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MMD > Archives > April 2005 > 2005.04.15 > 07Prev  Next

New JAM A-roll by John Farrell
By John Farrell

Robbie asked for more information about the new A-rolls produced by
my good friend Bob Billings and myself. It was Bob who instigated and
nurtured the idea.  For a long time he had been pressing me to take a
crack at the A-roll format but as all my previous piano roll experience
had been limited to creating regular 88-note rolls I did not feel too
confident that I could do it. Of course I was familiar with the wonderful
music on A-roll produced by such artists as Jimmy Blythe and his like,
I spent many a happy day listening to my dear, departed brother Ed
Sprankle's Seeburg belting out marvellous stuff full of hot rhythm and
excitement the like of which I had never heard before.  Finally (if
only to get Bob off my back!) I bit the bullet and went ahead.

The first problem I encountered was how to produce a first class,
interesting arrangement within the reduced A-roll scale.  Getting to
grips with this aspect involved many agonising, nocturnal, malt whisky
fortified hours but eventually I got there.  The next hurdle came with
switching the extra instruments on and off at appropriate points and
where soft and sustaining pedalling would best be employed for optimum
effect.  In this respect I am indebted to piano roll luminaries Art
Reblitz, Mark Forer and John Mottoros who freely gave me expert advice
and encouragement for which I am deeply grateful.

Armed with their suggestions I edited my first effort, then edited
again, and again, and again, until at last I felt that nothing further
could be done to improve the musical performance.  Bob will never be
satisfied with the end result of anything, he told me recently that the
only way to end a project was to shoot the engineer.

In case I did not make the point clear I am a great admirer of the
blues, jazz and boogie woogie genre of music -- the A-rolls produced by
Bob and myself reflect this fact -- so be warned, if this kind of thing
is not your bag then you are going to hate these rolls!  I transcribed
all the arrangements from recordings by the various artists concerned.

The tunes on JAM A-1 are :

1. King Chanticleer (my arrangement)
2. Beale Street Blues (Marvin Ash's arrangement)
3. Arkansas Blues (Cliff Jackson's arrangement)
4. Jesse James (Albert Ammons arrangement)
5. West Dallas Drag (Rob Cooper's arrangement)
6. Willie The Weeper (Don Ewell's arrangement)
7. Zonky (Fats Waller's arrangement)
8. Too Much Mustard (Joe "Fingers" Carr arrangement)

If you want to give your A-roll instrument a thorough workout these
rolls will be for you.

John Farrell

 [ Bob Billings says John's A-roll series will be issued under the
 [ JAM label and the new roll is designated JAM A-1.  The price and
 [ production schedule haven't been determined yet.  -- Robbie

(Message sent Fri 15 Apr 2005, 17:24:07 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  A-roll, Farrell, JAM, John, New

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