Thursday, March 15, 2012
March 15: Cosimo Matassa
While most of the "big names" in the world of music, especially on the "non-musical" side of things do not reach their full potential until they are well into their twenties, Cosimo Matassa opened his own recording studio, J &M Recording Studio, in 1945 when he was only eighteen years old. He operated this out of the back of his family store in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and worked there for the better part of a decade, before moving to the much larger space he simply called Cosimo Recording Studios. However, it was in the first of these spaces where Matassa took part in the recording one of the most legendary songs in history, the 1949 recording of Fats Domino's song, "The Fat Man," which many argue as the "first" rock and roll record. Following the success of the single, Matassa moved to the larger studio, and in the latter place he would help another up-and-coming artist record an equally iconic track in the from of Little Richard's, "Tutti Frutti." Along with these two unforgettable songs, Matassa worked with artists ranging from Ray Charles to Dr. John to Lee Dorsey throughout his career, and many cite his work as the blueprint for what is now seen as the "New Orleans" sound. There is unquestionably a distinctive tone and vitality to each song on which he worked, and that in itself is a testament to the unique stills of Cosimo Matassa.
The fact that the recordings on which Matassa had such a stronger drum presence, as well as heavier sounds form the guitars and the inclusion of horns, pianos, and other instruments closely related with the New Orleans music scene is what instantly set it apart from the rest of the popular music of the era, and this approach would be fused into nearly every other genre of music. On a number of the songs he produced, one can also find a more aggressive and louder vocal presence, and this too is an integral part of what is now seen as the "New Orleans" approach to rock music. One can find massive influences from this approach in all of the "big" hits of the 1960's, and yet few people realize where the true roots of such musical techniques had arisen. It is due to this reality that one can easily argue that Cosimo Matassa stands as one of, if not the most overlooked producer and musical visionary of his generation, as there is no question that nearly every form of music would have failed to progress without his work. Decades later, his overall importance would begin to be noted, as the original J & M Recording Studios was made a historic landmark in 1999, and finally, in 2012, Matassa was set to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Easily on par with any other producer or originator in history, there has simply never been another individual who shaped music quite like Cosimo Matassa.
Posted by The Daily Guru at 1:37 AM