It is a mistake of jazz history that Goudie has been previously overlooked. These web pages and associated audio programs aim to correct that oversight.
As he traveled the world this master musician lived at least four musical lives:
New Orleans c. 1918-25: A skilled and flexible musician his whole life, Goudie had mastered trumpet before 1920. He went on the road working and traveling in the Southwestern states and northern Mexico.
Paris 1924-55: One of the few to arrive on his own initiative, Goudie concentrated on tenor saxophone, and easily made the transition to Swing. Staying three decades he recorded, played and jammed with the jazz elite of Europe.
South America 1939-45: During WW II Goudie played various kinds of music: samba and samba-swing in high profile bands; he owned a small restaurant in Rio de Janeiro, and traveled extensively with his wife, Madeleine.
A striking figure fluent in several languages, Goudie was a thoroughly trained musician and cultured gentleman. Almost 6’ 5” and at least 250 pounds, he was called “Tree” in his youth. Massive and broad, “Big Boy" was powerfully built, large and tall, remaining fit and strong into his sixties, when he frequently sported a beret.
Pt. 1 - Discovering Frank "Big Boy" Goudie. Overview and introduction with music from Paris and San Francisco. Introducing . . . Pt. 1A.mp3 YOU IN MY ARMS AND SWEET MUSIC -- Frank Big Boy Goudie and his Orch, Paris 1939 THE GOLD DIGGER’S SONG -- Bill Erickson Quartet, Berkeley, CA, 1961 YOU AND I, BABE -- Frank Big Boy Goudie and his Orch, Paris 1939 IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE -- Frank Big Boy Goudie and his Orch, Paris 1939 SWEET GEORGIA BROWN -- Freddy Johnson, Arthur Briggs & Orch, Paris 1933 WHO’S SORRY NOW? -- Frank Big Boy Goudie and his Orch, Paris 1939 THE SHEIK -- Andre Ekyan and his Orchestra, Goudie (trumpet), Paris 1939 I AIN’T GOT NOBODY -- Bill Coleman and his Orchestra, Paris 1937
Introducing . . . Pt. 1B.mp3 ORGAN GRINDER’s SWING -- Willie Lewis and his Entertainers, Paris 1936 CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS -- Willie Lewis and his Entertainers, Paris 1936 BIG BOY BLUES -- Bill Coleman and his Orchestra, Paris 1937 BOURBON STREET PARADE -- EL Dorado Jazz Band, San Francisco area, 1960 SAVOY BLUES -- Frank Goudie, Oxtot, Girsback, Bardin, San Francisco area, 1959 I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY -- Frank Big Boy Goudie (trumpet, clarinet, sax), Paris 1935 WHEN YOU AND I WERE YOUNG, MAGGIE -- El Dorado Jazz Band, San Francisco, 1960
Pt. 2 - Goudie in Paris and Rio de Janiero, 1925-50
Paris and Rio, Pt. 2A.mp3 Early jazz in Paris. A description of Harlem in Montmartre between the world wars. Introduction to Josephine Baker and Bricktop's famed cabaret. Trumpet player Bill Coleman remembers Goudie and Paris. Goudie and the influence of Coleman Hawkins on European saxophonists.
Paris and Rio, Pt. 2B.mp3 Goudie’s friendship with gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. The first eyewitness account of Goudie in Rio de Janeiro c. 1944. With Bill Coleman at Club Chikito in Berne, Switzerland, 1949.
Goudie with Bob Mielke left and P.T. Stanton, at an East Bay dance hall, Pioneer Village c. 1958. Mielke collection
Pt. 3 - Goudie in San Francisco. Exploring his clarinet playing years in San Francisco, and New Orleans influences.
Goudie in San Francisco, Pt. 3A.mp3 Never previously issued performance tapes of Goudie with: Bill Erickson and Bob Mielke, Dick Oxtot from Pier 23 and Monkey Inn. Recollections of musicians who knew him.
Goudie in San Francisco, Pt. 3B.mp3 An investigation with Chris Tyle of Goudie’s New Orleans trumpet style & doubling on trumpet and reeds. More from Monkey Inn. Richard Hadlock reads Goudie’s eulogy from 1964.
To meet Goudie's San Francisco associates, click here. For only the music of Part Three, click here.
Big Boy: The Life and Music of Frank Goudie By Dan Vernhettes with Christine Goudie and Tony Baldwin 76 pages, 100 photographs, index and discography, 30 euros + postage
A sampling of Goudie’s music:
"You in my Arms and Sweet Music" "You and I, Babe" Frank Big Boy Goudie and his Orchestra, Paris 1939 These original Goudie compositions may be his most delightful European recordings. They're certainly among the best examples of his Coleman Hawkins-inspired tenor saxophone style. Leading this septet Goudie comes on strong, with solos from trumpeter Jack Butler, Joe Turner, piano and French alto saxophonist, Andre Ekyan.
“I’ve Found a New Baby” Frank Big Boy Goudie, Paris 1935 Goudie’s celebrated triple-threat recording. He solos on trumpet, tenor sax and clarinet in quick succession backed by Django on guitar and Grappelli, piano!
“Just a Closer Walk” Estuary Jazz Band, San Francisco, 1959 With a band led by pianist (and sometimes trumpet player) Bill Erickson, Bob Mielke, trombone.
At last a fitting and gorgeous biography of Frank “Big Boy” Goudie brings this overlooked, wandering jazz multi-instrumentalist into clear focus. With nearly 100 photos, this handsome full-color, limited edition 76-page volume encompasses the full scope of his monumental life.
Author Dan Vernhettes -- in association with Goudie’s daughter and researcher Tony Baldwin -- fully documents and illustrates one of the most astonishing and colorful lives of jazz.
A remarkable feat of documentary research, the writing flows well, concisely cross-referencing eyewitness accounts, clippings, articles and swaths of previously unpublished photographs. For the first time a comprehensive illustrated discography of Goudie’s music has been compiled, including his many unissued San Francisco performance tapes.
The main heft of the book lies in Big Boy’s three decades playing tenor sax (mostly) in Europe and South America. Yet every aspect of his globe-spanning saga is given full measure. Each chapter presents vivid new details placing him in context among illustrious colleagues and circumstances.
• Emergence in golden era New Orleans and early travels through the Southwest and Mexico, an itinerant trumpet and clarinet player. • His 1924 arrival in Paris even before Josephine Baker, and decades as an esteemed African American jazzman playing tenor sax in Europe. • A detailed account of his years flourishing in South America, 1939-45. • Frank’s role in the San Francisco jazz revival 1956-63 playing clarinet (exclusively) peppered with photographs and recollections of his fellow musicians -- many supplied by this reviewer.
This book solidly establishes Frank Goudie’s bona fides as a jazzman of the first order. It captures the vast sweep of a journey through the heart of jazz second to none in the last century: kudos to the authors.
Goudie waxed almost a dozen sides with Django and they're among his best. He and the gypsy guitarist were well acquainted and their intimate late-night jam sessions are legend. Being among the best black American jazz musicians performing in Paris, Goudie performed at a half-dozen of the important jazz concerts of 1934-36 that introduced Django to Parisian swing audiences.
Django is one of the few topics from his European years that Goudie was willing to discuss in California. He told Jim Leigh about Django’s obsessive desire to play music endlessly after a trip away from Paris visiting his gypsy people: “He always wants to be playing, even when everybody else is falling out . . . three jobs, one day. Always some one little place he wanted to go . . . a little out of town, some cafe, some little kind of place . . . . You better hide your head, go sleep at some woman’s place, stay out of his way so he didn’t keep you going three-four days, no stopping. The man will drive you to play, you understand?” Heaven on the Side, James Leigh, 2000 (self-published)
The astonishing Goudie triple-threat:
Recording on tenor sax, clarinet and trumpet, all on one disc, with Django and Grappelli (piano), 1935.
Although there's not a great deal of information on Goudie's earliest years in New Orleans, what does seem evident is his primary instrument was cornet. Jazz histories indicate he worked with Oscar "Papa" Celestin's Tuxedo Orchestra, and he would have been required to read music and play decent jazz solos as a member of that group. Celestin's orchestra was well regarded in New Orleans as a dance band, not strictly a jazz band. He always had a second cornetist who was a good jazz soloist, as he didn't feel he was good at it. "Kid Shots" Madison and Guy Kelly both held the second cornet chair in Celestin's band, and both men proved on recordings to be excellent jazz players. "Black Rag," Tuxedo Orchestra, "Kid Shots" & Celestin, trumpets 1925 "Original Tuxedo Rag," Tuxedo Orchestra, "Kid Shots" & Celestin, trumpets 1925
By the time Goudie made his first records on trumpet in 1935, he would have had approximately 20 years of experience playing the horn, and what is apparent on these recordings is an assuredness and ability to get around the instrument easily. His playing of the lead especially illustrates the New Orleans concept of adhering closely to the melody for the first chorus - a quality that stuck with him for the rest of his life. (Trombonist Bob Mielke mentions Frank's excellent knowledge of melodies when playing clarinet.) For example, on Andre' Ekyan's recording of "The Sheik" from May 1939 his playing on the first chorus sounds as if he's reading it (which is definitely not the case, as by then it was a jam session chestnut).
His first session as a leader, from August 1935, could in some respects be considered a demonstration of his talents as a musician, as he switches between trumpet, tenor sax and clarinet. This is quite a feat, as each instrument utilizes a different embouchure and uses different facial muscles. Yet he pulls it off with seemingly great ease.
Goudie's trumpet playing on the last chorus of "St. Louis Blues," is remarkable as he plays up to a concert "D" above the staff, an impressive illustration of his command of the instrument.
Returning to "The Sheik" from 1939, his two choruses at the end suffer slightly from a roughness of tone which is likely attributed to his doubling with the reed instruments. Interestingly this same sound can be heard in the trumpet playing of Tommy Dorsey - another "doubler." Actually Goudie's playing is remarkably similar to Dorsey's.
On "Darktown Strutter's Ball" with Ekyan, Goudie exhibits a much more sparse approach in comparison to "The Sheik," where, when soloing, he plays more notes in a "swing" style. On this performance his playing seems more on the order of Bunk Johnson - definitely more of a New Orleans approach.
Unfortunately, the 1939 session with Ekyan would be his last recording on trumpet. Yet he didn't give it up completely. Although he was rarely heard on the instrument during his years in San Francisco, one musician described his playing as “...beautiful. Very sweet. A lot like Bix Beiderbecke, believe it or not.”
and alto saxophone player Andre Ekyan was a significant pioneer of jazz
in France. He was a self-taught arranger, bandleader and jazz
organizer, born to a Hungarian mother and father from Armenia.
He was at the center of jazz development in France vigorously developing
and promoting jazz at clubs and cabarets. He established wide
popularity in London and Paris during the early thirties, and then from
1935-46 recorded as a leader and sideman.
Ekyan recorded with Big
Boy Goudie several times, and the cream of French and American jazz
musicians visiting Europe and Britain: Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins,
Fats Waller, Tommy Dorsey, Ray Ventura, Mezz Mezzrow and Tommy Benford.
He made several recordings with Goudie in the mid-30s. His clarinet and alto solos were frequently heard on Django's records.
Ekyan was a famed promoter of jam sessions, in French called “Des Boeufs.”
These tracks from 1939-41 display Ekyan as a major
talent and one of the few European saxophonists thinking beyond the
style of Coleman Hawkins:
Frank Big Boy Goudie and his Orchestra, 5.28.39 Andre Ekyan clarinet and alto; Jack Butler, tpt; Goudie, tenor sax; Joe Turner, piano; Norman Langlois, gtr; Wilson Meyers, bass; Tommy Benford, drums (Special thanks to Rune Sjögren)
No recordings from the partnership of Goudie and Aleman have yet surfaced. But this quintet of Aleman with clarinetist Eddie Bruner, Gus Viseur accordion and Tommy Benford drums in 1939 is a good representation of his music.
Frank Goudie's daughter reports that he worked with French bandleader, Ray Ventura, who was also in Latin America during WW II.
Richard Hadlock, a noted clarinet and soprano saxophone player, jazz writer and broadcaster, knew of Goudie when he lived in South America c. 1944 (his father worked for RCA Victor in Rio). He later heard and worked with him in San Francisco.
At more than 6’ 3” notes Hadlock, Frank “Big Boy” Goudie “stood out” among Brazilians. He was a local celebrity and versatile reed man in Samba bands at nightclubs, hotels and recording dates. Goudie was also playing reeds in the large swing & samba orchestra of Aristides Zaccarias (right).
An aspiring musician, Richard was taken to hear the Zaccarias orchestra of 5 brass, 5 reeds and 4 rhythm instruments at the Copacabana in Rio. He recalls that Goudie was “a section player” (clarinet, alto and tenor sax) who might have stood for a solo.
There's more to the story because Hadlock was tutored by the bandleader and allowed to rehearse with his band at the Copa. He speculates that, because Zaccarias was a very good saxophone player, its unlikely he gave many solos away to Big Boy. In Richard's opinion, 'Zac', as he calls him, was a very good saxophone player but lacked a feel for jazz:
Hadlock on Zaccarias.mp3 Hadlock rehearsed with Zaccarias.mp3 Later
in San Francisco he visited Goudie’s upholstery workshop. It was a tiny space
slightly below street level that he found, “not very promising as an
enterprise.” He and Goudie were fellow working musicians in those
years. Hadlock thought him a gentleman and sensible musician: “very pleasant, nice phrasing . . . no showing off on his instrument.”
Great thanks to Mr. Hadlock for these recollections.
In Rio de Janeiro around 1944, Goudie was performing with the very
successful band of Aristides Zaccarias at the luxurious Copacabana Palace Hotel(right).
In South America 1939-45 Big Boy's activities in Rio, Brazil included recording samba and samba-related music.He performed and probably recorded with Aristides Zaccarias who waxed some of the biggest hits of Brazilian music.
No records of Goudie in South America have yet surfaced. But these tracks are typical of the very popular samba-swing orchestra of Zaccarias e su Orchestra. The first two display the fine saxophone section and soloing by Aristides noted by Richard Hadlock.
Open letter from Christine Goudie, daughter of FBBG:
big thank you Dave for opening the door that allowed me to follow the
path of Frank Big Boy Goudie, "Mon Père de Coeur" through his musical
career. A career that you have so well reconstructed and that lives
through your writings, the testimonies, the photos and recordings.
exchanges and your researches have transported me into this world many
times: moments of great joy, through his music: great emotion and
My thoughts are going today towards my mother
Madeleine Boissin. She was married with Frank during 13 years (she died
November 16, 2012). She never forgot him, and he held such a big place
in her heart.
Great thanks for your very nice gift to myself, my children, Aude and Arnaud, and My Little Girl Clara.
Le Cafe à Rio
Goudie also owned, “a very French restaurant
just around the corner” from Hadlock's residence, which was operated by his wife, seen left.
Though Richard never ate there, he often glanced through the front window into its neat, “4 or 5
tables with red checked tablecloths, just like a Parisian movie set,” adding, “Goudie always had something going.”
Bill Coleman Paris, Kentucky, 1904-1981 Toulouse, France
In his memoir, Bill Coleman says flatly that Goudie was seven feet tall. His book fills in some details of Goudie’s European years, particularly the late 40s when they occasionally worked and traveled together.
He reports first seeing Goudie in Paris playing tenor sax with Spencer Williams at the hotel bar of Chez Lisieux in 1927, and with pianist Freddy Johnson's band at Bricktop’s in 1929. Somewhere along the way they became well acquainted and worked together in the Willie Lewis band and with Django in the mid 30s.
Coleman fondly recalled the atmosphere of camaradarie among musicians in Montmartre: the sitting about, gambling and drinking in bars, bistros and billiard halls. Besides Bricktop's, popular hangouts included Lisieux’s, a joint called the Flea Pit and Boudon’s cafe, the latter memorialized in Dickie Wells’ langorous “Hangin’ Around Boudon,” recorded in Paris 1936. His description of the situation in Montmartre is tantalizing: “Between Boudon’s and Lisieux’s was a little Harlem in the early morning when all the night spots were closed. The American musicians and entertainers gathered in those bars and the stores with the ‘tabac’ signs.” Trumpet Story, Bill Coleman Northeastern University Press, 1981/1990
Coleman returned to Paris in the late 40s searching for his jazz buddies at the ‘tabac.’ When he found Goudie they sort of partnered-up, sometimes working and traveling together in the late 40s.
fact, Goudie helped smooth the path for Bill Coleman’s first job
running his own band. He approached Bill in mid-1949 with organizers
for a club he’d been playing in Bern, Switzerland with Glyn Paque, the
“Chikito.” And Goudie was on stage when Coleman opened at this very
popular venue in November 1949. It’s reported that Goudie
also played with Coleman in Paris around this time. And yet despite a
musical friendship of decades there are no recordings of them together
after c. 1937. Photo: Frank Driggs, Swing Records
I believe that many of the best
photos of Goudie on this page were taken at the Chikito club in Bern, or
around the time of those gigs. Photo above is Big Boy and Coleman in Paris, 1938. Note the 'tabac' sign.
Goudie with the Bill Coleman Orchestra, 1949 Bern, Switzerland
Aside from recording sessions this was Coleman's first band, initiated in part by Goudie.
L to R: Norman Lester, Arstella Whittier, Bill Coleman, trumpet and band leader, Georgie Smith, Frank Goudie, tenor, Bass Hill, Fred Palmer (Bucher Bern, JazzIndex)
SIDEBAR: Early years: In New Orleans and on the road, 1915-1925
Frank Goudie’s decade playing trumpet 1915-25 is largely undocumented and there are no recordings.
In New Orleans Goudie had heard Freddie Keppard, Mutt Carey and Bunk Johnson and might have been tutored some by the latter. He must have been pretty good because observers rated him highly and he worked in a couple of the better Golden Age New Orleans bands: Magnolia and Papa Celestin’s Tuxedo. Tuxedo followed the gradual evolution of early New Orleans bands from late ragtime to King Oliver-stye two trumpet front line. For context Celestin's New Orleans recordings provide a general point of reference (trumpets are Celestin & "Kid Shots" Madison: "Original Tuxedo Rag" Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, 1925 "Black Rag" Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, 1925
One notable influence on Goudie around this time that may have inspired him to take up clarinet was George "Georgia Boy" Boyd. Between 1913 and the early 20s Boyd worked with several top New Orleans bandleaders: Jack Carey, Chris Kelly, Punch Miller and Kid Rena. Little is known of Boyd and he never recorded.
Golden Age New Orleans music ended abruptly around 1918 when the world famous bordellos ofStoryville district were closed. Like notable Crescent City musicians, Freddie Keppard, Joe Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton, Goudie hit the road and ventured far from Louisiana.
On the Road, 1921-25 In the early 1920s Frank Goudie’s travels took him to Texas, New Mexico and California performing in what has been loosely called Minstrel shows. This generic term requires some definition because it can describe a wide range of entertainments. It most commonly refers to the racist “black face” sketch comedy and music of the 1800s.
But in reference to the 1920s, it may refer to a spectrum of performance genres. Somewhere beneath the level called Vaudeville, there were a wide range of entertainments of various kinds and quality. These were offered by troupes at local theaters or open air tents and stages. Sometimes called medicine shows or tent shows, they were merely the bottom rung of show business and not necessarily "minstrel" at all. Such outfits could have required almost anything of Goudie musically: popular tunes, rags, rudimentary jazz, march music, accompaniment to singers; or backing for dancers, jugglers, comedians and animal acts. And there may have been blackface. It was in the Southern states.
Goudie was eventually invited to Tampico, Mexico around 1924-25 for an extended residency replacing Charlie Love at the Tivoli Club resort. There Love took time to teach him some of the music and routines and they apparently became good friends and roommates. This connection might be one clue to Goudie’s trumpet influences. Of those who subsequently heard Goudie play, Charlie Love is the closest point of stylistic reference. Yet we must recall that this encounter came well after his New Orleans career.
I think one of the reasons Goudie was omitted from jazz histories is that he simply had been gone too long when the study of New Orleans jazz started in the 30s. In the decades when oral histories were being collected he was jamming with Django in Paris, waiting out the war in South America, or playing in Switzerland, Germany or San Francisco. And later in California, for unexplained reasons of his own, he was extremely reticent about discussing his previous life or music.
Goudie in Germany Berlin 4.13.53
Gabriel Dores and Wolf Schneider, trumpets Goudie, clarinet and tenor sax Helmuth Wernicke, piano Wolf van Well, guitar Teddy Lenz, bass Tom "Eminenz Roberts, drums
Thanks to Jean-François Villetard and Dan Vernhettes for supplying these rare Goudie sides.
SIDEBAR: Éducation musicale?
In general its been suggested that Goudie had no formal musical training, that he was largely self-taught. However, he played at least seven instruments at one time or another: clarinet, alto and tenor sax, trumpet and guitar; piano and fiddle in his youth. Jim Leigh wrote that, "He knew his horn, his ear was excellent, he could read anything."
In San Francisco around 1960 trombonist Bob Mielke, knowing almost nothing of his past, found Goudie to be “more knowledgeable than a lot of people probably assumed.” Bob was impressed with the depth of his musical knowledge, well beyond jazz.
For instance, Goudie knew the musical technique known as solfeggio or solfege. (A complex ear training and vocal exercise in which notes are sung with the do-re-me-fa-sol-la syllables to represent the tones of a melody or scale.) He could perform it in both basic (fixed do) and advanced (moveable do) method.
He theorized Goudie must have had of some sort of formal musical training, calling him ‘a musician’s musician’ who, “admired people who knew what they were doing and were well schooled.” Mielke was firmly convinced that Goudie’s level of musical knowledge could only involve conservatory training of some sort, perhaps in Paris.And there is other evidence of his advanced musical knowledge and studies.
His daughter, Christine Goudie, reports that Frank did composing and arranging work in Switzerland and Germany in the late Forties, publishing at least one composition of his own. Because he was often traveling, he used a harmonium when working.
“Behind his easy smile lies one of the most colorful stories in jazz.” --Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 7.63
(Photograph by William Carter c.1960.)
SIDEBAR: New Orléans à San Francisco, 1956-64 Despite
his travels and worldly sophistication Goudie maintained several
traditions from his Louisiana youth: the French language and pride in
his upholsterer’s trade craft. He followed the New Orleans musician’s
tradition of proudly keeping a trade, in his case upholstery. In fact
one of his motivations for moving to San Francisco was that he had
inherited a very small upholstery business from a relative.
these years playing clarinet in West Coast New Orleans revival bands,
the musical style and training of Frank’s youth in Louisiana
re-emerged. Among his confederates, Jim Leigh mentions his penchant for
soul food: beans and rice, cooked greens and barbeque. But Leigh
confided that most of their dining was done in restaurants, Goudie was
NOT a good cook. (It was perhaps his one failing as a New Orleanean.)
concur with Bill Carter that Goudie was, “good but not great.” He was a
very capable New Orleans clarinet player with a distinctly Louisiana Creole
clarinet manner. (As to whether Goudie might have been Creole its
unclear, but he was originally from French-speaking Louisiana Cajun
Goudie’s music c. 1960 is well documented by the
performances archived on this web page. He was comfortable with
collective New Orleans polyphony of multiple interacting melodic lines
spontaneously improvised by the front-line horns. He could easily solo
at length and was familiar with the repertory of pre-Swing jazz tunes.
All of which made Frank desirable to the New Orleans revival style bands
around San Francisco in which he worked during that era.
Though he was a cosmopolitan man of the world, Frank Big Boy Goudie remained a man of New Orleans to the core.
Goudie was profiled in the San Francisco Examiner by Richard Hadlock, Sunday July 28, 1963.
Click here or on the image to download a .pdf file of the entire article.
ARCHIVE MUSIC: Despite numerous flaws these recordings are far superior to what
has previously been heard of Goudie in San Francisco, in range, sound and performance
quality. Frank Goudie with El Dorado Jazz Band (under the direction of Jim Leigh)
These archival performances are notable for showing Goudie in a New Orleans revival setting. He demonstrates an ability to both support the ensemble with polyphonic counter melody or easily sustain lengthy improvised solos with clear purpose and stately ease.
Goudie lacks the power and thrust of the best New Orleans reed
players players but his basic vocabulary is more Crescent City than Windy
City: more New Orleans creole than hot Chicago. And evidence of Frank’s New Orleans heritage is strong in the pungent burr to his tone and un-rushed even eighth notes (even if cornet, not clarinet was his instrument back in the day).
“Dallas Blues” is included despite lacking a Goudie solo for the under-appreciated singing of Danny Ruedger.
Mel’s Palm Bowl 1960 Goudie, clarinet Jim Borkenhagen, trumpet Jim Leigh, trombone Dan Ruedger, banjo & vocals Squire Girsback, bass Lindsey Greene, drums
Once Goudie cast his lot with the younger revival jazz crowd he was soon working regularly at Pier 23. The Pier was (and still is) a popular dive and jazz bar on the San Francisco waterfront.
Local music critic Ralph J. Gleason memorialized the dockside joint in liner notes for Burt Bales’ 1958 album, On the Waterfront:
“In San Francisco for some years now the Embarcadero (the dockside road than runs along the Bay waterfront wharves) has been a sort of North Rampart Street with Dixieland jazz floating out over the waters of the Bay every night from the Tin Angel and Pier 23, that converted dock wallopers lunchroom where Burt plays.”
In 1959 a few radio remotes briefly emanated from Pier 23, organized by radio DJ and personality “Hambone Lee” Crosby. So-called ‘Estuary jazz group’ (aka Waterfront Jazz Society) existed only for radio broadcast and was similar to Mielke’s Bearcats, except that it featured Burt Bales, a girl singer (actually under 18 years of age), Dick Oxtot, Goudie stepping it up a notch on-air.
Estuary was directed by Burt Bales (piano and vocals), then at the top of his game and a frequent guest of the Bearcats with Bill Erickson (trumpet) and Bob Mielke (trombone). The swinging four-beat rhythm section was equivalent to Mielke’s: Dick Oxtot (banjo), Squire Girsback (string bass) and Bob Osibin (drums). Notably, all these musicians hired Goudie at one time or another with the exception of Osibin.
Master of ceremonies Lee Crosby hosted the handful of shows touting the colorful dockside setting, “tugboats, switch engines and glasses clinking.” Some were broadcast as early experiments in stereo: left and right signals transmitted simultaneously on mono AM and FM stations. But the hoped-for TV coverage never developed.
Frank Goudie with Estuary Jazz group, 1959 Live broadcast from Pier 23, San Francisco, California KGO (AM & FM dual mono/stereo broadcast)
Bill Erickson, trumpet Bob Mielke, trombone Dick Oxtot, banjo Burt Bales, piano Squire Girsback, bass Bob Osibin, drums
Note on Estuary JB: This short-lived band was initially fronted by radio personality Hambone Lee Crosby. Musically it was Bill Erickson's band in various forms but usually with Goudie and Mielke. Sometimes at Pier 23 on the San Francisco Embarcadero or later at the Monkey Inn, Berkeley, 1961-62. Bob Mielke Recalls Goudie, Interview, KALW-FM 1/93.mp3 Goudie, Monkey Inn, Estuary Jazz Band, Hambone Lee Crosby
Despite flaws these late recordings of Goudie are far superior in sound and performance to what
has previously been available.
SIDEBAR: Ken Mills on Goudie
Ken Mills was an energetic young man interested in early New Orleans jazz. Starting around 1960 he helped organize Preservation Hall in New Orleans. But he had been very active in the Trad Jazz and New Orleans revival going on in San Francisco.
Mills wrote the informative liner notes for the one CD issued under Goudie’s name, Frank Goudie with Amos White’s Band & Burt Bales, American Music, 1991 AMCD-50. It sounds as if Mills was among the iconoclastic crowd Goudie gravitated to. A coterie including the legendary vintage record collector Norm Pierce, beat poets like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, jazz critic Ralph Gleason, and the West Coast jazz revivalists.
By his account, Goudie was the “best” cornet player in New Orleans, 1915-25. Mills compared him favorably to the young Charlie Love whom Goudie replaced in 1924 at the Tampico, Mexico gig. Fellow clarinet master Albert Nicholas called Goudie “faultless."
Mills quotes Goudie’s musical philosophy:
“Two things are very important in playing jazz. First, you have to study your instrument right from the first page of the book. Second, you must always have a melody line. Without a melody line of some kind no one can perceive what is happening when you play and it becomes meaningless.”
This heartfelt eulogy by Richard Hadlock, San Francisco Examiner, 1.19.64, expresses the warm personal feeling Bay Area musicians had for him.
Special thanks to Richard Hadlock for this and other out-of-print Examiner articles.
In the 1920s all of San
Francisco’s cemeteries were moved about 10 miles south to Colma. The
“City of the Silent” has a population of 1.5 million departed, who
exceed its living inhabitants by a thousand to one.
Thanks to Holy Cross staff for locating and preparing the site.