Charlie Cordella hearing Bix at St. Charles Theater

Charlie Cordella hearing Bix at St. Charles Theater

Linda
Linda

October 15th, 2010, 4:42 pm #1

Brad mentioned in an earlier post how Charlie Cordella plays a very Bix like solo on the Halfway House Orchestra recording of "If I Didn't Have You". Then in another post by Professor Haim I found out the clarinetist is Sidney Arodin, who replaced Charlie Cordella at the end ot 1927 according to Lord and Rust.
Even if Charlie Cordella is not the clarinetist on "If I Didn't Have You" I still had to ask Tim for some information about this because I knew he was a good friend of Charlie Cordella. Tim met Charlie Cordella back in the 1960's when Tim visited New Orleans and Tim went to see him every time he visited New Orleans. By the 70's and 80's when Tim would visit New Orleans Charlie would always invite him over for dinner and they would talk about early jazz as usual.
Tim had read about Bix playing the St. Charles Theater in New Orleans on October 28, 1928 and had read in Man and Legend the New Orleans musicians present at the Whiteman Concert. Paul Mares, Nick La Rocca and Monk Hazel are mentioned. I asked Tim if he ever asked Charlie Cordella if he was at the concert and he said he did. He said Charlie said he was at the concert and that he was greatly impressed by Bix and Tram's playing. Tim also told me he saw Charlie's collection of 78's which Charlie had kept from the 1920's. He said Charlie had records by both white AND black bands. Charlie had some King Oilver records and he had Singin' The Blues by Bix on Okeh. Charlie also had several of the Bix and His Gang Okehs.
So Charlie Cordella had heard Bix in October, 1928 at the St. Charles Theater. Here is a picture of Charlie Cordella and Tim taken in New Orleans in the 1960's:


Quote
Share

Paul Bocciolone Strandberg
Paul Bocciolone Strandberg

October 19th, 2010, 9:47 am #2

I wish I was there to meet Charlie Cordilla.
I suppose that Tim asked him about the Barataria session, or? This session is bothering me for two reasons:
1. I have transcribed and I have played the clarinet solo on Barataria many times. I want to know to whom I am paying a tribute (and also eventually tell the audience about it), Roppolo or Cordilla.
2. If it is Cordilla playing the solo that many want to attribute to Roppolo it shows that at least on this session he was on the level of his mate. It is not a virtuoso solo. Here we are speaking about sound and execution.
Two tunes were recorded. On the first Pussy Cat Rag there are two saxes no clarinet. We have a photo with Roppolo on alto and Cordilla on tenor and this corresponds well.
On Barataria I hear the same alto plus a clarinet. The natural proceeding is that Cordilla switched to clarinet. I hear a nicely executed clarinet break in the first chorus and some very good alto playing that is in fact dominating and putting up the temperature of the whole recording. Cornet and trombone is rather discrete and the cornet of Abbie Brunies keeps close to the rather simple melody. After the first chorus follows the verse and then the low register clarinet solo in question. Generally experts seem to think that this Roppolo that for some illogical reason changed to clarinet and played the solo.
Did someone really listen to this record? Please listen at about 1.50 when the solo stops and they all go into the last ensemble.
My reasons for wanting to attribute the solo to Cordilla are the following:
1. To get the volume of a low register clarinet solo in balance with the rest I think that normally the player takes a couple of steps forward towards the microphone and then has to go back again afterwards. If it were the same player on clarinet and alto the high note that he starts on in the ensemble would be too loud if he did not go back to his former position.
2. The clarinet disappears for about two bars while the alto sax enters after only three beats of the bar. It is too short a time to change instrument and position in my opinion.
3. I know that some players are fabulous when it comes to quickly change from clarinet to sax but this is only when it is really called for, for example if they have to play something written in a saxophone section. In this case the reeds are improvising and with four men in the frontline there was not such a big hurry to join in the chorus.
Please, Brad and you others with good ears, listen and give your opinion and you who support the idea that it should be Roppolo taking the solo, please put forward your arguments! I hate the idea that the author of a classic jazz solo would routine be wrongly attributed. In the latest edition of the tune in the album Cabaret Echoes it is for instance just said, the producers feel that Roppolo is the clarinettist.
Quote
Share

Linda
Linda

October 19th, 2010, 5:14 pm #3

I asked Tim and he said he did not ask Charlie Cordilla about the Barataria session. Tim also knew Abbie Brunies. Abbie operated a little diner in Biloxi, Mississippi in the 1960's. When Tim visited New Orleans he would take the bus to Biloxi to go to visit Abbie Burnies. One time he took along a copy of the VJM lp that reissued the Columbia sides by the Halfway House Orchestra and Tim gave the lp to Abbie Brunies. Tim said Abbie was very happy to get the lp and Abbie was amazed an lp company would be interested in those old recordings of his. Tim can remember Abbie talking about one thing from that Barataria session. He said the band had trouble with Pussy Cat Rag. They had a hard time getting the tune right. Here is a picture of Tim and Abbie Brunies taken outside Abbie's diner in Biloxi in the late 1960's:

Quote
Share

Sue Fischer
Sue Fischer

October 19th, 2010, 5:16 pm #4

I wish I was there to meet Charlie Cordilla.
I suppose that Tim asked him about the Barataria session, or? This session is bothering me for two reasons:
1. I have transcribed and I have played the clarinet solo on Barataria many times. I want to know to whom I am paying a tribute (and also eventually tell the audience about it), Roppolo or Cordilla.
2. If it is Cordilla playing the solo that many want to attribute to Roppolo it shows that at least on this session he was on the level of his mate. It is not a virtuoso solo. Here we are speaking about sound and execution.
Two tunes were recorded. On the first Pussy Cat Rag there are two saxes no clarinet. We have a photo with Roppolo on alto and Cordilla on tenor and this corresponds well.
On Barataria I hear the same alto plus a clarinet. The natural proceeding is that Cordilla switched to clarinet. I hear a nicely executed clarinet break in the first chorus and some very good alto playing that is in fact dominating and putting up the temperature of the whole recording. Cornet and trombone is rather discrete and the cornet of Abbie Brunies keeps close to the rather simple melody. After the first chorus follows the verse and then the low register clarinet solo in question. Generally experts seem to think that this Roppolo that for some illogical reason changed to clarinet and played the solo.
Did someone really listen to this record? Please listen at about 1.50 when the solo stops and they all go into the last ensemble.
My reasons for wanting to attribute the solo to Cordilla are the following:
1. To get the volume of a low register clarinet solo in balance with the rest I think that normally the player takes a couple of steps forward towards the microphone and then has to go back again afterwards. If it were the same player on clarinet and alto the high note that he starts on in the ensemble would be too loud if he did not go back to his former position.
2. The clarinet disappears for about two bars while the alto sax enters after only three beats of the bar. It is too short a time to change instrument and position in my opinion.
3. I know that some players are fabulous when it comes to quickly change from clarinet to sax but this is only when it is really called for, for example if they have to play something written in a saxophone section. In this case the reeds are improvising and with four men in the frontline there was not such a big hurry to join in the chorus.
Please, Brad and you others with good ears, listen and give your opinion and you who support the idea that it should be Roppolo taking the solo, please put forward your arguments! I hate the idea that the author of a classic jazz solo would routine be wrongly attributed. In the latest edition of the tune in the album Cabaret Echoes it is for instance just said, the producers feel that Roppolo is the clarinettist.
Paul,

I came to the same conclusion as you did, that it could not be the same player switching from clarinet to alto, for the same reasons.

However, I think it is Roppolo on clarinet on both solo and ensemble.

Cordilla played clarinet, alto and tenor; tenor on Pussy Cat Rag, definitely. Roppolo played clarinet and alto, but not tenor. That tune is not in question. But both men played similarly on sax; it is difficult to tell them apart if you didn't know who was on which instrument.

Cordilla also played sax on the 4 NORK recordings made the day after the Halfway House sides, and the two recordings in March 1925 with NORK in Roppolo's place, and a few more HHO sides, so you can hear the characteristics of his playing on those as well.)

In my opinion, Cordilla did not have the same vibrato sound as Roppolo; the latter played a very fast, narrow vibrato. It definitely sounds to me like Roppolo's vibrato on the clarinet solo of Barataria. It is not a particularly good solo, true; it is just the melody restated. But it does have the tonal qualities of Roppolo, including those low-register grace notes.

I think there is no question that it is Roppolo on the clarinet on the last ensemble -- that lead-in and jump to the high note is one of his trademarks. I've never heard any other clarinetist do that quite like Rap.



Quote
Share

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

October 19th, 2010, 7:21 pm #5

I wish I was there to meet Charlie Cordilla.
I suppose that Tim asked him about the Barataria session, or? This session is bothering me for two reasons:
1. I have transcribed and I have played the clarinet solo on Barataria many times. I want to know to whom I am paying a tribute (and also eventually tell the audience about it), Roppolo or Cordilla.
2. If it is Cordilla playing the solo that many want to attribute to Roppolo it shows that at least on this session he was on the level of his mate. It is not a virtuoso solo. Here we are speaking about sound and execution.
Two tunes were recorded. On the first Pussy Cat Rag there are two saxes no clarinet. We have a photo with Roppolo on alto and Cordilla on tenor and this corresponds well.
On Barataria I hear the same alto plus a clarinet. The natural proceeding is that Cordilla switched to clarinet. I hear a nicely executed clarinet break in the first chorus and some very good alto playing that is in fact dominating and putting up the temperature of the whole recording. Cornet and trombone is rather discrete and the cornet of Abbie Brunies keeps close to the rather simple melody. After the first chorus follows the verse and then the low register clarinet solo in question. Generally experts seem to think that this Roppolo that for some illogical reason changed to clarinet and played the solo.
Did someone really listen to this record? Please listen at about 1.50 when the solo stops and they all go into the last ensemble.
My reasons for wanting to attribute the solo to Cordilla are the following:
1. To get the volume of a low register clarinet solo in balance with the rest I think that normally the player takes a couple of steps forward towards the microphone and then has to go back again afterwards. If it were the same player on clarinet and alto the high note that he starts on in the ensemble would be too loud if he did not go back to his former position.
2. The clarinet disappears for about two bars while the alto sax enters after only three beats of the bar. It is too short a time to change instrument and position in my opinion.
3. I know that some players are fabulous when it comes to quickly change from clarinet to sax but this is only when it is really called for, for example if they have to play something written in a saxophone section. In this case the reeds are improvising and with four men in the frontline there was not such a big hurry to join in the chorus.
Please, Brad and you others with good ears, listen and give your opinion and you who support the idea that it should be Roppolo taking the solo, please put forward your arguments! I hate the idea that the author of a classic jazz solo would routine be wrongly attributed. In the latest edition of the tune in the album Cabaret Echoes it is for instance just said, the producers feel that Roppolo is the clarinettist.
.... Halfway House Orchestra on Sep 25, 1925, eight months after "Barataria."  By the time "New Orleans Shuffle" was recorded, Leon Roppolo was no longer with the band and Charlie Cordella is the only clarinetist. Listen to his low-register clarinet solo in "New Orleans Shuffle."

http://redhotjazz.com/songs/halfway/new ... shufle.ram

Compare with the solo in "Barataria."

http://redhotjazz.com/songs/misc/barataria.ram

For convenience, I have isolated the solos, first the solo in "Barataria," then the solo in "New Orleans Shuffle."

bixbeiderbecke.com/BaratariaNOShuffle.mp3

I think they are two different guys. Since the clarinetist in "New Orleans Shuffle" is Cordella, the clarinetist in "Barataria" must be Roppollo. Besides, the solo in "Barataria" has a lot  more emotional complexity that the one in "New Orleans Shuffle." Don't get me wrong, the solo in "New Orleans Shuffle" is very good, but the one in "Barataria" has  added dimensions and subtleties. The solo in "New Orleans" is pretty straightforward, the solo in "Barataria" has plenty of nuances.

Albert
Last edited by ahaim on October 19th, 2010, 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

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

October 19th, 2010, 9:16 pm #6

I wish I was there to meet Charlie Cordilla.
I suppose that Tim asked him about the Barataria session, or? This session is bothering me for two reasons:
1. I have transcribed and I have played the clarinet solo on Barataria many times. I want to know to whom I am paying a tribute (and also eventually tell the audience about it), Roppolo or Cordilla.
2. If it is Cordilla playing the solo that many want to attribute to Roppolo it shows that at least on this session he was on the level of his mate. It is not a virtuoso solo. Here we are speaking about sound and execution.
Two tunes were recorded. On the first Pussy Cat Rag there are two saxes no clarinet. We have a photo with Roppolo on alto and Cordilla on tenor and this corresponds well.
On Barataria I hear the same alto plus a clarinet. The natural proceeding is that Cordilla switched to clarinet. I hear a nicely executed clarinet break in the first chorus and some very good alto playing that is in fact dominating and putting up the temperature of the whole recording. Cornet and trombone is rather discrete and the cornet of Abbie Brunies keeps close to the rather simple melody. After the first chorus follows the verse and then the low register clarinet solo in question. Generally experts seem to think that this Roppolo that for some illogical reason changed to clarinet and played the solo.
Did someone really listen to this record? Please listen at about 1.50 when the solo stops and they all go into the last ensemble.
My reasons for wanting to attribute the solo to Cordilla are the following:
1. To get the volume of a low register clarinet solo in balance with the rest I think that normally the player takes a couple of steps forward towards the microphone and then has to go back again afterwards. If it were the same player on clarinet and alto the high note that he starts on in the ensemble would be too loud if he did not go back to his former position.
2. The clarinet disappears for about two bars while the alto sax enters after only three beats of the bar. It is too short a time to change instrument and position in my opinion.
3. I know that some players are fabulous when it comes to quickly change from clarinet to sax but this is only when it is really called for, for example if they have to play something written in a saxophone section. In this case the reeds are improvising and with four men in the frontline there was not such a big hurry to join in the chorus.
Please, Brad and you others with good ears, listen and give your opinion and you who support the idea that it should be Roppolo taking the solo, please put forward your arguments! I hate the idea that the author of a classic jazz solo would routine be wrongly attributed. In the latest edition of the tune in the album Cabaret Echoes it is for instance just said, the producers feel that Roppolo is the clarinettist.
....  "Albert Brunies and His Halfway Orchestra,"

"http://www.vjm.biz/new_page_19.htm#_edn11

Ate van Delden writes, without hesitation, " It ("Pussy Cat Rag")<font size="4"><span><font face="times,serif"> features Leon Roppolo in a fine solo on alto saxophone. On "Barataria" ... Roppolo solos on clarinet." </span></font></font>

<span>Albert</span>
Quote
Like
Share

Paul Bocciolone Strandberg
Paul Bocciolone Strandberg

October 19th, 2010, 10:01 pm #7

Paul,

I came to the same conclusion as you did, that it could not be the same player switching from clarinet to alto, for the same reasons.

However, I think it is Roppolo on clarinet on both solo and ensemble.

Cordilla played clarinet, alto and tenor; tenor on Pussy Cat Rag, definitely. Roppolo played clarinet and alto, but not tenor. That tune is not in question. But both men played similarly on sax; it is difficult to tell them apart if you didn't know who was on which instrument.

Cordilla also played sax on the 4 NORK recordings made the day after the Halfway House sides, and the two recordings in March 1925 with NORK in Roppolo's place, and a few more HHO sides, so you can hear the characteristics of his playing on those as well.)

In my opinion, Cordilla did not have the same vibrato sound as Roppolo; the latter played a very fast, narrow vibrato. It definitely sounds to me like Roppolo's vibrato on the clarinet solo of Barataria. It is not a particularly good solo, true; it is just the melody restated. But it does have the tonal qualities of Roppolo, including those low-register grace notes.

I think there is no question that it is Roppolo on the clarinet on the last ensemble -- that lead-in and jump to the high note is one of his trademarks. I've never heard any other clarinetist do that quite like Rap.


Thank you Sue for stating your opinion, it all sounds good to me. I think you have studied the case more than I have. I agree that it sounds like Roppolo on clarinet all the way through, the ensemble, the break and the solo. We hear many of his trade marks here as well as his sound and vibrato. Ill buy that. Maybe the comparison that Albert does with the clarinet solo on New Orleans Shuffle does not give as much as one would hope because the sound of the whole session is quite different. Was that the same recording team, same location, same equipment?
However the mystery of the alto sax does not leave me in peace, and the discographical information given on the CDs that I have (Jazz Oracle, Retrieval) is not adequate.
If we listen to the session of January 23 the day after Barataria was recorded, we hear of course three of Roppolos most famous clarinet contributions in his short career: I Never Knew What a Gal Could Do, Golden Leaf Strut and the great first recording of Shes Crying for Me. But on the forth number there is no clarinet and I think that I clearly hear the same kind of freely improvised alto playing as on Barataria. Listen to Baby! There is alto and tenor, and since you say that Roppolo did not play tenor it must be him on alto. So this would leave us with some amazing twin-like alto-sax playing by two different players in 1925 on Barataria and Baby ( Same team on the more arranged Pussy Cat Rag also) . I think that the playing is great, and deserves mentioning in the discographical notes (no alto is mentioned on Baby) and I cannot figure out how the two players Cordilla and Roppolo could have such a similar style and sound on alto when they seems to have been quite different on clarinet.
Then I listen again: Maybe it is not obvious that the alto on Baby and the one on Barataria is played by the same man even if the are very, indeed very similar in style. But then what about the clarinet solos of Barataria and I Never Knew What a Gal Could do (from the session of the following day, same equipment same location I suppose)? It is not obvious that its the same man playing those, not exactly the same sound and when it comes to swing it is also different. Barataria sounds stiffer to me. My feeling from listening to the total recorded output of Cordilla and Roppolo is that there is definitely a difference in jazz and swing feeling (and drive) to the advantage of Roppolo and this is why I would spontaneously ascribe the alto sax playing to him.
The other session that you mention with Halfway House Orchestra from September 25 does not give any clue since even if its said that Cordilla plays alto and tenor besides clarinet I did not hear a single sax-note on those four numbers.
To be continued I hope.
Quote
Share

Paul Bocciolone Strandberg
Paul Bocciolone Strandberg

October 20th, 2010, 4:07 pm #8

While listening more carefully to the session mentioned above of September 25, 1925 with Halfway House Orchestra I found out that I had missed a short saxophone solo by Cordella at the end of Maple Leaf Rag. But it's once more on tenor and has nothing that reminds me of the inspired, intense alto playing on Barataria.
Quote
Share

Paul Bocciolone Strandberg
Paul Bocciolone Strandberg

October 21st, 2010, 8:48 am #9

....  "Albert Brunies and His Halfway Orchestra,"

"http://www.vjm.biz/new_page_19.htm#_edn11

Ate van Delden writes, without hesitation, " It ("Pussy Cat Rag")<font size="4"><span><font face="times,serif"> features Leon Roppolo in a fine solo on alto saxophone. On "Barataria" ... Roppolo solos on clarinet." </span></font></font>

<span>Albert</span>
Since nothing new comes up in the case of Barataria I have to conclude by drawing the consequences of my own findings and reasoning back and forth.
1. Charlie Cordilla did not play alto. He is shown with another orchestra The New Orleans Rhythm Masters in 1926, also there with a tenor sax. Even if he could have had or borrowed an alto I dont think that he was capable of the playing that we hear on Barataria.
2. Leon Roppolo played alto as shown in the photos of Halfway House orchestra. He was a great clarinet player and also a very good alto sax player with fluent improvising ability and good tone control especially in the high register. It is him we hear on alto in Pussy Cat Rag, Barataria and Baby. I think that his hot sax playing in the ensemble could be inspired by Jack Pettis (as we can hear it on Panama with NORK from 1922).
3. Since the time to change instrument is to short it is impossible that Roppolo plays the clarinet solo on Barataria. Charlie Cordilla could have achieved some of Roppolos characteristics as a natural influence while he was playing alongside him. (Like for instance Andy Secrest playing alongside Bix).
4. Comparison between the two low register clarinet solos of Barataria and I Never Knew What a Gal Could Do from the day after shows a lot of differences. The second has a different more centered sound, doesnt have the vibrato present in the first and above all demonstrates a different concept of swing with shorter endnotes of the phrases.

I am back to where I started in fact. I think that we should give Charlie Cordilla credit for good clarinet work on Barataria and give more attention and praise to the alto sax playing of Leon Roppolo in general.

I hear from Hans Eekhoff that Ate van Delden is having second thoughts about the identity of the clarinettist and is going to present it in the VJM magazine.
Quote
Share

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

October 21st, 2010, 2:53 pm #10


In his massive and formidable analyses of the contributions of white musicians to jazz, Sudhalter writes about the Halfway House Orchestra recording session of Jan 22, 1925.

"Perhaps it's Roppolo's presence that makes "Pussy Cat Rag" and "Barataria," with their loose structure and jam ensembles, the hottest of the Halfway House records-though even here the band positions its jamming within an overall arrangement. Among the features of "Pussy Cat," for example, is a Roppollo-Cordilla [Dick chooses to spell the name with an i] straight saxophone duet. "Barataria" uses clarinet (Cordilla) and alto sax (Roppollo) in the ensembles. But the full-chorus clarinet solo is <strong>unmistakably</strong> [my bold font] Roppollo. It's reasonable to assume that Cordilla simply deferred, confining his own clarinet work to the tutti passages."

Albert

PS For convenience of forum readers who wish to make comparisons, here are the juxtaposed solos by Roppollo in "Gold Leaf Strut" and the clarinetist in "Barataria"

bixbeiderbecke.com/GoldLeafBarataria.mp3

Roppollo in "I Never Knew What A Girl Could Do" and the  clarinetist in "Barataria."

bixbeiderbecke.com/INeverKnewBarataria.mp3 

 

 
Quote
Like
Share