The Wild Tchoupitoulas (33 1/3) by Bryan Wagner
After the Second World War, New Orleans became a national hub for rhythm and blues as well as one of the incubators for rock ‘n’ roll. No institution in the city was more important to this music scene that J&M Studo (1945-56), a bare-bones outfit behind an appliance store on Rampart Street managed by Cosimo Matassa. This was where Roy Brown made “Good Rockin’ Tonight” in 1948, Fats Domino made “The Fat Man” in 1949, Lloyd Price made “lawdy Miis Clawdy” in 1952, and Little Richard made “Tutti Frutti” in 1955. J&M Studo was responsible for countless chart hits, engineered by Matassa and arranged by Dave Bertholomew, the leader of the studio band, who together achieved an elementary but elusive signature sound that session musician Mac Rebennack (later known as Dr. John) described as “strong drums, heavy bass, light piano, heavy guitar, light horn, and a strong vocal lead.” If you were an aspiring musician hoping to land a gig singing backup, outside J&M was the place to hang out, and in fact, this is how Art and his friend Issacher would up singing behind Little Richard on “The Girl Can’t Help It,” the theme to a movie starring Jayne Mansfield. Matassa eventually moved his studio operation to Cosimo Recording (1956-68), a converted warehouse in the French Quarter, which was where Art and Aaron began their careers as solo artists in the early 1960s.
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