Barataria 51 Halfway House Orchestra

Jazz Barataria

Recorded in New Orleans on 22 January 1925 by the Okeh Company’s mobile recording unit, Barataria is a fine example of the Halfway House Orchestra’s wonderfully relaxed playing style.

Okeh made a number of „field trips” to New Orleans and recorded many tunes by several bands but Barataria remains one of the best and most important examples of early New Orleans jazzmusic.

On YouTube where I found that wonderfull piece of wonderfull jazz of twenties wrote sombody with the nick Nick Ade: My grandfather, Leo Adde, co-wrote Barataria. That’s him on drums in the photo. Thanks for posting this. Isn’t it wonderfull?


Abbie Brunies’ Halfway House Orchestra with l-r: Charlie Cordella, Mickey Marcour, Leon Roppolo, Abbie, Bill Eastwood, Joe Loyacano and Leo Adde. A different version of this photo was first published in 1939, where Roppolo’s socks hade made black, which better suited his tuxedo.

The piece on you tube is beautifully cleaned up, wrote one another listener to Barataria. (Un-cleaned version you will find HERE).
Another lisstener – jrogers71 – asked: I wonder what was going on in Barataria in 1925?

The Halfway House Orchestra was an USA jazzband, one of the first ones of New Orleans Jazz. It existed from 1919 till 1928, so it is a very propper time to wrote about it  hundred years later. In that time it was still rare to take the records and The Halfway House Orchestra was one of the first doing it, with one of the first labels – Okeh Records. And Barataria was a first record of the band.

The band was grounded by a cornetto player Albert „Abbie” Brunies (1900–1978), member of a very famous jazz family of  New Orlean. Also Georg Brunies, Charlie Cordella, Mickey Marcour, Leon Rappolo, Bill Eastwood, Joe Loyacano and Leo Adde played in the group.


Four New Orleans Jazz Babies at Halfway House, ca. 1920. L-R: Emmett “ Buck” Rogers, Abbie Brunies, Mickey Marcour and Stalebread Lacoume. The photo was taken at the Halfway House and it may have been the first group that Abbie had there. Abbie would stay for many years at the Halfway House and the combination was to become famous among collectors of early jazz.


Above: Abbie leaning against the Halfway House, which was a music place and dance hall on a half way between the City of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain (Please notice the Budweiser-Ad on the roof). It opened around 1915 and was run by the brothers Chris, Gus and Oscar Rabinsteiner. Beneath: The house stays empty now and is badly in need of repair but, despite the ravages of time and fire, the Halfway House still stands. Its official address is 102 City Park Avenue.

Barataria on record

In March 1924 the OKeh company made its first field trip down to New Orleans. It recorded the bands of Johnny Bayersdorffer, Johnny DeDroit and Fate Marable, as well as some singers. The next year, in January 1925 OKeh came back and again recorded a mix of black and white artists. Among the white groups was the Halfway House Orchestra. On Thursday, January 22, 1925, Abbie’s band recorded Pussy Cat Rag and Barataria. Pussy Cat Rag was a composition of Abbie Brunies together with two of his band members, reed player Charlie Cordella and pianist Mickie Marcour. It features Leon Roppolo in a fine solo on alto saxophone. On Barataria, by the band’s banjoist Bill Eastwood and drummer Leo Adde, Roppolo solos on clarinet. Okeh’s publicity blurb said:

There’s no need to talk about the Halfway House Orchestra. Their music speaks for itself, for it’s a shoulder shaking rhythm that only Half-Way House Orchestra can play. Watch your feet misbehave when the carefree strains of “Pussy Cat Rag” and “Barataria” are in the air. You can get both of them on one Okeh record right now.

So, their music speaks for itself: HERE!

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