RIP Cosimo Matassa // Ernie K-Doe :: There’s A Will

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Before stopping in at Dooky Chase’s for some fried chicken and soul food or swinging by Café Du Monde for beignets while strolling through the French Quarter, most out-of-towners kick off their stay in the Crescent City by dropping a few bucks at a local music and gift shop and scooping up either the red or green box.   These boxes serve not only as a colorful soundtrack to the few days spent it the cultural mecca of the South, but also as a reminder of the magic and musical history of the city they unabashedly call their second home.   These boxes are, of course, the two Cosimo Matassa collections, which serve as an awesomely complete retrospective of R&B music from New Orleans spanning from the 40s to the 70s.   Matassa, the man behind J&M Studios and other New Orleans institutions (and nearly wholly responsible for the “New Orleans Sound”) died Thursday, at the age of 88. In short, if you hold any native New Orleans tune dear to your heart, whether it be Jessie Hill’s “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”, Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” or the Professor’s whistlin’ “Go to the Mardi Gras,” Cosimo was there and recording.

R&B lover’s world-wide tip their hats and dance a long-distance Second Line for this legend that brought to our ears the endless musical wonders of Little Richard, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and many many more. words / p dufrene

Ernie K-Doe :: There’s A Will

5 thoughts on “RIP Cosimo Matassa // Ernie K-Doe :: There’s A Will

  1. In August 1971, a snotty-nosed kid who thought he knew everything was permitted to play a two-track tape of a rock opera I had composed and recorded at home at a small studio nestled in downtown New Orleans. I was that snotty-nosed kid, the studio was Jazz City Studios, and the man who listened to my ambitious work was none other than Cosimo Matassa.

    Cosimo allowed me to use unbooked studio time to assemble a better recording of my work on the studio’s 8-track system. He allowed me to experiment with the tools which were available, even when he knew that in many cases, the end result would not be what I anticipated. Neither Cosimo, or his assistant, Skip, ever gave me a hard time over this – although they had every right to. That’s okay – I beat myself up over my stupidity to make up for it.

    You have never heard the master tapes of this, or the follow-up album I recorded there – and you should consider yourself lucky; however, in retrospect, what I recorded back then wasn’t as important as the fact that Cosimo spent a wealth of his spare time – which he didn’t have to – in the studio for an unknown like me. I am forever grateful that he did!

    When not in the studio, I had many phone conversations with Cosimo, and I was glad that he took the time to talk with me. If he wasn’t home, his wife was especially kind, and suggested the best time to call back. He never dodged any of my calls – he was as happy to hear from me as I was privileged to speak with him.

    It was a total surprise that the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame finally decided to induct the engineers who gave so much of themselves for our listening enjoyment, whose work made it possible to hear the artists and groups in the best possible light; however, I was not surprised that Cosimo was the first to be inducted. It was a thrill to know that he was still alive to receive the award – a posthumous award would have been unforgivable.

    As I sit here at my music “brain center” 40 years later, I can honestly say that much of what I learned about the recording process began when I started working with Cosimo Matassa, and the main reason I moved forward to embrace the new digital music technology was because that’s what he did.

    Had we never met, maybe I’d still be playing and recording, but it would have been without the sense of direction ingrained in me as a result of the time we spent working together, as well as those numerous one-on-one discussions which others would have paid a high price for the privilege.

    Cosimo, when I met you I was musically ignorant, and you made me feel knowledgeable; my techniques were clumsy, and you made me feel graceful; most importantly, I was a nobody, and you truly made me feel like someone special. The world has become a better place because of you – thank you so much for everything, Cosimo!

    – Roland St.Germain
    September 15, 2014, 11:30 pm

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