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NEW Updated Version: - Friends and Colleagues


STAN ROSS - Special Comment For Joe Fortunato

 My friend Stan Ross forwarded this photo from his archives -

Ray Fern - Joe Fortunato and Stan (himself-circ. 1974)

"I had the privilege of sharing the bandstand with Joe; he was "HOT." 

 "When the smoke cleared, you knew it was from him.  That is why I called him "Smokin' Joe Fortunato."

                                                  "We miss ya Big Guy!"

                                    Stan Ross



Listening to the various music radio broadcasts back in 1956 that featured Rhythm & Blues, I first heard this recording Jam-Up recorded by Tommy Ridgley and his band. After hearing this, many times it became one of my favorite recordings featuring the sound of a swinging rhythm section and wailing saxophones. As a young music student-studying saxophone and music theory, I wanted to pursue this style of playing Jazz and rhythm and blues. 
The local record shop owner saved a copy for me, knowing that this type of music was a favorite of mine. I remember at that time the recording was only available as large12 inch 78-rpm discs with a red label from Atlantic Records. Even though with the repeated playing on a vintage turntable and a dull phonograph needle, the vinyl –shellacked grooves became scratched and worn with no damage to the enjoyable sounds. During that time, I discovered some information regarding this instrumental recording plus the studio musicians and artist Tommy Ridgley. 
<> Tommy Ridgley (October 30, 1925 – August 11, 1999) was an American Rhythm & Blues singer and bandleader from New Orleans, Louisiana <>
It was in October of 1953, when music producer Jerry Wexler signed Tommy Ridgley to Atlantic Records. In early 1954, Tommy's first release for Atlantic is "Ooh Lawdy My Baby.” 
This recording by Tommy Ridgley immediately sold well in New Orleans. By the late spring of the year Tommy, recorded a blues number "Wish I Had Never" backed with a B-side jump instrumental called "Jam Up" for Atlantic records. The instrumental side took some time in reaching popularity. Early in 1955, it is a top R & B seller. The swinging tune featured saxophone solos by Lee Allen, Alvin "Red" Tyler, and other mainstays of New Orleans sessions at J & M studios is one of the driving, solid tunes ever recorded.

 Cosimo Matassa located on the corner of Rampart & Dumaine Streets in the famous French Quarter owned New Orleans’ J & M Recording Studio. 

This was the home of Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll, Soul, and Jazz. Many recording artists recorded their Billboard Chart hit songs from the late 1940’s through to the 1950’s.  The long list musicians such as Lloyd Price, Dave Bartholomew, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, Little Richard and many others became popular recording artist during the early years of Rock & Roll. 
They were all backed-up by the studio musicians known as “The Clique” this was the house-band for all productions. The rhythm section included Earl Palmer, drums, Guitarists Ernest McLean, Edgar Blanchard, Pianists Salvador Doucette, Huey’Piano’Smith, James Booker, bassist Frank Fields plus the Saxes of Lee Allen, Alvin ‘Red’ Tyler and Herb Hardesty. Dave Bartholomew trumpet player, bandleader and producer often led this razor-sharp crew of musicians at J&M Studio.
The space in the studio was very small barely to set-up a grand piano and a few microphones. A new drum style was credited to drummer Earl Palmer unleashing his version of the backbeat. “The Clique” house band recorded many Billboard Chart hit songs At least 20 years before Stax Records had Booker T and the MGs, Muscle Shoals had the Swampers and Motown had the Funk Brothers.
During the late 1980’s to the mid-90’s I had the opportunity to spend some time in New Orleans. I did some research and spoke to various musicians asking about the studio musicians that were part of J&M Studios in the early years.  Many of the players relocated to the west coast and some have passed away.  The original building of J&M Recording Studios located across from Louis Armstrong Park at 840 Rampart Street & Dumaine Streets became a Laundromat. There is a historical marker outside the front entrance, unfortunately to some visitors, aspiring young musicians will only have readers’ knowledge of the legacy, and history of what took place at J & M Recording Studio.   




The Ladies & Gentlemen of JAZZ