With His Creole Serenaders: (Side 1)
Peter Bocage (tp, violin on #3 only) Homer Eugene (tb) Louis Cottrell (cl) Benjamin Turner (p) Sidney Pflueger (electric g) McNeal Breaux (b) Alfred Williams (drs)
New Orleans; January 26, 1961
With the Love-Jiles Ragtime Orchestra: (Side 2)
Peter Bocage (tp, vln) Charlie Love (tp) Albert Warner (tb) Paul Barnes (cl) Emanuel Sayles (bj) Auguste Lanoix (b) Albert Jiles (drs)
New Orleans: June 12, 1960
Mama’s Gone, Goodbye (5:51) (Bocage – Piron)
(I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My) Sister Kate (3:00) (Armadn Piron)
Purple Rose of Cairo (4:25) (Lewis – Piron – Dupre)
Who’s Sorry Now? (4:03) (Snyder – Ruby – Kalmar)
Bouncing Around (3:56) (Bocage - Piron
Love-Jiles Ragtime Orchestra:
Hilarity Rag (3:43) (Scott Joplin)
Fogs Legs Rag (3:02) (Scott Joplin)
The Entertainer Rag (3:14) (Scott Joplin)
West Indies Blues (2:07) (C. & S. Williams)
B-Flat Society Blues (4:40) (Peter Bocage)
The career of the talented and versatile PETER BOCAGE spans almost the entire history of New Orleans jazz. According to his guitar playing brother, Charlie, Peter Bocage was one of the first Creoles to follow no trade but that of professional musician: “All of the men in our family were boat builders, but our father wanted no more of Pete than to listen to him playing that little violin. Of course our father was very particular about the class of music Pete played.”
Bocage was born in 1887 and grew up in New Orleans when “that ratty Uptown music” was making its impact felt on even the proud, well-schooled Creole orchestras. Pete’s violin helped give the Superior Band “the sweetest sound in town.” ‘Big Eye’ Louis Nelson and Willie ‘Bunk’ Johnson were members of this band and, in exchange for lessons in reading music, Bunk helped Bocage with the cornet. Ever since, Peter has played with the best brass bands in town: Manuel Perez’s Onward, the Tuxedo the Excelsior (which he led) and, at present, the Eureka. He played violin with King Oliver at the “25” Club in Storyville. During the summer of 1918 he played cornet with Fate Marable on the S.S. Capitol and, not wanting to leave town when the band traveled up-river that fall, recommended as his replacement a youngster Louis Armstrong.
For a decade thereafter Bocage remained with the top society orchestra In New Orleans, Armand Piron’s, playing all sorts of instruments, arranging and composing some of the big hits of the day. Peter has never liked to be away from his family – Piron’s 1923 engagement at the Cotton Club and Roseland in New York and a brief 1944 stint with Sidney Bechet in Boston have been the only times he has left New Orleans. In 1928 he helped organize the very popular Creole Serenaders who played at the Absinthe Hous and broadcast regularly over station WWL during the 1930s. In the ‘4-s and ‘50s Bocage played trunpet at Mama Lou’s and other neighborhood dance halls and continued to lead the Seeanaders on occasional dates. (For the past twenty-five years this band has played for the Bounders Club at the Monteleone Hotel on Mardi Gras day.) The musicians heard with Bocage on Side 1 of this LP (including the veteran pianist Benny Turner, who was recording for the first time) have all been playing with him for number of years, and make up the present edition of the Creole Serenaders.
When Piron had recorded in the ‘20s, his band was trying hard to be “modern” and as a result some of those sides are marred by elaborate, dated arrangements and an over-recorded, somewhat corny sax section. The simpler and more direct versions on this present album of Bocage’s rag, Bouncing Around, and of his lovely, blues-tinged Mama’s Gone, Goodbye are for more characteristic of the enduring New Orleans style. Bocage also elected to record on this occasion Piron’s biggest hit – Sister Kate, as well as the number that had been his band’s most frequently requested number – Purple Rose of Cairo. As a further link to Piron, it should be noted that Louis Cottrell’s father had been the drummer in the Piron Orchestra, and his teacher, the celebrated Lorenzo Tio, Jr. (Bocage’s broher-in-law) had been the clarinetist. Thus it is hardly surprising that Cottrell’s mellow clarinet joins with Bocage’s crisp and lilting trumpet to provide a distinctly Creole flavor.
Charlie Love, co-leader of the group heard on side2, has been a working musician for over sixty years! Before 1920 he had played in cities as far south as Bera Cruz and as far north as Chicago. He says that there were often good bands in other cities in those days, but that people everywhere preferred New Orleans music. Born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, 1985, Love was soon playing with top New Orleans brass bands and with the society orchestras of Piron and Robichaux. (When Love played trumpet with Piron, Peter Bocage often played trombone or xylophone.) He travelled widely on the vaudeville circuits with shows like the Rabbit Foot Misntrels, and continued playing locally on weekends until 1957. On his local jobs, Love had become associated with drummer Albert Jiles, and the two men joined in organizing the band heard here, which was put together to play a concert of ragtime and pre-World War I jazz during the1960 Tulane University Fine Arts Festival.
Ragtime sprang from many of the same Afro-American folk sources as jazz, which was eventually to absorb much of it. Although it is generally thought of as strictly a piano music, the major ragtime composers often wrote full-band orchestrations which were collected and published as “The Red Backed Books of Standard Rags.” Even at the height of ragtime’s popularity these arrangements were too difficult for most bands, but rags did exert a considerable influence on New Orleans jazz at an early stage of its development. The pioneer bands always played portions of the rags by ear, even if they could not read the Redbook parts, while the crack Creole bands prided themselves on playing the Redbook “as written.”
When Bocage was performing this music with the Superior, Charlie Love was playing the Redbooks with the fine Cado Band of Shreveport. Love has never stopped playing the rags and will take out his set of Redbooks, a legacy form “Big Eye” Louis, whenever he finds musicians willing to try them. According to Love, the key instrument in ragtime is the violin (the horns play counter-melody for the most part) and Peter Bocage is probably the best ragtime violinist that New Orleans has ever known. The clarinetist on these recordings is Paul Barnes, a fine musician who recorded on sax with Celestin’s Tuxedo Band and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers in the ‘20s and toured with King Oliver’s Savanah Syncopators. Trombonist Albert Warner played with “Wooden Joe” Nicholas and Kid Rena and has been with the Euraka for thirty years.
The Love-Jiles selections, made shortly after the Tulane concert, are the only recordings of instrumental ragtime that employ the correct Redbook instrumentation, including violin. (They were made possible by Tom Woods, Gene Oswell and Harry Souchon, who provided the recording license of the New Orleans Jazz Club.) The band is not perfect and here and there are missed notes, but it has achieved a unique sound. The older musicians who listened to the playbacks affirmed that this group had captured all the gentle swing and delicate charm of the early bands.
This album is part of an extensive group of recordings of traditional jazz as played today made by Riverside in New Orleans during January, 1961, and issued under the general series title, “New Orleans: The Living Legends.” Peter Bocage and the bands, featured with him can also be heard in the first release in this series, which is an overall survey of the current Crescent City scene –
NEW ORLEANS: The Living Legends (RLP 356/357; Stereo RLP 9356/9357 – a two-LP set)
Side 1 produced by CHRIS ALBERTSON
Side 2 produced by HERB FRIEDWALD
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Cover photograph by RALSTON CRAWFORD
Back-liner photo by FLORENCE MARS
Recording Engineer: DAVE JONES (Side 1) and BILL RUSSELL (Side 2)
Riverside gratefully acknowledges the valuable assistance of Herb Friedwald in the planning and recording of this project. We also wish to express thanks for the cooperation extended by Henry Zaccardi, assistant to the president, American Federation of Musicians; and by New Orleans Locals 174 and 496, A. F. of M.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, New York