As outlined in the above video (just click on the big yellow White Cliffs label), this website is dedicated to New Orleans studio genius Cosimo Matassa...
In 1960, Matassa began assigning hyphenated matrix numbers to the 45s he mastered at his studio on Governor Nicholls Street. We have recently discovered that these 'Cosimo Code' numbers followed a set chronological pattern. It is the mission of this site to attempt to log, by year, every known recording emblazoned with this code. An ongoing project, we welcome any new additions to the database you may find. Please check our Missing Numbers page, and if you come across a record with one of those codes, tell us about it via email.
Each of the 'year' pages (accessed from the navigation bar above) also contains commentary and pertinent facts about Crescent City music happenings during that particular year. There are links provided from each 45 to label scans and further information where available, as well as literally hundreds of playable sides. Clicking on the play button next to any track will open up an audio playlist for that page, and play all ensuing tracks in the order they were originally recorded.
THE COSIMO CODE YouTube CHANNEL
It is, after all, all about the music, and so we have created our own YouTube channel where we upload any coded tracks that were not previously available. Many of the audio links that had been posted by others on YouTube when we first went live with the site in 2013 have now disappeared, and we hope to replace them soon. Help us out!
At the top and bottom of each page, you will find a button that reads 'more' - clicking on it will guide you to a wealth of other information about this largely unexplored period in New Orleans music history, including pages that list Client Numbers, Dover Distributed Labels, Non-Coded Chart Hits, and suggested Further Reading.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE COSIMO CODE
by John Broven
A brief explanation of The Cosimo Code including how it came to be discovered, and what it represents. "By annotating the series for the first time, we are able to get a better all-round picture of the recording sessions carried out at the Cosimo studios..."
NEW COSIMO SEARCH FEATURE
You may now search the entire site with one click wherever you see this custom search field:
CRACKING THE COSIMO CODE
Released in conjunction with Ace Records in the UK, our first ever CD pulls together some of the best music ever recorded on Governor Nicholls Street, from the well-known to the obscure, complete with a companion 28 page booklet of rare photos and in-depth liner notes by founding members John Broven, Red Kelly and John Ridley. Simply essential, click here for track listing, reviews and ordering information.
A TRIBUTE TO COSIMO MATASSA
- A Fond Farewell to the true Architect of Rock & Roll and The Godfather of New Orleans R&B by John Broven
As we're sure you know by now, New Orleans Legend, Hall of Fame engineer, producer and much-loved family man Cosimo Matassa passed away on September 11th, 2014. If you haven't already, please take the time to read John Broven's heartfelt tribute to Cosimo, whom he describes as "A Treasure of a Man."
THE SECOND LINE
In-depth appreciations of some towering figures in the history of Crescent City music who have gone before us to The Glory Land, written by John Broven, Jeff Hannusch and Red Kelly.
THE MAGIC OF COSIMO MATASSA
On April 12, 2015, a panel discussion about Cosimo was held in New Orleans as part of the French Quarter Festival's Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music series. Moderated by John Broven, the panel featured Allen Toussaint and Deacon John (who surprised all of us with impromptu performances of a couple of Minit classics), along with a presentation about The Code by Red Kelly. Click here to view a video of the event.
BOBBY ROBINSON IN NEW ORLEANS
"Lee Dorsey was a terrific vocalist who I worked with in New Orleans at Cosimo's Studio beginning in 1961..." Bobby Robinson has said. Now, thanks to actual session sheets and master tapes recently uncovered by Rob Santos in the SONY vaults, we take a closer look at some of the records that both Bobby and his infamous partner Marshall Sehorn cut down on Governor Nicholls, including an interesting discovery about one of Lee's biggest hits.
JERRY LEE LEWIS at J&M STUDIOS
It's a little known fact that 'The Killer', Jerry Lee Lewis, cut his initial demo recordings at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios in New Orleans in 1952. First-time Cosimo Code contributor Jay Halsey explains the circumstances surrounding that session, and shares the raw energy of those tracks with us.
JOHN 'SCARFACE' WILLIAMS
The first ever in-depth look at New Orleans legend John 'Scarface' Williams, written for us by his daughter, Deborah. A founding member of Huey Smith's Clowns, Williams went on to lead his own group, The Tick Tocks, and head his own tribe of Mardi Gras Indians during his remarkable life. Annotated by John Broven, Deborah Williams tells her father's story through never before seen photographs, some rare audio, and a surprising video clip!
RIC & RON RECORDS
Be sure to check out our Ric and Ron Page, where celebrated New Orleans author Jeff Hannusch tells the story of how, with the help of R&B legend Tommy Ridgley, he tracked down the missing Ric and Ron masters and set about re-issuing this timeless music for a new generation. Thanks to Scott Billington and Adam Taylor at Rounder, Jeff has also provided us with some amazing images.
Originally thought to only apply to 45s, in the course of compiling this list we've learned that The Code was also used for EPs and LPs, following the same sequential pattern. Our new LPs Page gathers together all known 'coded' LPs. - Many thanks go to Peter Hoogers for digging deep and unearthing these rarities, and for sharing his scans with us. As always, any new additions you might have.
Our Artifacts pages gather together more previously unseen high quality photographs, studio session sheets and tape boxes from the bygone era when the Code was King. Divided into sections for both Cosimo Recording and Jazz City, newly discovered items are added as we receive them. We welcome any new additions you might come across, just send them along to us via email.
RHYTHM & BLUES IN NEW ORLEANS
Celebrated author (and Cosimo Code co-founder) John Broven is proud to announce the publication of a completely revised and updated edition of his award-winning 1974 classic that introduced New Orleans R&B to the rest of the world. With over 100 more pages of newly conducted interviews and the author's own painstaking research, this expanded 2016 version is a must-have for any fan of Crescent City music! Click here for reviews and more information.