thinned out their tone just to play high, which is what I hear Rolfe (or whoever) doing on "Roses Remind Me of You." On the 1929 "When You're Smiling," Armstrong plays with the same full tone in his normal register and in the solo he takes at the end an octave higher than the rest of the record.
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