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MMD > Archives > March 1997 > 1997.03.17 > 14Prev  Next


BAB Music Rolls
By Matthew Caulfield

It is good to learn that Ed Openshaw is not going to let his B.A.B. perforators sit idle. I occasionally get inquiries about the avail- ability of B.A.B. rolls of various sizes (as well as Artizan rolls); so there is at least a small market for them, even for the big 87-key rolls now used by only two organs that I know of.

It sounds like we have the makings of a B.A.B. historian in young Mark Elbasoni, who recently joined the MMD list. I'd be glad to share with him copies of Ozzie Wurdeman's notebooks which I have. They show all the masters which Ozzie took with him from Virginia City, Montana, and also in some cases the masters which remained in Virginia City under the owner- ship of the Bovey family. It is important to know that Ed Openshaw does not have all existing B.A.B. masters, but only those that Ozzie Wurdeman actually came to own.

Mark is correct that virtually all B.A.B. arranging was done by J. Lawrence Cook (of QRS roll fame), and that Cook's arranging is distinctively different from that of Wurlitzer and other companies, being marked by prominent counter-melody, often to the detriment (in my opinion) to the basic melody. Ozzie Wurdeman's rolls were sometimes flawed by tempo errors and cutting errors, which I presume are not in the Cook masters themselves.

But the chief defect of Wurdeman rolls derived from Ozzie's practice of letting his customers select and combine any old tune from his stock of masters with any nine other tunes of the customer's choosing to make up one really god-awful musical program -- resulting in some tunes appearing many times over on various rolls, while others were never used at all. I would hope that Ed Openshaw tries to re-establish the contents of the original B.A.B. rolls and decides to issue recuts only in that one form, not at every customer's whim.

Matthew Caulfield


(Message sent Mon 17 Mar 1997, 18:18:13 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  BAB, Music, Rolls

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