The First ‘Cajun’ Recording | Mark Berresford RARE RECORDS | Mark Berresford

The First ‘Cajun’ Recording


Last December I was very fortunate enough to acquire what is probably the finest collection assembled of Jazz and Blues 78s recorded in New Orleans in the 'Golden Age' - the 1920s.

As well as immaculate copies of all the classic sides by Sam Morgan, Celestin’s Tuxedo Orchestra, Johnny Bayersdorffer etc., there was something I’d never seen, or even heard of before. It looks like a normal c. 1925 OKeh 78, but with ‘Roach Record No. 2-A’ and ‘Roach Record No. 2-B’ in place of the normal OKeh catalogue number. The A side has one James F. Roach, accompanied at the piano by Agnes Farrell Roach singing the Cajun song ‘Gué Gué Solingaie’, whilst on the reverse Agnes Farrell Roach plays the piano solo ‘Reflets Ians L’Eau’ [sic], which is best described as ‘Debussy-esque’. 

This recording of ‘Gué Gué Solingaie’ is thus the oldest known recording of a Cajun song by some three years. As for ‘Roach Record No. 2’ James F. Roach sings ‘Gué Gué Solingaie’, a known Cajun song (also called ‘Song of the Crocodile’) in a classically-trained manner - after all he was no Cajun, but a respected physician, originally from St. Louis. However, its importance is that is is the first!

An excellent, in-depth blog article on this song and more about James F. Roach can be found at http://earlycajunmusic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/gue-gue-solingaie-dr-james-roach.html

The matrices are 8889-a and 8911-a. 8911-a is the first traced matrix of the January 1925 OKeh field trip to New Orleans which were recorded in the four-storey  Junius Hart Piano House at 123 Carondelet Street. Matrices 8886-8888 have never been traced and at least two of them may be what went to make up ‘Roach Record 1’ - if such a disc was ever issued.

Until my copy surfaced, only one copy has ever been found of this disc, and no label photos have been made available, nor the music made available to collectors. However I will be selling this disc shortly (not before quality transfers are made), on eBay, so if you are interested, make sure you get onto my Mailing List!

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