THE LOUIS COTTRELL TRIO: BOURBON STREET
Louis Cottrell (cl) Emanuel Syles (g) McNeal Breaux (b) (replaced by Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau on Side 1, #6 only)
Recorded in New Orleans; January 26 & 27, 1961
Perdido (2:45) (Juan Tizol)
Bourbon Street Parade (3:02) (Paul Barbarin)
Three Little Words (3:26) (Kalmar –Ruby)
Sayles’ Broken String Blues (4:26) (Emanuel Sayles)
Sheik of Araby (3:15) (Snyder – Wheeler – Smith)
Drag’s Turnaround Blues (2:00) (Louis Cottrell)
Rose Room (4:00) (Hickman – Williams)
Yellor Dog Blues (3:08) (W. C. Handy)
Runnin’ Wild (2:50) (Gibbs – Grey – Wood)
Blues for Dixie (3:40) (Louis Cottrell)
What A Friend I Have in Jesus (3:46) (trad.: arr. by Cottrell)
New Orleans is steeped in jazz traditions and certainly none are richer than those that belong to Louis Cottrell, who makes his debut as a leader on this album.
The Crescent City seems to have inherited a love of woodwind music from the French and the clarinet, with its wide tonal range, has long been a favored instrument here. Among the Creoles contributing the most to jazz were a father, an uncle, and a son named Tio, who founded a clarinet dynasty based on a sound technique, a rich, pure tone, and a graceful embroidering of melody. The two elder Tios were conservatory trained musicians who came to New Orleans from Mexico in the ’80s and played in the finest Creole orchestras before World War One. Among New Orleans musicians, Lorenzo Tio, Jr., is just as legendary a figure as Freddie Keppard or Joe Oliver but whereas the stories about the trumpet kings usually concern their rough gut-backet playing, those about Tio revolve around his extraordinary musicianship. All the Tios gave formal music lessons and their personal clarinet style flowered in the playing of tat remarkable array of reedmen they taught: “Big Eye” Louis, Jimmy Noone, Albert Nicholas, Barney Bigard, Omar Simeon, and Louis Cottrell, Jr.
The soft-spoken Cottrell is the foremost exponent of the Tio school in New Orleans today. He is today one of the city’s most respected musicians, the president of Local 496, and among the top traditional clarinetists anywhere. His father was to the drums very much what the Tios were to the clarinet. “Old Man” Cottrell is credited with establishing the press roll style, the two-beat rhythm, and may have been the first man to play drums in a dance orchestra (John Robichaux’s).
Louis Jr. was born in 1911 and studied with both the young Tio and Barney Bigard. While still in his teens he began playing with Lawrence Marrero’s Young Tuxedo Band. Later in the ‘20s he worked with the Golden Rule Band, Bebe Ridgerly, Sidney Desvignes, and occasionally Chris Kelly. From 1929 until 1938, he toured the Southwest with the San Antonio-based Don Albert Band and recorded a few little-known but excellent sides with this band for Vocalion. And leaving Albert, Cottrell joined Armand Piron whose orchestra was then working on the excursion steamers of the Streckfus Lines. The boat they played abroad would travel to St. Paul. It returned to New Orleans via the Mississippi the week after Labor Day. Cottrell next played with Paul Barbarin and rejoined the Sidney Desvignes Orchestra in 1942. He is still playing clarinet and tenor with a reorganized version of this band and with smaller groups lead by Peter Bocage and others.
The old French Albert system clarinet has less keys than models now commonly used, which makes it more difficult to finger. Cottrell, like most New Orleans clarinetists, prefers the Albert, however, because of its larger tone and a relatively simple construction which makes home repair possible.
Emanuel Sayles claims two major musical influences: his father, George (one of the best of the early Creole guitarists) and the country blues players he heard while growing up in rural Donaldsonville. After graduating from high school in New Orleans in 1924, Sayles left town with Edmond Hall in the Pensacola Jazzers. He was back two-years later at the Pelican Dance Hall with Ridgerly. Sayles played banjo with Fate Marable on the S.S. Capital, and the Jones-Collins Band at the LaVida and Astoria cabarets, recording with this band for Victor in 1929. He was in the Desvignes Orchestra at the Roof Garden and with Piron on the steamer “J.S.” and at the New Orleans Country Club. From 1939 until 1949 Sayles lived in Chicago, where he led his own small group with Johnny Lindsay on bass. Since moving back to New Orleans he has played with every kind of musical organization from smooth dance orchestras to a skiffle trio with “Slow Drag” and a bazooka player. His versatility has made Emanuel one of the few older New Orleans musicians who have not had t resort to a day job. He usually has some kind of gig most nights in the week.
McNeal Breaux, who has wonderful physical equipment for a bass player, was born in 1916. His first instrument was tuba, which he played in the famous brass band led by Henry Allen, Sr. After switching to string bass he played with Isaiah Morgan and with two local dance bands, the Dixie Syncopators and the Moonlight Seranaders. During World War II he was in a navy band and after his discharge he played with Barbarin and Papa Celestin. For the past few years he has divided his time between his restaurant and music. Breaux was in the good but short-lived Lawrence Marrero group of 1959 and now plays regularly with Sayles in the popular Sweet Emma Barrett Band.
Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau, one of the discoveries of the New Orleans revival of the ‘40s, was at Les Jeunes Amis Hall during one of the Trio’s recording sessions. He plays bass on the last track of Side 1, which has Sayles switching to banjo to match his rollicking sound.
The clarinet-and-string trio was the group that usually provided the entertainment at the birthday and surprise parties which were so much a part of the busy social life of the Creoles. The trio format gives Cottrell ample opportunity to demonstrate his Tio is composed of musicians who were recording with various other bands for Riverside and was organized specifically for these sessions. The first tracks of the Trio to be released – they were included in the pilot volume of this series – have proven so popular in New Orleans that the group has since become a working unit. The tunes, which range from decidedly back-country material to that Duke Ellington big band favorite, Perdido, reflect the varied experience of these musicians. Bourbon Street is one of the few places in New Orleans where the Negro brass bands do not march, but Bourbon Street Parade, written by Paul Barbarin, is one of the most recent tunes to become a New Orleans standard.
These then are performances of back porch music, New Orleans style. Their apparent effortlessness belies the artistry and taste that is required to make them the beautifully relaxed chamber pieces they are. This is the jazz of the Creoles at its best.
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. The musicians featured here, and the Cottrell group itself, can also be heard in the initial album in this series, which is an overall survey of the current Crescent City scene –
New Orleans: The Living Legends (RLP 356/357; Stereo 9356/9357 a two-LP set)
(This recording is also available in Stereophonic form on RLP 9385.)
Produced by CHRIS ALBERTSON
Cover designed KEN DEARDOFF
Cover photograph by RALSTON CRAWFORD
Back-liner photos by FLORENCE MARS
Recording Engineer: DAVE JONES
Riverside gratefully acknowledges the valuable assistance of Herb Friedwald in the planning and recording of this. We also wish to express thanks for the cooperation extended by Henry Zaccardi, assistant to the president, American Federation of Musicians; and New Orleans Local 174 and 498; A.F. of M.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street, New York 36, New York