Photographs and souvenirs from The Cosimo Era.
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The two pieces above represent the long-awaited 'holy grail' of Soul Detective's Case One, and prove beyond any doubt that Joe Haywood did indeed record in New Orleans, and that Cosimo Recording, the studio on Governor Nicholls, was active until at least May of 1968. This tape box was acquired by Ace as part of the 1990 deal in which they purchased the entire Modern/Flair/RPM/Kent catalogue from the Bihari brothers, and is reproduced here courtesy of Roger Armstrong at Ace. The 5/10/68 'safety tape' mentioned was almost certainly for the Kent 490 release, as a B.B. King tape box for Kent 492 bears a date of May 27, 1968.
This February 1960 'pre-code' invoice for a 1959 Vin Records Mac Rebennack session (which apparently remains unreleased) comes to us courtesy of Rob Finnis, who said he "picked it up off the floor" during a 1970 visit with Johnny Vincent in Jackson, Mississippi (with Johnny's permission of course). Note the red 'sqiggly line' graphic along the top, that is replicated on the acetate label below.
In 1960, the F.T. Nicholls High School Dance Band cut a demo 45 on an Audiodisc blank acetate at Cosimo Recording Studios, over which Cosimo pasted his own unique label. Firehouse Rag b/w Moonlight In Vermont, were cut (according to the band's bass player Norm Hellmers) "to get us more gigs... It was the first time anyone (Cosimo himself) put a 'pick-up' mic on my bass. I've read that Cosimo liked a heavy bass sound, so I assume I had my own track. I don't know who arranged for us to make the recording, but we knew we were in a special place working with a special person... it was a small space and there were mikes and audio cables everywhere. Both pieces were recorded in just a couple of takes." The clarinet player in that band, Frank Sanders, would go on to play sax for Mike & The Jokers.
Ike Turner certainly lived up to his reputation as a hard worker in the studio as evidenced by these three track sheets from a late August 1964 Governor Nicholls Street session. Most of these tracks were released by Ace just last year on Ike Turner Studio Productions: New Orleans And Los Angeles 1963-65.
From earlier in 1964 comes this track sheet from a session that was apparently booked by Huey Meaux, but ended up being conducted by Texas songwriter and sometimes Meaux collaborator, Jack Rhodes. There is no artist listed, and so far none of the song titles have provided any clues. Huey broke with Matassa later that year in a dispute over an Eddie Powers release (on Pitassy 204), but judging from the crossed out name here, the handwriting may have already been on the wall.
It is interesting to note that on all of these sheets, the File Number begins with the same Client Number used in the Cosimo Code prefix for that customer. These studio records would seem to indicate that Cosimo did keep his master tapes in good order at one time. We still don't know the complete story of what happened to his precious tapes after the collapse of Dover.
This 1961 A.F.M. musician's sheet comes from Johnny Vincent's Ace Records files courtesy of Woody Sistrunk and Jeff Hannusch. "Not Like A Brother" was allocated 94-306 on Ace 634; Happy Times"/"Green Light" 94-358 on Ace EP 642; and "Our Love" was originally unissued. This sheet would seem to confirm that matrix numbers were allocated only when a title was mastered for release. The fact that the studio band that day included Harold Battiste, Red Tyler, Chuck Badie and Mac Rebennack speaks volumes about the quality of the music that was recorded at Cosimo's.
Above, courtesy of John Broven, is a 'pre-Code' track sheet from the early days on Governor Nicholls. Supervised by Harold Battiste for Specialty, the session included both Larry Williams and Art Neville. That's a lot of talent under one roof!
Photo taken by Roger Armstrong outside Matassa's Grocery in The French Quarter.