There is no music more joyful, more deep, more rich or more effing FUN as the recordings which came out of the Cosimo Matassa studio during the 1950 to 1970 period he was documenting New Orleans R&B. Earl King. Bobby Charles. T-Bone Walker. Pee Wee Crayton, and yes Fess. Hidden down on Rampart Street, in the 1950s, the breeding ground zero for the origins of funk.
Cosimo was a New Orleans native and he got it. How could he not? He was surrounded by music his entire life, and yet there was not a recording studio in his, THE most musical city in the world.
The only place drums from slaves could have been retained long enough to meet uptight scales from Europe and make some Jazz...and to end up in whorehouses and jukeboxes.
Cosimo opened the first proper New Orleans recording studio around 1947. The musical blood of that city recorded there for decades. Fats. Smiley. Guitar Slim, Lowell Fusion and the remarkable sounds of the Sha-weez. Art Neville's Mardi Gras Mambo way back in 1955. From Little Bo to Little Richard. The extraordinary conglomeration known as Sugar Boy Crawford and his Cane Cutters.
Normally when a figure as important and long active passes, it might be hard to catch up...fortunately the PROPER label had the wisdom to collect some of the deepest roots to be planted south of the dixie line. The box set THE COSIMO MATASSA STORY, which I suppose will set you back some 20 bucks, is a 4 disc set with a fat book and it is something every single person intersted in American Music should own.
Cosimo Matassa RIP